Daily Alpha: Pershing’s Problems, Tax Inversions, AgTech $$$, and CNBC’s Debatable Debate

Daily Alpha: Pershing’s Problems, Tax Inversions, AgTech $$$, and CNBC’s Debatable Debate

Alternative Thinking on Ackman's PR Games, Pershing's Problems, Tax Inversion Season, AgTech $$$, and CNBC's Debatable Debate...

“It’s an embarrassment to the country that this company exists…”

Bill Ackman isn’t shy about his feelings for Herbalife.

After all, this not-to-subtle comment about the health marketing came after he had just given a speech in a Chicago church in January 2015. At the time, he said that HLF stock was poised to fall to zero within a one year.

The head of Pershing Square maintains a very public short position on the company. He’s given numerous investor presentations railing its practices, offered interviews in which he knocked the company’s management, and now, up in Albany, New York it turns out that Ackman’s public relations strategy may have been a primary driver in why state lawmakers are speaking out against the firm and its business operations...

You see, Bronx state Sen. Jeff Klein, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, and Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the body’s finance committee, have all bashed the company in recent weeks.

They also have something else in common: deep ties to the political consulting and lobbying firm MirRam Group… a firm that received money from none other than….

Yeah… you know where this is going…

“It wasn’t the hedge fund manager’s only unfortunate pick this year.”

Speaking of Ackman, the hedge fund manager will hold a press conference to discuss his stake in Valeant Pharmaceuticals on Friday.

The company’s stock had surged after several acquisitions. However, it’s now down roughly 54% over the last three months and 27% in October alone.

The troubles don’t end there for Ackman’s portfolio.

It turns out that another of the hedge fund’s large positions is down 50%.

Specialty chemical maker Platform Specialty Products (PAH) has now lost half of its value since July.

Fortune has the breakdown right here.

“We will require as much innovation in the next 20 to 30 years as has been seen in the previous 10,000 years in agriculture.”

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack lays out the challenge to the global agricultural sector.

Not only will the world need to feed 9 billion people by 2050, it will require incredible technological advancement to reach this goal.

It’s no small feat. But Agricultural Technology (AgTech) couldn’t be hotter right now. Private equity companies in Silicon Valley have been driving down to Bakersfield, California – the breadbasket of the state – to learn about innovations and the investment potential.

Angela Smoley breaks down the investment opportunities ranging from food and water to organics and waste. In the end, she links to several cutting-edge projects that Net Zero Enterprises has backed in its Profitable Cleantech Solutions Book. Check it out here.

“Those predictions are already beginning to come to fruition.”

In case you missed it, Pfizer is likely just a signature away from purchasing Botox maker Allergan in a deal that would easily be the largest of the year and would instantly create the world’s largest pharmaceutical company.

There’s just one blatant problem: This deal allows Pfizer to escape the U.S. tax code…

And it will keep Carl Icahn up all night…

“The stock market is usually a fair indicator of the performance of a CEO, and the market was not kind to you. Someone who invested a dollar in your company the day you took office had lost half of the dollar by the day you left.”

It took just one second for the CNBC debate to go off the rails last night.

Right out of the box, CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla asked perhaps the worst tone-setting question when quizzing candidates to explain their “biggest weakness.” The moderator explained this was a question that many people hear during a job interview.

However, it’s not the first question that people typically receive, and it usually comes up after someone has had the chance to explain a strength or two.

That said, Jon Kasich wanted nothing to do with it. He side stepped it and launched into a monologue about responsibility. Not only was it a bad question, but it also would be the first of countless situations where the candidates just decided they didn’t need to answer whatever had been asked. [See Ben Carson’s incoherent answer to a question about biotech pricing.]

But there was one question that really stood out. It was perfect. It was perfect because it truly addressed the biggest obstacle that the particular candidate – Carly Fiorina – faces on her quest to the White House. Her time at Hewlett-Packard didn’t end well, and the stock price slumped significantly.

Becky Quick, a host of Squawk Box – one of the most absurd and rambling morning mental exercises in television history – asked Fiorina the toughest question she’ll face.

And while Fiorina did know the answer out of the park – drawing a parallel between the levels of accountability that CEOs face and the lack of accountability found in Washington – it made us wonder…

Why doesn’t Quick and the rest of CNBC ask these questions every single day of active CEOS, policy makers, and politicians. What if they held the people who make predictions on their channel every single day accountable for their failed predictions?

Why do they not carry the blunt grit and thirst for an answer every day?

Maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t have 21 straight years of audience decline…

It’s the key topic that we addressed in our first issue of Modern Trader in a feature article called False Prophets. Read it here and learn about all of the financial media outlets that you should turn to for accountable and actionable insight in the future.


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