Hedge-fund manager David Einhorn is sounding a cautious tone about stocks.
In a conference call with analysts, Einhorn said last year’s massive run for stocks was fueled in part by misleading earnings reports.
“In 2013 the market rewarded many companies beating earnings after they had lowered guidance,” Einhorn said while discussing the performance of reinsurer Greenlight Capital Re, of which he is chairman. “This trend is not likely to continue indefinitely.”
Einhorn is one of the most respected and successful investors on Wall Street and the founder and president of the hedge-fund firm Greenlight Capital Inc.
He said Greenlight Re benefited from holdings in Apple Inc. and Micron Technology Inc., but was hurt by short positions on Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and U.S. Steel Corp. The rapidly growing, made-to-order Mexican food chain gained 24% in the fourth quarter last year, while U.S. Steel gained 43%.
“We also avoided getting hurt too badly in our short portfolio by having minimal exposure to the most speculative stocks many of which appeared to have completely disconnected from normal valuation methods,” Einhorn said.
The widely watched Standard & Poor’s 500 index soared 29.6% last year, it’s biggest gain since 1997. Things have been rocky this year, with the Dow down nearly 3% and the S&P 500 off about 0.5% through mid-day Wednesday.
“The market ended the year on a strong note after a huge move that was supported mostly by multiple expansion as earnings growth was lackluster,” Einhorn said.
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