Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman, two well-known billionaires, own Icahn Capital Management and Pershing Square Capital Management LP, respectively. In the last quarter, Icahn’s $29.44 billion fund generated a loss of (5.77%) for investors, while Ackman’ Pershing Square, valued at $12.46 billion, generated a (13.75%) loss, ending its worst year in history. Let’s take a look at some notable activity from these two hedge funds on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX), and Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX).
In a controversial move, Icahn reduced his shares of Apple in the fourth quarter by over 13%, now owning 45,760,848 shares which make up 16.27% of his total holdings. In the fourth quarter, many analysts expressed concern over weak guidance from Apple suppliers, such as Dialogue Semiconductor and Qorvo, indicating falling demand for iPhone, the company’s biggest revenue driver. Other concerns include the Chinese economic slowdown, one of Apple’s biggest markets. Despite some concerns, analysts continued to rate the company a Buy throughout the fourth quarter. In fact, the only analyst who continuously rated the company a Sell was actually fired from his firm. While the company beat revenue and EPS expectations in its Q1 earnings report, released last month, the company confirmed demand fears by stating expectations of declining iPhone unit sales next quarter. Throughout the fourth quarter, the stock declined close to 4%, however, following earnings on January 25, 2016, the stock reached its 52 week low of ~$93.
While iCahn reduced his shares, analyst consensus for Apple is Strong Buy, with 31 out of the 38 who have rated the company in the past 3 months bullish on the stock.
In the fourth quarter, Icahn increased his investment in Freeport by 4%, now owning $704.08 million worth of the company. The quarter started with 2 representatives, nominated by the billionaire, taking seats in the company’s board. Icahn stated, “I hope and believe that we will work with Freeport’s board to enhance value as we have done with so many others.”
Freeport had a tough fourth quarter, marked by falling commodity prices. FCX suffered mostly from falling copper prices due to the strength of the dollar and Chinese economic concerns, as the world’s largest consumer of metal imported 8.7% less copper in October since the previous month. In the fourth quarter, the company struggled with cash and balance sheet issues combined with huge debt and a falling stock price. As a result, the company announced various initiatives such as reducing production, reducing capital spending, layoffs, and a dividend suspension. Throughout the fourth quarter, FCX stock declined over 30%. Recently, the company has put a few of its assets up for sale in an attempt to generate cash to help offset its debt burden.
Only 3 out of 8 analysts mirror Icahn’s actions on Freeport, while the other 5 remain on the sidelines.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc
Bill Ackman reduced his shares of VRX in the fourth quarter by 14.8%, now owning 16,591,122 shares valued at $1.69 billion. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ackman reduced his shares for tax purposes. In a recent letter to his investors, Ackman apologized for not completely selling out of this stock, believing that acquisitions would save the company. However, he stated, “In retrospect, this was a very costly mistake.” In the fourth quarter, Valeant entered a 20 year deal with Walgreens, part of which includes selling their drugs at a discount, in hopes to mitigate damage and revive investor confidence hurt by the fallout with Philidor amidst fraud allegations. Valeant was also subject to a congressional probe regarding unreasonably high drug prices in the fourth quarter. This quarter, the company successfully launched Orkambi, its cystic fibrosis drug, in the U.S. and announced the approval of the drug in Europe.
Unlike Ackman, analyst consensus for Valeant is a Moderate Buy, with 10 out of the 17 who have rated the company in the past 3 months bullish on the stock.