Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Buys $600 Million of Investments During August Volatility ~ market folly

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Buys $600 Million of Investments During August Volatility

Bill Ackman's hedge fund Pershing Square Capital utilized the market volatility in early August as an opportunity to buy stocks, according to their recent letter to investors. So what did they buy?

Ackman writes,

"We have often described stock market volatility as an opportunity for Pershing Square. Since the beginning of the month, the market, and to an even greater extent, most of our holdings went on sale. We took advantage of this favorable pricing to invest more than $600 million in existing investments including Fortune Brands, Kraft, Family Dollar, Citigroup, and two new commitments. In each case, the businesses continue to make progress that meets or exceeds our expectations making our additional investments that much more compelling. Unfortunately, for most of our remaining holdings we were restricted in purchasing more by virtue of our insider status, or other regulatory or corporate charter provisions that limit our ability to increase our ownership percentage."

After writing the letter (dated August 17th), Pershing Square received permission to increase its ownership stake in J.C. Penney (JCP) to 26.1% of the company, up from the 18.2% they currently own as well.

Pershing's New Investments

Ackman did not disclose the names of his two new investments, most likely because they were/are still acquiring their position. His letter states that they should be able to share more details about one of the positions in the upcoming months.

It would make sense that he could reveal one of them at the upcoming Value Investing Congress where he will be presenting investment ideas along with many other hedge fund managers (Market Folly readers: today is the LAST day for substantial savings to the event, click here for the discount).

Ackman's investor letter drops a hint that they bought an investment that broadly falls into the category of their old General Growth Properties (GGP) investment: i.e. a situation where they were able to buy GGP for less than a dollar per share and enhanced the probability of recovery for shareholders with their active intervention. Let the guessing games begin.

In early August we detailed how Pershing Square bought more Fortune Brands (FO), but now we know they were buying more than one stock.

For more excerpts from Pershing Square's recent letter to investors, we've outlined why Ackman bought more Citigroup, as well as Pershing's hedging strategy in this crazy market.

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