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A Media Timeline of Controversial Investor Bill Ackman

  +Follow August 23, 2013 8:36AM
Tickers Mentioned:

If you want to get a conversation going, you might as well do it with a letter titled simply “Mistakes.” That’s what activist investor Bill Ackman did when he admitted that his controversial, high-profile bets for JC Penney (JCP) and against Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) had both misfired, spectacularly.

In the letter, the once high-flying Ackman referred to his failed attempt to turnaround JC Penney by installing a handpicked CEO with no department store experience and making radical, hands-on changes to store policy a “failure.” Ackman resigned from JC Penney's board on Aug. 13, ending his troubled tenure at the retailer in a public, embarassing fashion.

Just prior to writing the letter concerning JC Penney, Ackman defended his other major 2013 blunder, the $300 million (and counting) loss his hedge fund Pershing Square Capital has incurred shorting Herbalife, which he has called a “pyramid scheme” for its multi-tiered marketing system. Ackman claimed he’s making progress on getting federal regulators to take a closer look at the company. But like with JC Penney, it seems now like he's just trying to save face.

The fact is, the investor, once the crown prince of activist investing, has tanked spectacularly, and--especially in the eyes of the media--might be down for good. It hasn't always been this way. When he famousy predicted (and successfulyl shorted) the 2007 financial crash, he was lauded as a visionary and more. But now, with the latetst string of bad bets, it's like Ackman wasn't ever on top to begin with.

Ackman’s own admissions, with letters entitled "Mistakes" stand in stark contrast to his confident, no-hold-barred past as an activist who saw what others didn't. Now, his seesaw contrition and bravado belies uncertainty, and mirrors the investment community’s own waning perception of the divisive investor.

When Ackman is up, he’s up. And when he’s down, people can’t wait to dogpile.  Below is an assembled brief timeline of public perception of Ackman via press snippets:

The Golden Boy Who Predicted the Financial Collapse

New York Times, Dec. 2007

"(Ackman) may be aggressive, he may be over the top, he may not be able to speak in short sentences…  but he's doing the hard work, and thinking the hard thoughts, that (Wall Street regulators) refused to do for far too long.”

A Distinguished Visionary

(Upstart Business Journals Profile, April 22 2009)

Ackman… has had the seminal financial career of the past two decades, which is to say that he’s had the seminal American career of the era…

Ackman up close might be the most winning salesman on Wall Street.

Like Elvis, With a Smarter Portfolio

(Reuters, Oct. 14 2010 Special report: What if Elvis Ran a Hedge Fund?)

In person, Ackman cuts a striking figure, standing at 6' 3" tall with a shock of grey hair. But it is the stature of his fund's performance which is what most draws investors to him.

The Backlash Begins, Albeit With Sarcasm

NY Mag, Oct. 14 2010

Headline: “Bill Ackman Can’t Help That He’s Awesome and People Want to Get Close to Him”

Okay, Ackman Might Be the Same… But He’s Smooth!

Bloomberg Businessweek, Feb. 10, 2011

(Billionaire investor Carl Icahn) still has the whiff of a fast-buck artist... Ackman's approach is often the same, (but) he… wrap(s) his tactics in a smooth, well-learned politesse.

Not to Mention, the Guy is a Matchmaker

Reuters, July 18 2012

Helping his single friends and acquaintances find a life partner is, however, close to the multi-millionaire’s heart and he’s doing his part to help. And every so often, Ackman and his wife whirl through their Rolodexes and invite their unattached friends to come on over to their place and spend a few hours meeting other singles.

We Still Believe, Bill Ackman

The Guardian, Jan 25 2013

At Ackman's famous investing presentations, in which he invites other money managers to learn why he has turned against a certain company, the investors look at him, wide-eyed and admiring, as if he were a financial messiah.

Maybe it’s Not All Roses

Vanity Fair, April 2013 (quoting Chapman Capital’s Robert Chapman)

(Ackman) seems to look at other members of society, even legends such as Carl Icahn, as some kind of sub-species. The disgusted, annoyed look on his face when confronted by the masses beneath him is like one you’d expect to see [from someone] confronted by a homeless person who hadn’t showered in weeks.

Lest We Forget Though, He’s Still a Hero for Taking on Herbalife…

New York Times Op-Ed, April 2, 2013

Ackman has been heroic in taking on this litigious, well-financed industry (Herbalife.) Not since Jim Chanos went after Enron has a hedge fund manager been willing to question whether a company was actually a criminal enterprise. That takes guts.

While Ackman Ignores His Failures, We Ignore Him…

Forbes, May 8, 2013

As Bill Ackman took the stage on Wednesday at the Ira Sohn Conference in New York, the audience erupted in applause expecting to hear one of the day’s best ideas.  Instead, they spent their time checking emails…

Because Really, The Herbalife Bet is Failing. Hard.

