CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: Julian Robertson, Tiger Management Founder, Speaks with CNBC's "Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo" Today
WHEN: Today, Monday, October 7th
WHERE: CNBC's "Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Tiger Management Founder Julian Robertson. Following is a link to the video on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000205509.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Julian Robertson, good to see you again. Thanks for having us here.
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Maria, a delight to have you here and appreciate-- your coming.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Thank you. So let's talk about-- the environment-- with which you find yourself investing. The broad economic landscape first. How would you characterize it?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I would-- characterize it as precarious. And-- I think everyone knows that. And-- I think that-- rather than just sitting back and-- saying, "What if this happens or that happens"-- we go ahead and find good companies and invest in them and-- bad companies and-- them.
MARIA BARTIROMO: And of course you are one of the most-followed person in finance. Where do you see the sweet spot in the market right now?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I don't see any particular sweet spot. But I do see sweet stocks that I really love and like and-- think are going to do well. And-- one is-- a company that-- probably makes that beautiful toenail polish you've got on. A company called Ulta. And it has just beautiful beauty salons all over the country.
And it sells all the great products. And it's growing-- probably at 25%-- or so, will grow that way over the next three or four years. This year won't be quite that good. But-- it is just amazing what's happened. And-- how well they've caught this great movement. And-- we've interviewed a lot of women and Ulta is where they're going.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Is that right? So what are the screens you look at in terms of finding some of these companies? Is it revenue growth, is it management ownership? What are some of the most important screens that you look at when you pick stock?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I-- one of the things that I'm particularly interested in is-- stocks and who's already picked them. And-- we've had some really good people here who have excelled in certain fields and-- I love to see really what they had bought recently. And-- Ulta is one of those stocks. And-- I think it's going to be a real good one for next year, so.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Hmm. So this is not really a sector call? This is a specific-name stock picking?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: That's really the way I'm looking at stocks primarily now. I think we're in the middle of a kind of a bubble market, where it's going to take something-- bubble-like to happen. And-- prick the bubble and we'll probably have pretty bad-- reactions to the breaking of the bubble. But-- probably not right now. And somehow I think we'll wallow through the political and fiscal crisis we have in front of us. And then we'll sort of see what happens.
MARIA BARTIROMO: So when you look at the broad averages, you think that-- this market's full of value then?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I think the market is reasonably-- yes, is fully valued.
MARIA BARTIROMO: In terms of the shutdown, it's amazing that we haven't seen further deterioration, isn't it? It seems like investors are not paying that much, you know, attention or nervousness-- about the shutdown. Why do you think that is?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I think in ordinary times, if somebody-- was worried about things-- they would put money in short-term government bonds. But you're not paid any money to do that. So you-- you're really—going to lose purchasing power by doing that. So you're almost, in a sense, forced into playing the bubble economy.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Let me ask you a little more about some of your-- specific names. Because I know in your last 13F -- two of your three largest holdings were Sirius XM, Satellite Image Provider, Digital Globe, what's the appeal here?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, Digital Globe is I think a really great company. And it's had its virtual monopoly in the area where it is. And-- I think they're really these satellites that are up flying around are-- it's a great business to be in. And-- what was the other one you just--
MARIA BARTIROMO: Well you-- Sirius-- XM as well as-- Digital Globe, you just-- you just mentioned.
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Yeah, and then-- and then of course Sirius is, you know, in every car and-- I think that we're all impressed with that when we see it in the-- in the cars and what you can really get for your money on that thing.
MARIA BARTIROMO: And of course biotech has been hot this year. You're also a holder of some biotech. Is this a long-term-- I mean, I know that these short-term moves in biotech can be real volatile. What's the appeal there?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I think we are in specific stocks. And sometimes-- and we're buying them for their specific properties. This year one of our best stocks has been-- a Chinese company which-- disintermediates-- PhDs. In other words, instead of getting a U.S. PhD for maybe-- $20,000 a month, you get a Chinese PhD for-- $3,000 a month.
And-- it's a company that's named Wuxi that supplies the really good Chinese researchers. And-- I've been in that stock for several years and it's just been lately that it's started to do anything. And I don't know why that is or was or anything. But it's been a really good performer of late-- Wuxi.
MARIA BARTIROMO: So it's not really-- necessarily a, you know, trend-type-- investment like, you know, we're living longer, it's gotten-- the cost of genomics has come down. I mean, Genzyme, for example. It's not necessarily a broad, thematic sector call, but real stock-picking--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well it's-- it is in a sense. I mean-- you're buying-- something at a fifth the price you were paying before. And-- you figure that's going to work at some time. And these Chinese PhDs are really well-trained and very, very good and-- Wuxi is able to come up with good ones.
MARIA BARTIROMO: What's your reaction to the government shutdown?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I just think it's-- not going to happen. And-- maybe that's too much faith in the government. But I just don't think it will eventually happen.
