It's not just Valeant.
Of the 11 publicly disclosed stock positions in Ackman's Pershing Square portfolio, only one is up more than 1% this year. In fact, the best stock associated with the hedge fund honcho is Herbalife. It's up nearly 8%. Unfortunately, that's the stock Ackman has been betting against. (For more read: The siege of Herbalife.)
Ackman publicly updates the performance of his fund once a week, and is expected to do it on Wednesday night. (He has to do that because he has an investment vehicle, Pershing Square Holdings, that trades publicly in Amsterdam.) It's unclear how much Ackman's fund is down now that Valeant has cratered. If you just look at his publicly disclosed positions, Ackman's fund was down 7% as of yesterday, according to hedge fund tracker Insidermonkey.com. But that leaves out the stocks he has bet against—like Herbalife—his options exposure, and the fact that, at least in the publicly traded vehicle, he has $1 billion in debt. That leverage amplifies his losses. Altogether, Ackman's Pershing Square Holdings was down 19% through last Tuesday.
It will likely be much worse by when updates his performance later today. On Tuesday, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (vrx), of which Ackman's fund owns just over 30 million shares, tumbled nearly 50% on Tuesday. Late last year, Ackman said his biggest regret was that he didn't buy more Valeant shares. Earlier this month, he disclosed that he had done just that, so he likely now has a bigger regret.
Factor that performance in, and, back of the envelope, Ackman's fund could be off as much as another 10%, or roughly 30% for the year. The average hedge fund was around down around 2% for the year through February, and the S&P 500 is down 1.8% year-to-date.
Ackman's biggest problem, besides picking stocks that are going down, is likely overconfidence. (For more on that, please read: Why you are a better investor than Bill Ackman.) He's placed his roughly $13 billion in assets into just 11 stocks. And two-thirds of those stocks are down this year. Valeant is the fund's biggest loser, but it's far from his only disaster this year. Ackman's fund also owns nearly one-fifth of outstanding shares of chemical company Platform Specialty Products (pah). The stock of that company is down nearly 40% this year. The same is true of the shares of Nomad Foods (nomd), another company that Ackman owns roughly one-fifth of.
Ackman says some of this is about other hedge funds betting against him. They are selling stocks that he owns, thinking that Ackman's losses may force him to bail out of his positions. And indeed, some of the other stocks in his portfolio were down on Tuesday, on seemingly no news. But the market in general was down.
Still, when 8 of the 11 stocks in your portfolio are down, and five are double-digit down, it's hard to blame everyone else.