In what appears to be a vote of confidence in the future growth potential for Allergan (AGN) - Get Report , Carl Icahn said Tuesday morning that he has recently purchased a 'sizable position' in the maker of Botox.
Shares of the Dublin, Ireland-based company added about 1.2% to $238.74 in Tuesday morning's trading session.
The activist investor indicated in the May 31 statement that he is highly supportive of Allergan CEO Brent Saunders, implying that his intentions probably don't include shaking up the management of the company as he has done in past campaigns. Terms of Icahn's investment in Allergan were not disclosed.
"We have tremendous respect for Carl Icahn as an investor, and while we have never recommended blindly piggy-backing on his investments, we do view the news as a modestly incremental positive, as it reinforces confidence not only in the company but in the leadership of Mr. Saunders," said TheStreet's founder Jim Cramer and research director Jack Mohr, whom as managers of the Action Alerts Plus Portfolio hold shares of Allergan.
The statement makes it pretty clear its not a 'kick out the management' type of thing, added Gabelli analyst Kevin Kedra Tuesday by phone.
"It appears now that [Icahn's] more on the passive side, though he's not known as a passive guy," Kedra said.
From an opportunistic sense, Kedra noted that the timing is logical for investors to look at the "life after Pfizer" value of the business, especially in light of the beaten up biotech market.
Icahn is more than familiar with Saunders, having played a role bringing him on as the new chief executive at Forest Laboratories a few years ago. Less than a year following Saunder's appointment at Forest, the company in February 2014 struck a deal to be acquired by Dublin-based generic drug company Activis (ACT) - Get Report for $25 billion. Icahn at the time claimed credit for the fusion following his campaign at the New York target.
"We have every confidence in Brent's ability to enhance value for Allergan," Icahn noted in the Tuesday statement.
Icahn surely has some ideas about Allergan from a capital allocation perspective, however "some of the things from his playbook before might not work for Allergan," Kedra said, pointing to the investor's campaign at Biogen (BIIB) - Get Report years ago.
The activist took on Biogen in 2007 and eventually succeeded in appointing two directors to the biotech company's board in 2009.
While Icahn has in the past favored share buyback programs for companies, a Dutch auction like that seen at Biogen during his involvement, where a company bids for existing shares, is probably not viable for Allergan given the challenges of such a mechanism for a Irish-domiciled company, noted Kedra. An open market share repurchase program is thus a more likely scenario.
In the near term, investors will likely remain fixated on the closing of Allergan's generics sale to Teva (TEVA) - Get Report . The $40.5 billion deal is anticipated to close in June, according to financial media reports.
"Closing of the Teva deal will eliminate all types of uncertainty about what kind of flexibility they have going forward," Kedra said.
Saunders told attendees last week at the UBS Global Healthcare Conference that the company would be shifting its dealmaking strategy toward smaller-sized deals while moving to pay down its debt load following completion of the Teva deal.