Ackman Sees Air Products Shares Climbing to $200 in 3 Years

Feb 13, 2014 4:19 pm ET

(Updates with closing share price in fifth paragraph.)

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Air Products & Chemicals Inc., the industrial gas producer whose chief executive officer is due to retire, will climb to more than $200 a share after new management is installed, activist investor William Ackman said.

Air Products shares are fairly valued and come with “a free option on the company selecting a great CEO,” Ackman, the CEO and founder of Pershing Square Capital Management LP, said yesterday at the Harbor Investment Conference in New York.

“This is a 200-plus-dollar stock over the next three years with new management,” he said.

The pending departure of Air Products Chairman and CEO John E. McGlade was announced in September. McGlade, who agreed to remain as chairman after the new CEO is named to help with the transition, will resign by June 30, Air Products has said. The search for his successor should conclude in the “short term,” Ackman said yesterday.

Air Products rose 4.5 percent to $116.93 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since July 25. The shares have gained 11 percent since Pershing disclosed its stake on July 31. The firm is the largest shareholder with 9.7 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

There’s “no reason” why Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air Products’ operating margin should be 7 percentage points lower than competitor Praxair Inc., Ackman said.

--Editors: Will Wade, Steven Frank