By  on May 16, 2008

NEW YORK — Activist investor William Ackman’s interest in apparel retailers grew in the first quarter.

Through his Pershing Square Capital hedge fund, Ackman tripled his stake in Target Corp., buying 16.4 million shares during in the first three months of the year.

That gave Ackman 24 million shares of the company, or 3 percent of those outstanding.
Ackman’s investments in the retailer have fluctuated over the past year, no doubt as buying and selling opportunities presented themselves.

He held nearly 82 million shares of Target last summer, when he started needling the company to boost profits.

The prodding might have played a part in Target’s deal to sell about half of its credit card receivables to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. for approximately $3.6 billion.

Ackman also snatched up 596,568 shares of Sears Holding Corp. in the first quarter, leaving him with a total of 6.7 million, or 5.1 percent of those outstanding.

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