Ackman Says Herbalife Short No Mistake

Aug 23 2013 | 5:59am ET

Pershing Square Capital Management’s William Ackman is willing to admit he’s made mistakes—but his $1 billion short against Herbalife isn’t one of them.

Ackman wrote to clients on Tuesday, following a tumultuous few weeks that saw his name in the headlines about both his investment in the nutritional supplements company and in retailer J.C. Penney Co. The latter, Ackman said, was among his “mistakes,” and has proven a “failure.”

Ackman resigned from Penney’s board last week amidst a dispute between himself and his fellow directors over his public call for the ousters of the company’s chairman and interim CEO. The hedge fund manager indicated he might seek to sell his nearly 18% stake in the company, which is nursing a 40% loss.

“Clearly, retail has not been our strong suit, and this is duly noted,” Ackman wrote.

There was no such admission on Herbalife, which Ackman has called a pyramid scheme. Shares of the company have soared in recent months, saddling Pershing Square with a roughly $300 million paper loss.

But the jury is still out on the investment, Ackman insisted.

“Over the past eight months, we have made material progress in attracting federal, state and international regulatory interest in Herbalife,” he wrote. “We are not at liberty to disclose the nature of these developments, but we believe that the probability of timely aggressive regulatory intervention has increased materially.” Ackman added that he has been in touch with a former Herbalife employee he deemed a “whistle-blower.”

And he made no apologies for the raft of sometimes-unfavorable coverage he’s received, calling it “a natural outcome of our high-profile strategy.”

“Activist investing requires a thick and calloused skin, and recent press coverage reinforces this point.”


In Depth

Q&A: High Conviction, Low Correlation

Oct 30 2014 | 7:35am ET

Acadian Asset Management's numbers are big: over $70 billion in assets under management...

Lifestyle

Ex-Hedgie Steyer Gives $56M To Climate Action Super PAC

Oct 28 2014 | 9:23am ET

Retired Farallon Capital founder Tom Steyer has poured almost $56 million into his...

Guest Contributor

Hedge Funds Weather A Data Management Perfect Storm

Oct 22 2014 | 12:28pm ET

From a regulatory standpoint, nearly every development since the crisis has placed...

 

Videos

Editor's Note

    Guidelines for Guest Articles

    Oct 22 2014 | 9:46am ET

    We are always looking for guest articles from hedge fund managers and buy-side firms.

    If you are interested in submitting a contributed piece for possible publication on FINalternatives, please take a look at the specs. Read more…

 

Futures Magazine

October 2014 Cover

Demeter: Family affair

David and James Hamman launched their fundamental Livestock and Grains Program in March of 2010 but it really was decades in the making.

The Alpha Pages

TAP July/August 2014 Cover

The Alpha Pages Interview: Senator Rand Paul

Senator Paul sat down in the debut series of the Alpha Pages Interview to discuss the broken tax code, regulation surrounding Bitcoin, and his plans for the 2016 Presidential election.