As Pershing Square’s Bill Ackman continued his attack on Herbalife in this morning’s session of the Robin Hood Investors Conference, the global nutrition company’s stock gained more than 5 percent, reaching $71.91 by midday.
In a Bloomberg TV interview following the closed-to-the-press session, Ackman claimed he would take his bet against Herbalife “to the end of the earth.” However, the same could not be said of his initial $1-billion short position in the company. The investor recently took the short squeeze option off the table, reducing his position by more than 40 percent at a loss of $400 million to $500 million.
Despite the stock’s positive performance and opposition from several prominent stakeholders, Pershing Square is doggedly pursuing its agenda in Washington, talking to attorneys general and various regulators “weekly, and at times daily,” Ackman told Bloomberg. However, the investor said he has no knowledge of what action the FTC is currently taking.
“Mr. Ackman presented nothing new today,” Herbalife responded in an emailed statement to Bloomberg. “After a year of baseless claims about Herbalife and hundreds of millions of dollars of losses for his investors, the only thing Mr. Ackman has proven with his obsessive, ego-driven investing decisions is his lack of understanding of consumer-product companies.”
Carl Icahn, Herbalife’s largest stakeholder at 17 percent, affirmed his positive outlook on the company, calling many of Ackman’s statements the “rantings of a sore loser.” Both Icahn and Bill Stiritz, CEO of cereal-maker Post Holdings and the fourth-largest shareholder in Herbalife, have expressed a willingness to participate in a leveraged buyout (LBO) to take the company private. Stiritz recently took a more active position on the stock, upping his stake to 6.38 percent from 5 percent in September.