Activist Investor Sinks Claws Into Hain Celestial

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Hain Celestial Group Inc. (NASDAQ: HAIN) saw its shares make a handy gain on Friday after it came to light that activist investor Engaged Capital has a 9.9% stake in the company. With this stake, Engaged Capital has the largest single voting group, according to FactSet. Not to mention, this firm has nominated seven candidates to Hain Celestial’s eight-member board.

Engaged Capital opened its position in Hain Celestial back in the first quarter of this year, but, according to the Wall Street Journal, received confidential treatment to avoid disclosing the holdings.

The firm intends to push for a sale of the natural- and organic-food company to improve outcomes for shareholders.

Considering recent acquisitions within the industry, the firm believes that Hain Celestial could get anywhere from $46 to $73 per share in a buyout.

Engaged Capital is known for its eagerness to sell. It is currently Rent-A-Center’s largest shareholder, and earlier this month won three seats on the company’s board. As a result, the firm called for Rent-A-Center to potentially explore a sale in an effort to improve outcomes for shareholders.

Excluding Friday’s move, Hain Celestial has underperformed the broad markets, with the stock down just over 8% year to date, and setting a 52-week low last week. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock is down 25%.

Engaged Capital ultimately thinks that Hain Celestial has underperformed competitors and believes there’s an opportunity to improve revenues and operating margins.

Shares of Hain Celestial were last seen trading up 8% at $38.62 on Friday, with a 52-week range of $31.01 to $56.99 and a consensus analyst price target of $37.70.