15 Stocks to Buy for an Activist Investor Boost

One of the greatest obstacles to share price appreciation is mediocre management, supported by a complacent board.

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One of the greatest obstacles to share price appreciation is mediocre management, supported by a complacent board. But activist investors offer a solution, targeting poorly managed companies and lobbying them for changes they think will sweeten the share price.

Activist investors look for issues such as weak corporate governance or executive compensation schemes when hunting new stocks to buy. They often then take a significant stake in the company and push for things such as asset sales or the return of excess cash to shareholders. Companies slow to implement change may be threatened with “proxy fights” that result in corporate officers and directors being forced from their seats.

These activist investors sometimes create big windfalls for shareholders. For instance, Carl Icahn pushed eBay (EBAY (opens in new tab)) to spin off its PayPal (PYPL (opens in new tab)) business in 2015; since then, PayPal has tripled in value. Activist David Einhorn pressured Apple (AAPL (opens in new tab)) in 2013, urging the iPhone maker to return excess cash to shareholders. Since fiscal 2012, Apple has returned more than $350 billion in the form of buybacks and dividends, with the vast majority of that coming since 2013.

Here are 17 stocks to buy if you believe in the ideas of their activist investors. Some have just recently come under siege, others are in the middle of proxy fights, and still others have already made truces and have implemented changes to unlock value. But all of these stocks carry significant risk – after all, activist investors typically target struggling companies, and no turnaround is a slam dunk. So invest in small amounts, with funds from the portion of your portfolio dedicated to aggressive holdings.

Data is as of May 1.

Lisa Springer
Contributing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Lisa currently serves as an equity research analyst for Singular Research covering small-cap healthcare, medical device and broadcast media stocks.