Herb Part 1: A Sign That Data Transmission and Eskimo Pie Can't Find Buyers?

Also, how homestore.com spun its stock.
Author:
Publish date:

Fried-Day

Hedge fund horrors:

Boston hedge fund manager Peter Kamin of

Peak Management

has boasted significant stakes in both

Data Transmission Network

(DTLN)

(no stranger to this column) and

Eskimo Pie

(EPIE)

. He's also been an influence at both companies for some time, agitating for the sale of both. The likelihood of a sale, in fact, has been a big part of the investment story at both for months. This past Monday, Eskimo Pie disclosed that it's still holding talks regarding a possible sale.

Now hear this: In filings with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

over the past two days, Kamin reported that he was distributing roughly half of his holding in each company to certain of his fund's limited partners.

What's up with that? Kamin, who is also chairman of Data Transmission, didn't return several calls. But according to several short-sellers who run hedge funds, if hedge fund investors want their money back, a fund has the option of giving it to them in cash or in the form of securities from the fund's portfolio.

But giving stock instead of cash is often seen as a sign of desperation. Kamin, they speculate, may have chosen to give shares rather than be seen as a seller. (Of course, that doesn't mean limited partners who receive those shares won't, or haven't, sold them.)

More important, a decision to pay investors with stock suggests Kamin couldn't find a corporate buyer for his shares at current prices -- the type of buyers both companies have been trying to attract.

Officials of Data Transmission and Eskimo Pie didn't return our calls.

Games people play:

homestore.com

(HOMS)

tumbled 17% Thursday to 100 7/8 after the company priced a follow-on offering

below

the stock's market price. Don't cry for me Argentina -- the $110 offering price is still considerably higher than what the stock traded at when the offering was first announced Jan. 12. (It was 90 13/16 at the time.)

And no wonder: homestore double-dipped!

The day after announcing the offering, homestore, which lists houses for sale, published "selected" earnings for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Selected earnings? Why selected earnings? The company says it wanted to talk with potential investors, and it wanted to talk about the most current numbers.

Well, then why not issue the full earnings? "It was simply too early to release the full numbers," a spokeswoman said.

Too early?

Well, sure. If the company had released all of its earnings on Jan. 13, it would've had no additional news to give the stock additional traction into the actual offering. Enter the "full" earnings on Monday, two days before the deal was priced. The stock flew Tuesday, going to 122 1/4 from 96 1/2 on the very same earnings news, the deal got done at a hefty price and the rest is history.

Oh, and don't look now, but rival

HomeSeekers.com

(HMSK)

(smaller, but some say just as wise) is hot on its tail.

Don't forget:

Look for

Herb Part 2 later this morning.

Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at

herb@thestreet.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.

Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.