Icahn Cuts Netflix Stake in Half


Carl Icahn has cut his stake in Netflix in half, the activist investor disclosed on Tuesday.

Ichan is reducing his ownership position in the streaming giant to 4.5 percent from the 9.4 percent stake he maintained as of June.

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Icahn’s investment has been enormously lucrative, thanks to Netflix’s slate of well-received original programming like “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards,” as well as its revival of the cult hit “Arrested Development.” The company now commands roughly 40 million subscribers around the world.

The 2.99 million shares Icahn unloaded on Tuesday sold for $314.85 on average,  substantially above the $58 a share that he shelled out last fall. In just over a year, he saw a 457 percent return on his investment.

In a statement announcing his decision, Icahn reserved particular praise for Kevin Spacey, whose staring role in “House of Cards” as an oleagenous politician has made the Beltway drama a success with audiences and critics.

“…as a hardened veteran of seven bear markets I have learned that when you are lucky and/or smart enough to have made a total return of 457 percent in only 14 months it is time to take some of the chips off the table,” Icahn said in a statement. “I want to thank [Netflix CEO] Reed Hastings, [Netflix Chief Content Officer] Ted Sarandos and the rest of the Netflix team for a job well done. And last but not least, I wish to thank Kevin Spacey.”

It was a very different picture when Icahn invested in the streaming company in 2012. Back then, the company’s shares had lost hundreds of dollars over subscriber defections stemming from an unpopular price hike and an aborted decision to spin-off its DVD by mail service.

On Monday, Netflix’s third quarter earnings shattered projections, as the company added 1.3 million domestic subscribers in the quarter, 11 percent more than a year ago. Netflix also reported  better than hoped for revenue and profits, with earning per share hitting 52 cents and revenue topping out at  $1.1 billion.

Netflix’s shares dropped 2.06 percent in after-hours trading to $315.89 on news Icahn was selling part of his stake. The stock closed down 9.15 percent on Tuesday.