SALT Activism Panel: Robbins, Rosenstein, Sandell, Smith

More of our coverage from SALT 2015 conference. You must see the prior panel with Dan Loeb, if you have not yet done so.

Below are some very informal notes from “The Art of Activist Investing: Exploiting Pricing Anomalies for Profit”


Gary Kaminsky (Moderator)
Co-Host of “Wall Street Week”

Clifton S. Robbins
Chief Executive Officer, Blue Harbour Group

Barry Rosenstein
Managing Partner & Co-Portfolio Manager, JANA Partners LLC

Tom Sandell
Founder, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Sandell Asset Management

Jeff Smith
Managing Member, Chief Executive Officer & Chief Investment Officer, Starboard Value LP
NO one worried about lack of liquidity or the Fed risks
Clifton robbins thinks the best opportunities in the 2-10b market cap range
loves the ability to take a control position without paying a premium, like a Private equity firm would have to pay
blue harbor will not run a proxy contest
only backs a management that will agree with them
they wont take a position if the mgmt team wont work with them for the change
Barry Rosenstein- once the board knows you are willing to take it all they way, you typically don’t have to go to a proxy fight
typically goes after $10 billion or larger market cap companies

Jeff Smith- Starboard Value

  • looking for operational changes in a cheap company
    need a clear path, and being able to influence the company
    prefer to work WITH management but willing to run a proxy contest when necessary
    boards typically believe in what they are doing and in the best interest to shareholders


  • the owners today are the shareholders, back in the 1800’s the owners were the founders
    activists can drive the value, but all the other shareholders participate and win as well. That is not the case
    with private equity investing
    Barry Rosenstein has no problem piggy backing other activists
    Best Risk/Reward position in your portfolio right now?

Jeff Smith

  • Darden restaurants (DRI) – a lot of real estate value
    Yahoo – still trading below core yhoo value- those events are going to happen. $1B in cash flow from core
    business at YHOO, trading at a negative value…no brainer!
    MWC- spinning off specialty chemical business
    ODP/SPLS is really interesting, assuming anti-trust lets it go through

Barry Rosenstein- Qualcomm (QCOM)

  • little downside, lots of upside
    trades at less than 9x after tax earnings
    1/3 of the business in cash
    outline for company to follow:
    buyback A LOT of stock
    restructure compensation plan
    potential to break up company – confident they will hire an advisor to look at all the pieces and whether
    it makes sense to break up the business

Cliff Robbins – Investors Bancorp

  • we are not going to lose any money in this investment
    it is over equititized
    return capital to shareholders
    equity to book value back in line
    risk reward basis – one of the best investments I’ve ever seen
SALT conference Las Vegas SkyBridge Capital