What: Shares of Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) rose 13% in March after the company signed up an important partner and settled a spat with activist investors, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
So what: Autodesk signed an interoperability agreement with Siemens (NASDAQOTH:SIEGY), which will make it easier for customers to transfer files between different CAD platforms. Difficulties with that can be a major pain point as designers work with manufacturers to produce parts, so being able to use software that is compatible with Siemens' products will be a nice feature for customers.
The company also reached a truce with activist hedge funds Sachem Head Capital Management and Eminence Capital. They'll vote for the company's board of director nominees through the end of September, including three members recently named to the board.
Now what: Activist investors tend to be more a thorn in the side of a company's management than a great value to its stock, so the agreement Autodesk made with those hedge funds is an incremental positive for the company. And it may help that shares have had a strong run in 2016, which should ease some of their fears about the lack of value creation.
But long-term, the interoperability agreement between Autodesk and Siemens will probably be a bigger deal. As a former designer, I know firsthand that lack of compatibility between CAD programs can be a huge inconvenience; partnering with one of the largest CAD companies for manufacturing should have a material impact on customers' desire to choose Autodesk as their software vendor.