Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Tanks Again… But Why? Paul Sohn?

Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Tanks Again… But Why? Paul Sohn?

Herbalife’s great sell-off continues today, with the stock plunging as much as 10%, marking the second consecutive day of declines. As of this writing, already more than 4 million Herbalife shares had changed hands, compared to the average daily volume of about 1.7 million shares.

Herbalife talk on Twitter

The Twitter-verse was alive with talk about Herbalife’s share price slump today, with some calling up reminders of the epic battle between two activist investors. Bill Ackman kicked off the controversy about the company with his $1 billion short bet in 2012 when he called it a pyramid scheme, and Carl Icahn went on record opposing him and defending the company.

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Ackman wins, Icahn loses

Although Ackman lost big-time on his Herbalife short the first couple of years, he’s now up by nearly $200 million, according to the New York Post‘s Michelle Celarier. She reported on Monday that options trading was especially large as well, and her sources reportedly told her that it appeared as if sellers were attempting to cut their losses in Herbalife.

Celarier pointed out as well that Herbalife insiders can’t sell shares right now because we’re in the week’s leading up to the company’s earnings report. This means that Icahn can’t be one of the investors who’s unloading Herbalife stock like it’s going out of style. And with this week’s share price decline, Icahn’s lost about $68 million on the 17 million shares he owns.

So who’s selling Herbalife and why?

Another investor who’s probably pretty upset with Herbalife’s sliding share price is Post Holdings Chairman and CEO Bill Stiritz, who is the company’s biggest shareholder. Julia La Roche of Business Insider estimates that he’s lost approximately $218.8 million on his Herbalife stake so far.

Seeking Alpha contributor Matt Stewart suggested that Stiritz is the one who’s dumping Herbalife shares. He notes that Stiritz, along with Icahn, Capital Research Global Investors and Fidelity Management & Research Company, own more than half of Herbalife. He calls these four shareholders “the 4 Horsemen of the Herbalife Apocalypse.”

He also makes some suggestions as to why someone is unloading shares. He said it’s possible Herbalife might be preparing to pre-announce bad fourth quarter earnings results or that regulators are preparing to move on the company, perhaps making some sort of announcement about the findings of their investigation. He also suggested Herbalife might be having some liquidity problems and be forced to issue millions of additional shares, thus diluting current investors’ stakes.

Stewart (assuming this is the same Matt Stewart who posted on Seeking Alpha, and it appears to be) stirred the pot on Twitter as well, posting numerous ominous tweets about Herbalife. He also revealed that he has added to his short position in the nutritional supplements company.

In breaking news which may have leaked and caused the crash Lawrence Delevingne and Kate Kelly of CNBC report that Paul Sohn, The chief architect of Soros Fund Management’s bullish bet on Herbalife has quietly departed.

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