The Biggest Activist Investors You Need To Know

By: Wayne Duggan

In grade school, everyone was well aware that cheating off of the smart kids was frowned upon. Fortunately, when it comes to trading, looking over the experts’ shoulders is nothing to be ashamed of.

Every quarter, institutional investment managers managing portfolios of at least $100 million in qualifying assets must report their holdings to the SEC on form 13F. In other words, four times a year, traders get a clear glimpse of what some of the wealthiest and most successful money managers in the country have been buying and selling.

Here’s a look at a handful of the biggest activist investors on Wall Street and their top holdings as of the end of the second quarter.

David Einhorn-Greenlight Capital

Einhorn is one of the most well-known value investors in the world. As of mid-2017, Einhorn’s net worth was approximately $1.5 billion, but he has struggled with several of his contrarian trades in recent years, including short bets on Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). As of the most recent quarter, Einhorn’s four largest long holdings were General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), AerCap Holdings N.V. (NYSE: AER), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Mylan N.V. (NASDAQ: MYL).

Bill Ackman-Pershing Square Capital

In recent years, Ackman has become most known for his $1 billion short position in Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE: HLF) and his public confrontations with Carl Icahn and others who have taken the other side of the trade. Ackman’s latest activist target has been Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ: ADP), and he recently announced a plan to seek three board seats for Pershing in an attempt to implement a plan to tighten up the company’s business. As of the end of Q2, Ackman’s four largest long holdings were Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE: QSR), Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE: CMG), Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ: MDLZ) and Howard Hughes Corp (NYSE: HHC).

Carl Icahn-Icahn Enterprises

Icahn’s net worth is somewhere in the $16 billion range, but he has made more headlines lately for his role as special economic advisor to President Trump. Icahn developed a reputation as an activist investor in the 1980s when he took over airline TWA and then sold off the company’s assets. As of the end of the second quarter, Icahn’s four largest long holdings were Icahn Enterprises LP (NASDAQ: IEP), American International Group Inc (NYSE: AIG), Herbalife and Cheniere Energy, Inc. (NYSE: LNG).

Nelson Peltz-Trian Fund Management

Peltz gained a reputation as an activist by taking over and turning around Snapple in the late 1990s. He also got Trian two seats on the board of Heinz in 2006 and pushed for Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE: FDO) to go private in 2011. Today, Peltz’s net worth is somewhere in the $1.5 billion range. As of the end of Q2, his top four long holdings were Procter & Gamble Co (NYSE: PG), SYSCO Corporation (NYSE: SYY), General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) and Mondelez.

Dan Loeb-Third Point

Throughout his career, Loeb has earned a reputation for buying struggling companies, replacing their top management and getting them back on track. In the first decade after founding Third Point in 1996, Loeb’s Fund delivered an average annual return of roughly 16 percent. Today, Loeb’s net worth stands at around $2.9 billion. As of the end of the second quarter, his top four long holdings were Baxter International Inc (NYSE: BAX), Dow Chemical Co (NYSE: DOW), BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA).

Disclosure: the author is long BABA.

This article is provided for educational purposes only and is not considered to be a recommendation or endorsement of any trading strategy. The author is not affiliated with Lightspeed Trading and the content and perspective is solely attributed to the author.

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