Over the past week, I received hundreds of emails concerning Carl Icahn’s announcement that he took an 8% position in Hertz (HTZ). We know Icahn has already publicly stated he wants to actively engage with Hertz management and its CEO, but there has been no word about Icahn pushing Hertz to merge or sell itself.
Here is why: First, regulators would never approve a Hertz-Avis merger. The two entities represent too large a share of the industry. It would essentially be a monopoly. So a merger with Avis isn’t happening — at least in my opinion.
Though, given the quick 25% run up in Family Dollar (FDO) last month after Icahn forced a merger with Dollar Tree (DLTR), it’s easy to see why investors are hoping for a similar result. Clearly, people don’t want to miss out on the next FDO. On that note, you can read some great analysis of the Family Dollar deal, where my partner and I predicted the merger and picked the bottom in Family Dollar stock (read that here).
But again, this is not going to happen with Hertz. Icahn and numerous other investors are long Hertz. Hertz is actually one of the most popular stocks owned by top billionaire hedge fund managers, because it’s a pure play on the improving economy, and rental car companies have lagged airlines in terms of raising their prices.
So many hedge funds are betting on Hertz increasing its prices, like the airlines did last year, and they are betting that demand will continue to improve with the recovery in the economy. It’s that simple.
Also, this is not a classic Icahn play. He typically comes into a deeply depressed stock selling near its 52-week low or multi-year lows. Icahn purchased Hertz near the stock’s all-time high.
But what Icahn is doing is playing his “change” card. He has recently laid out his evidence, based on his history as an activist investor, of how replacing a CEO is a powerful catalyst for producing shareholder wealth creation. And one of his fellow shareholders in Hertz is already at work on that strategy: Fir Tree Partners is pressuring the board to oust the CEO.
President of The Billionaires Portfolio