Carl Icahn is at it again and this time he's bidding on eBay.
No, the activist investor isn't bidding on a used iPhone 4s. Rather, Icahn now owns 2% of eBay's stock and wants the company to spin off its lucrative PayPal division.
But that's not all. Icahn also wants changes to leadership. In a letter to eBay shareholders Monday, he criticized COE John Donahoe, and board member Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook. Andreessen, considered one of the fathers of the World Wide Web, is accused of questionable loyalty due to his purchase of Skype from eBay and subsequent sale to Microsoft. Icahn also says Cook should be thrown off the board because the company he founded and runs, Intuit, competes with PayPal and is accused in a Department of Justice complaint of preventing eBay from hiring away Intuit employees at Scott's behest.
"I think his point about the conflicts of interests should be taken seriously," says CNBC contributor Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global. "These are real issues within corporate governance.
Sanchez sees eBay as undervalued given its fundamentals. The company's revenues and operating profits grew about 13.5% in the past year, though its stock was nearly flat. According to Sanchez, eBay's PayPal division is a big driver of growth for the company. For that reason, Icahn's idea of spinning of PayPal most likely won't fly with management, she believes.
"PayPal has been growing even faster than eBay," says Sanchez. "[eBay is] going to be loath to let go of that because that is just an added boon to the business. So, could they be more valuable as separate entities? Maybe, but they're not likely to give that up."
Comparing eBay's stock chart to that of the market benchmark S&P 500 index may explain why Icahn sees an opportunity, according to CNBC contributor Andrew Busch, editor and publisher of The Busch Update.
"It's been going sideways," says Busch of eBay's price movement. "That's probably why Icahn got involved with it. He sees a lot of potential there and he wants some changes to happen."
Bush sees any breakout above $58 per share for eBay as a buy signal in the stock. "If Icahn brings changes to eBay, it's really going to soar," says Busch. "That's why I like trying to buy a breakout on it."
But Sanchez believes Icahn may not be able to make those changes. "I think he's going to face a lot of pushback from the board of eBay," says Sanchez. "This is going to potentially get messy. I just don't think they're going to go with it. This could be protracted."
However, Busch believes that even if Icahn weren't to succeed, he will add value to shareholders.
"Sunshine brings growth to a lot of companies," says Busch. "[Icahn] may not get the board members kicked off but at least he'll get them to think about [change]."
To see the rest of the discussion on eBay with Sanchez on the fundamentals and Busch on the technicals, watch the video above.
- Carl Icahn