When you earn a living calling out bad actors and causing stocks to drop, you’re most likely going to make some enemies. Hindenburg Research, founded by investment analyst Nate Anderson, is no exception to that rule.
The short-sale analysis firm has made a name for itself raising red flags about companies that went public through SPACs, including DraftKings ($DKNG), electric truck-makers Lordstown Motors ($RIDE) and Nikola ($NKLA), and Clover Health ($CLOV), a favorite “SPAC King” Chamath Palihapitiya. In the process, the firm has attracted a fair share of haters, especially on shitpost-heavy Reddit forums like r/WallStreetBets.
“Nathan Anderson is an absolute crook — the CEO of Hindenburg. This guy literally thinks he’s God’s gift,” one subreddit poster snarked in a lengthy “rebuttal” to the research firm’s latest report on DraftKings. The report on the sports-betting firm, scooped up by Diamond Eagle Acquisition, was titled: “DraftKings: A $21 Billion SPAC Betting It Can Hide Its Black Market Operations.”
“You can check out his twitter for your own eyes, but this guy is an absolute dick-wad and he really think’s he is better than everyone on WSB/retail bros, just because he’s had three successful trades, but I think he turned on the wrong stock with DKNG,” the subreddit participant wrote, referring to some of the research firm’s previous calls.
The poster also speculated that Anderson has been investigated for “pump and dump” schemes and misconduct by the SEC. Although unhappy short-sale targets have sued Anderson and his associates, and complained to the agency about him, there is no evidence he’s been subject to a federal securities probe. Meanwhile, the SEC and other authorities have launched investigations into some of Hindenburg’s targets, including Nikola, Lordstown and Clover.
Investors who congregate on WallStreetBets have taken to piling into heavily-shorted stocks in effort to spark short squeezes. The meme-loving and mostly amateur traders, who embrace an image of themselves as nerdy, trash-talking outcasts, are not shy about bashing firms like Hindenburg when trying to fight back against shorts.
Brushing off the Reddit screed, Anderson told us: “These posts are a dime a dozen these days.”
“We’ve been accused of secretly working for Putin, Democrats, Republicans and a variety of competitors and unnamed saboteurs,” he said. “Some ardent company supporters have gone to great lengths to convince themselves that we can’t genuinely be bearish on their favorite investment, so they come up with conspiracy theories to explain why we ‘really’ write our research. It’s the kind of perma-bullishness that’s characteristic of manias. And we are in the midst of a full-blown Fed-backed stock market mania at the moment. I don’t take it personally.”
Anderson and Hindenburg — so named after the hydrogen-filled zeppelin that exploded in a fiery disaster — appear to have found a calling in throwing cold water on the overheated SPAC frenzy. Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, once used as an obscure back-door trick to take companies public, have become all the rage on Wall Street over the past year, raising concerns about a bubble.
The firm describes itself as specializing in “forensic financial research” and fundamental analysis that includes “hard-to-find information from atypical sources.” In particular, Hindenburg zeroes in on accounting irregularities, bad actors in management or other key roles, undisclosed related-party transactions, illegal or unethical reporting practices, or undisclosed regulatory, product or financial issues. It takes short positions in some of the companies it targets with its reports. Similar firms include Viceroy Research, Citron Research, and Muddy Waters.
Anderson, an analyst in New York City, founded Hindenburg in 2018. Previously, he served as CEO and co-founder of advisory firm ClaritySpring, as director of alternatives for Tangent Capital, and as a principal for alternatives at Blue Heron Capital, according to his LinkedIn profile. The analyst, who is also a short seller, has claimed he takes particular interest in exposing fraud and malfeasance. Some observers are skeptical of his alleged altruistic intentions.
“I don’t think of shorts as public interest people,” Motley Fool writer Taylor Carmichael said during discussion about meme stocks posted to the website on Sunday. “Right, exactly. There’s got to be some motive,” fellow Motley Fool writer Corinne Cardina replied.