March 25, 2020 / 11:10 PM / 9 days ago

Ackman's hedge funds make money this year as hedges help

BOSTON (Reuters) - Billionaire investor William Ackman, who hedged his Pershing Square Capital management portfolio weeks ago to guard against coronavirus-inspired panic selling, told investors his private hedge fund is making money this year, an investor said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: William Ackman, CEO and Portfolio Manager of Pershing Square Management, is pictured during the Harbor Investment Conference in New York, U.S. on February 13, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

The Pershing Square LP fund gained a net 6.8% this month, leaving it up 0.8% after fees for the year to date, the source said. The publicly traded Pershing Square Holdings fund is up 7.9% for the month and 0.2% for the year.

A spokesman declined to comment.

By comparison the average equity-focused hedge fund is down 15.5% for the month through Thursday, with average year-to-date losses at nearly 16%, data from Goldman Sachs show.

The numbers were released just hours after Ackman wrote to investors to say he had taken off the hedges and was becoming “increasingly positive” on stock and credit markets.

The moves helped inoculate his portfolio from the type of losses that many hedge fund investors are bracing to see when managers finalize their March numbers next week.

Ackman earned $2.6 billion in proceeds from the hedges and said that he had reinvested most of the money in existing holdings Agilent (A.N), Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N), Hilton Worldwide Holdings (HLT.N), and Lowe’s (LOW.N).

One week after taking to Twitter, television and text interviews with impassioned pleas for a 30-day shutdown of the United States to stop the virus’ spread, Ackman said his outlook had brightened. Moves by states and federal and Treasury monetary helped, he said.

Performance however may remain volatile, the manager warned, saying he might have to sell recently bought holdings or go back on the defensive.

Last year his fund earned a 58% return.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Sandra Maler and Tom Brown

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