Shares of Newell Brands fell more than 1 percent, to $27.61,
on an otherwise strong day for the stock market, even though it
was publicly identified as a target of a proxy fight. The
conglomerate confirmed in a press release that Jeffrey
Smith’s Starboard Value and Opportunity Master
Fund told the company it plans to nominate ten individuals to
the board of directors at the 2018 annual meeting. Newell,
which owns Rubbermaid Commercial Products, Rawlings, U.S.
Playing Cards, and other well-known consumer brands, stressed
that eight of its current nine directors are independent.
"The Newell Board recognizes the importance of having the
right mix of skills, expertise and experience and is committed
to continuously reviewing its capabilities and ongoing
refreshment on behalf of shareholders," it added.
It also detailed its financial accomplishments and its
strategy "to outgrow and outperform the competition." According
to the Wall Street Journal, Starboard is
teaming up with three former executives of Jarden Corp., which
Newell acquired less than two years ago for $15 billion. They
include Martin Franklin, the former chairman of Jarden who
resigned from Newell’s board a month ago after
failing to take control of the board, according to the
Chipotle Mexican Grill fell another 4 percent, to $255.46,
just about its lowest stock price in more than five years. This
is especially troubling given that the overall stock market
finished up strongly on Friday. The stock is a major activist
position of Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management.
What a difference a week or so makes. Macro funds gained 3.53 percent in
January, their best aggregate month since before the 2008
global financial crisis, according to a new monthly report from
eVestment. The ten largest macro funds returned closer to 2.22
percent, but this was still their best gain since October 2016.
Altogether, eVestment says hedge funds gained, on average, 2.59
percent in January, the best monthly return since March
Hedge funds in aggregate have now posted gains for 15
straight months. Altogether, 81 percent of hedge funds that
report to eVestment were in the black last month, the largest
share since February 2014. The profitable funds were up, on
average by 3.5 percent. Managed futures were up 4.72 percent
last month, their best monthly gains since early 2008.