Carl Icahn cuts Netflix stake, pockets $800 million profit
By Angela Moon and Jennifer Ablan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Carl Icahn has cashed in big on Netflix Inc, taking advantage of a 457 percent gain in its shares since he bought more than 9 percent of the streaming video company only 14 months ago.
Icahn, whose firm acquired Netflix shares for an average price of $58, is booking profits of between $700 million and $800 million on the 3 million shares he sold in the 12 days beginning on October 10 and ending on Tuesday, according to an SEC filing issued after the market closed on Tuesday.
The biggest sales took place on Tuesday with Icahn selling 2.4 million shares at $341.44 for about $819 million. The Tuesday sale alone generated a profit of about $645 million. Icahn still holds 4.5 percent of Netflix, down from 9.4 percent in June -- the last time he publicly disclosed his holdings.
Icahn, whose Icahn Enterprises has assets of approximately $29 billion, said in the filing that "as a hardened veteran of seven bear markets I have learned that when you are lucky and/or smart enough to have made a total return of 457 percent in only 14 months it is time to take some of the chips off the table."
He added in the filing and a subsequent tweet: "I want to thank Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos and the rest of the Netflix team for a job well done. And last but not least, I wish to thank Kevin Spacey."
(Hastings is the CEO of Netflix; Sarandos is the chief content officer; Spacey is the lead actor of Netflix's hit television series "House of Cards")
In multiple media appearances, Icahn has said his son Brett Icahn, a portfolio manager at the firm, was responsible for the Netflix investment and for maintaining the firm's 9.4% stake through a significant 2013 rally in the company's stock.
Icahn's massive success with Netflix contrasts with an earlier attempt to make money out of the video business when he took a stake in Blockbuster back in 2004. Icahn called his play for the now bankrupt movie renter his "worst investment" in his 30-plus year career. Continued...