The Street, Aug 10 2013

Sometimes the smartest guy in the room outsmarts himself.

And Now the Schadenfreude

Bloomberg MSG, Aug 10, 2013

Never interfere with an enemy when he is in the process of destroying himself.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

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Results for jcp
31 Oct 14 21:03:44
Top Expert Consensus for $JCP is Moderate Sell https://t.co/Ish8zgkDGT #NYSE #stocks
31 Oct 14 15:17:32
@KymLang unless there's default, you get pay a nice yield. Worked well on $JCP - bought 2017 @ .74 & sold @ par 2with coupon of 7.95%
31 Oct 14 14:31:11
Our Penny Stock Alerts Gained 250% In 2 days, So far! Big News: http://t.co/bMKiKj7wmb $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
Rob Wilson
31 Oct 14 14:14:58
Time for some new ideas in our Top 5. We've gotten our teeth kicked in with $JCP. But, others have performed. http://t.co/oUUp0W0yYv
31 Oct 14 13:43:50
$JCP New JCPenney SEC Filing Alert From our Stock News Alerts App
Stocks News&Markets
31 Oct 14 13:40:03
$JCP - Statement of Changes in Beneficial Ownership (4) http://t.co/fgsw7gz6G0
Vitalii Vovk
31 Oct 14 12:39:34
@InvestorsLive $JCP
31 Oct 14 12:39:00
Weekly Scorecard | Momentum Trading with RaginCajun http://t.co/WNYrbaODpR $PLUG $SCTY $LNKD $LIVE $GRPN $GPRO $YOKU $ZNGA $JCP
Chris Kader
31 Oct 14 12:33:57
@wandy922 @talkequities That spike in $JCP, even after such a big dip, suggests to me we are close to bottom. Vol spikes at a turn
31 Oct 14 12:30:28
$jcp going to pin it right at $7.50 hmmm...opex?
31 Oct 14 10:09:52
$JCP $amd $tsla bear flag watch
Alexander Morris
31 Oct 14 10:06:48
$JCP: At 1DyHIGH=7.68, hits:2, ch:+0.7%, phNearOp:BrkPLo+PHi[+201.7%], 10:1Accel+, tf:0110011, BigFlt:291M, HiPctSht[30%:4d]
Chris Kader
31 Oct 14 09:47:11
Match $JCP option flow against chart - traders looking to fill big ass gap next week. $JCP. @talkequities @wandy922
31 Oct 14 09:18:21
#Ebola revenues for $LAKE announced. $SMED has 4 ways Ebola positively impacts their bottom line: http://t.co/vxKje2CxK4 $JPM $JCP $APC
Jacob Wolinsky
31 Oct 14 08:40:30
$JCP $CROX $CCL $SHLD $NQ #ScaryStoriesIn5Words
Teddy Vallee
31 Oct 14 06:01:13
@indievestments thank you. Good to test theses. Think $JCP and $M will emerge as winners; $KSS and $SHLD faders. Why is $OSTK so cheap?
31 Oct 14 05:49:16
$jcp money flow into jcp is spiking share price will follow test the 200 day soon
31 Oct 14 05:34:13
@Inbox101 does it stand to reason that there is a lot of market share for $jcp and $kss to lose then? No position.
Kenneth Rapoza
31 Oct 14 05:27:05
Usually I hate the Today Show, but today's SNL skit tribute was actually pretty good. Made me smile. Tho not sure $JCP will like Mom Jeans.
31 Oct 14 04:26:30
Our Penny Stock Newsletter Alert On MGON Closed up 112.5% Today! Major News: http://t.co/gDCrqEFOy6 $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
Penny Stock Secret
31 Oct 14 04:03:42
The Hottest Way to Make Millions From Stock Market.Click HERE http://t.co/SVqoMkrw2z .. $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
31 Oct 14 00:21:45
Our Penny Stock Newsletter Alert On MGON Closed up 112.5% Today! Major News: http://t.co/dvxYQnSJab $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
30 Oct 14 23:31:42
Partner Jet $PJT.V is up 183% this week after Q3 release with more gains coming. Find out why: http://t.co/MEpEjkCm4H $JPM $JCP $APC
Buttercup $BABA91914
30 Oct 14 19:52:06
“@MarketWatch: Some of the sneaky ways stores keep tricking customers: http://t.co/Q3sZLUXk9j http://t.co/u0NDGR90kq” #shopping $JCP $KSS $M
P. Ricatti
30 Oct 14 19:47:08
@pricatti comparto el fracaso con Soros que estuvo comprando en 1Q14. Entre oro, plata y $JCP sus peores inversiones http://t.co/ezxL378Esz
