Carl Icahn told Forbes last month: “We like Reed Hastings. I told him when a guy makes me 800 million bucks; I don’t punch him in the mouth.” Now, while I firmly believe that Reed Hastings could knock Carl Icahn out, though Icahn is from Brooklyn, that is, however, even more than trumped given that Hastings is from the fighting town of Boston and over twenty years his junior. That said, the point is moot, as Hastings has delivered at least another $250 million since Icahn made those remarks and more than $200 million of that came in after-hours trading last night when Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) blew away earnings expectations and reported quarterly revenue of more than $1 billion for the first time.
What’s remarkable, on top of those gains, is that Icahn bought his roughly ten percent share in Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) last year expecting that Netflix would sell themselves and barring that he was going to come to the table with his self-styled brand of activist investing. More than that, that position wasn’t old Carl’s either. That distinction goes to his son Brett Icahn, and his investment partner David Schechter who came up with the Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) proposal. Granted, coming up with proposals of merit is made considerably easier when your father carves out $3 billion for you to trade with under his wing and presumably guidance.
Beyond the absurd gains that both Icahn and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) shareholders enjoyed last night and in today’s trading, shares of Icahn Enterprises rose by 2 percent on Tuesday and are now up 63 percent in 2013.
Past failures in the entertainment business for Icahn have certainly evaporated with the position he took in Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) and undoubtedly the magnate is smiling as you read this. Known for his acumen in savvy oil industry-related investments, it’s fitting that the industry that hasn’t treated him well is now fueling his rocket ship to the top.
The stock is now over $200 for the first time since September 2011 and is down only 32 percent from its all-time high of $304.79 in July 2011. That’s about where Reed Hastings nearly killed the company with a restructuring of its pricing and subscription services and Icahn came in to see him to the door. I can’t help but think the tune he must be whistling today has changed. The only question is, will his new found financial leverage affect his dealings with the board of Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL)?