At just under 8 times forward earnings, a dividend yield of 5.9%, and one of the most legendary investors at the helm of its operations, Icahn Enterprises (NASDAQ:IEP) may look like a no brainer at first glance.
The holding company is a way for any investor to work alongside the activist and corporate raider, Carl Icahn, enjoying the potential fruits of his long and storied career as a cutthroat player. Investors have enjoyed a more than 150% gain in Icahn Enterprises' stock price over a two-year period, and valuation points to the potential for greater times ahead.
The only catch is, the business is firmly rooted in enriching its owner, not shareholders.
Tied to the man
The fact that Icahn Enterprises rides on the actions of Carl Icahn is blessing and a curse, but probably more a curse.
The uber investor draws more than a few sharp opinions, on and off Wall Street. Lately, the investor was named in a potential insider trading scandal involving golfer Phil Mickelson and Vegas legend Bill Walters.
The stock ultimately stabilized, but not before shedding 4% of its value. Icahn may not have even broken any laws solely by giving Walters stock tips, but it would be a violation of his fiduciary duty to shareholders in Icahn Enterprises.
Whether Icahn played any role in the alleged insider trading is far from known, but it's a rather unique risk in owning a stock such as this one.
Still, Icahn Enterprises does hold a portfolio of some very compelling brands and businesses, from orange juice giant Tropicana to American Railcar Industries. The latter saw its market value rise more than 50% from year-end 2013 to the recently ended quarter. Icahn owns more than 50% of the company. In two years, the stock has risen nearly 180%.
A business made for one
As a 90% owner of Icahn Enterprises, Carl Icahn doesn't have much interest in the opinions of the remaining 10%. Considering his record of success over decades of investing, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
But how much are investors paying to take a back seat?
The company uses a metric called Indicative Asset Value. The most recent quarter's results put that number at $8.942 billion, or around $75 per share. With a market value of $101 per share, investors are paying a premium of nearly 35%. Icahn's investing prowess may be worth it, but it's a hefty bet to make considering how closely the company rides on its owner's activity -- inside and outside of the business.
Investors interested in the stock should wait for the insider trading scandal to clear up before making any movements on the stock.
Beyond that, though, it is important to consider what a share of Icahn Enterprises really offers the average investor.
Michael Lewis has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.