WHEN: TODAY, TUESDAY, June 30, 2015
WHERE: CNBC'S "CLOSING BELL"
Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Tiger Management Founder Julian Robertson today on CNBC's "Closing Bell." Video of the interview will be available on CNBC.com.
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
KELLY EVANS: Julian, this is a make or break week for Greece-- potentially and them staying in the euro. Is the country at risk of triggering another global financial crisis?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I don't think-- they will. And-- you know, Greece-- we--have a lot of Greek relatives. And they've been great allies in for us in the war. But I don't think in terms of the world they are an economic power. And-- I think we can adjust to Greece. The problem with Greece is that-- it could involve contagion.
And if Greece goes-- Spain, which is-- really has a serious problem with individual debt throughout the country-- Spain could have problems. And they could be tempted to leave, too. And then perhaps Italy. That would be serious. But Greece in itself I don't think is terribly important.
KELLY EVANS: But are you still short the euro? And is what you just said, concerns about Spain and Portugal potentially following Greece down this path, a reason why?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Yes.
KELLY EVANS: And h-- the euro at this--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: One of them.
KELLY EVANS: I think it's down about almost 20% against the U.S. dollar. Do you think it's going to parity? I mean, how much further do you expect that currency to fall?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I think it could easily go below parity.
KELLY EVANS: And what would that imply? Is that if Greece leaves the European-- the eurozone? Is it if Greece stays? Or is it regardless based on your view of the fundamentals?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I think it would-- take a long time if-- unless Greece does go. But if Greece-- if Greece went, the contagion possibilities could cause it to go down there fairly quickly.
KELLY EVANS: What about European equities?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: European equities have been a very good place to be, and-- you know-- may still be, and would be possibly even better. But you certainly want to hedge the currency, which would, of course-- help in getting that euro down quicker.
KELLY EVANS: Sure. A lot of people have looked to European stocks because they think U.S. ones are overvalued. Carl Icahn last week notably said he thinks markets look extremely overheated. Do you share that view?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I do. But not exactly for the same reasons-- not exactly for the reason of the--euro situation. I mean, I-- do because we have a credit bubble. And-- I think-- we are really in the midst of a very serious credit bubble. And-- that has caused things beyond the credit bubble.
I mean, for instance-- conventional modes of saving-- dollars, putting them into banks, now the banks in Europe are charging you to put your money in the bank. And here you don't get any interest from it. So-- that's forcing people into stocks.
KELLY EVANS: When you say "credit bubble," do you mean a bubble in the bond market? Or do you see evidence of other kinds of instruments kind of like the mortgage instruments that we saw during the last crisis?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: No, I'm saying that's forced-- money which would ordinarily be in bonds-- to go into stocks. And-- as yields go up-- that will be heightened by people coming out of stocks and going w-- where they belong in the first place, bonds.
KELLY EVANS: Speaking of which, in China meantime, there has been huge volatility and swings in their stock market. You guys had investments, I believe, in Alibaba. What parts of the Chinese economy are you still exposed to? And what do you think of prospects for that stock market?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I think the-- prospects for Chinese companies-- some of them are very, very great. I have changed from Alibaba into a company called JD. JD has the advantage over all-- practically all the other Chinese companies in that it's never had any knockoff problems. And-- what it sells is-- the real thing. And-- they are just tonning it. And-- we are-- very bullish on JD now. And I have sold the Alibaba for it.
KELLY EVANS: What about-- to get specific about a couple of companies-- since we're talking about it, you've been positive and negative on Apple in the past. What do you think about that company now?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I am very positive on Apple. And I'll tell you why I've become extremely positive on-it. It--I think now has the right leader for this time. And-- I think he is-- Tim Cook is a very good leader and the perfect person to lead them along. I think possibly at this point in its time he would be better for Apple than Steve Jobs.
KELLY EVANS: Why so?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Because I think he's-- more of--a humanist. And-- I think-- that's what a company of that size needs, is a leader rather than an innovator.
KELLY EVANS: I notice you're not wearing an Apple watch.
JULIAN ROBERTSON: You know what? I actually have an Apple watch and-- just forgot to put it on this morning. I am very technologically inept and-- I am-- hoping that my grandchildren are going to teach me how to use the watch. But knowing that I wasn't going see them today, I left it off.
KELLY EVANS: So the watch doesn't seem like it's a key part of the reason why you think Apple is so well positioned?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: No, the watch is-not except that I think-- it can be-- a pretty good product, too.
KELLY EVANS: Now, Carl Icahn, going back-- to him, had said about Apple when he's pushed for buybacks and other-- investments, that he thinks it could be worth $200 a share-- at times double it was trading for. Do you have a sense as well as to how-- just where this company could be trading
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I- guess--
KELLY EVANS: Could it be a trillion dollar--company--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I think Carl Icahn has been around like I have for a long time. Apple would be selling at double or triple its present price now if this were the '60s, or the '70s, and '80s. It really would. The Nifty Fifty all sold at fifty times earnings or over. Even Avon Products did. And-- the Nifty Fifty were the best growth companies around. Apple certainly would garner that.
And it would sell at-- 60 or 70 times earnings. At least it did then. I think these are the greatest value stocks around, are the Apples, are the Googles, those kind of things, and--the Netflix's. And that's where I've gone to. I mean, when I started in this business-- I was-- a real cheapskate. And I would buy the cheap stocks. But this-- these are the real values now, those great companies.
