With returns such as these...
... it is hardly a surprise that Bill Ackman would be leery of disclosing any new positions or stakes he may have taken recently. And indeed, while in recent years Ackman is far better known for the "publicity" with his multibillion-dollar stock investments than their positive returns, usually creating massive, 300+ slide presentations to convince the investing world in his accuracy, on Thursday the billionaire hedge fund manager took a new approach when he kept his two most recent bets in mystery.
Ackman's $10.9 billion hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management made two bets in recent months where the firm committed 13% of its capital, but has not revealed the names of those investments.
As Reuters reports, hours before welcoming clients to the firm's annual dinner in New York on Thursday evening, Ackman sent a 95-page update to shareholders giving limited information on the new investments. The first new investment, where Pershing Square put 4 percent of its capital to work, presented itself late last year and has already earned the firm a roughly 22 percent return on its average cost, the update said. "We believe the investment is still attractive at current prices," Ackman said, adding it was a "high quality business" with a "best-in-class management team."
The second investment was even more circumspect, with Ackman only noting that it was made in early 2017 and that the Pershing Square committed 9 percent of its capital.
In the past, news of Ackman entering a new position would usually send its price higher as investors expected the activist to start pressuring management to perform better. However in light of Ackman's abysmal performance in 2015 and 2016, there were some cynical speculations that the market would immediately short anything that Ackman is long and vice versa.
It appears that the Pershing Square fund manager has decided not to take a chance to find out if such cynicism is true.
That said, we expect the identity of the "undisclosed" positions to be known within days.
In addition to a performance update, the 95slide deck (below) Ackman announced organizational changes only months after he trimmed the firm's ranks to 60 people from 72 to save money. Among these: Tim Barefield, the firm's chief operating officer, who has spent the last decade building out the operation, is retiring. Nicholas Botta, chief financial officer, will become president and Michael Gonnella, currently a senior controller, will be promoted to chief financial officer. Joe Sutton, Pershing Square's chief technology officer, is leaving the firm this month. Bharath Alamanda and Feroz Qayyum joined the firm this year as investment team analysts.
Full Pershing Square presentation below.