If I could bottle "Icahn Be Gone," I'd probably be a boardroom billionaire. Corporate raider Carl Icahn's latest foray into unlocking the value at Time Warner
Lazard's proposal calls for Time Warner to make aggressive share repurchases, spinning off its publishing, cable, and AOL business along the way. Time Warner would effectively split into four distinct companies, and the thinking goes that the market will value it more when it's piecemeal.
It's not necessarily a bad strategy. Viacom
The problem is that Icahn's timing could have been better. He's been dead right in other equity situations, but this time, he seems to be barking up the wrong tree. Icahn first got vocal about Time Warner unloading AOL, but now the company's online subsidiary has grown its operating profits like a beast. Google
In a letter to shareholders yesterday, Time Warner told investors that it would study Lazard's strategic proposal, but that the company believes it's on the right track, coming off a respectable showing in 2005.
Time Warner had already taken to heart the share-buyback mindset that Lazard is suggesting. Since last summer, Time Warner has repurchased $3 billion worth of its outstanding stock, and it's looking to double its efforts over the next three months. The company has also shed some baggage, too, such as a deal earlier this week to sell its book business to Lagardere in a $537.5 million transaction.
Time Warner -- a long-time Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation -- is doing its part to make investors know that it's not asleep at the wheel. With every quarterly improvement, Icahn's voice is likely to grow that much quieter. If not, I've got two tablets of Icahn Be Gone for Time Warner.
On the house.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been an AOL subscriber since 1992 but doesn't own any of the stocks mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.