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Thread: This 8-Time Winner Is Perfect For Our Vulnerable Market

  1. Default This 8-Time Winner Is Perfect For Our Vulnerable Market

    Many of the traders I talk to are wondering what Bill Ackman could be thinking.

    Ackman is a hedge fund manager, the founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, which has about $11 billion under management. Ackman is considered a contrarian investor who tends to buy when companies are down, and an activist investor who sometimes takes a role in managing companies he invests in. He has achieved incredible success by some measures and has a reported wealth of about $1.4 billion.

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    There is an obvious problem with recent performance. As Ackman explained, "The substantial decline in performance from August 2015 through March 31, 2016 is largely due to Valeant's decline..." Valeant is now the investment traders are talking about.

    Ackman took a large stake in Valeant Pharmaceuticals International (NYSE: VRX) as the company was growing rapidly through acquisitions. The strategy largely relied on buying other companies and then raising prices, a tactic that we know was widespread in the drug sector. But regulators began to question the strategy after it was discovered VRX was using in-house pharmacists to potentially overbill insurance companies. Traders reacted to the news by selling VRX.

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    Ackman, however, responded to the news by raising his stake and taking an active role in managing the company with two seats on the board of directors. In the end, Ackman seemed to have concluded that Valeant, which took on massive debt to fund its acquisitions, wouldn't recover in a timely manner, and he sold his position at a loss of more than $4 billion.

    After the selloff, Valeant is about 96% below its all-time high. It needs to gain 2,500% to get back to that level. Losses, as Ackman's performance demonstrates, have a large impact on returns -- an important lesson for any investor. The size of the gain required to break even is always more than the size of the loss. The difference between the two starts small; for example, a 10% loss requires an 11% gain to breakeven. But the gap grows much wider the worse the losses get: A 90% loss requires a 900% gain. A 95% loss requires 1,900%.

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    The math shows why it's better to take small losses than large ones. The current market is vulnerable to a selloff, but I also believe there are a number of opportunities among the most oversold sectors in the market.

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    Some of the oversold industry groups, like the energy sector, have already suffered bear markets. The decline in the energy sector has increased volatility, making some stocks attractive as income trades. That is particularly true of, Tesoro Corporation (NYSE: TSO), an oil refiner and retailer with operations in 18 states.

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