Shares of Herbalife (HLF) surged almost 10 percent Thursday, catapulting the California-based maker of dietary supplements and weight management products to a July gain of 43 percent.
Put simply, Herbalife is becoming the toast of the hedge fund universe as rivals look to burn Pershing Square's Bill Ackman who is short the stock.
Carl Icahn, Robert Chapman and reportedly George Soros are among the highly-regarded financiers that now have long positions in Herbalife. Chapman of Chapman Capital, told CNBC today that Herbalife is one of his biggest positions and that he has owned the shares since the low $40s.
In one of the finest book talking performances in recent memory, Chapman also said he'd be a buyer of Herbalife at current levels and that the stock is going to $300 if it remains a public company.
Despite the intense level of hedge fund involvement in the stock, Herbalife, a pair of ETFs designed to give investors exposure to stocks widely held by hedge funds still do not count the stock among their holdings. This was the case in February when the Herbalife saga really began heating up.
The Global X Top Guru Holdings Index ETF (GURU), which has over $103.6 million in assets under management, tracks the Top Guru Holdings Index, which "is comprised of the top U.S. listed equity positions reported on Form 13F by a select group of entities that Structured Solutions AG characterizes as hedge funds," according to Global X.
GURU's rival, the AlpaClone Alternative Alpha ETF (ALFA), ALFA tracks the AlphaClone Hedge Fund Long/Short Index, which "uses AlphaClone's proprietary "Clone Score" methodology to aggregate on a quarterly basis the ideas of hedge funds for which historically it has made the most sense to follow based on their disclosures. The index also employs a hedge mechanism that allows the index to vary from being long only to market hedged," according to the issuer.
ALFA's holdings also include Apple, Google and Procter & Gamble (PG), another Pershing Square long position, but no Herbalife.
ALFA rebalances on a quarterly so it is possible that if enough hedge funds show stakes in Herbalife at the end of the current quarter, the stock will join the ETF later this year. Then again, ALFA does not necessarily need Herbalife's help. The ETF is up almost 35 percent since coming to market and touched a new all-time high Thursday.
GURU does not need Herbalife, either. That ETF is up nearly 45 percent since its June 2012 debut and also touched a new high Thursday.
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