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Over the weekend, hedge fund manager David Einhorn sent me an email and we had what ended up a constructive exchange.
I'm not going to kiss the guy's tail. As much as I enjoyed his
dialogue with Einhorn, I don't buy Henry Blodget's repeated "You are vastly more sophisticated" and "way smarter than I am" act; that's a weak way to concede an argument. If you're not sophisticated or smart enough to make your case in the first place, then why make it?
That's why I never got into the merits of Einhorn's preferred stock proposal. Frankly, I don't understand it well enough. At the same time, I feel strongly that Einhorn -- and others -- miss big when they demand that
Apple(AAPL - Get Report) (A) has a responsibility to return even more cash to shareholders and/or (B) needs to do something
better with its cash.
Apple has never acted merely for the sake of acting or because an MBA textbook prescribes that it should.
But I humbly digress. There's one thing I wish I would have done differently in Friday's article. And, for the record, Einhorn put no pressure on me to say this; I'm doing it of my own accord because it's simply the right thing to do.
In one of the emails we exchanged, Einhorn said this:
Hustling is what an energetic center fielder does to get a fly ball in the gap. A hustler is a con man, who operates on the edge of the law and at a minimum takes advantage of people.
Well-stated. As a person who takes the not-so-subtle differences between words seriously -- and appreciates well-done rhetoric -- I value Einhorn's distinction. I agree with it. I'm always hustling, but I'm not a hustler. Although trading a few emails doesn't make us buds, I'm confident the same applies to Einhorn. I think he's a good guy.
I called him out. Einhorn responded. In this business, you can't ask for much more than that. If he considered himself too big -- or me too small -- for engagement, all I could do is continue to speculate about his motives.