Earlier today, a person, if a person were so inclined, could hop on his or her Bloomberg terminal, start a message to hedge fund manager Dan Loeb, and be greeted with a header that proclaimed “New HLF Product: The Herbalife Enema, Administered by Uncle Carl.” This line was an obvious reference to the figurative enema Pershing Square chief Bill Ackman has undergone at hands of the shake and supplement company and fellow money manger, Carl Icahn. After a flurry of articles pointing out Loeb’s anus-themed diss, the Third Point manager’s header was changed to “Always take the high road.” While one might quick to assume this meant Loeb had had a change of heart re: his previous statement, and had felt it’d been a less than diplomatic thing to say, doing so would make an ass of you and me. Read more »
If you missed out on the opportunity to lose 90% on Bill Ackman’s last can’t-miss single-stock fund, you’ve got nine days to ensure you aren’t kicking yourself this time. Read more »
Financial Times: You have received a lot of good press, but there has also been some criticism of some of the investment stances you have taken and also your trading techniques, specifically the short selling. In a way, your philanthropy does not seem to fit with how you live your professional life. How would you respond to that assertion? Bill Ackman: I think we’ve accomplished more for society in our for-profit activities than in our not-for-profit activities. My work with the Pershing Square Foundation is a continuum of what I do in my professional life. When the Foundation sees a problem we always ask if there is a business solution. I think most of the criticisms you have heard relate to my position on Herbalife. If I manage to close down that company I will consider it the greatest achievement of my life. [FT]
Guy Trades Dream Of Making Millions Selling Herbalife For New Dream Of Making Millions Suing HerbalifeBy Matt Levine
It’s a little surprising that it took this long for someone to sue Herbalife, isn’t it? Whether or not Bill Ackman is right about Herbalife being an illegal pyramid scheme, he did take the trouble of writing like 300 pages about it, which is usually more than enough to inspire some intrepid class action lawyer to cut and paste the most damaging claims into a complaint and see where it goes. Perhaps they were stymied by converting from PowerPoint. Anyway here you go:
California resident Dana Bostick is suing Herbalife under racketeering and corruption laws, accusing the company of being an “inherently fraudulent pyramid scheme.” …
While Herbalife has settled suits brought by former distributors in the past, Bostick is the first to go to court since Herbalife became a battleground of hedge fund titans. Ackman has faced off against Dan Loeb and Carl Icahn, who owns a 15 percent stake in Herbalife. … The suit, which also seeks class-action status, claims around 88 percent of Herbalife’s 500,000 US distributors do not make any money.
The complaint is here and it’s … mostly it’s just sad. On a first reading it’s not entirely clear how you should apportion blame for the sadness; I don’t know if this says more about Herbalife or Dana Bostick: Read more »
That or he’s going to burn all his clothes and replace them exclusively with items exclusively purchased at the retailer, or hell, just move into the place. Whatever it takes to show he’s more committed to this place than ever. Read more »
CAN YOU FEEL THE EXCITEMENT? No, right? Okay good. A senior audit partner at KPMG Los Angeles did a bad thing and “was involved in providing non-public client information to a third party, who then used that information in stock trades involving several West Coast companies.” And now KPMG has resigned as the auditor of a couple of companies, and withdrawn their 2010/2011/2012 audit reports, which, given that 10Qs are due in a couple of weeks, is a bummer for those companies. Bob’s Auditing Service & Carwash of Rancho Palos Verdes is going to be busy.
And of course one of the companies is Herbalife, which has really had more than its share of excitement. Honestly if I was insider trading I’d probably pick a company a bit further from the limelight?1 Anyway HLF was halted for most of the morning while while they puttered around thinking things over, only to eventually release a pretty bland press release that stresses that KPMG resigned “solely due to the impairment of KPMG’s independence resulting from its now former partner’s alleged unlawful activities and not for any reason related to Herbalife’s financial statements, its accounting practices, the integrity of Herbalife’s management or for any other reason.” It eventually re-opened down 2.3%.
The other company is … currently a player to be named later? Speculation is focusing on Skechers, a California-based KPMG client that was also halted, which seems plausible enough. Who knows? [Update: Yep, Skechers.]
Okay further baseless speculation! Read more »
Bill Ackman Is Saying This Because He Cares: Just Because They Make Pants With 52-Inch Waists Doesn’t Mean You Need To Aspire To Wear ThemBy Bess Levin
As has been discussed at length in the past, should hedge fund manager Bill Ackman ever decide to take up a new line of work, he would no doubt have a bright future hosting a guerrilla-style makeover show wherein he and a sidekick drive around in a van looking for people who could benefit from his discerning eye and then ambush them on the street and weigh in on what’s wrong with their [choose all that apply: bangs/clothes/arms/ass/life in general].1 Although not classically trained, the Pershing Square founder has years of experience, dating all the way back to his days as a Harvard Business School student, when fellow classmates were asked if streetwalker was the look they were going for.
One money manager said Mr. Ackman was a trustworthy and loyal friend, but also “an acquired taste” because of his tendency to speak very directly where others might tread gingerly—or not at all. When Mr. Ackman was a student at Harvard Business School, the friend recalled, he took it upon himself to tell at least one woman she was overly made up. The delivery: “You know, I’m just saying this because I have your best interests at heart, but you have too much makeup on.”
Those who can get past the bluntness to see that Ackman’s constructive criticism comes from a place of love ultimately benefit from his counsel. According to one testimonial: Read more »