I read SEC filings like my daughter watches bad television. That is to say, I read them often and enjoy doing so, even if no one else understands why I take so much pleasure in them.
I read the quarterly and annual reports of companies in which I have an interest every quarter, and I read filings about insider and institutional buying and selling daily.
Insider buying and selling have proven to be a great indication of what the people running a company think of the business’s prospects.
I have been tracking institutional buying and selling since the late 1980s. It took a lot more elbow grease back then, but it was profitable enough to be a worthwhile exercise. It is much quicker to access and read the filings today, and it is still a very profitable endeavor if you know what to look for in the reports.
As I was reviewing filings this past weekend, and I ran across one I found both interesting and potentially profitable…
First, Carl Icahn filed a 13D noting that he had established an activist position of shares of Crown Holdings Inc. (CCK), the former Crown Cork and Seal. Icahn spent more than $700 million to accumulate 10,201,273 shares of the company.
Icahn said in the filing that he bought the shares because he thought they were undervalued, and he intends to have a conversation with management and the board about how to increase shareholder value.
Carl is never shy about sharing his thoughts on building shareholder value.
Icahn spoke at the Forbes Iconoclast Conference on November 3 and talked about his newest holding, saying management had lost its way in trying to diversify the business. Instead, he thinks Crown should sell off non-core companies like the packaging and aerosol and food packaging businesses it has acquired and focus on the core business of making beverage cans.
Crown could use proceeds from selling non-core assets for a large stock buyback to help boost the stock’s price.
To reinforce his argument, Icahn pointed out that there is something of a tailwind for the beverage can business: the world is trying to do away with plastic containers and replace them with metal or glass. He also noted the can business has high entry barriers for several reasons, and Crown already has numerous competitive advantages.
Should you buy the stock because Icahn is buying?
The answer is yes and no.
If you have the same timeline and pain threshold as Icahn, the stock appears to be undervalued and could be a very profitable long-term holding—but keep in mind that Icahn thinks in terms of years and even decades when he buys a stock.
Icahn has also learned to love the down and takes selloffs as opportunities to buy more shares. He is bearish on the short-term direction of markets because of inflation and the Fed’s actions to control it. If you cannot think long-term during steep market declines, then the answer is no, do not follow Icahn by buying shares of Crown Holdings.