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Blogger/hedge funder John Hempton, who runs Bronte Capital, has just published a long piece about visiting an Herbalife “Nutrition Club” in Queens, New York. Hempton, who has called Herbalife “scumbags,” disagrees with Bill Ackman’s Herbalife short case and is betting against the Pershing Square Capital founder.
In his latest blog post, Hempton basically says that if Ackman had taken the time to visit the “Nutrition Clubs” he would see that they provide a “social support group” for these people to drink the diet drinks. He notes that the richer population’s solution would be to hire a trainer, but that’s an expensive option for a lot of people.
He also uses an example of a diabetic woman who went to the club and saw her insulin injection requirement reduced drastically.
“If Bill Ackman thinks America would be better off without Herbalife he could politely explain that at the woman’s funeral,” he writes.
He concludes with some extremely harsh words for Ackman.
What this has (deservedly) become is the story about how Bill Ackman can be so wrong. He spent (by his own admission) a year and a half analysing this company and his thesis can be falsified by visiting a few clubs in his home city. Bill Ackman’s thesis is the most easily falsified bear-thesis I have seen from a major hedge fund ever.
You have to wonder how this happened. So I am going to tell you:
Bill Ackman a Harvard educated (magna cum laude) billionaire New York hedge fund manager bet over a billion dollars on a short position (imperilling his fund and his reputation) without checking the facts.
And he did not check the facts because he was so rigid with a misplaced silver spoon that he could not stoop to sit on a subway for 30 minutes and talk with poor people for 90 minutes.