WHITNEY TILSON: I would short more Lumber Liquidators shares if I could

Whitney Tilson
Whitney Tilson REUTERS/Mike Segar

Whitney Tilson wants to short more Lumber Liquidators shares.

The problem is he can’t.

In an interview on CNBC on Monday, Tilson — who runs Kase Capital and has been short shares of Lumber Liquidators since the stock was trading near $US103 per share — said that after the “60 Minutes” report that aired Sunday night he called his broker to see if he could borrow more shares of the company to bet against.

Tilson was told there is no stock left to short. Tilson said in an email that he believes Lumber Liquidators shares will go to $US0 and Tilson said he has not covered a single share of his position.

On Sunday night, “60 Minutes” aired a piece that showed apparent violations by Lumber Liquidators at some of its factories in China, including what appeared to be intentional mislabeling of some products as complying with California state regulations when the factory knew they did not.

Tilson first brought the story to “60 Minutes.”

Lumber Liquidators issued a statement on Monday saying that it believes the testing methods cited by “60 Minutes” were improper.

CNBC’s Scott Wapner also asked Tilson a bit about conflict of interest and the perception that some short sellers might be crossing a line when they back a lawsuit against a company they are shorting or bring a story about a company they are betting against to the media. (The “60 Minutes” piece highlighted a California lawsuit, which is being backed a group of short sellers that does not include Tilson.)

Tilson said that his bringing the Lumber Liquidators story to “60 Minutes” represented not a conflict of interest but a “confluence of interest.”

When asked by Wapner what price might Tilson might consider covering his short at, Tilson said that maybe $US15 — which would give the company a multiple of about 5-times next year’s earnings — could be a point where some traders might “bottom-fish.”

But Tilson reiterated that he thinks the potential problems facing the company, both from a legal and sales perspective, will be too much to overcome.