Activist hedge fund Bill Ackman was coy this morning on his conference call, keeping his cards on future investments close to the vest. But he made a major move today, according to a press report.
Ackman buys 10% stake in Zoetis
Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital has taken a roughly 10 percent stake in Florham Park, N.J.-based Zoetis Inc (NYSE:ZTS), a veterinary products and animal care company, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
Ackman’s $2 billion stake was taken along side an investment with Sachem Head Capital Management LP, according to unnamed sources quoted in the Journal article. Sachem Head is run by former Ackman associate Scott Ferguson.
— Olivia Sterns (@OliviaSterns) November 11, 2014
One move speculated in the report is that Ackman could push Zoetis Inc (NYSE:ZTS) to sell itself to a large drug maker such as Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) (TSE:VRX), the report said, citing people familiar with the matter. It is unclear if Valeant covets the veterinary-products market as it does human-based medical products, each of which have different sales cycles.
A spokesperson for Zoetis confirmed they had received a call from Ackman but declined to comment regarding the investment.
Zoetis’ market capitalization
Zoetis Inc (NYSE:ZTS) has nearly a $22 billion market capitalization. The stock had been trading near $40 per share when news hit the tape just before the market close, the stock rocketed up nearly ten percent to trade near $44 per share, which is the high end of its 52 week trading range. The stock ranged from a low of $28.14 to a high of $44.13, has a high price earnings ratio at 41.86 and delivers $1.05 in earnings per share.
Zoetis had been rumored to be a takeover target of Bayer AG (FRA:BAYN) (OTCMKTS:BAYRY) in September. At the time the price being bandied about for Zoetis was $48 per share.
Veterinary products firms have been benefiting from a growth trend in emerging, where people with additional income are spending more money on pets and increasingly eating more meat, which boosts livestock feed providers.
Zoetis Inc (NYSE:ZTS) was spun off from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) in 2013.