How many times does Crony Capitalist William “Bill” Ackman’s allegations about Herbalife Nutrition’s business need to be proven wrong before he loses all credibility and ceases to be taken seriously? Seems like it has to be proved again and again before he realizes that his quest to kill the company for profit is a money losing investment.
Ackman founded Pershing Square Capital Management in 2004, with $54 million in personal funds and former business partner Leucadia National. Billionaire investor Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management has launched activist campaigns against McDonald’s, Wendy’s, in addition to his campaign against Herbalife.
During his nearly five-year campaign to destroy the company, Ackman has made repeated claims that demand for the company’s nutrition products was artificially inflated by distributor orders rather than genuine consumer demand. Ackman has been proven wrong again by the statistics on company sales.
The company relatively recently reported that 90 percent of its sales in the U.S. in May were purchases by customers that were proven by receipts – in other words they were end customers and not middle men distributors. Herbalife had more than three million end user retail transactions in May 2017. These purchases far exceeded the 80 percent documented sales threshold that was called for by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the agreement with Herbalife
Since last fall, when Herbalife began differentiating its members between the distributors who sell the products and customers who buy products at a discount and are classified as “preferred customers,” more than 400,000 members have registered as end user customers. With 3 million receipts in one month, this should once and for all put an end to any questions about consumer demand for the company’s products. The claim of Ackman was that any change in the business model would prove that Herbalife did not have enough end user customers to maintain the business model. Yet, he was proven wrong again.
This isn’t the first time Ackman’s been wrong and sure will not be the last considering the checkered investment profits and losses publicly documented for Pershing Square Capital Management. Despite Bill Ackman’s well funded activist lobbying effort to bring the company down, he failed. His investment in lobbyists resulted in a two-year investigation by the FTC with the Commission a year ago ultimately affirming Herbalife Nutrition’s business model. This finding has resulted in the company creating new industry-leading operating standards and proving that they can move forward in a profitable manner.
After being wrong time and again a rational investor would give up and accept a loss, yet it is possible that the fact that the Ackman has invested $ 1 billion in Herbalife Nutrition’s failure that he cant walk away. Ackman and his firm has way too much at stake financially to give up. He unabashedly continues to try and manipulate Herbalife Nutrition’s stock price by raising spurious doubts and questions about the company’s business and its operations despite the plain facts.
Ackman went as far as funding a highly critical and highly biased documentary on the direct selling business and Herbalife in particular. Again, to no avail. Despite his continuing efforts, the company is as strong today as it ever has been. It recently posted strong first quarter earnings, raised its earnings guidance for the full year and its stock price is near an all-time high.
Clearly, Herbalife Nutrition is not the company Bill Ackman thinks it is and never has been. It’s time for him to stop his unprecedented campaign against the company. Herbalife Nutrition is a real, highly successful company, selling real products to real consumers who are looking for a better overall quality of life.
It’s now time for Bill Ackman to walk away and let the company be free from investor hedge fund harassment.
Phil Kiver is an Army Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan, a current doctoral candidate in Strategic Studies at Henley-Putnam University and a freelance journalist.