Ah, to be an activist investor. Push around executives, demand ‘shareholder friendly’ measures and all this while maintaining the flexibility of trading in and out of shares. After pushing hard for a breakup, Carl Icahn quickly rang the register on a chunk of his Motorola Mobility (MMI) stake shortly after its takeout announcement. Too much work? John Paulson just had to jump onto a conference call in order to send HIG‘s share price soaring [he has done some more work since though and I hope to write more about this one soon].
Another activist benefactor is Jana Partners, who recently sold 3.9 million shares of the Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) right after the stock jumped 10% on the announcement that it plans to pursue a spinoff of its pipeline operations. An idea pushed hard by Jana. The WSJ estimates the firm booked ~$44mm in gains. The fund still maintains a 4.5% stake in the company though and “intends to retain a significant interest” in Marathon. While some of these moves are likely just portfolio rebalancing, it must be nice to have that kind of power and flexibility.
Disclosure: Author holds no position in any stock mentioned.