Bill Ackman scores 70% return in 2020

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Bill Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management.
Cameron Costa | CNBC

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Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman appears to have scored one of his best years ever in 2020 despite a volatile market rocked by a global pandemic, an economic recession and a presidential election.

His Pershing Square fund netted a 70.2% return last year after a 4.6% gain in December. That performance was far better than the 2020 return of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 or even the Nasdaq Composite, which posted a robust gain of 43.6%.

Ackman's banner year came during one of the most volatile trading environments in recent memory as Covid-19 and efforts to contain the virus led to forced business closures, travel restrictions and a recession.

At the depths of the market sell-off in the first quarter of 2020, the S&P 500 fell more than 30% from its record high as traders dumped airline, retail and energy stocks en masse. Fear gripped Wall Street as traders worried about rising hospitalizations and deaths, a sharp recession and a then-uncertain vaccine time line.

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