Carl Icahn just closed the book on Netflix, making $1.28 billion in 3 years

Carl Icahn

Carl Icahn is out of Netflix, which means one of the greatest trades we’ve seen in a while is over and done with.


“Sold the last of our [Netflix] today,” Icahn tweeted. “Believed [Apple] currently represents same opportunity we stated [Netflix] offered several years ago.”

The billionaire investor first took a 10% stake in the company in 2012 at $US58 a share, believing that it was about to be acquired.

It wasn’t, but on the urging of his son Brett, and analyst Dan Schechter, Icahn stayed in the trade.

It was a great thing too. Since Icahn purchased Netflix, the stock has shot up 1,000%.

And in selling his entire stake on Wednesday, a day after the company announced a 7-way stock split, Icahn made $US993 million ($1.288 billion).

NFLX icahn
The stock since Icahn bought it — a beautiful run. Google Finance

Of course, the long-Netflix trade has had its ups and downs.

Here’s an up. Icahn first cashed in on his bet in October of 2013, 14 months after he bought the stock. At that point Netflix was up 457% and Icahn made between $US700-$US800 million selling around half his stake.

“I want to thank Reed Hastings, 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.”

Icahn continued to sell through the 4th quarter of 2013, dumping around half his stake.

His son Brett Icahn was not amused. He wanted his father to stay in the trade. That, of course, became the talk of Wall Street for a moment.

Josh Brown, CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management and writer of The Reformed Broker, put it this way:

Reformed broker quip brett icahn

That’s the good stuff. There was some bad, though.

You’ll recall that in the fall of 2014, Netflix took a nasty tumble after earnings showed subscriber growth rates rising more slowly than analysts expected. The stock fell 27% in after-hours trading, and Icahn took a $US200 million hit.

But that’s ancient history now, at least to this market. By January 2015 Icahn was telling the world that he wished he’d listened to his son about Netflix.

“What I was worried about and conservative about Netflix – and obviously I wished I hadn’t been as conservative – was ‘net neutrality.’ which has seemed to go away,” Icahn said in a CNBC interview.

Maybe he’ll wish, again, that he hadn’t sold in a few months.

But what good would that do?


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