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The Morning Brief: The Mooch is Now Trump’s Communications Director

The SkyBridge Capital founder and self-promoter extraordinaire finally landed a White House gig after an earlier offer for a different job was rescinded.

  • By Stephen Taub

So, The Mooch is playing a prominent role in the Trump Administration after all. Anthony Scaramucci, the founder of hedge fund of funds firm SkyBridge Capital, was named White House communications director on Friday, a day when White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned. Earlier this year Scaramucci sold his share of his investment firm after he was offered a job with the Trump administration. But that deal fell apart and by the time attendees assembled at his annual SALT conference in Las Vegas in mid-May, Scaramucci conceded to the audience, “I didn’t expect to be here.”

The ever-optimistic Scaramucci and his partners, however, were confident he would one day wind up at the White House. That day has now arrived. While trying to communicate and expand upon Trump’s pronouncements may seem nearly as dangerous of a job as being Kim Jong-un’s food taster, the Mooch, as he is known, actually seems like a good pick for the job. The slick, upbeat, gregarious self-promoter has a knack for getting along with the financial press, which mostly likes him. He has also distinguished himself (at least in my eyes) as one of the more intellectually honest of Trump’s surrogates, although these days this can seem like a low bar.

Scaramucci’s disarming style may actually wind up bringing a little credibility to the White House. That said, in his first press conference, he seemed to echo Trump’s assertion about possible illegal voting for Hillary Clinton and accused the press of not playing up accomplishments by the Trump administration. And, of course, the next time Trump contradicts his spokespeople and other surrogates, all bets will be off.

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Shares of hedge fund favorite Microsoft fell 0.6 percent, to close at $73.79, after the software and cloud computing giant reported quarterly earnings that sharply beat analyst expectations thanks to very strong results in its cloud computing business. Several investment banks also raised their price targets or estimates. For example, UBS raised its price target from $73 to $82, citing “the right metrics moving in the right direction.” It added in a note to clients that Microsoft beat revenue expectations and profitability “across-the-board.” UBS also noted that Microsoft “boasts some of the strongest fundamentals in its cohort of ‘legacy’ mega cap tech peers.”

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Moore Capital Management founder Louis Bacon participated in the $200 million Series B financing of Plenty, an indoor farming company, according to agfundernews.com. The financing round was led by Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund.

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Saba Capital Management said that as of July 18 it had cut its stake in Advent/Claymore Enhanced Growth & Income Fund, a closed-end mutual fund, from 9.9 percent to 5.1 percent of the total outstanding. The latest filing was made on form 13G, implying the stake is now passive. Saba’s previous filing was made on a 13D.

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Shares of Athenahealth surged 8.5 percent, to $155.85, after the health care software company reported strong revenue growth. It is a favorite short target of David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital. However, in May Elliott Management disclosed a large long position in the stock. At the end of the second quarter, Microsoft was the largest long position of Viking Global Investors. 

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