Breakout

What Luck! Hedgies Load Up on JCP Ahead of Debt Lifeline

Jeff Macke
Breakout

The NY Post is reporting that "at least two major hedge funds" have amassed significant stakes in troubled, near dead, strategically challenged retailer JC Penney. The news comes on the heels of last week's SEC filing from George Soros revealing a 7.9% stake in JC Penney (JCP) stock.

Adding to the JC Penney positive news from earlier this morning, the company confirms it secured a $1.75 billion financing package from Goldman Sachs (GS). The terms have been rumored to be a remarkably generous 7%.  [JC Penney has now confirmed the financing from Goldman; demand is rumored to be strong suggesting a yield between 5 and 6%]

A whopping 36.8% of JC Penney's float was short as of April 15th. A big part of the short thesis had been the very real possibility that the company wouldn't have the liquidity to make it to the Christmas buying season.

Between the Post's unnamed funds and Soros, the timing of the stock purchases are curious if not flat out suspicious. JC Penney had been known to be looking for loans for months, and Goldman no doubt shopped the deal around the Street to find indications of interest.

JC Penney stock has been locked in the mid-teens for almost two months. So much smart money jumping in all at once is curious if not a smoking gun. Knowing the deal was likely to get done would have made the $15 area a low-risk entry point.

The company still has a laundry list of problems, but at least for the moment liquidity isn't one of them. "This company obviously has a lifeline now," says Yahoo Senior Columnist Michael Santoli in the attached clip. "You can kind of make the case that if JCPenney can at all stop the bleeding, maybe there's value there." Nothing beats a couple billion dollars at favorable rates when it comes to stanching a cash bleed.

"The stock bottomed, it looks now around $15 and now we're about $17 somewhere," notes Santoli, and that the company "really [hasn't] done much of anything but get out of that death-watch zone in terms of price." When a company has been as bad as JC Penney, achieving a stable vegetative state can be enough to take shares farther than would seem logical.

View Comments (153)