Investing

Relational Activist Fund Wind Down Weighing on Key Holdings

Jon C. Ogg

News that Relational is winding down could be a negative for several stocks. The Wall Street Journal reported that Co-founder Ralph Whitworth’s throat cancer has returned and that the giant activist investment fund will wind down by the end  of 2015. While this report remains unconfirmed, the implication could be large for some of Relational’s top holdings.

The fear is not only that Relational will be less active in these shares. It means simply that the shares could be sold. If the reports are accurate, that will not take place rapidly as the exit strategy is between now and the end of 2015.  Still, dissolving a fund generally means liquidating shares.

24/7 Wall St. has identified 5 stocks that Relational held a key position in compared to other holders as of June 30, 2014. In some cases, Relational is the largest shareholder. As a reminder, activist investing fund’s get a big delay in their 13-F filings — so some of these positions could already be out of date, and there is no way to know if Relational has exited or partially exited their stakes as of yet.

SPX Corporation (NYSE: SPW) could be the top go-to stock where action may be felt. Relational held some $678 million worth of stock at the end of June. This number of 6,265,940 common represented close to 15% of SPX’s common stock outstanding shares, and Relational is its largest single holder.

Clean Harbors, Inc. (NYSE: CLH) is another holding of Relational that could find problems. Relational’s stake of 5.94 million shares was worth $381.7 million at the end of June. Relational was Clean Harbor’s second largest shareholder at the time with a 9.8% stake in the company, only with Wellington owning more shares.

Hologic Inc. (NASDAQ: HOLX) is another holding that could find selling pressure. Relational had gone after this company in 2013 and shares finally broke above $22 this year and went as high as $26. What is interesting is that the latest filing shows that Relational held 18.7 million shares worth some $475 million in June. The prior stake of 19.95 million means that Relational already had started trimming its stake. Whether that continues in a hurry or not remains to be seen.

Magnum Hunter Resources Corporation (NYSE: MHR) is a position that investors likely need to worry about if Relational has a slew of this stock to still sell. As of June 30, Relational held over 30 million shares worth about $248 million at the time. This stake represented just over 15% of the outstanding shares and put Relational as the largest holder by far. It is worth noting that shares hit a 52-week low of $5.07 on Wednesday as well.

PMC-Sierra Inc. (NASDAQ: PMCS) may be another small-cap to mid-cap stock that could find selling pressure if Relational has to punch out rapidly. Relational’s stake of 22.8 million shares was worth over $173 million at the end of June, but this is over 11.6% of the outstanding shares. PMC-Sierra shares also just recently hit a 3-year high after being range bound for some time.

Investors should keep in mind that many of these activist stocks have already seen a portion of the benefits that Relational brought to the table. There are many other holdings –  some 18 non-ETF positions – which Relational has stakes in. Some of those positions have wound down and others have remained firm.

Until you know what Relational’s true plans are, much of what stakes will be sold more rapidly will feel like guesswork. That being said, investors have taken the ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ mentality.