Shares of MobileIron Inc. (MOBL) were up 10% as of 3 p.m. EDT Thursday after activist investor Altai Capital Management reported a significant new stake in the mobile device management software company.
More specifically, according to an SEC filing late yesterday, Altai bought 7,187,255 shares of MobileIron for a total of just over $17.2 million, good for a roughly 7.63% stake in the company.
Altai vaguely noted in its filing that it bought the stake in MobileIron because it believes the stock "represented an attractive investment opportunity." But it also stated that it has engaged in discussions with MobileIron covering topics ranging from its management to capital structure and allocation, and potential strategic alternatives -- the last of which tends to evoke speculation among investors surrounding whether the company could put itself up for sale.
That's not to say MobileIron must bend to the will of its new minority shareholder. However, shares are also down more than 30% in recent months -- though they still sit up nearly 50% over the past year -- as a lack of new order billings last quarter overshadowed otherwise-solid results. According to CEO Barry Mainz, those weak billings were primarily the result of delays in closing a few large deals. Assuming those deals don't fall through the cracks -- and whether or not MobileIron takes Altai's advice -- I suspect Altai will look smart for making such an opportunistic move as MobileIron stock rebounds.