Whenever a big deal is announced, like yesterday’s $21.1 billion acquisition by Kinder Morgan (KMI) of El Paso Corp. (EP), we like to go back and look at the filings and see what (if anything) they have to say. It didn’t take us very long to find this 13G filed by âåber-investor Carl Icahn back on Aug. 15 (but dated Aug. 5). As various published reports have noted, Ichan is the largest single holder of El Paso stock, with 58.2 million shares, or 7.57% as of the August filing.
A quick scan of the 13F that Icahn filed on Aug. 15 for the quarter ended June 30 shows that El Paso was not among his holdings, which means that entire position was probably accumulated somewhere between July 1 and Aug. 15. We say probably because our friend Ben Silverman over at InsiderScore.com, who knows 13Gs and 13Fs much better than we do, told us that Icahn is one of those brand-name investors who sometimes gets a waiver from the SEC to report individual positions, because so many people keep an eye on him and what he does.
But if we go with the July 1 to Aug. 15 dates, El Paso stock declined by just over 5% and was trading in a range from just under $21 a share to just under $17. Once people noticed the Icahn filing on Aug. 15, the stock traded up a bit, before falling again. Today, it’s up about 24% on the news of the deal.
Of course, one of the problems with parsing 13Gs and 13Ds (not to mention 13Fs) is that those forms really only give you part of the story. Short of asking Icahn, there’s no way that I know of to really figure out exactly when those 58.2 million shares of El Paso were purchased, which means there’s no way to figure out just how well Icahn did on the acquisition news. There were certainly days, like Aug. 2 and Aug. 8 when trading volume was significantly higher than it normally was. But the bottom line is that we don’t know and may never really know.
The best we can say is that assuming Icahn bought all his shares between July 1 and Aug. 15, he’s up somewhere between 20% and 45% on this one position, which, given the current market, seems like a pretty sweet outcome.