Philippe Laffont on AAPL, FB, LNKD, EQIX and VMED

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BLOOMBERG EXCLUSIVE: In his first-ever TV interview, Philippe Laffont, founder of hedge fund Coatue Capital Management, spoke with Bloomberg TV’s Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker this morning.  He said that he’s not worried that his fund is very concentrated, saying that, “If you want to try to outperform, you have to focus on your best ideas…it puts a premium on being right.”

Laffont said that Coatue invested in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in 2003 when the stock “was at $100.”  He also discusses Facebook’s IPO and his stakes in Equinix and Virgin Media, saying that “the demand for the internet will continue to grow.”

Laffont on whether it’s risky to have so much concentration in a few names all in the tech sector:

“Concentration is a problem over the short-run, but it sort of goes away over the long run. We try to invest over the long-run and are willing to take the volatility. The less concentrated you are, the more your returns will look like the S&P or the Nasdaq. If you want to try to outperform, you have to focus on your best ideas. it is something we transmitted to investors from day one. They understand the risk. It puts a premium on being right.”


On Apple:

“[We invested in Apple] 2003. When we got involved with Apple, the stock was at $10. We did not get involved until maybe it was at $100. We missed the whole iPod. When the iPhone came in, we thought it would be a repeat of the iPod. Today you still have the iPhone 5 coming out, which I think will be an incredible product and then potentially Apple TV. This is an amazing company. They have so much growth going on. They represent 5-10% of the market and they can get a much bigger market share.”

On Facebook’s IPO:

“It is clearly an incredible company and it also has an incredible management team. One of the things to respect about Mark [Zuckerberg] is that he has surrounded himself with great executives. The tough part about an investment is you are looking for good businesses, good management team, but it is different if you buy a stock at 30 or at 100. That is what we will find out at 9:31 tomorrow morning.”

“I would like to get as many shares as possible. That’s what probably everyone wants to do.  I’m sure the stock is incredibly oversubscribed. The real decision is what will happen tomorrow.”

On whether there is a risk for too much hunger for Facebook shares:

“We have lots of previous examples, both in the year 2000, 1999, but even as recently as Linkedin Corporation (NYSE:LNKD). LinkedIn had a small float. The stock started at a low IPO price. The stock moved all the way up, came all the way back down, and in a few months later it’s back to where it started. It is possible the same happens to Facebook. I do not know.”
“I do [like LinkedIn]. We have a position in LinkedIn. It is a small position for us, but I think it’s one of these companies that 10 years from now it could be completely different than it is today.”

On Facebook’s business model:

“It is a great business. Not only do they have the potential to grow their advertising a lot, but in addition they are making money with mobile games. They have a lot of new potential growth products.”


On Equinix Inc (NASDAQ:EQIX):

“We pitched it at the Ira Sohn conference yesterday Equinix. It’s a great story.  Basically, if I am Bloomberg, I want to get my news feeds from the NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange very close to me so I have the prices immediately.  By putting my servers right next to them, I can get those prices and send them out to all of my customers. Bloomberg needs to have their servers right next to the servers of these other companies, and that is what Equinix allows you to do.”

“I think the demand for the internet will continue to grow. We are in the early innings.  The company is growing 25-30% revenues and EBITDA. It should continue to do that…We started buying it years ago really and have just been adding on to the position. I think right now we might be the largest shareholder of the company.”

On Virgin Media:

“Virgin Media, whereas Equinix solves the problem at the core, Virgin Media solves the problem at the edge. Right now wifi enables many people to share the internet together in a household. Virgin Media has that pipe from the home back to the core back to Equinix.  It’s the fastest pipe out there and with HD streaming and online games, you just need to have this fast pipe.”


On where he sees Virgin Media Inc.(NASDAQ:VMED) stock going:

“Right now the stock is at 22. The strange part is that the company is buying back their shares very aggressively. We think five years from now the company could buy back every single share. I hope I will own the last share.”


On Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN):

“In general, the tough part with Groupon is to establish is it a great business model or not? They’ve invented a very innovative product.  I just can’t tell once you’ve run out of all the different local merchants, then what is going to be the next step.”

On how net-long he is right now:

“Right now we have a conservative exposure to the market. It’s sort of hard to dissociate.  We have great equity valuations in the U.S. in some of the big tech names. But I can’t ignore what is going on in Europe and China and elsewhere. I would say we are reasonably conservatively positioned.

On how this plays out in his portfolio:

“It would be done though a combination that just in the way that we’re looking for winners, we are also looking for losers, and we’re hoping that our portfolio of winners and losers balances itself out. We also have some options of tail risk protection.”

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