Pershing Square Q3 Letter: Ackman Provides Updates on Positions ~ market folly

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pershing Square Q3 Letter: Ackman Provides Updates on Positions

Bill Ackman's hedge fund Pershing Square's third quarter letter is pretty much an investor's dream. The manager provides commentary and updates on practically all of his positions and is the epitome of transparency. But then again, it's not necessarily that hard when you run such a highly concentrated book like Ackman does. Pershing Square of course is one of the 23 prominent hedge fund portfolios we detail and analyze in the new issue of our Hedge Fund Wisdom publication.

Pershing Square has returned 292.7% net of all fees since inception in 2004. For 2010, their main fund is up 7.6% year-to-date. The only real noticeable change in their portfolio is that they exited Landry's Restaurants, as the company was bought out.

Fortune Brands (FO)

A while back we highlighted Ackman's new position in Fortune Brands (FO). His letter highlights that he thinks their Spirits business is a great consumer niche as it has high barriers to entry, sustainable profit margins, and economic resiliency. What's comical here is that Ackman filed a 13D signifying his activist intent with the investment and even though he hasn't really done much in that regard yet, the stock is already up 40% since he purchased it. It appears though that management will work with Ackman to unlock value.

J.C. Penney (JCP)

The other new position in Pershing Square's portfolio is J.C. Penney (JCP). Ackman likes JCP's cheap valuation, solid assets, and brand name. Their average purchase price was $25.28 and the stock already trades north of $33. The hedge fund manager doesn't necessarily outline his thesis in the letter, though he does point out Vornado Realty Trust's (VNO) involvement in the stock. The publicly traded REIT also acquired a large ownership in JCP shares. In the past, we've highlighted Ackman's potential JCP real estate thesis.

Ackman notes that his firm sold some shares of their Kraft (KFT) and Target (TGT) positions to finance the purchase of their two new positions. The rest of Pershing Square's letter delves into updates regarding their positions in Automatic Data Processing (ADP), General Growth Properties (GGP), Howard Hughes (HHC), Corrections Corp (CXW), and Citigroup (C). This was interesting mainly because it's been a while since we heard from Ackman regarding his Corrections Corp position, a name we originally posted his investment thesis on.

Embedded below is Pershing Square Capital Management's third quarter letter to investors:

You can download a .pdf copy here.

In other recent investment ideas from Ackman, he recently declared he is bullish on housing. And interestingly enough, John Paulson says to buy housing as well.

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