Observer: Bill Ackman Fixed His Own Image—And Now He’ll Fix You!
Some interesting highlights:
His ambition and how he got there:"I want to have one of the great investment records of all time, why not?" Bill Ackman, founder of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management said nonchalantly over breakfast one Saturday in early April.
"That's why I have to be healthy," Mr. Ackman continued. "It's not just compounding a high rate; it's living a long time. Buffett has a 55-year-old record. I've got a seven-and-a-half-year-old record. It's going to be 90-I'll be almost 90 by the time I've got a 50-year history." He paused to refine the math. "I'll be 87." (He could shave a few more years off since Pershing is currently returning 24 percent annually compared to the 22 percent of Warren Buffet's storied Berkshire Hathaway.)
His track record:"I've made a lot of mistakes, but the good outweighs the bad," Mr. Ackman said. "This is a business where you don't have to be right every time. People talk about how being right 55 percent of the time is good enough, and we try and be right a lot more than that." Since launching Pershing Square, Mr. Ackman has turned a $54 million initial investment into a $9.3 billion behemoth, according to his March report—conveniently leaked, as it always does, on the rambunctious Wall Street gossip site Dealbreaker.
Recent highs and lowsFollowing his Target fight, he has found JCPenney to be a willing partner, as well as Fortune Brands, where Mr. Ackman convinced the board to break up the owner of Jim Beam, Titleist golf gear and a home products division that includes MasterLock padlocks and Moen faucets.
His most successful investment to date may be the purchase of General Growth Properties (GGP), the mall operator. Mr. Ackman bought at 34 cents a share and led it through bankruptcy, and now it trades in the mid-teens. And he broke even on a brash takeover bid for Stuyvesant Town, the massive middle-income housing complex in Manhattan, where a $45 million investment stood to make him $2 billion. The lenders decided to buy him out rather than force a foreclosure. The plan echoes at least a little bit the disdainful strategies of Mr. Icahn—yet Mr. Ackman insists the tenants, and not his fund, would have been the true beneficiary.
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