NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - William Ackman's activist hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management has taken a new position in Starbucks Corp, according to attendees at a conference where the billionaire investor spoke on Tuesday.
Ackman revealed the position at a conference in New York on Tuesday, the people said. Speculation has been mounting for weeks that an activist might be ready to take a position in the company.
Ackman had been hinting at the investment for months, telling analysts on a conference call in August that it represented about 10 percent of Pershing Square's portfolio. But he declined to disclose the name at the time.
For Pershing Square, which invested $8.4 billion at the end of September, this marks the fourth time Ackman has unveiled a new position this year. Early in the year he said he was invested in Nike Inc followed by news that the firm had made bets on United Technologies Corp and Lowe's Companies Inc. Pershing Square traditionally holds only about a dozen or fewer positions.
Ackman has made his name betting on companies including Canadian Pacific and ranks as one of the most closely watched investors on Wall Street despite several years of losses after bad bets on Herbalife and Valeant.
The firm's private hedge fund has gained 13.8 percent in the first nine months of the year and its publicly traded fund is up 15.8 percent, marking a dramatic turnaround after three years of back to back losses.
Returns have been fueled by Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc , whose stock price has climbed 55 percent this year, and Automatic Data Processing Inc, whose shares have gained 27 percent. Lowe's and UTC have also posted double-digit gains this year. (Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis)