Bill Ackman, the activist hedge fund manager who most recently made headlines over his big short position on Herbalife, zeroed in on Procter & Gamble at the Sohn Investment Conference in New York Wednesday.
The CEO of Procter & Gamble (PG) is one busy man, but that doesn't mean he's solely focused on his work at the helm of one of the world's largest corporations.
Bob McDonald, who's led P&G since July 2009, served on the board of 21 different organizations, including Xerox (XRX)as of early 2012. And Ackman thinks that may be more than a few too many.
"We make the conservative assumption that just attending board meetings and not including travel time, this accounts for 25% of his time," Ackman said during his presentation.
A P&G spokesperson disputed Ackman's comments and said that McDonald serves on just seven boards. Only one, Xerox, is a corporate board, he said.
Still Ackman made it clear from those thinly veiled comments that he wants McDonald out. He said he's willing to give McDonald two to three quarters to get the company in better shape. By better shape, he wants to see at least 5% annualized growth and some major cost cutting. In both of those metrics, P&G trails its peers, said Ackman.
Ackman called P&G's board "first class" and said he expects the board to make the right decision.
Ackman holds roughly 1% of the consumer product maker's shares, making him one of P&G's top stakeholders. He's been a vocal critic of the company's management and its financial performance since disclosing his stake last year.
Should McDonald fail to turn things around quickly enough, who does Ackman think should step in? He didn't specify, but said there are several quality internal and external candidates.
Ackman has been known for bringing new leadership into his investments, though not all his moves turn out as planned.
Ackman also stayed silent on his big billion dollar short position in multilevel marketing firm Herbalife (HLF).
The Sohn conference is known to produce wild stock gyrations, as investors rush to follow the bets that major hedge fund managers make for or against stocks. Ackman's talk didn't move P&G's share price much.
But several other stocks were whipsawed.
Corvex Management's Keith Meister told investors to buy wireless data providers Level 3 Communications (LVLT) and TW Telecom (TWTC). He deemed Level 3 to be a long-term consolidator in the industry. TW Telecom, by contrast, could be an acquisition target down the road. Shares of both companies shot up about 7%.
Shares of Yellow Pages company Dex Media (DXM) rallied 30%, after noted short seller and Japan bear Kyle Bass outlined a case for long-term growth as the company moves into digital media.
Clear Channel Outdoor's (CCO) stock gained more than 7% after Mitchell Julis of Canyon Partners gave the billboard firm a thumbs up.
J.C. Penney has few friends on Wall Street, but Thursday, the troubled retailer gained one more.
BTIG analyst William Frohnhoefer issued a "buy" rating, making him one of the few analysts to recommend purchasing J.C. Penney's stock.
Frohnhoefer also set a price target of $22 per share. That's more than 40% higher from where J.C. Penney's (JCP) stock is currently trading. Early Thursday, shares slid 1% to $15.53.
The call is a rare MOREBen Rooney - Mar 14, 2013 11:44 AM ET
Shares of Herbalife jumped Thursday after the nutritional supplement company said billionaire investor Carl Icahn will be allowed to nominate two board members.
Herbalife (HLF) shares ended the day up 7%. The stock was briefly halted on the news.
Under the terms of a deal with Icahn's holding company, Herbalife agreed to have Icahn nominate two members to the company's board, which will grow to 11 directors. The new board members will MOREBen Rooney - Feb 28, 2013 4:39 PM ET
It's a tough week to be a retailer in search of customers. First, the shares of J.C. Penney (JCP) cratered after the Ron Johnson-led retailer reported abysmal fourth-quarter numbers Wednesday night.
Next up: Sears (SHLD). The iconic retailer can't turn a profit or get customers excited about its merchandise or Kmart's. After reporting yet another quarter of steep losses early Thursday, Sears' stock dropped nearly 5%.
Releasing results so close to JCPenney at least makes MOREMaureen Farrell - Feb 28, 2013 3:15 PM ET
Shares of Herbalife (HLF) bounce back from a sharp drop Monday morning after the New York Post reported that the company is the subject of a federal investigation. Herbalife's stock fell nearly 13% shortly after the open but finished the day up more than 1%.
The investigation was revealed after the Federal Trade Commission disclosed a list of 192 complaints against Herbalife from the past seven years in response to a Freedom of Information Law request MOREHibah Yousuf - Feb 4, 2013 4:01 PM ET
Super Carl? Activist Carl Icahn has been racking up some pretty big wins in the past few weeks. Now, add Chesapeake Energy (CHK) to that list.
Chesapeake Energy's stock is up more than 6% Wednesday, following the company's announcement that its controversial CEO and founder Aubrey McClendon would step down immediately and retire on April 1, 2013.
Icahn was a key force behind McClendon's ouster. Early last year, investors discovered that MOREMaureen Farrell - Jan 30, 2013 12:43 PM ET
Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman outlined why he and his team of analysts have dubbed the nutritional supplement company Herbalife (HLF) as a "pyramid scheme" at a conference in New York Thursday morning.
Herbalife's stock dropped nearly 4% Thursday, its second straight day of sharp drops. The vitamin maker's stock dropped more than 12% Wednesday, after CNBC reported that Ackman had been betting against the stock for most of 2012. MOREMaureen Farrell - Dec 20, 2012 12:52 PM ET
Shares of General Growth Properties (GGP) spiked as much as 12% Thursday after activist hedge fund investor Bill Ackman urged the shopping mall owner to put itself up for sale.
The company has already been in play, but Ackman, who runs the hedge fund Pershing Square, doesn't want General Growth shareholder Brookfield Asset Management to be the only buyer.
Rival mall operator Simon Property Group (SPG) has unsuccessfully tried to buy General MOREMaureen Farrell - Aug 23, 2012 4:24 PM ET
Will the third trip to the public markets be the charm for Burger King's investors?
Burger King (BKW) started trading on the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, and the home of the Whopper quickly popped nearly 7% from its opening price of $14.50.
In early April, the world's second largest hamburger fast food chain announced a new healthier menu replete with salads, wraps and smoothies. (The new bacon sundae is a glaring MOREMaureen Farrell - Jun 20, 2012 10:54 AM ET
There's no doubt that hedge funds have had a tough time beating the broader stock market in recent years, but they've still got an edge over individual investors when it comes to stock picking. And if that's your thing, investing like a hedge fund all-star just got easier.
The Top Guru Holdings Index ETF (GURU), which began trading Tuesday, invests in the single biggest holding of 68 top hedge funds, including MOREHibah Yousuf - Jun 5, 2012 4:14 PM ET
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