Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fortress Investment Conflicted Lingo

Fortress Investment Group (FIG) recently announced their first quarter of earnings as a public company. This is a complicated entity and will take some time to understand.

Only six analysts on the call Robert Lee - KBW, Prashant Bhatia - Citigroup, Marc Irizarry - Goldman Sachs, Michael Hecht - Banc of America, Roger Freeman - Lehman Brothers, Mathew Fischer - Deutsche Bank.

The management line up included Lilly Donohue - IR, Wes Edens - CEO, Pete Briger - President and Head of Hybrid Hedge Fund Business, Mike Novogratz - President and Head of Liquid Markets Hedge Fund Business, Dan Bass - CFO.

Big name analysts with big name Wall Street Bankers talking to big name executives about highly complicated transactions in a very challenging environment. Conference call Q&A are extemporaneous. But listen to some of the fumbling that was going on! I suspect that the level of understanding is not where it needs to be. Otherwise all these very smart highly paid guys would be better able to articulate questions and answers. Here are some quotes from the transcript provided by

Robert Lee - KBW

...I am just curious, since the start of the quarter and in the midst of this, I mean, can you give us some color maybe on -- if you are seeing your clients actually viewing it as an opportunity and seeing pretty decent new money flows until at least hybrid product or maybe tell us a little bit about the kind of reaction you are seeing from your investor base?....

Prashant Bhatia - Citigroup

Hi, the unrealized gain in a public portfolio -- what is that now, is that roughly 3.5 billion?

Wes Edens

I don’t have the numbers on a mark-to-market basis in front of me, it's at the quarter end and the price is down, so around a bit, but it was about $5 billion at quarter end. I think it’s maybe down a little, maybe it’s $4.5 or $4.75 billion as we sit here today, but it’s plus or minus I think where it was around at the quarter end....

Marc Irizarry - Goldman Sachs

Great, thanks. Hi everybody. Wes for you on the private equity side of the business for the capital that’s committed, but maybe as we put it to work at, can you just give a little bit of color in terms of what your LP investors expect,...

Marc Irizarry - Goldman Sachs

Great. And then Pete, a question for you on the hybrid business. Can you give a little color on your returns to-date....

Michael Hecht - Banc of America

Okay. And just last question, I know it's still kind of early but can you talk any more about the relationship into more how that often an investment idea perspective or distribution or any of the close you are seeing coming from relationships opened up to that kind of relationships and more?...

Roger Freeman - Lehman Brothers

Okay. Do you have any early thoughts on looking at the portfolio going into 2008 where you might be looking to IPO next year?

Wes Edens

We’ve got a couple of I think real prospects -- the life cycle of our businesses is that we tend to buy these things and try to rationalize the almost -- the business can think or are needed to be rationalized. And then in a company and the business where we think there are investment opportunities, we want to get those companies public to get access to lower cost capital and take advantage of that.

I do have a couple of very specific thoughts about our businesses which that we think would benefit from being public and again absence some kind of cataclysmic market conditions which frankly, I don’t think is the expected case I think we will continue to be active in this markets so....

If you cannot explain then you do not understand it. If you do not understand it then you should not invest in it.