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Of all the things you can say about the world of finance this year, it wasn't boring.
Looking back at the best and worst of Wall Street 2013, we've had record stock market highs, hyped up IPOs, activist investors gone wild, and red-faced moments for some prominent CEOs.
Some of it was sad, most of it was entertaining, but none of it should have distracted you from making money.
We here at Money Morning have created some very special awards to commemorate some of the most striking developments of 2013.
The 2013 Awards for Best and Worst of Wall Street
- Best Hedge Fund Manager Smackdown: Icahn vs. Ackman
Back in January, Bill Ackman, head of Pershing Square Capital management, went on CNBC to defend himself against a verbal attack that iconic hedge fund manager Carl Icahn had made the day before on Bloomberg TV criticizing Ackman's "holier than thou" short position on Herbalife. After the first segment, Icahn called in live to respond, and the fireworks began. Captivated traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shouted "Whoa!" with each verbal counterpunch. Some of the highlights:
Icahn: He is like the crybaby in the schoolyard.
Ackman: Carl Icahn does not have a good reputation for being a handshake guy.
Icahn: I appreciate, Bill, that you called me a great investor. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for you.
Ackman: I think that Carl either has a very, very bad memory or he had trouble with the truth. [After losing a lawsuit to me], he called me up and literally said, "Bill, we can be friends now." I simply said to him, "Look, Carl, you are no friend of mine."
Icahn: That's nonsense. I never said that I want to be friends with you, Bill.
Ackman: OK, Carl.
Icahn: You said to me, you'd like to be friends so that we could invest together.
Ackman: OK, Carl. You think I want to invest with you?
Icahn: I wouldn't do business with you if you were the last man on Earth.
- Most Hyped IPO With Worst Long-Term Potential: Twitter
Yes, Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) opened 73% above its IPO price at $45.10. Yes, it raised a huge sum of $1.8 billion. Yes, founder Ev Williams became a billionaire straight out of the IPO via his 59 million shares. But beware of Twitter. The eight-year-old company posted a third-quarter loss ($64.4 million) that tripled from the same quarter last year. Net losses surged from $71 million to $134 million in the same period. And the revenue growth rate has remained roughly the same in the last two years. All these reasons, and more, make Twitter a big, red balloon with a pin held to its side.
- Most Overdue CEO Departure: Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
Under more than a decade of Steve Ballmer's leadership, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) stock remained virtually flat. While the rest of the tech world moved on to the Mobile Revolution, Ballmer preferred to milk the cash cows of Windows and Office. In August, pressure from activist investors such as ValueAct forced Ballmer to announce his resignation, to be effective within a year. Since then MSFT has risen 21% to a 13-year high. That's not a coincidence, folks.