Herbalife shares rallied Tuesday after a hedge fund manager’s presentation failed to deliver convincing evidence to back up his allegations that the Los Angeles multilevel marketing nutritional supplements company is a fraudulent scheme.
William Ackman, founder of Pershing Square Capital Management and a longtime Herbalife foe, promised Monday to deliver evidence today that would be a “death blow” to the company. In anticipation, Herbalife shares fell 11 percent on Monday.
But the three-hour presentation today to a packed Manhattan auditorium and to more than 10,000 web viewers didn’t pay off. Share started rising immediately and continued to climb after the presentation, closing up 25 percent at $67.77.
In the presentation, Ackman called Herbalife a “criminal enterprise” and a “$24 billion scam.” He alleged that many of the company’s customers were in reality distributors who are tricked into spending large sums of money to buy Herbalife nutritional shakes. Ackman said he had spent $50 million in personal funds to launch an undercover investigation into the company.
Ackman also attacked Herbalife’s many high-profile supporters, including soccer star David Beckham and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright; and advisers, including former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. He called on the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and the FBI to finish their investigations into the company and take actions to shut the company down, according to a Forbes report on the presentation.
But the presentation did not reveal enough compelling new evidence to sway investors. And prior to the presentation, Herbalife had launched its own counteroffensive, saying that Ackman was growing desperate in his attempt to cover his short position against the company, noting that Ackman has 25.7 million shares in put options that expire next January.
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