Though his silvery mane and piercing blue eyes have helped to make him an instantly recognizable figure in the financial press, most American retirees probably know Bill Ackman as that lunatic who recently inspired their terrified in-laws to liquidate their 401(k)s before the market tumbled into the abyss.
Ackman's oddly poignant "Hell is Coming" speech will likely be remembered during retellings of the coronavirus market rout of 2020, if not for its surprisingly forceful impact (which remains a subject of debate), but for the many bizarre claims made by Ackman, including his comment about having had a 'vision' of COVID-19's destructive potential.
At the time, some accused Ackman of trying to scare mom-and-pop investors into selling so he could scoop up shares of Starbucks, RBI and several other long plays at better prices. And during an interview with Bloomberg on Monday, the hedge fund investor sounded curiously optimistic, claiming that he had closed his shorts and was '100% long', betting on a recovery, even as the market has moved lower since his "Hell is Coming" remark.
The activist investor said during the interview that his firm, Pershing Square Capital Management, had made a $2.5 billion "recovery bet" on the economy, investing entirely in stocks.
Though he said valuations on some of his favorite plays like Chipotle were "crazy", Ackman argued that some badly beaten companies, including Hilton and Boeing, were guaranteed winners. Of course, Ackman has been wrong about similar bets before.
Sounding suspiciously similar to his old pal' "uncle" Carl Icahn, Ackman insisted "that's the most bullish thing we've done. We are all long, no shorts, you know, 'betting on the country.
As the markets and the press punish the White House for dithering on the coronavirus rescue package, Ackman sounded almost naively confident in the Trump Administration and the capacity to minimize economic damage.
"I built a lot of confidence over the last week that the president and his team are heading in the right direction," Ackman said, adding that he had know 'inside knowledge' of any administration decision.
So far as anybody cares, the fundamentals of Hilton and other 'travel' stocks remain "strong", Ackman said.
“If you can buy Hilton at $60 when it was trading at almost $120, it’s going to be a bargain,” he said.
Boeing has seen a slight bump thanks to Goldman Sachs analysts calling the bottom. It appears Ackman feels the same.
“If Buffett will do it, I don’t think the Treasury Secretary should,” Ackman said.
Watch a clip below: