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SALT Conference Activist Roundup

A group of activist investors did a bit of a round table at the @Scaramucci SALT Conference and it was quite frankly a talk your book competition.

JANA Partners’ Barry Rosenstein pitched Qualcomm, with a mention of Walgreens as well. Just two days ago Barry pitched both stocks at the Sohn Conference. Qualcomm is JANA’s largest position. The focus thesis for JANA at Qualcomm is to get it broken up, but Barry continues to say he’ll settle for getting cash returned to shareholders. Breaking up Qualcomm is sketchy business. Still, JANA will make plenty of money if it can get Qualcomm to soil its debt free balance sheet and get a sizable buyback.

Tommy Sandell of Sandell Asset Management as also there, also to talk about an older idea of his, Brookdale Senior Living - the form a REIT or monetize your real estate play. This is something that Sandell and Larry Robbin’s Glenview Capital have in common, with Robbins pitching Brookdale at Sohn.

The ever popular Jeff Smith of Starboard Value, who went active on Brink Co. earlier this week - more to come later via Activist Strategy - but he was SALT to tout Yahoo! He did mention Darden Restaurants a bit, but he’s really got a fix on over Yahoo! Smith thinks that the core business is being offered for free - generating over a billion in cash flow but valued negatively base on SOTP. We argue otherwise, and our negative thoughts on Yahoo! are out there - won’t go into that here, you can email us if you really want to discuss.

The final activist was Cliff Robbins of Blue Harbour Group. He’s a likable guy and thinks he’ll do well with its no. 1 and no. 2 holdings Rackspace and Akamai, respectively. He’s doing pretty well since going active on Rackspace in August. Now, the big name he’s been talking up of late is Investors Bancorp. The bank is a demutualization play, which is an old Seth Klarman favorite. Robbins has called Investors Bancorp play the best risk versus return opportunity he’s ever seen. Then why does it sit as your fourth largest holding Cliff?