30 Oct 14 17:16:53
Our Penny Stock Newsletter Alert On MGON Closed up 112.5% Today! Major News: http://t.co/dvxYQnSJab $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
Dr. Tom Jerry
30 Oct 14 15:15:39
@mikeo188 if ur r gonna use this logic then why not $JCP loss for #ackman? $HLF
Stock Moo
30 Oct 14 15:02:25
$jcp: J. C. Penney Company, Inc. to Report Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results on November 12, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. ET http://t.co/jLSakPDDOX
Stock Moo
30 Oct 14 14:02:15
$jcp: J. C. Penney Company, Inc. to Report Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results on November 12, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. ET http://t.co/1j6Z3K4TH7
BV Services
30 Oct 14 13:31:59
$JCP J. C. Penney Company, Inc. to Report Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results on November 12, 2014 at.. http://t.co/qDyYr2HUEc
30 Oct 14 13:31:51
$JCP J. C. Penney Company, Inc. to Report Third Quarter 2014 Financial Results on November 12, 2014 at 4:00 p From our Stock News Alerts App
30 Oct 14 13:04:11
Cut $WB b/e $SUNE 18.95 -2.3 $JCP b/e
Seeking Alpha
30 Oct 14 11:22:42
Kohl's: Time To Shop Elsewhere http://t.co/QjfrdCJER0 $JCP $M $KSS
Mark Trader
30 Oct 14 11:20:48
$ELED finally breaking out of pattern. This one has a history of making big moves. $ZNGA $EGO $BLTA $JCP $ARAY $NVAX $GGB $AU $GFI $APT $SD
30 Oct 14 11:15:30
@jeffereytweets I haven't looked at $jcp. Doing well also? Yeah markets rallied hard. Do you understand all this broke shit going on today?
Sterne Agee
30 Oct 14 11:13:18
J C Penney Company Price Target Cut to $8.00 $JCP @SterneAgee http://t.co/UJAJCvuthV
30 Oct 14 11:11:33
@Btek02 like I said buy the dip markets rally hard $spy $jcp
30 Oct 14 09:44:17
$jcp maybe they will finally let this run next week appears they want this to stay here and not run up to test the 200 day sss next week
30 Oct 14 09:13:26
Over the next 3 yrs $jcp stock is going outperform $m $kss $tgt $wmt it is a buy here with both fists
Stock Moo
30 Oct 14 09:02:19
$jcp: Black Friday starting earlier and earlier—Amazon and Kohl’s join the fray http://t.co/jUWBbWKwTV
30 Oct 14 08:35:19
$jcp if there were an LBO it would probably be hostile as the board would want $15-16 as a starting price to even discuss a sale
30 Oct 14 08:33:21
$jcp $8.53/shr in tangible book value, when they execute on their turn around this will be $15 in a blink and $30 in 3 yrs
Alexander Morris
30 Oct 14 08:14:43
$JCP: Exc 1DyHIGH=7.60, hits:3, ch:+0.3%, phNearCl:BrkPLo+PHi[+200.4%], tf:0111101, BigFlt:291M, HiPctSht[30%:4d], DyVol:2.5M:0.2x:0.1x
Teddy Vallee
30 Oct 14 07:48:36
RT @HedgeyeRetail: For those keeping score, $JCP gave us 10x more information in its Analyst meeting last month in just 3 hrs, than $KSS di…
30 Oct 14 06:37:40
Took down some $JCP 7.65
30 Oct 14 06:11:20
RT @HedgeyeRetail: For those keeping score, $JCP gave us 10x more information in its Analyst meeting last month in just 3 hrs, than $KSS di…
Julian Close
30 Oct 14 06:08:31
Critical Alerts for $GE, $AMED, $RFMD, $JCP and $SCTY from InvestorsObserver today: http://t.co/EHaJHmKHm7 #OptionsTrading #CoveredCalls
Investors Observer
30 Oct 14 06:08:30
Critical Alerts for $GE, $AMED, $RFMD, $JCP and $SCTY from InvestorsObserver today: http://t.co/jrDQWEC2fy #OptionsTrading #CoveredCalls
Alan Robinson
30 Oct 14 06:00:17
@BrianSozzi @JeffMacke #USPS largest customer now is $AMZN with $JCP & $M also big $QVCB & $HSNI also quite sizable
Alan Robinson
30 Oct 14 05:50:41
@JeffMacke @BrianSozzi $urbn $M & based on mobile sales data $JCP $TGT $WMT have a shot to be on line powers but all far off now
  +Follow August 23, 2013 8:36AM



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