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How many cars has Carmax sold this week compared to the same week last year?

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Ackman's back, and this is the data powering his portfolio

5 months ago by Jon Marino in Investor Profile

Ackman's back. 

Hedge fund investor Bill Ackman and his Pershing Square investment fund are going out for fast food, and beefing up returns thanks to investments on Chipotle ($NYSE:CMG), Popeye's Kitchen owner Restaurant Brands ($NYSE:QSR) and Starbucks ($NASDAQ:SBUX).

Here's a look at some of the key alternative data points that power his portfolio in 2019: 


Chipotle is a grower AND a shower. The company has put up more than 8% additional job postings in 2019 so far, a sign that business isn't slowing down for the burrito champion. Chipotle shares are up 85% year-to-date. 


Starbucks' stock is another winner in the Ackman portfolio (you can check out winners here, thanks to Yahoo Finance's Myles Udland). Here, we track its still-rising Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) Were Here Count, which measures how often a user makes a geotagged post or visit at a specific location - like a retailer, or a restaurant. In 2019, the stock is up nearly 50%.

Restaurant Brands: 

Last but not least, it's the social media chart that defines who won the Great Fried Chicken Sandwich Twitter Debate of 2019. Popeye's, one of the portfolio holdings of Restaurant Brands ($NYSE:QSR), was also a winner; just this week they dominated a major social media beef with Chick-fil-A, when the latter claimed to have the 'original' fried chicken sandwich recipe. Regardless of who has the better food, Popeye's Tweet clap back on its Atlanta competitor did many more times engagement and Popeye's also added more than 20,000 followers - making its social media team the decided winners of this battle. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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