Activist friends or foes, top news and stories on activist investing below. Taking tips at @activiststocks, sign up for our daily newsletter, and ICYMI yesterday’s newsletter is here.

News:

  • Macellum has gone active on Christopher & Banks, taking a 5.2% stake and sending a letter to the board about management and operational weaknesses.
  • Sarissa Capital got a board seat at Aegerion Pharma. The fund went active back in early Feb. with shares flat since then.
  • Casey Capital notes that it’s been having conversations with the Essex Rental board. About what? Who knows, something, something, long-term value. Since Casey went active in Feb. shares are up 75%.
  • GAMCO is active at Courier Corp, owning 8.3% of the company.
  • Steel Partners gets another extension for the hostile takeover of JPS Industries, its fourth extention. The new deadline is Apr. 17. The fund owns nearly 40% of JPS and had offered $7 a share, but upped to $8 and now it stands at $10.

Activist

Stories:

  • @JeffSonnenfeld, who founded the Chief Executive Leadership Institute at Yale, has called out activist investors, namely Nelson Peltz. Really? Peltz of all activists. Jeff says that Trian generated an 8.8% return last year, versus an S&P 500 return of 13.7%. Jeff notes, “Investing in index funds would have yielded better returns over the past few years than most activist funds.” But he really doesn’t provide any convincing evidence. Rather, he singles out Peltz for his Trian’s lackluster performance and for targeting DuPont, BNY Mellon and Pepsi. Jeff is adamantly defending DuPont CEO, Ellen Kullman, and has done so in past pieces. Now this comes after Sonnenfeld gave Kullman his Yale CEO Summit Legend in Leadership Award for 2013. Naturally, he has to stand behind her. Peltz has defended himself with a statement, here is the key part, “Our flagship fund has generated a 137 percent return net of fees since inception in November 2005, outpacing the S&P 500 by 2,900 basis point.” Much respect for Jeff, but I will say, “the company is outperforming the market” is not a valid defense if there’s more value to be unlocked or if corporate governance change is needed [link to CNBC piece] and [link to WSJ op-ed]