There’s a lot of bits and bytes spilled in the war between Elliott Associates (and those that favor their position) and the current board of Arconic. I want to point out a few things, having held Alcoa since prior to the breakup, and added to my positions in both new Alcoa and Arconic post-breakup.
- Profitability will likely improve more if Elliott’s nominees are elected to the board, and Larry Lawson is CEO.
- The existing management team does not deserve credit for the recent rise in the stock price for two reasons: a decent amount of the rise in Arconic’s stock price anticipates a rising probability that the board and management team will be replaced. Second, a decent amount of the increase in the stock price of Alcoa has been due to a rise in the price of aluminum, for which no single entity can take credit. Current Arconic benefited from that, at least until it sold its whole stake in Alcoa.
- To their discredit, the existing management team and board resisted the breakup of the company into upstream and downstream for years. (See point 2 of this Elliott letter, Was Dr. Kleinfeld the Driving Force Behind the Separation?)
- Existing management was not a good capital allocator.
- Prior to the agitation by Elliott, Alcoa and Arconic sold at low valuations, because earnings prospects were poor. Now new Alcoa is in better hands, and that might be true for Arconic in the future, which may further improve valuation.
- The existing board has low ownership in Arconic. Many of the existing board members have been around too long.
- The current board are late to the party of improving corporate governance. Though their proposals are good, it looks like they were dragged there by the activists, and therefore, can’t be trusted to maintain these improvements.
That’s my short summary; it is not meant to be detailed, as Elliott’s arguments are. In general, I agree with the arguments over at New Arconic, and will be voting the blue proxy card. If you disagree, then you should vote the white proxy card sent out by the existing board.
I’m not telling you what to do. Vote the proxy that reflects your view of what will improve Arconic the most.
Full disclosure: long AA & ARNC for my clients and me (Note: Aleph Investments, LLC, is dust on the scales in this fight, representing less than 0.01% of outstanding shares.)