This content is from: Portfolio

The Morning Brief: Omega Boosts its Real Estate Presence

Omega Advisors’ Leon Cooperman has aggressively boosted his bet on mortgage financing and related companies. On Thursday, he disclosed that he raised his stake in three stocks in the industry as of December 31. By far the biggest increase was made in Arbor Realty Trust. The New York hedge fund firm said in a regulatory filing that it now owns nearly 4.9 million shares of the real estate investment trust (REIT) that invests in multifamily and commercial real estate-related bridge and mezzanine loans, preferred equity investments and other real estate-related assets. It owned just 70,000 shares at the end of the third quarter. In a separate filing, Cooperman said he raised his stake in Chimera Investment Corp. by about 35 percent to more than 18.7 million shares, or 9.9 percent of the REIT that invests in residential mortgage loans, residential mortgage-backed securities, real estate-related securities and various other asset classes. In yet another filing, Cooperman said he boosted his stake in Altisource Portfolio Solutions to about 8.6 percent of the total outstanding. Altisource is a provider of mortgage, financial and technology services for the real estate and mortgage industries. Cooperman also disclosed Thursday that it bought 12 million shares, or 9.3 percent, of the shares of Aspen Group, as of December 31. The company provides facilities management/outsourcing, staff augmentation, project management and consulting services.

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Call this another victory for bank activist Lawrence Seidman. As we earlier reported, the Parsippany, New Jersey investor on January 19 said in a regulatory filing that he led a group that owns 5.39 percent of Malvern Bancorp and was planning to withhold support for three director nominees proposed by the company for election at the upcoming annual meeting. On Wednesday, the company announced that two of the nominees submitted their resignations from the boards of directors of Malvern as well as its bank subsidiary, Malvern Federal Savings Bank, effective in the middle of February. In a regulatory filing, Seidman says his group is “gratified” by the announcement and decided to withdraw their intent to withhold their vote for the third individual and will vote for his re-election.

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Lee Ainslie III’s Maverick fund lost 2.1 percent in January. The Dallas long-short fund was up 16.5 percent in 2015.

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Another day, another hedge fund is shutting down—or so it seems. The latest, according to Reuters: San Francisco-based Standard Pacific Capital, headed by G. Douglas Dillard, Jr. and Raj Venkatesan. “After 21 rewarding years, Standard Pacific Capital has decided to return capital to investors across all of our strategies,” says a letter to clients, according to Reuters. “It has recently become clear to both of us that sometimes there is a logical conclusion to even a good thing. We decided that now is that time for Standard Pacific.” The San Francisco-based firm managed a little more than $500 million as of the end of February 2015, according to a regulatory filing. The firm, founded in 1995 by Andrew Midler, ran as much as $5 billion in 2004, Reuters notes.

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Credit Suisse initiated coverage of hedge fund favorite Zoetis with an Outperform rating and a $58 target price, calling it the global leader in therapeutics for livestock and companion animals. The bank says the stock is “levered to rebounding industry fundamentals,” and expects earnings growth to accelerate “over an improving cost and capital structure.” The stock was just one of three that provided any meaningful gains for William Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management in 2015, and he was the largest shareholder at the end of the third quarter. The stock was also the fourth-largest holding of Sachem Head Capital Management, the New York firm headed by Scott Ferguson, Pershing Square’s first analyst.

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