Curious Case of LTRPB with 23x in One Day

This is not an arbitrage idea, but I wanted to share this as an interesting case study on how a seemingly obvious arbitrage situation might fail spectacularly. It reminds me of Volkswagen short-squeeze back in 2008 (coincidentally also happened during the crisis).

Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings represents Liberty's 23% stake in Trip Advisor (TRIP). It has two share classes - 72m of class A shares (LTRPA) and 3m of class B shares (LTRPB). The B class shares have the same economic interest, just 10x more votes. And as can be seen from the chart below, historically both of these shares used to trade relatively tight to each other. LTRPB is the one with limited float and very low liquidity (no trading on more than half of the days).

 

1 YEAR

Share prices of LTRPB and LTRPA started diverging in mid-January (not clear why) and in begging of April LTRPB was trading at 100%+ premium to class A shares. I am guessing this wide spread attracted a number of arbitrageurs, who expected the two to converge back together in short term (I am not sure if borrow was available and at what price).

Then on the 15th of April LTRPB share price shot up almost 23x from $5/share to $113/share. After trading halt it dropped back to $19/share and then rebounded again the next day. The situation is still ongoing and currently LTRPB trades in the ~$70s, while LTRPA at about $2.30/share. There is no LTRPB borrow and fee stands at 360% annually.

And while noone yet seems to know the reasons why exactly all of this happened, I looks very similar to short squeeze, where LTRPB short sellers were forced to buy in at any price after the borrowed shares have suddenly been recalled or simply removed from the available borrowing pool (hedge fund games?).

Below is the chart of LTRPB over the last two days. These share price moves even affected the trading of the much more liquid LTRPA (which increased by 50% yesterday) and in turn TRIP (which spiked by 10% and then reverted back).

 

 

LTRPB Trading

 

If someone has figured, what has actually happened here, please share.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Bry

    This is just a theory. I think what happened here was somebody probably had the spread trade on and lost their borrow, which forced them to try and cover and there was no liquidity, so the stock went up a bit. There is a contingent of people on Robin Hood who buy things that are up in the morning, this added additional upward pressure. Take a look at LTRPA and TRIP, both of these stocks started to move upwards on higher volume, on no news. I think this was caused by Stat Arb funds started buying because LTRPB was up so much and LTRPA and TRIP should all be reasonably correlated.

    1. jwestern

      So is there a case to go long DISCA since that’s what people would be shorting now?

      1. jwestern

        (right now I believe DISCA is the more expensive one — correct me if I’m wrong)

        1. dt

          Not sure I follow you – DISCA at $20.53 and DISCB at $45.84.
          I am not trading this at all as I do not understand why this spread exists in the first place. It looks like manipulation of illiquid market and one can never no when will DISCB shoot up again forcing all the hedged positions to buy in at higher prices.

        2. jwestern

          Ah, I was looking at market caps for each symbol separately. So you’re saying the right way to look at it is each series A/B share has the same financial interest?

  2. g4734g

    here we go again…..up well over 100% last three days…..stared at it monday when it was up a few bucks to mid 20’s wondering if something was brewing….it was, price as we speak is $66…..no I did not pull the trigger

  3. g4734g

    Happening again with another John Malone Liberty company…..Qrtea just went thru a a “stock split” where they took a 10 dollar stock and gave a $1.5 cash dividend and issued a $3 preferred dividend. So the stock was ex div yesterday to the tune of $4.50……..The B shares,(qrteb) closed today up $10.4 to 16.40…the A shares closed up .73 at 6.89. I have no inside info, but seems to me someone or group knows Malone holds the vast percentage of B shares in all of his stocks…(Trip Advisor, Discovery, QRTE, Sirius Radio, and on and on) and they know he is not selling, so the effective float in beyond minuscule.

    LTRPB, which originally DT posted about is STILL trading at $38 vs the B shares which are $2. Seems to trade between 1 and 4 thousand shares a day.

  4. Jim Davis

    Has to be a giant scam. Not sure exactly what the game it

    Maybe money laundering

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