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2014: The Year of the Activist Investor?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -It's just a couple of weeks into 2014, and activism is already dominating headlines.

We got word earlier this week that activist investor Nelson Peltz is joining the Mondelez (MDLZ - Get Report) board.  Trian's Peltz had been pushing for a merger of Mondelez with Pepsi's (PEP) snack business-- and while he will drop this push now having a position on the board, Peltz will still push for margin improvement and top-line growth.

Next up, Third Point's Dan Loeb has taken a large stake in Dow Chemical (DOW - Get Report) with a push for the company to sell off its petrochemical business. Remember, we have seen strong value creation from Dupont (DD - Get Report) and PPG Industries (PPG - Get Report) as they have become more specialty chemical companies.

And then, Carl Icahn, who is also adding to his Apple (AAPL) stake, submitted a proposal to Ebay (EBAY - Get Report) to spin off its PayPal business and nominated two of his employees as candidates for the board.

Must Read: Don't Read Too Much Into the Downers of the Dow

Or how about Elliott management coming after Riverbed Technology (RVBD) and Juniper Networks (JNPR).

This activism thread is key for a number of reasons: (1) There is a prop up to the market when individual companies underperform peers, as in the case of the above names and (2) This is a re-affirmation of the sum-of-the-parts of breakup value creation that remains an important theme in the market.  As I mentioned earlier this week, the Beam takeover was most significant because it was another feather in the at of value creation for the Fortune Brands split-up.

Ultimately, amidst what has been a spotty earnings season, these activist moves are more than just big names talking a big game... they add points to the bull case for the market this year. Oh, and by the way, I say watch out IBM (IBM).

--Written by Nicole Urken in New York.

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Chart of I:DJI
DOW 17,891.16 +117.52 0.66%
S&P 500 2,081.43 +16.13 0.78%
NASDAQ 4,817.5940 +42.2360 0.88%

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