Glenview's Larry Robbins says he's shorting 3M shares

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Glenview Capital Management CEO Larry Robbins said Monday that he’s shorting shares of industrial conglomerate 3M.

Robbins underscored 3M’s mounting litigation headaches, which span multiple states and center on pollution as a result of its operations. The manager added that, since 2015, 3M’s lawsuits have soared 87 fold and now pose a significant liability to the company’s earnings.

Glenview estimates that 3M will lose between $4 billion and $6 billion as a result of the litigation.

“You don’t have to be Erin Brockovich to realize it’s not a good pattern,” Robbins said. “This company, 12 days after filing their 2017 10-K in 2018 … paid out” an $850 million settlement to Minnesota, which claimed the manufacturer contaminated water in the state for at least 50 years.

New Jersey officials filed a similar suit against 3M in March to pay to clean up water and soil contamination. The suit in New Jersey court came days after the state’s environmental department directed five companies to take action on contamination caused by toxic chemicals commonly known as PFAS.

Shares of 3M fell 1.9% Monday versus the S&P 500’s 0.8% decline.

Long a fan of health-care stocks, Robbins also said he likes HMO health-care stocks like Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group, but he doesn’t like pharmaceutical stocks due to the political risk. He highlighted that many Democratic presidential hopefuls — as well as President Donald Trump — are opposed to lofty drug prices.

“In pharmaceuticals … the president can act unilaterally to reduce drug pricing,” Robbins warned from the 2019 Sohn Conference in New York. “The same drug in the United States costs three times as much as other” developed countries.

Robbins spoke at length about possible changes to the health care system, calling the “Medicare for all” plan favored by many progressives “dead on arrival.”

Robbins said Glenview has three long and 16 short positions in the pharmaceutical space and recommends investors short any ETF that tracks the space. Last year, he picked Express ScriptsCigna, CVSAetna and McKesson as his winners in the field.

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