By Svea Herbst-Bayliss and Katya WachtelNEW YORK, Oct 18 (Reuters) - For months John Thaler’s strong and steady returns have defied gravity, but now the hedge fund standout’s performance is coming down to earth.Thaler’s JAT Capital, which more than doubled assets to roughly $2 billion this year thanks to impressive returns and fresh investor demand, fell 5.3 percent in the first two weeks of October, two investors said.That loss comes on top of declines in September, when the fund dropped 3.2 percent during a brutal period for markets.The sudden reversal of fortune at JAT, a four-year-old fund spun out of Chris Shumway’s more famous portfolio, is noticeable because the fund has delivered nothing but positive numbers this year even as other managers dipped into the red. In early September, JAT’s returns peaked for the year at a dazzling 38 percent, investors said.To be sure, Thaler still presides over one of the industry’s very best records this year — he is up 24 percent through mid-October — but the recent drop illustrates just how tough it is even for stars to stay on top.FEW STOCKS HIT HARDPeople familiar with Thaler’s portfolio blame the drop on a few stocks that Thaler, whose roots are in technology, media and telecom investing, has long liked. And the selling likely continued early this week when Green Mountain Coffee Roasters , once the fund’s largest holding, tumbled.A spokeswoman for Thaler declined to comment.Netflix , the company that delivers movies to people’s homes, was among Thaler’s top 20 picks for months. But in September the stock plunged 51 percent as investors made clear their displeasure with the company’s plans to separate its DVD-by-mail and on-line video streaming services and raise prices.Although Thaler had been trimming back on Netflix all year, he loaded up again at the end of September and now owns more than 4 million shares, or 7.6 percent of the company.He made the move only days before Netflix reversed itself on the breakup plan. Still, the stock price has not recovered and is down 60 percent over the last three months.Thaler’s bet on America’s lone rare earth oxide producer, Molycorp , also encountered trouble last month when the stock plunged 40 percent. Analysts said worries that China controls most of the supplies of rare earths have forced manufacturers to cut back on using them and hurt Molycorp.So far in October, though, Molycorp has climbed 13 percent.The JAT portfolio also suffered declines in Chinese Internet television company Youku.com , whose stock has tumbled 66 percent in the last six months even though it has recovered a bit in October.COFFEE ROASTER LOSES SOME BUZZThaler’s troubles were likely compounded this week when another hedge fund star, David Einhorn, laid out a negative case for Green Mountain, long one of Thaler’s most profitable holdings.In the first quarter, Green Mountain was Thaler’s biggest single bet. And when the stock price nearly doubled, it helped push the fund manager into the industry’s top rankings. But Einhorn’s concerns about the roaster’s accounting practices and upcoming patent issues kicked the stock price down 10 percent on Monday.If Thaler still owned the amount of Green Mountain he owned at the end of the second quarter, he lost $9 million as his holdings, valued at $80.4 million at the end of September, shrank to $71.4 million at Monday’s close.After riding high for so long, Thaler suddenly got shy about showing outsiders how he was doing. Last week he stopped reporting returns to the HSBC Private Bank, which tracks hundreds of fund managers.While some investors said he might have stopped reporting because he has temporarily closed his fund to new investments, others quietly said performance was the real reason.
Seventy two percent was due to lost productivity and the most of the cost was borne by the drinkers themselves in the form of lost income.Health care outlays accounted for another 11 percent of the total economic cost of heavy drinking, the CDC said, followed by criminal justice expenses and motor vehicle crash costs caused by impaired drivers.The CDC defines excessive drinking as, on average, more than one alcoholic beverage a day for women, and more than two a day for men.But the agency said that nearly three-quarters of the costs were caused by binge drinking — four or more drinks per occasion for by women or five or more for men.The researchers found that about $94.2 billion, or 42 percent, of the total economic cost of excessive alcohol consumption in 2006 was picked up by federal, state, and local governments.Another $92.9 billion, or 41.5 percent, was absorbed by the drinkers and their families, largely in the form of lower household income.The study, “Economic Costs of Excessive Alcohol Consumption in the U.S., 2006,” appears in the November 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
A short stretch of the Foothill (210) Freeway will be closed in both directions, along with a portion of a nearby street, while the police bomb squad ruptures the tanks with an explosive charge.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles City Fire Department will also be at the plant in Sylmar, about 15 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.Officials say there are no residences in the immediate area and nearby businesses have been told of the planned operation. It is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. and last for at least several hours.Harry Allen, emergency response section chief for the EPA, said it was possible that one or more of the tanks were empty but that moving them would be too risky.
