Air Products' Shares Are Ripping On A Rumor That It's The Target Of An Activist Investor ...Like Bill Ackman

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William Bill Ackman

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Over the past couple weeks, folks on the Wall Street have been trying to figure out activist investor Bill Ackman's newly created special purpose vehicle's single stock target.

Ackman, who runs Pershing Square Capital, has said he's looking for a " simple, predictable, and free-cash-flow-generative and enjoys high barriers to entry. "

CNBC's David Faber points out that there's speculation that Air Products could be that company.

(Again, this is just speculation. Faber said he reached out to Ackman for comment, but has not heard back.)

Earlier today, Air Products put out a statement about adopting a shareholder rights plan (a.k.a. Poison Pill) after the company "observed unusual and substantial activity" in its shares, Faber reported.

Following the news, the stock hit a 52-week high today. It's trading up more than 5.4%.

Even if it's not Ackman's new investment vehicle or Pershing Square, Air Products clearly feels an activist investor is coming after them.

Here's the full release from Air Products (emphasis ours): 

Air Products (APD) today announced that its Board of Directors has unanimously adopted a stockholder rights plan (the “Rights Plan” or “Plan”) and declared a dividend of one right for each outstanding share of Air Products common stock. 

Air Products has observed unusual and substantial activity in the Company’s shares. The Board of Directors believes that the Rights Plan will help promote the fair and equal treatment of all stockholders of the Company in the event of an accumulation of a substantial block of the Company’s shares and ensure that the Board of Directors remains in the best position to discharge its fiduciary duties to the Company and its stockholders. The Rights Plan has not been adopted in response to any specific takeover bid or other proposal to acquire control of the Company. 

Pursuant to the Plan, Air Products is issuing one preferred stock purchase right for each current share of common stock outstanding at the close of business on August 5, 2013. Initially, these rights will not be exercisable and will trade with the shares of Air Products’ common stock. 

Under the Rights Plan, the rights generally will become exercisable only if a person or group acquires beneficial ownership of 10 percent (or 20 percent in the case of institutional investors filing on Schedule 13G, as described in the Rights Plan) or more of Air Products’ common stock in a transaction not approved by Air Products’ Board of Directors. In that situation, each holder of a right (other than the acquiring person, whose rights will become void and will not be exercisable) will have the right to purchase, upon payment of the exercise price, a number of Air Products common shares having a market value of twice such price. In addition, if Air Products is acquired in a merger or other business combination after an acquiring person acquires 10 percent (or 20 percent in the case of 13G institutional investors) or more of Air Products’ common stock, each holder of the right will thereafter have the right to purchase, upon payment of the exercise price, a number of common shares of the acquiring person having a market value of twice such price. The acquiring person will not be entitled to exercise these Rights. 

Air Products’ Board of Directors may redeem the rights for a nominal amount at any time before an event that causes the rights to become exercisable. Under the Plan’s terms, it will expire on July 24, 2014. 

Additional details about the Rights Plan will be contained in a Form 8-K to be filed by Air Products with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Air Product's stock has been performing well.  The stock has been trading in a range of $101.93 to $108.66 today.  It has also enjoyed higher volume.

Check out the chart: 

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