|Yesterday, after its stock climbed 250% on Monday and 93% on Tuesday, Volkswagen passed Exxon to become the largest company in the world (by market capitalization).|
Volkswagen is now more valuable than Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Daimler, Renault, Peugeot, General Motors, and Ford combined!
Why did this happen? It's a massive short squeeze.
It turns out that a lot of people shorted Volkswagen stock. When someone shorts a stock, they sell shares that are borrowed from others. The key is that, eventually, the party doing the shorting has to return the stock by buying it back.
Porsche is trying to acquire Volkswagen, and they owned 35% of the stock. The government of the Lower State of Saxony owns 20% of the stock, and are trying to block Porsche's takeover.
Porsche figured out that there were a lot more short positions on VW then expected, and they decided to capitalize on it. If they can't get Volkswagen, they can at least get rich.
Taking advantage of lax German disclosure laws (that are to be strengthened next year), Porsche secretly bought more stock.
In addition, they bought call options on WV from Goldman Sachs and German banks (such as Commerzbank). The banks thus have short call option positions in WV - and would need to buy the stock to cover rising prices.
Over the weekend, Porsche dropped a bombshell by announcing that, not only had they increased their stake in VW from 35% to 42.6%, but they had options to buy another 31.5%.
This means that Porsche controls (directly or indirectly) just over 74% of VW stock. Since the Lower State of Saxony owns 20%, this leaves less than 5% of VW stock that short sellers and the option sellers (Goldman, etc) can buy to cover their positions.
The shorts and banks are basically screwed, and have to bid up prices higher, while Porsche exercises the options and locks in prices.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008