MARIA BARTIROMO: You mean that the U.S. will default?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I don't think we will go further than we are now. And-- I think the next step will be-- a coming together on this thing.
MARIA BARTIROMO: It's amazing--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Maybe that's just wild hope. But--
MARIA BARTIROMO: Right, right. What are the ramifications? I mean, do you think we will see long-term-- negative ramifications of, you know, day seven of the government shutdown?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I-- as I say, I don't think that they will push you to the limit. And I-- I'm just expected to be hoping it'll be cleared up pretty soon.
MARIA BARTIROMO: The last time we spoke, we talked a bit about Apple. And you said it was the greatest company in the world, one of the greatest companies in the world, certainly. I know you don't hold that view anymore. What's changed?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I read the book. And-- I read it and I came to the conclusion that it was unlikely that a man as really awful as I think that Steve Jobs was, could possibly create a great company for the long term. I just don't believe bad guys-- do well in the long run. And I came to that conclusion and sold the stock in January and the stock was a good one for me. And-- we'll let somebody else make the money from now on.
MARIA BARTIROMO: It's interesting, because you read about him, his personal life, the way he treated people, and that dictated how you--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: How can you-- how can you create a great organization of people and be that mean a person? I mean, he basically cheated his partner, Wozniak, he refused to accept the parenthood of his child, I mean, he's really a pretty terrible guy.
MARIA BARTIROMO: But when you first invested in it, were you thinking about him as leadership, or were you just thinking about this company that is innovating?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I was thinking about what he had done. And there's no question that-- and I think if he were still there, I'd still be in it. I think he's one of the great geniuses of the world. But-- he's not the kind of guy I think that would develop a long-standing company.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Bad culture?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Bad culture. Bad principles. And-- that's the way I felt about it.
MARIA BARTIROMO: What about Google? Is that a better buy?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Oh, I think the Google thing has been-- is more of a collaborative effort. I know Eric Schmidt and he has different political views from mine. But I think he's a terrific guy. And I've never had a problem with any-- of those fellows.
MARIA BARTIROMO: You know, I remember--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: And I-- and I own Google.
MARIA BARTIROMO: The whole social media space was so hot, and then Google went public, and then it sort of took the air out of things. I wonder if that's where we're going with this Twitter I.P.O.?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I don't know how to tweet and I don't know Twitter. And-- I'm going leave that one to you.
MARIA BARTIROMO: So you wouldn't be a buyer of the I.P.O. then?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I don't plan to be. That isn't to say that I won't. But I don't expect to at this point.
MARIA BARTIROMO: What do you think is behind all of this euphoria around social media? Is it long-lasting?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I think social media is very long-lasting. I just don't know the particular thing with Twitter.
MARIA BARTIROMO: We--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: So, I mean, I think-- you know, the first one was a great company and has a great possibility to still be a good company.
MARIA BARTIROMO: When you look at the economy today, are there areas that you believe will be real growers over other areas? In other words, where are the growth spots in the economy today that you would actually put money to work in?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, we're beginning to put some money in the airlines. And-- I mean, Delta airline, the airlines have been weeded down. And-- Delta airline's a very good store. I mean, it's at a very reasonable price and it's a good airline. I've talked to you about Ryanair, which is a low-cost producer in the world. I think that-- area is something to look at. And there-- they-- there have been-- I think some really interesting moves made in that industry.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Will we see more consolidation, do you think?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Seems so much that I think it will slow down from here.
MARIA BARTIROMO: What about the Federal Reserve? We've got this open question as far as who's going to be the next chairman. Do you have thoughts on that or hopes?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: No, I really hope that it will not be-- the lady. I--
MARIA BARTIROMO: Janet Yellen?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Janet Yellen. I think she's just-- entirely too easy money. And I think-- I think we've got to remember that-- we're not very far from the last bubble bursting. And-- we're getting way bigger now and-- I don't believe the people in charge of the monetary affairs are putting enough emphasis on moral suasion.
We've had policies which have encouraged-- borrowing for years. And-- with the low interest rates that are there-- saving is definitely being discouraged now by that. And-- so I'm extremely worried over the fact that-- we really are going to be creating a race and creed of borrowing-- because that's the way to game the system that's being put in effect.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Well, I mean, the Fed said many times that they'd like to see fiscal policy, but we haven't seen that.
JULIAN ROBERTSON: It's-- they ease money all times. And-- there's no tithing, there's no-- there's no time when the borrower gets his, except when he gets just killed, such as we had in '08 and periods like that. And then-- then-- then it's the little people, or a lot, who really get hurt.
