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April 6, 2020, 10:48 a.m. EDT

Last month Bill Ackman said ‘hell is coming.’ Now he’s ‘optimistic.’

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By Steve Goldstein, MarketWatch


Getty Images
Chief Executive and portfolio manager of Pershing Square Capital Management William Ackman.

The hedge-fund manager who may have made the best bet on coronavirus is turning optimistic.

Bill Ackman, the Pershing Square fund manager who turned $27 million into $2.6 billion after a series of bets using credit-default swaps in February, tweeted messages on his newfound optimism.

“I am beginning to get optimistic,” he tweeted, saying cases appear to be peaking in New York and that nearly the entire country is in lockdown.

His optimism was matched in global financial markets, with rallies for the Nikkei 225 /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.88% , the German DAX /zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed DX:DAX +2.04%  and U.S. stock futures /zigman2/quotes/209948968/delayed ES00 +0.51% .

Other factors that made Ackman optimistic include the prospect of hydroxychloroquine and antibiotics as treatments, the scaling up of antibody tests, massive government stimulus and low interest rates.

“One could imagine a world in the next few months where everyone is tested and all but the immune compromised go back to a socially distanced but more normal life. We wear bracelets or carry a phone certificate which indicate our status, and track infections where they emerge,” Ackman tweeted.

Ackman last month warned “hell is coming” in a CNBC interview that coincided with a big drop in the stock market. He said he called CEOs of companies he was invested in, to stop buyback programs, husband resources and draw down credit lines “because hell is coming” as he called on President Donald Trump to institute a 30-day shutdown.

He also said he got bullish during the same interview, buying Hilton /zigman2/quotes/202780307/composite HLT +1.24%  , Restaurant Brands /zigman2/quotes/202094900/composite QSR +2.04%   and Starbucks /zigman2/quotes/207508890/composite SBUX +2.67%   among other stocks.

/zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed
JP : Nikkei
22,750.24
+420.30 +1.88%
Volume: 0.00
Aug. 11, 2020 3:15p
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/zigman2/quotes/210597999/delayed
DAX
DX : Xetra Indices
12,946.89
+259.36 +2.04%
Volume: 77,566
Aug. 11, 2020 6:30p
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/209948968/delayed
US : U.S.: CME
$ 3,369.75
+17.05 +0.51%
Volume: 906,472
Aug. 11, 2020 11:54a
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202780307/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 87.27
+1.07 +1.24%
Volume: 1.93M
Aug. 11, 2020 1:04p
P/E Ratio
650.93
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$23.90 billion
Rev. per Employee
$52,698
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202094900/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 55.89
+1.12 +2.04%
Volume: 1.04M
Aug. 11, 2020 1:04p
P/E Ratio
26.45
Dividend Yield
3.72%
Market Cap
$25.54 billion
Rev. per Employee
$892,833
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207508890/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 79.54
+2.07 +2.67%
Volume: 4.94M
Aug. 11, 2020 1:04p
P/E Ratio
71.77
Dividend Yield
2.06%
Market Cap
$90.56 billion
Rev. per Employee
$86,863
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Steve Goldstein is MarketWatch markets editor for Europe. Follow him on Twitter: @MKTWgoldstein.

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