Muddy Waters shorts Fairfax Financial

Short seller Muddy Waters has placed bets against the shares of Canadian holding company Fairfax Financial, which, through its subsidiaries, is primarily engaged in property and casualty insurance and reinsurance and the associated investment management.

“We find that Fairfax has consistently manipulated asset values and income by engaging in often value destructive transactions to produce accounting gains,” the firm argues. “We believe a conservative adjustment to book value should be ~-$4.5 billion or ~-18% lower than reported. We see Fairfax as far more akin to GE than to Berkshire Hathaway.”

The holding company issued a press release in response:

“Earlier today, Muddy Waters Research issued a report regarding Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited suggesting that the book value of Fairfax was overstated. Fairfax disagrees with the allegations and insinuations contained in the report, and would like to assure all shareholders that Fairfax has prepared its financial statements and reporting in accordance with all applicable accounting principles.

Through the first nine months of 2023, Fairfax has achieved record earnings driven by record operating income. Fairfax will release its fourth quarter and year-end financial results next Thursday, February 15, 2024, and a conference call will follow on the morning of Friday, February 16, 2024, and the management of the company is pleased to address any questions relating to those results or the report issued today at that time.”

Fairfax’s stock was down by ~11% at the time of writing this story.