Carl Icahn: Senior Bonds Look Outstanding - Barron's Interview

Includes: MSFT, YHOO
by: SA Eli Hoffmann

Barron's interviews activist investor Carl Icahn. "They call me raider. They call me an activist," he says. "I don't know what those labels mean. All I know is that something should be done to improve corporate governance and management. If we don't, managements will remain unaccountable and our economy will suffer."

Right now, though, Icahn's leaning toward corporate debt rather than equities as his choice investment vehicle.

I have never seen the senior bonds as cheap as they are today... One of the great opportunities I have seen in a great many decades is senior debt. I'm not saying that it won't get battered even more. So I want to make it clear that because of various external pressures like margin calls, which trigger forced selling, you can't pick the bottom, and the senior debt could go lower. But it is a great opportunity, as are certain stocks. The prices of these securities are out of whack with the reality of their value.

Barron's asks Icahn what he's thinking about his Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) play, considering shares have lost more than half their value since Icahn took his stake - to which, by the way, he added another $67M last week (Icahn now owns 5.4% of Yahoo). His response - that of an insider (Icahn is now a board member) - is enlightening.

I've said this before: Yahoo! should make a deal with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) as far as selling its search capability.

Barron's: You're talking about selling the search capability, but not the entire company?


Microsoft has said publicly that they are not interested in buying the whole company, and I believe them. But they are interested in doing a deal on search, and we should pursue that.

Icahn thinks Yahoo should focus on content and leave Google-slaying to the rich. Not everyone on the board sees things his way.