Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) has been the focus on a controversy since December when activist investor Bill Ackman announced his short position in the stock, and it didn’t take long for other hedge fund titans to get in on the action. Dan Loeb and Carl Icahn both opted to go long in the stock.
But what’s really interesting about the controversy thus far is the reality that Ackman, Loeb and Icahn have all gained money through the company—in spite of being on opposite sides of the stock. The Wall Street Journal’s Juliet Chung noted this interesting tidbit over the weekend.
She said Loeb has won the most cash out of the deal, while Ackman and Icahn have brought in paper profits. A source told The Wall Street Journal that Loeb’s fund Third Point has brought in $50 million or more on its initial bet of more than $200 million. The source said the firm has sold off most of its stake in Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) at this point.
Icahn has reportedly earned about $25 million “in unrealized gains” on his bet of almost $600 million, while Ackman’s Pershing Square fund gained over $200 million in paper profits on a $1 billion bet.
According to Chung, Icahn’s profit estimate is based on the price of the stock around the time when he bought his shares, according to his regulatory filings. Shares of Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) continue to be above the average price at which Icahn bought his shares, even though Ackman hasn’t let up on the company. She based Ackman’s profit estimate on the average closing price within the window in which he indicated that he sold the stock short.
At this point both Icahn and Ackman could see their investments lose money if they attempt to cash out. A sell-off by Icahn could push the stock lower, and Ackman could push the stock higher by moving to cover his position. It should be interesting to see who moves first.