Bill Ackman: Short Profile of Rogue Investor Currently Eying a Short on Carl Ichan Enterpise

7 min read

Bill Ackman is the founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, a hedge fund that manages a portfolio currently valued at around $10.22 billion as of May 20, 2023.

His investment style is typically long-term value investing, often taking advantage of short-term price declines, and his portfolio tends to be highly concentrated.

Ackman is known for his high-profile and often contentious investments, earning him both significant profits and notable losses, which we covered recently, next the comparison of the other industry “top dogs” performance going back to 90s .

Bill Ackman in 2023

As of the first quarter of 2023, Ackman’s top five holdings were Lowe’s Companies Inc (LOW), Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG), Restaurant Brands International Inc (QSR), Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT), and The Howard Hughes Corp (HHC). In the same quarter, he made significant new purchases of Alphabet Inc (GOOG and GOOGL) and reduced his holdings in Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (CMG), Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT), and Lowe’s Companies Inc (LOW).

As for the overall performance of Pershing Square, the data from the first quarter of 2023 showed a 1.16% increase for the quarter. However, please note that this data does not include any changes to the portfolio or performance beyond March 2023.

Bill Ackman beef with Carl Ichan

The rivalry between Ackman and Icahn persists, with occasional public remarks and differing investment approaches.

Present (2023)

Hindenburg Research Report and Short Position in Carl Ichan Enterpise (IEP)

  • Stated Facts:
    • IEP units trade at a significantly higher premium to net asset value (NAV) compared to peers.
    • IEP offers a dividend yield of approximately 15.8%, which is higher than other large-cap companies.
    • IEP’s investment portfolio has experienced losses and underperformed the S&P 500.
    • IEP is highly leveraged, with upcoming debt maturities.
  • Claims and Allegations:
    • IEP units are inflated by over 75% due to the trading premium to NAV.
    • IEP’s dividend is unsustainably high and unsupported by cash flow and performance.
    • Valuation marks for IEP’s less liquid and private assets are inflated.
    • Carl Icahn’s limited financial flexibility and reliance on margin loans pose risks.
    • Transparency issues exist regarding IEP’s valuation methods and marks.
    • IEP may need to reduce or eliminate its dividend unless investment performance improves.
  • Bill Ackman adding heat to the allegations

    It’s important to note that this timeline provides a general overview of some key events in the Ackman-Icahn case, and there may be other interactions and developments that occurred but are not listed here.

Bill Ackman and Carl Ichan History Of Disputes (2003-2022)


  • Bill Ackman’s hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management, takes a short position against Herbalife, a multi-level marketing company.


  • Carl Icahn discloses a substantial stake in Herbalife, taking a long position and openly challenging Ackman’s short position.


  • The feud between Ackman and Icahn escalates as they engage in a heated public debate during a live television interview on CNBC.
  • Ackman and Icahn engage in a verbal spat, with personal attacks and accusations being exchanged.


  • Ackman and Icahn temporarily put their feud aside to team up against another target: the pharmaceutical company Allergan. They jointly make an unsuccessful attempt to take over the company.


  • Ackman sells his Herbalife short position, admitting that his investment thesis was flawed, resulting in a significant loss for his fund.


  • Ackman announces a new investment vehicle, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings (PSTH), aiming to raise a record-breaking $4 billion for a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
  • Icahn expresses skepticism about Ackman’s SPAC venture, criticizing the structure and terms of PSTH.


  • Ackman amends the terms of PSTH, removing the controversial SPAC structure and transitioning it into a more traditional investment vehicle.


  • Icahn continues to publicly express skepticism about Ackman’s investment strategies and the future performance of his funds.

Key Trades

  • MBIA Inc. (2002-2012)

One of Ackman’s most notable trades was his short against bond insurer MBIA Inc. He believed that MBIA’s AAA rating was flawed due to its exposure to the subprime mortgage market. It took nearly a decade for Ackman’s thesis to play out, but when the 2008 financial crisis hit, MBIA was severely impacted, and Ackman’s bet paid off.

  • General Growth Properties (2008-2014)

During the 2008 financial crisis, Ackman invested heavily in the mall operator General Growth Properties (GGP) when it was near bankruptcy. He saw potential in the company’s underlying assets and believed it could emerge from bankruptcy. His gamble proved correct, and when GGP exited bankruptcy in 2010, Pershing Square reportedly made more than $1 billion in profit.

  • Herbalife (2012-2018)

Ackman’s short bet against Herbalife, a multi-level marketing company selling nutritional supplements, was one of his most high-profile trades. He believed Herbalife was a pyramid scheme and bet $1 billion that its stock price would fall to zero. However, after a multi-year public battle that involved other prominent investors like Carl Icahn taking the opposite side, Ackman eventually exited the position at a significant loss.

  • Valeant Pharmaceuticals (2015-2017)

Ackman took a large position in Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which was under scrutiny for its business practices, including price gouging. The bet went sour as Valeant’s stock price plummeted, resulting in a reported loss of about $4 billion for Pershing Square.

Trading Style, Methodology, and Philosophy

Ackman’s investing style is rooted in value investing principles. He seeks out companies he believes are undervalued by the market, often due to temporary problems or public misperceptions.

His activist approach involves buying substantial stakes in these companies and then using that influence to implement changes he believes will unlock value.

Ackman is known for his deep-dive research and his willingness to stake his reputation on his beliefs.

He’s not afraid to make public cases for his investments, often in the form of lengthy presentations or public letters.

Overall, Bill Ackman presents an interesting case of cavalier fund manager with enough prudence to stay a couple of trades from collapsing.

While on his the younger side, Bill still has time to mature his trading (perhaps surprise us by revealing new shocking bets) – we, in the meantime, will keep an eye on his progress.

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