Back when the Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) fight was at its most public, Carl Icahn, who is long on the company, said that Bill Ackman would face the “mother of all short squeezes” on the equity. With stock in the company up by more than 11 percent at time of writing on Monday’s market, Icahn might just be onto something.
Icahn made his comments about Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) last January, before he had even disclosed a position in the multi-level marketing company.
Since the start of the year, shares in Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) have risen by close to 50 percent, but they’re up just 11 percent since Bill Ackman began talking about the company and its pyramid-shaped problems, last December.
This movement may be too short term for Ackman, who seems to be a fan of long-term shorts. One of his most famous bets was short on MBIA Inc. (NYSE:MBI). Ackman held that position for six years before finally seeing the shares tumble in 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis. Ackman may not be looking for a quick end to this battle.
The investor has previously stated that he thinks the target price on Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is $0. He reckons the company’s entire business is a scam, and that it’s not operating legally in the United States. In order to have that point of view confirmed, Ackman would have to get regulators to look into the company. That doesn’t seem likely just yet.
Carl Icahn has charged that Ackman was just trying to use his reputation to make a quick return, and picked an easy company with a simple narrative attached to do so. If that was Ackman’s intention, he’s backed into a corner right now, probably holding a huge amount of Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) short, and paying fees all the time.
Carl Icahn has managed to get some of his own directors appointed to the Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) board, and it seems that he’s also sitting with the company for the long haul. The battle has become one of the most interesting on the market in 2013 and it shows no sign of slowing down, though today’s rise in Herbalife stock may give Ackman pause for thought.
Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) will continue to be one of the most talked about stocks on the market for months to come, and whichever hedge fund manager comes out on top will have serious bragging rights.