St. Joe Shares Popped: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of real estate developer St. Joe (NYSE: JOE  ) immediately popped 10% at the open but have since retracted on no apparent news.

So what: Within the last month, St. Joe has been dealt a blow with the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing a formal inquiry into the company's asset impairment valuation practices. Cheering this on is David Einhorn of Greenlight Capital who owns a sizable short position in St. Joe. On the other side of the coin, speculation remains that Bruce Berkowitz may want to raise his stake in St. Joe or perhaps buy it altogether.

Now what: Recently, St. Joe's stock price has had more drama built in than the Jerry Springer show -- all that's missing is the chair-throwing and fist-fighting. On a more serious note, short interest in the company has been rising dramatically over the past few months, and today's move may have been nothing more than a temporary short squeeze. The real debate between Einhorn and Berkowitz is over what the real value of the land is that St. Joe's possesses. Although I've been brutally wrong so far, I continue to see more logic with Einhorn's viewpoint, especially given St. Joe's earnings history, which has been bleeding red with losses for quite some time. This story is a long way from being played out, so I suggest grabbing a bucket of popcorn so you're ready when the next episode rolls around.

Interested in more info on St. Joe? Add it to your watchlist by clicking here.

Fool contributor Sean Williams does not own shares in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong.

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  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2011, at 12:22 AM, willwise wrote:

    I guess there are no fact checkers at the Motley Fool.......the inquiry is "informal". Only two letters, but a big difference. "Brutally wrong" again.

    http://ir.joe.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=1299933-11-116

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2011, at 8:17 AM, weiwentg wrote:

    At this point, the inquiry is INformal. There has been no concrete evidence that St. Joe has made any accounting misstatements. There has been no pattern of aggressive accounting and lack of transparency at the company that would give me reason to think they've committed fraud.

    Einhorn's thesis is also wrong in my view. St. Joe blew it on a parcel or two, but most of its value is in the long term - as many as 10 years or more. Einhorn apparently can't see out that long.

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