* Banks mostly higher ahead of G20 meeting commentsBy Jon HopkinsLONDON, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Strength in commodity stocks and banks pulled Britain’s leading shares higher on Friday, with the FTSE 100 index closing above 5,450 for the first time since August 3, with that level having been the top of a trading range for more than two months.The blue-chip index briefly reached 5,501 before easing back from that level, also last seen on August 3.The FTSE 100 closed up 62.98 points, or 1.2 percent, at 5,466.36, rebounding from a 0.7 percent decline in the previous session.It gained 3 percent over the week, and has bounced some 10.5 percent since hitting a low below 5,000 on October 4.”It’s a good end to a positive week, but the FTSE will have to show it can hold above these levels for quite a while before it can kick on,” said Mic Mills, head of trading at ETX Capital.”And given low trading volume still, there really does not seem anything underlying this rally to keep it up.”Volume on Friday was at 70 percent of the 90-day average.Integrated oils was the top-performing blue-chip sector as the price of crude jumped. BG Group was up 2.3 percent, also helped by vague bid rumours.Traders noted revived talk that a Chinese firm could be interested in bidding for BG, a perennial takeover target, possibly in a joint bid with a Middle Eastern buyer.Among the miners , Antofagasta was a good gainer, ahead 3.7 percent, as the copper price bounced higher as benign inflation data from China fanned hopes for improved demand from the world’s biggest metals consumer.Traders viewed a softening in inflation as a sign the Chinese government would be unlikely to tighten monetary policy further.Encouraging U.S. economic data added support, with September retail sales ahead of forecasts, helping drive gains by U.S. blue-chips , up 0.6 percent by London’s close.Glencore International , however, was the heaviest blue-chip faller, down 3 percent, with traders citing talk Goldman Sachs was undertaking a secondary placing of a $175 million convertible bond for the commodities trader.BANKS BUOYEDBanks saw support as a sector, led by Barclays , up 1.6 percent, as investors awaited any news from a summit of G20 finance chiefs and central bank heads in Paris, particularly with regards to the euro zone debt crisis.But part-state-owned Lloyds Banking Group missed out, dropping 2.9 percent after a late turnaround, with traders citing talk of negative weekend press comment.In addition, a downgrade to Spain’s credit rating on Friday highlighted the risk of a much larger European economy than Greece coming under threat.French and German officials are trying to hammer out a crisis resolution plan in time for an EU summit on Oct. 23.”The eradication of one of the biggest risks to another banking crisis and global recession could potentially be achieved this time round, which is getting the equity markets excited,” said Angus Campbell, Head of Sales, Capital Spreads.”However, it’s quite a punchy call to pile into stocks today as there’s every chance the plans to tackle Europe’s sovereign debt crisis may not go far enough.”Among individual stocks, water company Severn Trent fell 1.3 percent, weighed by a downgrade in rating from HSBC to “underweight” from “neutral” on valuation grounds.And Kingfisher fell 1.1 percent as Oriel Securities downgraded its recommendation on Europe’s No.1 home improvements retailer to “reduce” from “hold” on concerns over future growth.DIY retailing peer Home Retail Group was the heaviest FTSE 250 faller, down 5.2 percent, with the firm reporting first-half results next week.
"We are waiting for Polkomtel transaction to finalise before starting Exatel sale … I believe we will start the sale of Exatel before the end of the year," Tomasz Zadroga told TVN CNBC news channel.Poland’s No.2 telecoms group Netia , which snapped up smaller rival Dialog from copper miner KGHM last month for 944 million zlotys, has said it would be interested in buying Exatel.Netia is also interested in a small rival TK Telekom, owned by Polish state railways. ($1 = 3.150 Polish Zlotys)
Limbaugh summed up the chatter when he told his listeners last week, “George Soros money is behind this.”Soros spokesman Michael Vachon said that Soros has not “funded the protests directly or indirectly.” He added: “Assertions to the contrary are an attempt by those who oppose the protesters to cast doubt on the authenticity of the movement.”Soros has donated at least $3.5 million to an organization called the Tides Center in recent years, earmarking the funds for specific purposes. Tides has given grants to Adbusters, an anti-capitalist group in Canada whose inventive marketing campaign sparked the first demonstrations last month.Vachon said Open Society specified what its donations could be used for. He said they were not general purpose funds to be used at the discretion of Tides — for example for grants to Adbusters. “Our grants to Tides were for other purposes.”Tides declined to comment.According to IRS disclosure documents from 2007-2009, the latest data available, Soros’ Open Society gave grants of $3.5 million to Tides, a San Francisco-based group that acts almost like a clearing house for other donors, directing their contributions to liberal non-profit groups. Among others the Tides Center has partnered with are the Ford Foundation and the Gates Foundation.IRS disclosure documents and reports from Tides also show that Tides gave Adbusters grants of $185,000 from 2001-2010, including nearly $26,000 between 2007-2009.The Vancouver-based Adbusters publishes a magazine with a circulation of 120,000 and is known for its spoofs of popular advertisements. It says it wants to “change the way corporations wield power” and its goal is “to topple existing power structures.”Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn said the group is 95 percent funded by subscribers paying for the magazine.”George Soros’s ideas are quite good, many of them. I wish he would give Adbusters some money, we sorely need it,” he said. “He’s never given us a penny.”Adbusters may have sparked Occupy Wall Street but it is by no means in control of the disparate movement, with the protests now in their fourth week and spreading to cities across America. President Barack Obama, BlackRock Chief Executive Laurence Fink and Soros himself are among those who have expressed sympathy for the protesters’ frustration with high unemployment.SHARED FRUSTRATION”I can understand their sentiment,” Soros told reporters last week at the United Nations about the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, which are expected to spur solidarity marches globally on Saturday. He declined to comment further.Soros, 81, is No. 7 on the Forbes 400 list with a fortune of $22 billion, which has ballooned in recent years as he deftly responded to financial market turmoil. He has pledged to give away all his wealth, half of it while he earns it and the rest when he dies.Like the protesters, Soros is no fan of the 2008 bank bailouts and subsequent government purchase of the toxic sub-prime mortgage assets they amassed in the property bubble.The protesters say the Wall Street bank bailouts in 2008 left banks enjoying huge profits while average Americans suffered under high unemployment and job insecurity with little help from Washington. They contend that the richest 1 percent of Americans have amassed vast fortunes while being taxed at a lower rate than most people.Soros in 2009 wrote in an editorial that the purchase of toxic bank assets would, “provide artificial life support for the banks at considerable expense to the taxpayer.”He urged the Obama administration to take bolder action, either by recapitalizing or nationalizing the banks and forcing them to lend at attractive rates. His advice went unheeded.The Hungarian-American was an early supporter of the 2008 election campaign of Barack Obama, who will seek a second term as president in the November, 2012, election. He has long backed liberal causes - the Open Society Institute, the foreign policy think tank Council on Foreign Relations and Human Rights Watch.SLOW STARTAdbusters, which publishes a magazine and runs such campaigns as “Digital Detox Week” and “Buy Nothing Day,” came up with the Occupy Wall Street idea after Arab Spring protests toppled governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, said Lasn, the 69-year-old co-founder of the group.”It came out of these brainstorming sessions we have at Adbusters,” Lasn told Reuters, adding they began promoting it online on July 13. “We were inspired by what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and we had this feeling that America was ripe for a Tahrir moment.”“We felt there was a real rage building up in America, and we thought that we would like to create a spark which would give expression for this rage.”Other support for Occupy Wall Street has come from online funding website Kickstarter, where more than $75,000 has been pledged, deliveries of food and from cash dropped in a bucket at the park. Liberal film maker Michael Moore has also pledged to donate money.The protests began in earnest on September 17, triggered by an Adbusters campaign featuring a provocative poster showing a ballerina dancing atop the famous bronze bull in New York’s financial district as a crowd of protesters wearing gas masks approach behind her.Dressed in anarchist black, the battle-ready mob is shrouded in a fog suggestive of tear gas or fires burning. Some are wearing gas masks, others wielding sticks. The poster’s message seems to be a heady combination of sexuality, violence, excitement and adventure.Former carpenter Robert Daros, 23, saw that poster in a cafe in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Having lost his work as a carpenter after Florida’s speculative construction boom collapsed in a heap of sub-prime mortgage foreclosures, he quit his job as a bartender and traveled to New York City with just a sleeping bag and the hope of joining the protest movement.Daros was one of the first people to arrive on Wall Street for the so-called occupation on September 17, when protesters marched and tried to camp on Wall Street only to be driven off by police to Zuccotti Park - two acres of concrete without a blade of grass near the rising One World Trade Center.”When I was a carpenter, I lost my job because the financier of my project was arrested for corporate fraud,” said Daros, who was wearing a red arm band to show he was helping out in the medic section of the Occupy Wall Street camp.Since its obscure beginnings, the campaign has drawn global media attention in places as far-flung as Iran and China. The Times of London, however, was not alone when it called the protests “Passionate but Pointless.”Adbusters’ co-founder Lasn dismisses that, reeling off specific demands: a tax on the richest 1 percent, a tax on currency trades and a tax on all financial transactions.”Down the road, there will be crystal clear demands coming out of this movement,” he said. “But this first phase of the movement is messy and leaderless and demandless.”“I think it was perfect the way it happened.”
Mosaid said Wi-Lan will not be able to take up any of its shares, unless the bid is extended until November 1, 2011.The stockholder rights plan — commonly referred to as a poison pill — protects shareholder interests and allows the board to seek out alternatives.On Wednesday, Mosaid Technologies said it has received a “meaningfully stronger” expression of interest from a private equity firm.