Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Ritholtz: I zig when everybody zags

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INVESTMENT-SUMMIT/RITHOLTZ

The U.S. economy is experiencing an ongoing but slow recovery, says Barry Ritholtz, director of equity research at Fusion IQ. But that’s not stopping him from enjoying discounted prices in a low-inflation environment, at least when it comes to his personal spending habits. The world is on sale if you’ve got the money to spend, he told the Reuters Investment Outlook summit in New York when asked, for example, if he might spend less while on a vacation or forego a purchase or two.

“I am an enormous counter-cyclical spender. At the top of the bull market I don’t want to buy anything. I am a seller into a bull market. We have been buying a ton of stuff over the past year. We got two new cars long before the May…. so we picked up two new cars. We’re doing work on the house. We’re adding a kitchen. I got my wife a very lovely birthday gift. She got me a very lovely birthday gift. We’ve been buying artwork. We’ve buying jewelry. I love to buy stuff when it is on sale. I hate to buy top dollar for it.

“So, we just were in the Cayman Islands on vacation some time ago. We were in Aruba back in December. I’m heading to Vancouver in July and probably take a week or two in the Hamptons. I’m thrilled to spend money in this environment.

“I got an e-mail from a client in the heart of ’08 saying the advise and commentaries have been great but you’re just so relentlessly negative in ’08, you’ve got to say something that makes me not want to commit suicide.

Talbots still has too many shops: shortseller

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KRAVETZApparel retailer Talbots announced a deal that will reduce its debt by about $330 million through its purchase of a blank check company.

The company, which caters to older women, has suffered since it bought trendier retailer J. Jill in 2006 for $517 million. But it resold it this year to private equity firm Golden Gate for $75 million.

Expect action in Japanese M&A

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After falling off a cliff at the start of this year as the global financial crisis gripped, mergers and acquisitions by Japanese companies overseas are likely to pick up again in the second half of this year, according to boutique Japanese M&A advisory firm Recof Corp.

There won’t be a flood of deals, Recof President Hikari Imai says, but the ones there are, are likely to be chunky as Japanese companies expand their frontiers beyond domestic markets where growth prospects are limited.

Signs of life in Japanese private equity

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The conventional wisdom is that private equity is comatose in Japan, at best, with some major firms leaving Tokyo, deal numbers sliding and even old Japan hands like Advantage Partners seen as looking to exit mature investments.

Yet Richard Folsom, Representative Partner of Advantage, tells a very different story with deals in the pipeline, finance on tap and some ripe fruit about to be picked — even if his firm has yet to announce a new investment deal this year.

Nikkei recessive exuberance

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If the Nikkei’s spring rally from multi-decade lows whet appetites for a “Japan is back” soaring benchmark, it’s time to check that excessive exuberance, says Deutsche Securities’ Naoki Kamiyama, who sees a top of 10,500 yen for the Nikkei 225 and 1,000 for the Topix over the next year.

No one was expecting a return to 30,000 or even 20,000 for the Nikkei, which has found upside tough after a recent crack above the 10,000 line. But the veteran of many years of Japan asset-watching says market optimism is now meeting reality, with gains of less than 10 percent from current levels likely.

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