Carl Icahn swears his huge investment in diet-shake purveyor and pyramid-scheme-in-all-but-name Herbalife had nothing to do with his enmity towards Bill Ackman, who staked a considerable portion of his clients’ money on the notion that Herbalife was a worthless fraud. Sure, maybe putting a short squeeze on his adversary was a lucky side effect, one that Ackman insists kept Herbalife in business, but ultimate Icahn said he just really liked multi-level marketing herbal tea businesses.
Whether or not that was true, however, one thing has become clear: Icahn may have kept Herbalife alive, but Herbalife breathed new life into Carl Icahn—and continues to do so.
His investment fund lost money for three straight years, including back-to-back annual losses of 20% and 18% in 2016 and 2015….
Icahn’s investment fund returned 7.9% in 2018, a year in which most hedge fund traders lost money and the U.S. market was down for the year.
Those who follow Wall Street closely might find it ironic that the key long position in Icahn’s trading portfolio has been Herbalife…. Icahn sold a portion of his Herbalife stock in 2018. However, he kept a substantial long position and still owns 23% of the company. At $2.1 billion, Herbalife is by far the biggest single long position in Icahn’s investment fund.