Activist Daily: The end

Activist friend and sometimes foe, we brought you bad news over the weekend, making the hard decision to take our daily investing newsletter behind the Activist Strategy paywall. This gets us out of managing free subscribers, adding more value to the platform. Along those lines, this will be the last free daily email we send out. We hope you enjoyed the ride and will give Activist Strategy a chance [all you need to know is here]. If you are a fan of the daily email but can't spring for the full Activist Strategy subscription, shoot us an email and we'll try to figure something out. 

Activist news and stories for June 30 is below. 

Also, see the full four-part series on Kirk Kerkorian here.

News-

  • Starboard Value dumped about 30% of its Micrel ($MCRL) stake, now owning 6.5%. Shares are up 33% since SV went active in August 2014.

  • FrontFour Capital took its stake in OM Group ($OMG) to just below 5%. Recall that OM Group has been under pressure from a number of activists investors given the Apollo Group buyout [link to OM Group pissing and moaning]

  • The activist hedge fund, Crystal Amber, is taking on a North Sea oil explorer. It owns 12% of Hurricane Energy and is the company’s largest shareholder. The thesis is that despite many large players shedding their North Sea assets there is still value there as long as oil prices stay above $40 a barrel.

  • Activist, Crystal Amber, has taken a 3.1% stake in Grainger, the U.K. residential property company. The key is that it’s looking to realize some £500m in future profits, known as the “reversionary surplus” [details at FT]

  • The new Jana Partners activist target ConAgra Foods will be posting earnings today. Granted ConAgra has outperformed some peers, it’s about what is possible. Look for news of the company either dumping its private foods business - possibly to Post Holdings or TreeHouse Foods. As well it could dump other parts of its business, like frozen foods, to Pinnacle Foods.

  • Basswood Capital took a 9.1% active stake in Bridge Bancorp ($BDGE), the $316M market cap New York bank. Basswood is known for its small-cap community bank activism. It plans to have discussions with management.

  • Maltese Capital upped its stake in American River Bankshares from 7.8% to 9.2%. The first increase since it went active in 3Q14.

  • Wynnefield Partners lowered its Air Network stake from 5.6% to 4.1%.

  • Joseph Stilwell upped its Georgetown Bancorp stake from 7.2% to 7.6%. He’s been active since 3Q2012.

  • David Knott lowered its stake in Rand Logistics from 13.7% to 12.7%.

  • Pleasant Lake Partners upped its stake in Magnachip Semiconductor from 7.7% to 8.7%. It’s only been active since July 10.  

  • Starboard Value lowered its stake in Integrated Silicon Solutions from 11.2% to 4.3%.

Stories-

  • CRN notes that Elliott Associates is learning something from EMC. EMC is teaching the activist fund about its federated structure. Of note, “EMC spends a good amount of time just educating Elliott Management about the EMC Federation and why it will succeed in the long run” [link]

  • Wilbur Ross is stepping down from a number of boards given “new European rules” limiting directorships of bank officers - his resignations include Assured Guaranty, International Automotive Components Group, International Textile Group, Navigator Holdings, Talmer Bancorp and Ocwen Financial. He still sits on the boards of ArcelorMittal, Bank of Cypress, Exco Resources, Sun National Bank and WL Ross Holding [link]

  • Fortune has a piece on how activist investors love spinoffs. Of note, the Abbott Labs spinoff AbbVie has caught a lot of attention of late, including from Glenview. Key splits this year include Hewlett-Packard and eBay. Other current spinoffs that are interesting include Sallie Mae spinoff Navient, ING spinoff Voya Financial, Danaher, which will be spinning later this year, and finally Energizer [link]

  • Corpgov.net put together a piece on activism, of note,” We also find no evidence that the initial positive stock price spike accompanying activist interventions tends to be followed by negative abnormal returns in the long term” [link]

  • Globe and mail noted that activism in the oil industry has flopped. The takeaway, “The case highlights the generally disappointing outcome from shareholder activism in the Canadian oil patch. In other sectors, the appearance of a reform-minded outside investor has signalled big gains ahead – think of Bill Ackman’s success in shaking up Canadian Pacific. But in Calgary’s petroleum community, a recent outburst of activism has gone hand in hand with losses.” Bellatrix Exploration, an Orange Capital target, and Gran Tierra, the West Face target, are two examples.

What we’ve been working on-

  • Exploring the Macy’s real estate catalyst [link]

  • A look at Ancora Advisors and its recent target [full paywall]

  • A forced buyout in small-cap oil and gas [full paywall]

  • Elliott Associates taking on Alcatel-Lucent [link]

  • Finding an activist target in software chipsets [full paywall]

  • How things are a changin’ at activiststocks.com [link]