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Icahn Enterprises halves quarterly dividend months after short-selling report, shares plunge

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Icahn Enterprises halves quarterly dividend months after short-selling report, shares plunge
August 04, 2023
The Los Angeles Post - AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Months into the fallout from a damning short-selling report, shares for corporate raider and activist investor Carl Icahn's conglomerate Icahn Enterprises plunged Friday after the firm halved its quarterly dividend.

In sharing second-quarter financial results on Friday, Icahn Enterprises declared a distribution of $1 per depositary unit, representing a 12% annualized yield. That's half of the firm's previous $2 per unit payout. Its stock closed Friday down more than 23%.

The quarterly divided slash comes months after a May 2 report from short-selling firm Hindenburg Research, which claimed that IEP has been using inflated asset valuations. The report also pointed to “Ponzi-like economic structures” at the holding company — alleging that Icahn has used money from new investors to pay out dividends to old investors.

IEP and Icahn have denied the allegations made in Hindenburg's report, previously stating that they would “fight back.”

Well before Friday’s announcement, the market value and stock for IEP had plummeted since Hindenburg released its short position. The company’s market cap has been cut by roughly half — from about $18 billion on May 1 to some $9 billion Friday — and IEP’s stock has fallen about 51% since the start of May.

For the second quarter, IEP reported a net loss of $269 million, wider than the year-earlier loss of $128 million.

“I believe the second quarter partially reflected the impact of short-selling on companies we control or invest in, which I attribute to the misleading and self-serving Hindenburg report concerning our company. It also reflected the size of the hedge book relative to our activist strategy," Icahn said in a statement Friday, adding that the company does “not intend” to let the Hindenburg report interfere with distributing dividends.

In a Friday post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Hindenburg said it remained short on IEP — and also pointed to its May prediction, which stated, “Icahn Enterprises will eventually cut or eliminate its dividend entirely, barring a miracle turnaround in investment performance.”

Hindenburg is well known for short-selling. That involves borrowing a stock one expects to lose value and selling it at its current market price with the plan to buy the same number of shares back later at a lower price and pocketing the difference.

Icahn is a Wall Street legend who is well known to target weak companies and sell them for parts himself. Critics have said Hindenburg's findings feel like a full-circle moment — with Bill Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management and longtime rival of Icahn, notably “karmic quality” of the short report in May.

On Friday Icahn reiterated that activism is the "best investment paradigm" and that the company will reset its focus to activism.

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