Carl Icahn recently disclosed a 10% stake in Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR), and the activist investor has already demanded input on the company's upcoming CEO transition, and suggested that the gaming organization should put itself up for sale.
In the following segment from the Motley Fool Industry Focus podcast, our team weighs Icahn's bark versus his bite and suggests what investors can expect as the well-regarded agitator shakes things up at Caesars.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Feb. 19, 2019.
Nick Sciple: The major U.S. casinos, both Caesars and MGM, had had activist stakes being built in them over the past several months. We've had some news come out regarding that. Carl Icahn is reportedly pushing for Caesars to sell its business. He's been asked by several other investors in the casino to really push for a sale of Caesars. What are your thoughts about Carl Icahn's approach and the idea of a sale of Caesars and its assets?
Asit Sharma: This is classic Carl Icahn. We were trying to guess the last time we talked about the ... leaning toward aggressive action. Typically, Carl Icahn has his endgame already in mind. I think the stake is significant. He's got a 10.3% stake in Caesars. Those are more entry stakes, the 1% to 2% that activist investors usually begin with to start agitating and asking for some kind of change. That's a stake that's verging on control levels. Once you get into this 10% to 20% region, it means you're pretty serious.
In having this very large stake, influential stake, with the history of his other takeovers and activist actions, I think one reason we saw this stock pop when this news came out last week is that people understand he will work aggressively to make this happen, and management will have to scramble.
The unfortunate thing about emerging from bankruptcy, as Caesars did, is that it usually takes three to five years to establish a pattern that investors are very, very comfortable with. While a stock may receive an initial boost, there's a latency period in which management is proving itself and the new business model, the new paradigm, and that's a prime time for someone like Carl Icahn to come in and say, "Hey, this is still not performing up to par. Let's get this sold to bigger hands in the industry." And that's exactly what he's doing. What are your thoughts, Nick?
Sciple: I find it really interesting. I'm a Caesar's shareholder myself, it's been a rough couple of years holding the shares. I bought it right when it came out of bankruptcy, saw the opportunity from sports betting and its regional casinos and thought there had to be a way to leverage that value. Well, the share price has not reflected that this year. It'll be interesting to see what kind of value Carl Icahn might be able to wring out of the business. As a younger investor, in my 20s, this will be my first time crossing swords with Carl Icahn, so it'll be fun to watch that from the sidelines. Hopefully can generate a nice gain. We'll see.