Now to the options part of Ackman's bearish trade.
In late January, a huge number of put contracts that expire in 2015 were bought. Ackman has never acknowledged that he was the buyer of those puts, but many options experts point the finger in the hedge fund manager's direction.
Specifically, most of the buying activity centered around put contracts that become valuable if Herbalife falls below $65, $60 and $50 by the end of January 2015. There are currently about 230,000 Herbalife put contracts that have been purchased in the January 2015 expiry.
If Ackman owned half of all the available put contracts that have been sold, and he booked a profit of $10 per contract, a very generous assumption given where Herbalife has been trading, he'd have a profit on the options part of his trade of about $115 million.
Now to the stock portion of his bearish trade. He covered 8 million of his short, so assuming he hasn't increased or decreased his position, he's still short about 12 million shares of Herbalife at about $50. The stock is trading today for $53. That's a paper loss of about $36 million.
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So let's do the math one more time. He booked an initial loss of $200 million by closing out a portion of his stock short. He potentially has a paper gain from his options trade of $115 million. He still has $36 million in paper losses from the part of his short that he did not yet close. That leaves a remaining loss of about $121 million.
"It's almost impossible that Ackman scratched on this trade," commented Mike Khouw of Dash Financial.
A representative for Ackman declined to comment.