Is Ackman’s Only End For Herbalife The Company’s Total Implosion?

Bill Ackman is talking his book again, but the big question is: will he only consider it a successful trade when he drives Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) permanently into the ground?

Ackman riding Herbalife to zero

Bloomberg TV’s Stephanie Ruhle notes that Ackman has said that he is going to “take Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) to the end, take this thing to zero,” then asks the zinger:  “Things are going in your direction at this point, things have finally cracked. Are you not going to get out of this trade until it goes to zero?”

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The translation of this question is: are you going to pulverize Herbalife to the point of death, or are you going to take your profits then leave the semi-conscious victim just enough life to live?

“I don’t think this stock gradually goes to zero,” Ackman revealed.  “I think it’s more of an overnight phenomenon.”  In other words, when I punch someone they are going down to the canvas quick.

The right jab punch that lands in the gut

“What you have right now is a criminal investigation in the Department of Justice and FBI,” Ackman continued, a right jab to the gut where it really hurts. “The Federal Trade Commission is engaged in a 15 month investigation after our public commenting.”  Grazer punch to the face.

Ackman went on to note that due to a “short seller” the normally detailed investigation was required to be even more careful.  Let’s call that two punches to the face in one attempt, with Icahn subtly on the other end with a stinger.  “The FTC’s track record at going after pyramid schemes (speaks for itself).  They have a 100% success track record.”  (With the exception of the agency’s case against Amway in the 1970s, he later noted as a qualifier.)

“One of the things I find remarkable is the stock is trading at $57 per share,” he said, talking his book and hitting where it counts.  “A $6 billion valuation for a pyramid scheme, that’s over valuation.”

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Mark Melin is an alternative investment practitioner whose specialty is recognizing a trading program’s strategy and mapping it to a market environment and performance driver. He provides analysis of managed futures investment performance and commentary regarding related managed futures market environment. A portfolio and industry consultant, he was an adjunct instructor in managed futures at Northwestern University / Chicago and has written or edited three books, including High Performance Managed Futures (Wiley 2010) and The Chicago Board of Trade’s Handbook of Futures and Options (McGraw-Hill 2008). Mark was director of the managed futures division at Alaron Trading until they were acquired by Peregrine Financial Group in 2009, where he was a registered associated person (National Futures Association NFA ID#: 0348336). Mark has also worked as a Commodity Trading Advisor himself, trading a short volatility options portfolio across the yield curve, and was an independent consultant to various broker dealers and futures exchanges, including OneChicago, the single stock futures exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade. He is also Editor, Opalesque Futures Intelligence and Editor, Opalesque Futures Strategies. - Contact: Mmelin(at)