Will Amgen be Carl Icahns next activist target? Yes, if history is any indication.
The septuagenarian reported in a regulatory filing that Amgen was one of four new positions he took in the first quarter of this year.
The other three were Clorox, Motorola Mobility Holdings and Southern Union.
The Clorox stake is not news, however, since Icahn had earlier reported having a nearly 10 percent position in the household products company.
Motorola Mobility probably wont amount to an activist target because in early January Icahn received the shares when Motorola divided into two companies, which incidentally was in part the result of Icahns activist prodding.
Southern Union is currently a very small position but is worth watching since it is an energy company, specializing in natural gas. Last year Icahn made an aggressive, but unsuccessful bid to buy another energy company, Dynegy. He probably hasnt given up on this one, however, since in the first quarter Icahn lifted his stake in Dynegy by 50 percent.
Amgen is intriguing because it is in the biotech industry, which Icahn has earlier gone on record as identifying as ripe for activism. Last year, Icahn told me: Biotech has invested a great deal of money over the past 20 years. CEOs are not generally anxious to sell their companies. But, big pharma has the capital needed to fully realize the value of biotechs large molecule drug pipelines. Its a marriage made in heaven.
Meanwhile, I reported late last year that according to FactSet SharkWatchs calculations, Icahn has only mostly added value to biopharmaceutical stocks after securing a board seat.
Icahn is not the only hedge fund manager to make a new investment in Amgen in the first quarter. HealthCor Management, L.P., an investment adviser to healthcare and life sciences hedge funds, took a similarly sized position. The third largest new stake was taken by Ridgeback Capital, run by Wayne Holman, who was previously a health care specialist with SAC Capitals Sigma Capital Management. Sigma, it turns out, took the fourth largest new stake in Amgen.
Other hedge fund managers that took new large positions in Amgen during the first quarter included Ascend Capital, Diamondback Capital, OZ Management and Moore Capital.
Meanwhile, in the first quarter, Icahn also increased his position in four other stocks, all of which have been an activist target at some timeHain Celestial Group, Lawson Software, Dynegy and Forest Labs.
On the other hand, in the first quarter, Icahn fully exited three positionsNavistar International, Cadence Design System and Masco.