Carl Icahn’s investment in Clorox (NYSE: CLX) has begun to look like one more in a long line of blunders. The share price of the company reached $74.55 when he offered to buy Clorox with no guarantee that there would be competing, higher bids. Shares now trade at $69. No other buyer is on the horizon.
The market’s faith that there could be more interest in Clorox has disappeared. Shares fell as low as $64 in early August. That was after the firm announced its results for the most recent fiscal quarter. The company reported 4% sales growth and 20% growth in diluted earnings per share from continuing operations in the fourth quarter. Its forecast for the upcoming year was disappointing.
If Icahn cannot sell his shares at more than $70, the investment will begin to look like those he made in Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF), Blockbuster, and Motorola, before the handset and mobile equipment firm was split into two pieces. Icahn recently sold his stake in Lions Gate for $7 a share, which is about what he paid for his position. Icahn’s decision to buy Motorola, which he did in 2007, has not paid off. He held his shares for most of that period. Blockbuster declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy nearly two years ago.
Icahn’s recent track record is an example of how a large institutional investor can lose his touch. It may be that he has taken on too many investments and cannot focus on the complexities of all of them at once. Or, he may have just become a below average investor.
Douglas A. McIntyre