The Straits Times
Published on Dec 06, 2012

Key puzzle: Why was Olam targeted?


IF A company's long-term fundamentals are solid, no amount of short-selling or actual selling can throttle the price of the stock for long ("Use shock-and-awe strategy to beat short-sellers"; Monday).

The reason: Smart money will be waiting to scoop up such a stock at some price level. Conversely, no amount of cash injection will save a fundamentally rotten stock.

Second, short-sellers, especially institutional ones, are welcome fuel to the bullish trend of a fundamentally good stock.

Such short-sellers will keep coming back and a point will be reached - the parabolic top - which will ultimately force their capitulation.

Third, the force that moves the price of a stock or currency up or down permanently is not hedge-fund driven. The vital drivers are large institutional investors like pension or unit trust funds, which stake out a significant position in many stocks.

For example, the reason billionaire investor George Soros successfully bet against the British pound in 1992 arose from the massive selling of the currency by an aggregate of funds and other central banks and institutions.

The might of the latter proved too much for the British central bank to defend a fundamentally weak sterling.

Finally, there are tens of thousand of blue-chip stocks in stock exchanges everywhere, so the key question in the ongoing fight between the short-selling Muddy Waters and the commodities firm Olam International that investors need to know is - why Olam?

David Loo