MARIA BARTIROMO: So do you think it was a mistake not to taper? And do you expect tapering to come?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I'm not sure Mrs. Yell-- Miss Yellen-- or-- or Ms. Yellen will taper. But I-- I believe Bernanke would taper. And-- I think it was a mistake. I mean-- we can't just, you know-- pet your child every time he cries when you-- when he-- he's destructive and-- done something wrong and you give him a punishment. I mean, you've got to continue-- doing that. And I think-- it's time to taper. And I think it's ridiculous that just because a few people jumped up and screamed and-- that we didn't taper.
MARIA BARTIROMO: And yet here we are with the government shutdown, a lot of people expect that to contribute to-- contraction in terms of G.D.P. If you've got that and then the pressure of tapering, this economy perhaps looks worse toward yearend, no?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, maybe we wouldn't have-- shut down the government if we tapered. I mean, maybe people would've been so fearful of that that they wouldn't have gone this far.
MARIA BARTIROMO: It seems to be a disconnect with the retail investor. You know, you look at volume numbers, they're pretty low. It feels like the retail investor has sort of given up. What is it going to take, do you think, to get that individual back into this market?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I th-- I don't quite agree that he's out. I mean-- I think he's in there buying. And-- I don't-- I don't-- I'd like to go into the discussion a little bit. I don't have any figures to back that up particularly. But-- except the fact that the market is going up all --
MARIA BARTIROMO: What about international? What's your take on emerging markets, which of course, have seen such outflows. Europe, which a lot of people will argue has bottomed. Where are you on an international right now?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I think a lot of smart Europeans think that Europe has bottomed. And I-- I've been hearing that increasingly. And-- I-- I'm not completely sure of that. But-- it's certainly better than it was.
MARIA BARTIROMO: And emerging markets, would you put money there now?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Yeah, I-- well, I'm looking for places to put money. And, I mean, in Europe, I've bought the Ryanair and you know-- Wuxi is a Chinese company and China is actually really hot right now, the hottest it's been in some time. There I'm a little-- concerned because I'm not absolutely sure of the figures. But-- China is, in terms of market, is really roaring.
MARIA BARTIROMO: What's your take on regulation right now, Julian? Because I know that you're an owner of JPMorgan, right? The banking stocks-- have been sort of -- script-- a new normal. Do you worry that the pendulum has swung too far in terms of regulation? Is this going to impact JPMorgan and other stocks? It feels like JPMorgan is really in the crosshairs of regulators all the time.
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I think it is. And-- you know, I've-- I think Jamie Dimon's a very decent man and a very good executive. And-- but-- JPMorgan is also a very reasonably priced stock. I mean-- it's-- you know, very easy to see how that-- could do better just because of the earnings improvement I think that it's going to have.
MARIA BARTIROMO: And you wanted to also talk a bit about Schibsted. Tell me about this Norwegian-- company.
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Schibsted is a very interesting company. We came upon-- Schibsted-- it was-- we had-- a model we were setting up on-- newspaper stocks. And Schibsted had come out as being wildly overpriced. And then we went into it in thorough detail and-- although it's true that-- Schibsted had still had its papers, it had gone tremendously into internet products.
And-- it is really an internet-- producer-- media producer of internet products-- throughout the world now and-- is going to grow at very rapid rates for the next several years. And-- so I think Schibsted is quite a terrific-- Norwegian company.
MARIA BARTIROMO: You're finding these great opportunities in various sectors. When you look back at your illustrious, Julian, what's your secret sauce? To what do you attribute these enormous returns year after year?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, you're sweet. And I don't know. I think-- that really what I-- I've done is-- hired really good people and never been self-conscious of hiring people that were smarter than I am. And-- it's been fun for me to work with them and-- to play with them in all that we've had together. And-- so that's the secret sauce.
MARIA BARTIROMO: And yet the hedge fund industry as a whole as underperformed-- in terms of the averages in this environment with these—
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, no, no, they-- and it will. I mean, you know, we've gone from this bust in '08 and then -- in '07 and '08, particularly in '07, that was-- the best year practically we've ever had and anybody did because you could make it on both sides. I mean, it was a flat market, but there was plenty of volatility in-- so you could make it on both sides. We all certainly did better than the averages. And-- that's been followed by a period of just boom and-- very few people have been able to keep up.
MARIA BARTIROMO: So in terms of the-- an environment where you've got easy money and you've got the averages and investors going for the passive way to invest, does it become tougher for the average hedge fund out there?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Yes, very definitely. And the big problem with the hedge fund is that there are more of us. And we're the toughest competition for other hedge funds. I mean, hedge funds are other hedge funds' toughest competition. And there are just more of them and it's tougher and tougher all along.
MARIA BARTIROMO: Knowing all of the challenges out there, would you lean towards shorting this market or buying this market?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I think you have to have kind of-- a little more--sort of lean towards-- being conservative in a market like this. It's just-- gotten a little too --
MARIA BARTIROMO: Raising cash?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I would say raising cash or going short.
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