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Aug 22, 2019

'The Big Short's Steve Eisman calls out Canadian Tire

Steve Eisman still short Canada's banks, now taking aim at Canadian Tire

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Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC/A:CT) is the latest company to be publicly called out by famed short-seller Steve Eisman.

Speaking to BNN Bloomberg on Thursday, the portfolio manager made famous for his billion-dollar bets in The Big Short, said Canadian Tire’s credit card business makes it susceptible to the same pressures as the Canadian banks, some of which he publicly shorted in March of this year.

“The only other position I have in Canada – which I’ve never discussed – is Canadian Tire, which is one of my short positions,” Eisman, portfolio manager at New York-based Neuberger Berman, said when asked if any other Canadian companies were on his short-selling radar.

"They have a fairly significant credit card portfolio, which – if I’m right about the credit in the Canadian banks – eventually those problems will show up in Canadian Tire’s credit card business." 

Investors may have taken notice, as Canadian Tire’s stock suffered a sudden 1.4 per cent dip on the news. The retailer's shares, which were near an intraday high of $134.89 at 3:25 p.m. ET dropped to $132.89 just three minutes later, coinciding with Eisman’s comments.

Eisman said the retailer will also feel the pinch of online commerce, as the likes of Amazon.com Inc. encroach on its business.

“As you know, Canadian Tire is a very significant retailer in Canada and I think the last two quarters they’ve had some real margin pressure,” he said. “I think the reason for the margin pressure is they’re feeling the heat from Amazon,” Eisman said.

As for his short on the Canadian banks, Eisman said his conviction remains the same. He added his short positions tend to cover anywhere from nine months to three years.

However, he did say that the commercial loan books for the Canadian banks that have reported quarterly results this week – Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Royal Bank of Canada – were cause for alarm.

“It would seem to me with all the uncertainty out there, both in Canada and the world, this would be the last time in the world you should grow your commercial loan books (by) double digits, but that’s what the banks are doing,” Eisman said.

“I find it puzzling and unexplainable.”

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