Ackman's Pershing Square gains nearly 3% in early 2020, warns of volatility

FILE PHOTO: William 'Bill' Ackman, CEO and Portfolio Manager of Pershing Square Capital Management, speaks during the Sohn Investment Conference in New York City, U.S., May 8, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) - William Ackman’s publicly traded hedge fund gained nearly 3% this year, though the billionaire investor warned of volatility ahead as world markets reel under the economic hit from the coronavirus epidemic.

Pershing Square Holdings Ltd on Monday said NAV, a key performance measure for investment companies, was $27.7 per share as of March 9, up 2.8% year-to-date.

Various hedges “more than compensated” for recent market declines that hit portfolio companies, Ackman said in a letter to shareholders.

Markets worldwide have come under pressure as the coronavirus spreads rapidly across the globe, causing widespread supply disruption and large-scale quarantine measures as governments scramble to contain the outbreak.

“We expect the capital markets and our portfolio to continue to be volatile,” Ackman said.

Earlier this month, Ackman said he moved to protect the firm’s portfolio against coronavirus-related panic selling in markets, though he declined to say what steps he took.

The S&P 500 index has lost nearly 15% so far this year.

“Despite recent market declines, we believe that equity and credit markets have not sufficiently discounted the economic risks of coronavirus,” Ackman said.

The Pershing Square Holdings portfolio, the biggest at Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management firm, returned a stunning 58.1% last year, making it one of the world’s best performing hedge funds.

Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath