CNBC’s Delivering Alpha conference has been going on all day, and now, it’s Carl Icahn’s turn to speak. His interview with CNBC’s Scott Wapner followed a lively discussion about investor activism.
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Wapner got right to business, asking about the insider trading investigation involving Icahn and professional golfer Phil Mickelson. He repeated again that he has never met Mickelson and said he didn’t want to talk about it.
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Carl Icahn on activist investigating
It wouldn’t be an interview with Carl Icahn if they didn’t talk about activist investing, and Wapner asked him about critics of the investing style, including lawyer Marty Lipton and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. Icahn repeated comments he said in the past about the type of activism he practices. He agrees with them that some activists are only into stocks for the short term but says he has owned “a lot of stocks” for 10 or 15 years.
Icahn said since people can’t say he loses money for shareholders anymore, “they’re saying this.” He said the issue is “the wrong guys are running these companies,” speaking about the boards of companies.
“It’s amazing how bad these boards are,” he said, adding that some members are even friends of their CEOs and don’t even want to help.
Icahn talks about Apple, Family Dollar
The conversation shifted to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook, who Icahn said he is “very impressed with.” He said he has dinner with a lot of CEOs, even when he’s arguing with them, although he likes Cook. He thinks Apple will keep releasing great products and that the company should return more money to shareholders because of how much cash it has.
Icahn was also asked about Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (NYSE:FDO). He thinks it would do well to merge with competitor Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG). Of course Icahn is currently targeting Family Dollar and wants it to sell itself to Dollar General. He doesn’t think the company’s current CEO should be its CEO. He believes the retail chain’s management is lacking.
Carl Icahn about quantitative easing
The activist investor was then asked about the Fed’s position and quantitative easing. He said the big concern should be who runs the nation’s companies and especially the banks. He notes that companies are borrowing money at low but variable rates, meaning they can turn profits now, but what happens when interest rates are increased?
He added that while he thinks former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is great and did a good job getting the U.S. out of crisis, it was Wall Street’s fault that the nation got in that bad position in the first place. He’s also worried about what current Fed Chairman Janet Yellen says because he thinks she doesn’t know what’s going on in the markets.
And now the mystery gues has been revealed: Bill Ackman versus Carl Icahn.