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A Media Timeline of Controversial Investor Bill Ackman

  +Follow August 23, 2013 8:36AM
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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
Stock Relay
25 Oct 14 12:11:38
$SPAN Stock Forum Click Here: http://t.co/27E9YPFUQu Also See: $JCP $BID $MEN $JRI ~
Jamal Boo Carnette
25 Oct 14 10:07:50
@ForbesTech $JCP ...
ATLCLOUD
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Turmoil at Long Beach port could disrupt holiday retail stocking http://t.co/1preZOYH4o $WMT, $M, $KSS, $JCP, $RL, $AEO, $JWN, $CRI
Quantpost Service
25 Oct 14 09:34:15
$WMT $JCP News: "Turmoil at Long Beach port could disrupt holiday retail…" http://t.co/SVQNL2QOly Board view: https://t.co/EkBd6wlGxD
MarketCurrents
25 Oct 14 09:34:14
Turmoil at Long Beach port could disrupt holiday retail stocking http://t.co/atLxrxw0uO $WMT $M $KSS $JCP
Steve Owens
25 Oct 14 09:30:57
RT @Michael_MBA: “@greg_maloney: JCPenney un-reinvention sees success. http://t.co/lRnJCnI6AJ via @ICSC $JCP
Steve Owens
25 Oct 14 09:22:01
@jimcramer $JCP $YHOO $DIS $KMI $ZOES Diversified? Opinions?
Nikus Farrington
25 Oct 14 08:21:27
RT @SeekingAlpha: GoPro: On The Way To A 52-Week Low http://t,co/EVWWYIXROi $GOOGL $GRMN $JCP $MSFT $SNE $AAPL $GPRO #in
Stockaholics
25 Oct 14 02:51:41
Our Penny Stock Alerts Gained 371% In 2 weeks! Sign Up For Free Text Alerts For Our New Pick: http://t.co/Wsu24zYrur $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
Stockaholics
25 Oct 14 00:00:34
Our Penny Stock Alerts Gained 371% In 2 weeks! Sign Up For Free Text Alerts For Our New Pick: http://t.co/Wsu24zYrur $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
Elvin Cruz
24 Oct 14 22:11:26
RT @AtlBizChron: .@HomeDepot veteran jumps ship for @jcpenney http://t.co/nYlBPUXYbj $HD $JCP #leadership http://t.co/YewY69eJK3
Rudy Alvarez
24 Oct 14 20:38:48
“@daily_finance: Can a former Home Depot exec renovate J.C. Penney? http://t.co/NpB03cYemN $JCP $HD” interesting read
DailyFinance
24 Oct 14 20:30:15
Can a former Home Depot exec renovate J.C. Penney? http://t.co/wp0lW1seZw $JCP $HD
Eyang Sukur
24 Oct 14 16:18:08
RT Chayton Falke ChaytonFalke : Top Twenty Recent Exits #6: Covered $JCP short for a 19.03% gain in 12 days! #trading #JCP #forex #stocks
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24 Oct 14 16:15:06
Top Twenty Recent Exits #6: Covered $JCP short for a 19.03% gain in 12 days! #trading #JCP #forex #stocks
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24 Oct 14 15:51:37
RT @daily_finance: Can a former Home Depot exec renovate J.C. Penney? http://t.co/4LSTFlK2N3 $JCP $HD
Stock Signaling
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Upgraded Stocks Active After Hours: $BWLD $GIMO $INFN $YELP $TSCO $NLNK $YHOO $ETFC $ILMN $HAL $WERN $KEY $HST $JCP $CLMT #finance #nyse
DailyFinance
24 Oct 14 15:10:43
Can a former Home Depot exec renovate J.C. Penney? http://t.co/4LSTFlK2N3 $JCP $HD
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24 Oct 14 14:37:20
Our Penny Stock Alerts Gained 371% In 2 weeks! Sign Up For Free Text Alerts For Our New Pick: http://t.co/Wsu24zYrur $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
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24 Oct 14 13:59:01
Real-Time feed of company contracts, original agreements and executive updates from J. C. Penney $JCP http://t.co/MvHvXjt6Lg
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24 Oct 14 13:54:25
Loven SHLD (sears) After last nights post about JCP & SHLD I decided to take my first stock position in $JCP $SHLD http://t.co/jKbTnRMO5B
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24 Oct 14 13:32:53
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24 Oct 14 13:31:18
RT @MariaHalkias: JCPenney's fashion statement has been less about celebrity entertainers. Nicole Miller vs. Jennifer Lopez $JCP http://t.c…
John Earl Burnett
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#JCPenney Set to Launch #MediaAgency Review. #OmnicomMediaAgency http://t.co/Ekg556KFHp $JCP
Vic Scherer
24 Oct 14 13:08:24
Taking $JCP off my watchlists and I'm going to allow it to be LBO'd w/o me, or whatever. Faders, your cue!
