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Investors Skeptical of Ackman’s Bold Bet on Mondelez

Activist investor Bill Ackman, well known for his bold bets on corporate shakeups, has made his biggest bet yet in Mondelez International Inc.

Mr. Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP revealed his $5.5 billion stake in Mondelez Wednesday night. At least part of that investment is predicated on the theory that the snack-food maker could be sold.

But investors appear to be skeptical. After initially jumping 4%, the stock moved closer to the break-even line by early afternoon. Typically when Mr. Ackman first announces his bets for or against a stock, investors follow his lead and bid a stock up or down in the direction the activist hedge-fund manager is leaning.

Mr. Ackman is expected to push for two things at Mondelez. First — cost cuts and growth. Second — a sale.

On the first front, analysts expect the company to have more success. Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard predicts that the company will quickly announce a plan to increase its margin targets:

Mondelez’s goal of 300bp of expansion over 3 years was tangible and impressive when it was...