Bill Ackman’s Spirited Intervention and Fortune Brands’ Breakup

Fortune Brands, the weird amalgam of sporting, liquor and faucet companies, is breaking into three pieces. Somewhere, billionaire investor Bill Ackman is probably doing a fist pump of joy.

By The Wall Street Journal‘s tally, Mr. Ackman has already gained about $300 million by trading in Fortune shares:

In pre-market trading, Fortune Brands are pointing up about 4.6% to $63.97. At Ackman’s rough per-share average purchase price of $45.88 for his Fortune Brands stake, the hedge fund manager has make a paper profit of about $302 million dollars.

The liquor business will stay under the Fortune umbrella, while the “home and securities business” — Master locks and Moen Faucets, among other things — will be spun off, tax free, to Fortune shareholders. The company is also contemplating a sale or tax-free spinoff of its golf business — Titleist golf clubs and FootJoy shoes.

That Ackman was able to score so much loot from what seems obvious — that all these different weird products probably don’t belong all in one company — is perhaps the most remarkable thing about this news. But perhaps sometimes it takes some forceful “discussion” from an activist investor to shake a company out of its funk.

mtaylor [at] | @mbrookstaylor Bill Ackman’s Spirited Intervention and Fortune Brands’ Breakup