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Morning Brief: Whitney Tilson Calls It Quits

Tilson’s hedge fund has reportedly lost 8 percent this year.

Another high-profile hedge fund personality is shutting his fund. Whitney Tilson is closing his firm, Kase Capital Management, citing lousy performance, according to The Wall Street Journal. The hedge fund was down 8 percent this year, the newspaper reported. It was up just 3.8 percent last year after losing 7.3 percent in 2015, according to Kase Capital’s fourth quarter 2016 letter obtained by Alpha. The firm’s total return since its January 1999 inception through the end of last year was 168.4 percent, compared with 156 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, according to the letter. Including this year’s results, it is now lagging the benchmark.

Tilson’s notoriety exceeds his prominence in the industry. He currently manages $50 million, down from a peak of just $180 million in 2010. The hedge fund founder is also known for running a value investing conference several years ago. “If I were managing only my own money, the fund’s recent results wouldn’t bother me quite so much,” Tilson reportedly told investors in a letter. “But investing and running a money management business are two very different things, and reporting sustained underperformance to you was making me miserable.”

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Keith Meister’s Corvex Management nearly halved its stake in Pandora Media to about 12 million shares, or 4.7 percent of the streaming music company, according to a regulatory filing. Because the activist owns less than 5 percent of the shares, it no longer must file timely reports when it makes additional sales. Shares of Pandora are down nearly 50 percent from a year ago.

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Shares of Valeant Pharmaceutical International fell 4.38 percent to close at $13.76. There was some confusion among analysts regarding the embattled drug maker’s announcement in a Canadian regulatory filing about a possible financing. According to a Barron’s translation of the French filing, Valeant may raise as much as $1.5 billion in senior notes. In recent months investors have been rewarding Valeant for its effort to reduce debt. In response to questions about the possible debt offering, Valeant on September 27 fired off a statement: “The company filed a routine private placement exemption application with Autorité des marchés financiers, the principal securities regulator in Quebec. At this time, no decision has been made with respect to any capital markets transactions.”

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