- Activist investor Third Point LLC owns 2.3 million shares of stock in International Flavors & Fragrances, worth more than $240 million, according to a disclosure filed this week with the Securities and Exchange Commission. IFF currently has a market cap of nearly $25 billion.
- The disclosure does not indicate when Third Point, headed by Daniel Loeb, purchased the stock. There also is no indication in the filings of how large of a stake in the ingredients company these shares represent.
- IFF’s stock fell more than 18% in a single day earlier this month after the ingredients giant revised its 2023 earnings expectations from $12.65 billion to $12.5 billion.
Following its $26.1 billion mega-merger with the former DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences unit in 2021, IFF has had its share of challenges in integrating new business components, figuring out which of them don’t sit well in a company primarily devoted to ingredients, and selling them to the best new owner.
Just this week, IFF sold its flavor specialty ingredients business to Exponent, a UK-based private equity firm, for $220 million.
Several top officials have recently joined the company, including CEO Frank Clyburn, who has been at IFF for just over a year. Clyburn has put together a strategy that he says will help the company streamline its business. It includes taking a multifaceted approach to IFF’s difficulties, involving major divestments, employee layoffs and a comprehensive company restructuring.
During the company’s most recent earnings call earlier this month, CFO Glenn Richter said some of the company’s changes have already helped minimize the impact of some recent economic headwinds.
“While we've taken some important steps, we have not fully delivered against our financial objectives,” Richter told analysts. “We recognize we have more room for improvement to realize our goals and create a more profitable organization, and I assure you we continue to be intently focused on this going forward.”
With ample interest from activist investors, IFF has no choice but to be intently focused on its future. And Loeb has a history of getting involved with companies in the food space.
Third Point spent $3.5 billion on a 1.25% stake in Nestlé in 2017, laying out ideas for the world’s largest food company to improve its results both when it initially bought the stake and in 2018.
Loeb’s firm also took a position in the former Pinnacle Foods in 2018, about six months before Conagra Foods bought the company for $10.9 billion. And that same year, Third Point amassed a more than $300 million stake in Campbell Soup as the CPG searched for a new CEO following challenges within its business.
IFF has already been dealing with at least one activist investor. Last year, it was reported that Icahn Capital had a 4% stake in the company. In response, IFF added a new member to its board who came with a recommendation from Carl Icahn.
Reports also indicate activist investor Sachem Head Capital bought about a $1 billion stake in IFF in 2021. In turn, IFF offered the fund’s managing partner Scott Ferguson a seat on its board, but he did not take it.