Mark S Boone
24 Oct 14 12:28:26
$JCP You bearish wackos can't read the eye chart at the Dr's office. No volume, Yo! Can't sell off nuttin without volume. Pinning some opex!
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24 Oct 14 12:12:50
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24 Oct 14 12:10:19
The volume on the red day in $jcp seems like a tree shake & opex move to the $7.50 area
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24 Oct 14 12:09:15
Trading Tally for the Week 10/21/2014 $GTI $JCP $MXIM $ELY $AKS http://t.co/Of5IYqJgyr
Jeff
24 Oct 14 11:54:15
RT @MariaHalkias: JCPenney's fashion statement has been less about celebrity entertainers. Nicole Miller vs. Jennifer Lopez $JCP http://t.c…
MariaHalkias
24 Oct 14 11:32:03
JCPenney's fashion statement has been less about celebrity entertainers. Nicole Miller vs. Jennifer Lopez $JCP http://t.co/68nHewuUkW
TV_Trading Ideas
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24 Oct 14 10:24:47
@carlquintanilla $gs ignores that gas prices fell recently $jcp guidance probably did not assume gas falling under $3
dels101
24 Oct 14 10:17:49
RT @carlquintanilla: Goldman cuts $ANF, $AEO -- on recent weak guidance from $JCP, $URBN, $VFC http://t.co/YQ3iY5eio7
Stockaholics
24 Oct 14 10:08:42
Our Penny Stock Alerts Gained 371% In 2 weeks! Sign Up For Free Text Alerts For Our New Pick: http://t.co/dLDRavoCi4 $JCP $AQUM $WSGI
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24 Oct 14 09:50:52
@WolfSheepTrader same here in OH $jcp home center part now open, was under construction last year
Neal Bernard
24 Oct 14 09:36:10
@jeffereytweets 5047 contracts is a good sign. Like you said, $JCP could make same move as last year w/ cheap oil. Stores by me look good
Carl Quintanilla
24 Oct 14 09:31:54
Goldman cuts $ANF, $AEO -- on recent weak guidance from $JCP, $URBN, $VFC http://t.co/YQ3iY5eio7
Jeff
24 Oct 14 09:13:03
@WolfSheepTrader look at the open interest on the $8 10/31 weekly calls, looking like a good bet...I have 300 of them $jcp
Neal Bernard
24 Oct 14 09:11:42
@jeffereytweets I agree $SHLD is kicking ass ... 24 to 40 in 2 weeks Lol. Looks like $JCP is forming new base at 7.7
Jeff
24 Oct 14 08:26:21
Maybe $jcp should announce some store closings & lay-offs, looks like it is positive for $shld
Chris Lau
24 Oct 14 08:19:46
Here are some stocks that benefit from low oil prices $JCP $UAL $DAL $M $KSS | http://t.co/IOiZW10aLX
kam clark
24 Oct 14 07:43:50
RT @daily_finance: Can a former Home Depot exec renovate J.C. Penney? http://t.co/4LSTFlK2N3 $JCP $HD
US_proptrader
24 Oct 14 07:34:18
$CIG $CLF $EBR $FBR $GGB $GOL $JCP $NVAX $PVA autocharts @ http://t.co/hj7PGeTQk3
invest correctly
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Weekly Recap: Marvin Ellison meet J.C. Penney $JCP http://t.co/LpruSpGIJl
Daily Contracts
24 Oct 14 06:51:01
Real-Time feed of company contracts, original agreements and executive updates from J. C. Penney $JCP http://t.co/MvHvXjt6Lg
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24 Oct 14 06:15:02
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DailyFinance
24 Oct 14 06:10:56
Can a former Home Depot exec renovate J.C. Penney? http://t.co/4LSTFlK2N3 $JCP $HD
US Banking News
24 Oct 14 06:06:58
J C Penney Company Gets Average Rating of Hold from Analysts $JCP http://t.co/QElzkQ8IFh
Anne Marie Baiynd
24 Oct 14 05:32:19
"@ycharts: Wal-Mart: In Retail Glut http://t.co/e0gQXzX1Wz $WMT $AMZN $MCD $IBM $CMG $BABA $DLTR $FDO $DG $SHLD $JCP $M $TJX"
				
				
  +Follow August 23, 2013 8:36AM
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