Activist investing swains, good stories today, see the news and stocks below for April 17 below. Tips solicited via the Twitter @activiststocks, sign up for the free daily activist email, and ICYMI the latest newsletter is here.

News:

  • No surprise, but the ISS is supporting Elliott in its battle with Alliance Trust — recommending shareholders vote to put Elliott’s three nominees on the board.
  • The Biglari Holdings vote was released. Recall that Groveland Capital ultimately lost in its quest, but the rumblings and rumors were that the vote was fairly close — too close for a fund owning less than 0.2% of the company to come to ousting the CEO and board. It really wasn’t that close. Sardar got 1M votes for and only 200K withheld. Some highlights – Mario Gabelli and his GAMCO, owning around 10% of the company, sided with Groveland. But the two passive pansies, BlackRock and Vanguard, sided with Biglari. More to come on this later in our strategy emails (you’ll have to email us if you want a free trial or request one here)
  • Engaged Capital sent another letter to Rovi shareholders hoping to convince them of the board’s incompetence.   
  • Panera Bread apparently got a call from Luxor Capital. The smooth Christian Leone talked the company into raising $500M in debt to do a buyback. Shares are going to end the week up 10%. Luxor really needed this “win.” Let’s hope they had sold off their Conns, Altisource Portfolio Solutions and Altisource Asset Management stakes and invested heavily in Panera. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that Luxor tends to do well in the restaurant space — shares of BJ Restaurants are up 50% since they went active in early 2014.

Stories:

  • @taralach at Bloomberg has a strong activist pimp game. She pens a piece about potential activist involvement at Starwood Hotels. In a roundabout way, Senator Investment Group is involved at Starwood. The FTC approved an unspecified deal between a Senator unit and Starwood last month. Key takeaway, speculation – but the kind of “connecting the dots” that we admire – is that a private equity firm like Blackstone Group could be interested. Blackstone bought Hilton $26B in 2007 and…“provided seed money to Senator when it opened in 2008 and bought a minority piece of the business last year, also bought out the La Quinta chain in 2005 and still owns a chunk of the company” [link]
  • @thehill gets a little out of its “core competency” with a piece villainizing Bill Ackman’s campaign against Herbalife. The idea is that Ackman has used his money to influence politicians to attack Herbalife. Key takeaway, “Watching billionaire hedge fund managers utilize their vast resources to instigate government investigations to increase their wealth can only lead to even further decreased confidence in the country’s financial markets and government leaders” [link]
  • I don’t always read the WSJ, but when I do it’s usually @lizrhoffman. Her piece at the WSJ is a pretty unique story about how a board member was ousted from a company for being connected with an activist investor. But it’s not what you think. Rich Kincaid is a Vail Resorts board member who has ties to Jon Litt at Land & Buildings. Rich and Jon were working together to try and shake up the MGM board. Turns out, the lead independent director for both Vail and MGM is Roland Hernandez. And thus, he ultimately forced Rich to resign from the Vail board [link]

Activist Stocks: Alliance Trust, Panera Bread, Rovi, Altisource