All Of A Sudden, This Staples ETF Is A Hotbed For Activist Investors


Benzinga highlighted the PowerShares Dynamic Food & Beverage(ETF) (NYSE:PBJ) at the end of July as one of the leaders among sturdy consumer staples, exchange-traded funds. Although PBJ has traded slightly lower since that posting, the call has proven prescient because PBJ has become a bastion of activity for activist investors.

The latest example of that occurred Friday, when it was revealed that Nelson Peltz's Trian Partners took a 7 percent stake in SYSCO Corporation (NYSE:SYY) valued at $1.6 billion. Eighty-five (85) exchange-traded funds hold shares of commercial foods supplier Sysco, but PBJ is one of a scant of ETFs with somewhat notable exposure to the stock.

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PBJ And Sysco

As of last Wednesday, Sysco is PBJ's seventh largest holding, at a weight of just under 5 percent, according to PowerShares data.

Activists getting involved with PBJ holdings do not end with Trian's stake in Sysco. In fact, that theme did not start there either. Just a few days after our piece on the ETF, it was reported that Bill Ackman's Pershing Square has amassed a $5.5 billion stake in Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ:MDLZ), the maker of Oreos, chewing gum, Cadbury chocolates, Halls cough drops, Triscuits and Ritz crackers, among other well-known products.

The Mondelez Effect

As a nearly $75 billion company, Mondelez is found in a plethora of consumer staples ETFs. However, because PBJ is a dedicated food and beverage play, it affords Mondelez a loftier status as its second largest holding at a weight of 5.32 percent. Interestingly, at that weight, Mondelez ties with Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ:KHC) for the second spot in PBJ's 30-stock lineup. It is worth noting that Mondelez and Kraft were once one company.

Compounding the intrigue regarding PBJ's Mondelez position is the fact that Peltz has long been pushing for PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) to acquire Mondelez. Trian has held stakes in both Mondelez and PepsiCo. PepsiCo, the second largest soft drink maker in the world, is currently not a PBJ holding.

In June, it was revealed that Barry Rosenstein's Jana Partners took a stake in ConAgra Foods Inc (NYSE:CAG), PBJ's tenth largest holding at a weight of 3 percent.

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