KELLY EVANS: And the last time we spoke, you also liked Gilead and Ulta. Would you add those to the list today of perhaps the new Nifty Fifty?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I-- would probably. I-- certainly would Gilead. Although it's very interesting to know what happens on Gilead. I'm very proud to be a shareholder in Gilead. They have-- really solved the hepatitis C problem. And they've been a cure for people. The other day-- we-outside my apartment, some-- what do you call those people? The--
KELLY EVANS: Protesters?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Protesters appeared. Obviously hired people—representing a group called-- Hedge Killers or Hedge Cutters. And-- they were—picketing me for owning this horrible stock. And-- I am quite proud of it. They were obviously hired people. And-- I didn't even know they'd been out there until-- my sisters called and they'd seen it on the news. And-- but-- it is interesting the way people are really-- going after people for owning various stocks and one that I'm very proud to own. 'Cause Gilead has done a lot that's helped America.
KELLY EVANS: And that's despite the fact that it comes at times with an $80,000 price tag, it and some of its rivals. You are still--
KELLY EVANS: --proud to be a shareholder--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: --well that of course is what they are protesting. I-- think that people who had the disease-- would be-- are thrilled to somehow get that $80,000. The-- other alternative would be death.
KELLY EVANS: In the meantime, we've mentioned Greece and the potential contagion there. At the same time, we're hearing about Puerto Rico needing some sort of bailout maybe from the federal government or from its bond holders. $72 billion debt load. Maybe $160 billion in ultimate unfunded liabilities. What do you think happens-- at this point with regards to Puerto Rico's solvency and the decisions the federal government here may make?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, Puerto Rico-- has done what we are gradually doing. And not so gradually. I mean, really there are a lot of our states that are almost broke. Illinois and--probably New York almost. But-- we don't do anything about it until we can't pay our debts. The same governor of Puerto Rico who said-- who said, "We can't possibly pay our debts," just a couple of months ago said, "How ridiculous that people think we can't pay our debts."
KELLY EVANS: And I know Assured Guaranty is one of the companies you've been shorting because of this. Correct?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Yes.
KELLY EVANS: And is that still the case?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Yes.
KELLY EVANS: So you think their exposures are material still beyond yesterday's 16% hit to those shares? So investors are waking up to this. But it sounds like you think there's still substantial downside?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Oh, I think there's enough-- probably there to-- put them out of business just like Puerto Rico.
KELLY EVANS: Should Puerto Rico be a state?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, not in my opinion. But-- I-- really haven't analyzed that to much degree.
KELLY EVANS: It will probably be left up to-- the next president. And speaking of 2016, do you have a sense of who you're going to throw your support behind?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, I-- am for Jeb Bush. I think-- I think it's very important that we have a manager in here that has managed-- a state or--managed something and managed it well. And I think Jeb Bush has done a good job of managing Florida. And I'm pleased to be for him.
KELLY EVANS: He is a little bit more open on immigration policy than our last discussion. It sounded as though you are more cautious about immigration in this country. Have-- your views changed? Or do you support him in spite of his views on immigration?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I don't think I'm-- I am for solving the immigration situation and for the-- I don't-- I always get the term wrong. But from the-- particularly from the immigrant points, I had lots of towards who were illegal immigrants. And I-- I'd really like to see them become American citizens in some way. And-- I think-- Jeb Bush is more creative on that than most people.
KELLY EVANS: There are a number of other governors who have-- thrown or are expected to throw their hat in the ring for 2016. Why Jeb Bush instead of the others?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well, Jeb Bush did a great job. And-- I think he's a very smart guy. And-- I know some of the other governors. And I am-- a huge fan of Scott Walker's-- the governor of Wisconsin. And-- matter of fact-- my ticket would probably be now-- Bush-Walker. But-- that's kind of the extent of it. I-- I also have met Governor Kasich.
And he's a very attractive, good candidate. And-- I--think-- he would be good in either position. But these are both managers. All-- all these people are managers. And that's what I want in the White House. I think we have a brilliant, attractive guy in there now. But as a manager-- and leader, I think he's pathetic.
KELLY EVANS: Before we go, the hedge fund industry itself has taken some hits. There have been some big pension managers who are dropping hedge funds. There have been guys on the wrong side of the Greece trade lately. What's your view on where the industry stands today having gone through the ups and downs of the crisis and now coming out of it?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I think the hedge fund industry s-- is suffering from the expansion of the industry. It means that we have to compete with other hedge funds rather than with bank trust departments, with brokers-- et cetera. Hedge funds are the best competition, in a sense for us the worst competition because they know where to invest. And that's why the performance has gone down, is because there are so many more of them.
KELLY EVANS: And lastly, when we spoke last time, you were using Uber quite a bit and a fan of the company. It's-- been revealed that the company's still losing money despite commanding a $50 billion valuation. Do you still think Uber would be a sound investment at this juncture?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I-- don't know enough about Uber to know whether it's a sound investment. I suspect it is. But Uber is symbolic of what is going on in this country where we are having new technology that's disrupting the workforce. And this is going to create great problems for America. And I hope that our leadership will-- take this as an opportunity to look to see what they are going do to ameliorate this problem.
KELLY EVANS: Are you talking about changes to the tax code that classify whether there's a third category of workers beyond employees or independent contractors?
JULIAN ROBERTSON: Well-- I-- don't know exactly what you're talking about there. But I--I'm talking about people are going to be out of jobs because of these new technologies. For instance, let's assume we do get an automatic car. Think of all the people that would be thrown outta work on that. Now, where are we going to place them? What are we going do about them? And we should be thinking about it before it happens, not afterwards.
KELLY EVANS: But don't you trust that innovation will lead to new categories of jobs that we aren't imagining for those people--
JULIAN ROBERTSON: I don't think that happens automatically. And I think it will gradually happen. But I think-- there's going to be a lot of people outta work-- out of work for a while. And we should be planning for that and- planning some alternative means of support for them.
KELLY EVANS: Julian, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much for your time.
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