Tom Taulli recently wrote about Carl Icahn's interest in Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Time Warner
The latest part of this ongoing story involves speculation that Icahn may want to assemble a group to capture 10% of the media conglomerate's equity. Right now, Icahn and associate investors hold shares and options equal to 2.6% of Time Warner. The more he owns, the more persuasive he can be to CEO Richard Parsons.
And what exactly would he like to see Parsons do? He wants the company to free itself completely from Time Warner Cable. And then he'd like to see a huge buyback of shares, some $20 billion or so (the greater, the better, of course). A lot of observers over the years have expressed similar sentiments concerning America Online, preferring to see that section of the company left on the side of the road. Either way, synergized conglomerates are having a tough time sticking around. Witness Viacom's
This is a compelling story for individual investors. It implies such a glorious fantasy. Imagine if you could go to your terminal one day, mad as heck about one of your stocks refusing to budge from an obnoxious trading range, and then buy so many shares that the CEO has to take your feelings into account?
I wouldn't get too caught up in this story, however, especially if you don't own shares already -- lest you find yourself wanting to invest alongside Icahn and his well-heeled cronies. Personally, I find situations like this quite intrinsically speculative, and more of a trade than an investment. Sure, a person could make money out of this, no question. Time Warner's stock has already perked up in the wake of Icahn's recent interest.
However, I would advise that you study Time Warner itself closely and see if there are reasons other than the Icahn catalyst for putting money down on the table. For instance, how about the company's recent decision to return value to shareholders in the form of a dividend? Or the continuing strength of free cash flow, as Alyce Lomax highlighted back in May? Remember, Icahn might fail in getting his objectives achieved; even if he does win the CEO over, there's no guarantee that Wall Street will suddenly bid the stock up (although a $20 billion buyback would be pretty cool).
With those cautious statements expressed, I believe that Time Warner does indeed make a sound company for a long-term bet. I myself wouldn't mind owning shares, since I think the media business is, in general terms, a good one. But since I already own Disney
If your research shows that there is value to be had from a particular company's shares -- as Stock Advisor research has shown for Time Warner -- then taking the long view is your prerogative. Don't just go for the Icahn thesis, though.
More Time Warner Takes:
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- Let us know what you think at the Time Warner discussion board.
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