How Bill Ackman Misfired With His Herbalife Lecture

Bill Ackman in New York on July 22 Photograph by Jin Lee/Bloomberg

Did Bill Ackman just deal a deathblow to Herbalife, or pay $50 million to prove that a sucker is born every minute? In a presentation on Tuesday that he dubbed “the most important of his career,” the hedge fund manager lobbed a fresh round of missiles at the company he has bet $1 billion against. His main target: the shake maker’s lucrative “Club 100″ training program, which Ackman described as a Bernie Madoff-style scheme that dupes participants with false hopes, misleading claims, and high costs. For added measure he threw in references to the Nazis, Enron, the mafia, drug cartels, and assorted celebrities like David Beckham and Madeleine Albright. He also called Herbalife Chief Executive Michael Johnson a criminal more than once.

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