Publish date:

How Coach and Tyson Were Targeted by Activist Investors Armed With Just $2,000

The Humane Society is an unlikely activist investor. This is how they managed to take on major corporations with just a $2,000 investment.

Video Transcript:

When we talk about activist investors, the storyline is often a Bill Ackman or a Carl Icahn or a Nelson Peltz throwing around millions, if not billions of dollars to change a company from the inside.

Well, now the Humane Society is getting into the activist game... Yes, that Humane Society and they are doing so with just a $2,000 investment.

In this case, the Humane Society bought up about $2,000 worth of share in Coach (COH) in hopes of getting the company to stop selling real animal fur products. If you are wondering, that's about a zero - point zero, zero, zero, zero, zero, zero two percent stake in Coach.

But according to a 1998 SEC rule, that $2,000 is the minimum needed to file a proxy campaign in a publicly traded company.

TheStreet Recommends

So, using activist investment as a means of social change among corporations isn't a new concept.

I spoke with Matthew Prescott who is the senior director of corporate policy for the Humane Society, and he told me about another one of their proxy campaigns: In 2013, they submitted a similar shareholder proposal to get Tyson Foods (TSN) - Get Tyson Foods, Inc. Class A Report to stop using gestation crates in pig farming.

Those are the metal enclosures for pregnant pigs to keep them immobile so they don't fight, but animal welfare activists say the use of these crates constitutes animal abuse.

The proposal went on to gain the backing of two major proxy advisory firms, and before it went to a vote, Tyson agreed to urge its pig farmers to increase the size of the crates--a success for the Humane Society.

And it isn't just the Humane Society. When Canada Goose (GOOS) - Get Canada Goose Holdings, Inc. Report went public in March, PETA was one of their first investors with the sole purpose of challenging the retailer's use of animal fur.

Watch More with TheStreet: