Analysis Of Last Week's 13-D Shareholder Activist Institutional Filings

Includes: CPN, MPC, MRO, XCO
by: GuruFundPicks

The following are the most notable 13-D filings over the past week, between Tuesday, February 7, and yesterday (for more info on Forms 13-D and also 13-G, and how to interpret them, please refer to the end of this article):

Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC): MPC engages in the refining, transporting and marketing of petroleum products. It operates six refineries in the Gulf Coast and Midwest regions that refine crude oil and other feedstocks, and distribute the refined products through barges, terminals and trucks. On Wednesday, February 8, New York-based event-driven shareholder activist hedge fund manager JANA Partners, led by Barry Rosenstein and Gary Claar, and with $1.68 billion in 13-F assets at the time of their last Q3 13-F filing, filed SEC Form 13D/A indicating that they hold 16.0 million or 4.5% of outstanding shares. This is a decrease from the 19.7 million shares they indicated holding at the time of their recent 13D filing just last month, on January 19, which we covered in detail in a prior article. JANA's 13-F filing for the most recent Q3 indicated that it does not hold a position in MPC at the end of Q3. From their filings, it appears that the position was opened at an average price of around $32, with the most recent sales over the week prior to the filing at prices between $40 and $45.

JANA's sale last week comes shortly after the company announced on February 1, that it was evaluating strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value in its pipeline and infrastructure units, including spinning-off its mid-stream assets, sometime in the second half of 2012. Jana has a track record of pressing companies to break-up, and it seems that with its strategy beginning to show some success, it did the prudent thing of exiting from a portion of its position.

MPC is the result of a break-up earlier last year from Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO), when MRO split into an exploration and production business and a refining business. MPC's shares have risen almost 50% YTD, but even with the steep rise, its shares still trade at a discounted 8 forward P/E and 1.5 P/B compared with averages of 12.0 and 2.5 for its peers in the oil refining and marketing group, while earnings are projected to fall from $6.72 in 2011 to $5.55 in 2013; also, it has a 2.3% dividend yield, less than the 3.0% average for its peers.

EXCO Resources Inc. (NYSE:XCO): EXCO is an independent oil and natural gas company, engaged in the exploration, exploitation, development and production of onshore North American oil and natural gas properties with a focus on shale resource plays. On Tuesday of last week, February 7, WL Ross & Co. of Invesco Private Capital filed SEC Form 13D/A indicating that it holds 29.5 million or 13.7% of outstanding shares, as compared with the 27.6 million shares that Invesco Private Capital held at the end of Q3. EXCO is the largest position in Invesco's portfolio, and it seems like it has held a large stake in the company at least since the end of 2010. EXCO shares are currently near 52-week lows, down by about 70% in the past year, and they trade at a discount 16-17 forward P/E and 0.9 P/B compared with the averages of 20.8 and 5.2 for its peers in the U.S. oil & gas exploration & production group, while earnings are projected to fall from the current 57 cents on TTM basis to a projected 45 cents in 2013.

Calpine Corp. (NYSE:CPN): CPN develops and operates natural-gas fired combustion turbine and geothermal power plants in the U.S. and Canada. On Monday, Mills Valley, CA-based SPO Advisory Corp., with over $6.8 billion in 13-F assets at the time of the last Q3 filing, filed SEC Form SC 13D indicating that it holds 77.5 million or 16.1% of outstanding shares, a decrease from the 89.1 million shares it held at the end of Q3. In the filing, SPO Advisory indicated that it sold 16.8 million shares in a block trade on Monday at $15.57 per share. CPN is SPO Advisory's largest position in the portfolio, and it seems to have held a large position in CPN at least since the end of 2008, when it reported holding 92.7 million shares in the Q4 2008 13-F filing.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Disclaimer: Material presented here is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as a solicitation to purchase or sell securities. Before buying or selling any stock you should do your own research and reach your own conclusion. Further, these are our 'opinions' and we may be wrong. We may have positions in securities mentioned in this article. You should take this into consideration before acting on any advice given in this article. If this makes you uncomfortable, then do not listen to our thoughts and opinions. The contents of this article do not take into consideration your individual investment objectives so consult with your own financial adviser before making an investment decision. Investing includes certain risks including loss of principal.

About this article:

Author payment: $35 + $0.01/page view. Authors of PRO articles receive a minimum guaranteed payment of $150-500. Become a contributor »
Problem with this article? Please tell us. Disagree with this article? .