Is it just me or is Ackman currently in his Britney Spears head shaving, Lindsey Lohan fuck-you-nail-polish-wearing and Charlie Sheen bi-winning mode?
Activist investing is basically the world series of PR and this doucher has taken a shellacking of epic proportions.
Yesmis-steps, but when your entire investing strategy is premised on people (and I'm talking the market, not investors) believing in your inane ability to identify a soft target, sneak up behind it and smash it over the head with a flower pot (see Dan Loeb), once you start losing credibility as an oracle of accretion... your whole game is up. Your victim hears you coming, your flower pot isn't heavy enough, and she's got pepper spray waiting for you.
The way I view activist investing, you have a differentiated view of value on an asset. You buy the asset (or part of it, really), state your case and advocate for your action plan... that is your catalyst for the market to acknowledge - at least partially - the value you see in that asset. If I were to try that, people would laugh me out of the room. Enter Dan Loeb,or (until recently) Bill Ackman. These guys are financial Wizards of Oz (supposedly), if they get into a company, irritate the board to listen to and maybe consider (not follow) their advice on how the business should be run... then the market sees the future value in that and the stock runs up. The fact is... the activist doesn't have to be right. None of his action items need to be implemented. Just the fact that he is stirring the hornets nest will presumably be impetus enough for the board and management team to right the ship and improve the business.
I'm stating the obvious here... because it seems to me that Ackman is one banana peel away from going the way of Ralph Macchio. And for any of you that have played Mario Kart, you know those banana peels come out of fuckin no where.