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Ackman's Pershing Square fund powers ahead in new year

[NEW YORK] Billionaire investor William Ackman's publicly traded hedge fund gained 7.1 per cent in the first week of January, according to an investor update, marking the strongest start to a new year ever for the firm.

Early January stock gains at Chipotle Mexican Grill, one of Mr Ackman's most potent investments ever since he helped install a new chief executive last year, helped power the portfolio forward. Gains at Platform Specialty Products Corp and Lowe's Companies also helped.

Mr Ackman's Pershing Square Holdings fund, managed by his New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management, ended 2018 with a small 0.7 per cent loss. That still beat most rivals, so-called activist investors that push companies to perform better, who lost an average 11.3 per cent for the year, data from Hedge Fund Research shows.

The fund manager declared 2018 as a year of rebuilding at Pershing Square. He shrunk his staff and curtailed the marketing and public relations meetings that took a big chunk of his time, saying he was returning to his roots of being more involved in making the investments. He made several new bets, including the Lowe's investment, and watched as older bets, like Chipotle, finally began paying off.

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The average activist investor has started 2019 with losses, according to Hedge Fund Research data.

REUTERS