The “Icahn Manifesto”

Activist Investors, Contrarians & Graham

I’m currently reading the new book written by Tobias E. Carlisle entitled Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations.

In chapter one Carlisle discusses Carl Icahn and his “progression from arbitrageur and liquidator of closed-end funds to full-blown corporate raider” and his investment strategy laid out in the “Icahn Manidesto”, a term coined by Icahn’s biographer Mark Stevens.

CIT3The “Icahn Manifesto”

Icahn’s investment memorandum discussing his investment strategy was distributed to prospective investors back in 1976.

“It is our opinion that the elements in today’s economic environment have combined in a unique way to create large profit-making opportunities with relatively little risk. [T]he real or liquidating value of many American companies has increased markedly in the last few years; however, interestingly, this has not at all been reflected in the market value of their common stocks. Thus, we are faced with a unique set of circumstances that, if dealt with correctly can lead to large profits, as follows: [T]he management of these asset-rich target companies generally own very little stock themselves and, therefore, usually have no interest in being acquired. They jealously guard their prerogatives by building ‘Chinese walls’ around their enterprises that hopefully will repel the invasion of domestic and foreign dollars. Although these ‘walls’ are penetrable, most domestic companies and almost all foreign companies are loath to launch an ‘unfriendly’ takeover attempt against a target company. However, whenever a fight for control is initiated, it generally leads to windfall profits for shareholders. Often the target company, if seriously threatened, will seek another, more friendly enterprise, generally known as a ‘white knight’ to make a higher bid, thereby starting a bidding war. Another gambit occasionally used by the target company is to attempt to purchase the acquirers’ stock or, if all else fails, the target may offer to liquidate.

It is our contention that sizeable profits can be earned by taking large positions in ‘undervalued’ stocks and then attempting to control the destinies of the companies in question by:

a) trying to convince management to liquidate or sell the company to a ‘white knight’; b) waging a proxy contest; c) making a tender offer and/or; d) selling back our position to the company.”

Further reading

Disclosure: I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company or individual mentioned in this article. I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. This article is informational and is in my own personal opinion. Always do your own due diligence and contact a financial professional before executing any trades or investments.

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