Icahn Begins WebMD Activism

Updated on

Icahn Begins WebMD Activism

Carl Icahn may be starting an activist run in WebMD Health Corp. (NASDAQ:WBMD). An SEC filing made this morning by the company revealed that it was increasing the size of its board of directors from eleven to twelve. The new director will be appointed by Carl Icahn.

Icahn has been increasing its stake in the company since January when the firm stopped its efforts to sell itself. As of April Icahn’s holdings in the company stood at over 13%. Today’s move shows that he has a sustained interest in the company and is willing to get involved at the highest level.

Icahn’s nominee to the board is David Schectner. He has been a senior analyst for the Icahn Group since 2004 and currently serves as a director on the board of Mentor Graphics Corp. (NASDAQ:MENT). He has held that position since May of last year. His position on the board of WebMD will expire at the companies annual meeting in 2013.

Icahn’s involvement in WebMD is his third activist run in recent times. He is also involved in CVR Energy Inc. (NYSE:CVI) and Chesapeake Energy Group (NYSE:CHK). Both of those firms are hoping to see a turn around in their prospects with Icahn’s help.

WebMD shares did not have a particularly positive reaction to the news of the addition to the board this morning. As of writing the stock is down by 0.44% to 22.53. The firm’s shares have been trading around that level since early in April.

It is an interesting time for Icahn to decide to get involved in an activist run at a Web based service. WebMD may be different but the entire sector has been under renewed scepticism as recent events proved the untested nature of technology as a stock option.

WebMD offers medical information to patients, through its WebMD.com service, and physician, through its Medscape.com platform. The firm’s earnings reached an all time high in 2011 but slumped in the quarter ending in March of 2012. That quarter saw revenue slump to below both 2011 and 2010 level and the firm reporting a loss of just over 13 cents per share.

Investors will hope that Icahn is able to turn that performance around as he gets more involved in the firm but there are no guarantees, particularly as his attention is divided between three separate, and different, activist campaigns right now.

Leave a Comment