Hedge Funds Struggling in the Insurance Game Present Value Play

When Third Point’s Daniel Loeb and Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn took the plunge into what a recent Barron’s article describes as the “warm waters of the reinsurance business”, the article explains, they “sought to emulate Berkshire Hathaway, where Warren Buffett has successfully combined insurance with sizable equity investments and earned outsize returns on both.”

The idea was to attract investors with a tax-advantaged alternative to investing in the hedge funds themselves, while providing greater liquidity and no minimums. But in reality, the article reports, the Buffett model proved difficult to replicate: “Insurance results have been weak at both companies, while investment performance has been terrible at Greenlight Re and lackluster at Third Point Re,” which has turned investors off.

But the shares of both Third Point Reinsurance and Greenlight Capital Re, the article reports, “trade well below book value and look appealing.” It cites comments from Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Meyer Shields, who says, “Third Point is attractive for its turnaround potential,” and has assigned an Outperform rating on the stock. Third Point Re CEO Dan Malloy argues, “We expect to have an underwriting profit by the end of the year.”

The article reports that while Einhorn hasn’t said as much, a sale of Greenlight Re is “a possibility.”