Bill Ackman’s hedge fund has best-ever start this year

After four consecutive years of losses, Bill Ackman’s slimmed-down Pershing Square is feasting in 2019.

The hedge fund is up 31.9 percent this year — marking its best start to a year in its 15-year history — with its stake in Chipotle soaring 60 percent in 2019.

The fast-casual restaurant is helping Ackman more than double the S&P 500 return, which is up 13.5 percent over the same period, the fund revealed in an investor letter Monday.

Pershing’s early 2019 gains come after the $8 billion hedge fund spent much of 2018 looking inward, focusing more on investing than fundraising.

“This has freed up substantial time and renewed focus, which have enabled me and the other members of the investment team to invest nearly all of our business time and attention on the identification, monitoring and oversight of our portfolio companies,” Ackman wrote.

Roughly three quarters of the firm’s assets are in Pershing’s publicly traded vehicle, which pays a 10-cent quarterly dividend.

Ackman’s fund has been bruised by a disastrous investment in Valeant Pharmaceuticals and a $1 billion short against Herbalife.

Pershing shed 20.5 percent in 2015 and saw a 13.5 percent drop in 2016. Losses in 2017 and 2018 were more modest, with the fund down 4 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

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