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Shares of Lumber Liquidators Just Crashed After This Investor Shorted It, Again

The sign outside the Lumber Liquidators store in DenverThe sign outside the Lumber Liquidators store in Denver
A sign outside a Lumber Liquidators store in Denver.Photograph by Rick Wilking — Reuters

Shares of Toano, Va.-based Lumber Liquidators (LL) crumbled 15% in late trading, after hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson announced he’d shorted the company for a second time.

In a presentation Tuesday, Tilson, who heads Kase Capital Management, said he believed there was a 50% or greater chance that the beleaguered hardwood flooring retailer would eventually file for bankruptcy.

“Operating losses and cash burn will remain severely negative,” Tilson said in the scathing presentation. “It will likely be very difficult and expensive to settle the regulatory issues.”

Tilson said Lumber Liquidators, which has been found to have cancer-causing formaldehyde in some of its products, has paid for most of the legal fees out of pocket, since the company’s insurers have denied coverage.

Tilson also cited several recent developments that will make it difficult to Lumber Liquidators to recover its price: the widespread negative media coverage on Lumber Liquidators, possibility of further legal action, and Tilson’s lack of confidence in the company’s leadership.

Tilson’s position with Lumber Liquidators has flip-flopped over the past few years, with Tilson revealing a short position November 2013, then announced that he had closed out the position on Dec. 15, sending shares up nearly 22% that day.

 

Tilson upped his short in Lumber Liquidators after a damaging report from “60 Minutes” alleged the company was selling products laced with cancer-causing formaldehyde, bought from a supplier in China. Since the program aired in March last year, shares have tumbled over 70%.

Later, Tilson reversed his short after deciding management had no knowledge of the formaldehyde.

Since then, the federal government has also played a flip-flop of its own. The Center for Disease Control opened up an investigation into the company, and released findings in February, saying the formaldehyde was unlikely to cause cancer. Just 10 days later, the CDC rehashed its numbers, saying Lumber Liquidator’s flooring was three times as likely to cause cancer than previously estimated.

Share bumped up by 25 basis points in after hours trading.