Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Our ships just came in -- or did they?

Pasha's MV Jean Anne, modern and mysterious
Wall St. just loves Matson's purchase of the Alaska business of Horizon Lines, and -- presumably -- is OK with Pasha's purchase of the Hawaii operations of Horizon.

Matson's share price was up over 20%, making it a $1.5 billion company, up from a $1B company when it split from A&B. (A&B is now a $2B company, up from $1B at the split, so there.)

Pasha's increased presence in Hawaii can hardly be good for Matson, but what does Wall Street know? Not much in my experience.

What about Pasha's value? You'd have to ask George and I don't think he'd tell you. My impression is that Pasha is one of the biggest businesses in the country if not in the world, but it is privately held (apparently mostly by the Pasha family), so there's one in the eye for those who argue that the financial markets benefit us all by using collective knowledge to allocate capital in the best way.

This is been a load of complete barnyard waste since capital markets first started functioning in a modern way about 400 years ago but the financial marketeers never tire of telling that to us, and lots of people believe them. It is only stating the obvious to say it's bunk.

Usually the evidence is negative -- markets collude to destroy people, work, environments, cultures, nations, you name it. But sometimes the evidence is positive -- when those rare managers who know what they are doing build their businesses without resorting to the "discipline" of the markets.

This appears to be the case with Pasha, as with a few other big, very successful firms, like Cargill, Lykes (until its presiding genius got old and blew his capital on a harebrained corn farm in the jungle) and others you have barely heard of because whatever they do (making money is only one aspect), they don't think it's any of your business.

And it isn't although maybe it should be. Living on islands that require marine shippers, it is not a matter of indifference who is running the ships and how.

RtO has nothing against Matson (RtO owns a chunk of Matson stock it bought at a very favorable price, thank you) or Pasha but remains wary.

No comments:

Post a Comment