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Alternative Market Briefing

Other Voices: Not so easy to replicate activist hedge funds and achieve similar performance

Monday, March 03, 2014

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Alex Gavrish
This article was authored by Alex Gavrish, founder and CEO of Etalon Investment Research, and author of "Wall Street Back To Basics."

With the amount of activist investments on the rise during the last few years, more and more media attention is given to activist investors and the companies they target. Targets you probably heard about are Apple with Carl Icahn dining recently with Apple’s CEO Tim Cook and pressing for increase of a buyback program, Daniel Loeb of Third Point pushing for corporate changes at Sotheby’s and Sony, Bill Ackman and his huge position in struggling retailer J.C. Penny which did not work out so well or could even be considered a total disaster as an investment, Jana Partners position in grocery operator Safeway, and the list can be continued.

Many investors follow activists and copy them by investing in same companies. There is even a mutual fund that offers investors exposure to shareholder activism as an investment strategy. Overall, target companies certainly provide an interesting area to focus on and one where attractive investment opportunities could be found. However, it might not be so easy to replicate activists and achieve similar performance. Even though in general the interests of activists and other shareholders are aligned, the field is not without conflicts of interest.

Announced activist campaigns by year (as of Feb 19, 2014; limited to Russell 3000 stocks)......................

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