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Institutional investors may overlook Sasol Limited's (JSE:SOL) recent R7.3b market cap drop as long-term gains remain positive

To get a sense of who is truly in control of Sasol Limited (JSE:SOL), it is important to understand the ownership structure of the business. And the group that holds the biggest piece of the pie are institutions with 60% ownership. That is, the group stands to benefit the most if the stock rises (or lose the most if there is a downturn).

No shareholder likes losing money on their investments, especially institutional investors who saw their holdings drop 3.8% in value last week. Still, the 23% one-year gains may have helped mitigate their overall losses. They should, however, be mindful of further losses in the future.

Let's delve deeper into each type of owner of Sasol, beginning with the chart below.

See our latest analysis for Sasol

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Sasol?

Institutions typically measure themselves against a benchmark when reporting to their own investors, so they often become more enthusiastic about a stock once it's included in a major index. We would expect most companies to have some institutions on the register, especially if they are growing.

We can see that Sasol does have institutional investors; and they hold a good portion of the company's stock. This suggests some credibility amongst professional investors. But we can't rely on that fact alone since institutions make bad investments sometimes, just like everyone does. It is not uncommon to see a big share price drop if two large institutional investors try to sell out of a stock at the same time. So it is worth checking the past earnings trajectory of Sasol, (below). Of course, keep in mind that there are other factors to consider, too.

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

Since institutional investors own more than half the issued stock, the board will likely have to pay attention to their preferences. Sasol is not owned by hedge funds. Public Investment Corporation Limited is currently the company's largest shareholder with 18% of shares outstanding. The Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Limited is the second largest shareholder owning 8.4% of common stock, and M&G Investment Management Limited holds about 5.9% of the company stock.

We also observed that the top 7 shareholders account for more than half of the share register, with a few smaller shareholders to balance the interests of the larger ones to a certain extent.

Researching institutional ownership is a good way to gauge and filter a stock's expected performance. The same can be achieved by studying analyst sentiments. There are plenty of analysts covering the stock, so it might be worth seeing what they are forecasting, too.

Insider Ownership Of Sasol

The definition of an insider can differ slightly between different countries, but members of the board of directors always count. Management ultimately answers to the board. However, it is not uncommon for managers to be executive board members, especially if they are a founder or the CEO.

I generally consider insider ownership to be a good thing. However, on some occasions it makes it more difficult for other shareholders to hold the board accountable for decisions.

Our most recent data indicates that insiders own less than 1% of Sasol Limited. As it is a large company, we'd only expect insiders to own a small percentage of it. But it's worth noting that they own R19m worth of shares. Arguably recent buying and selling is just as important to consider. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

General Public Ownership

The general public, who are usually individual investors, hold a 31% stake in Sasol. While this size of ownership may not be enough to sway a policy decision in their favour, they can still make a collective impact on company policies.

Next Steps:

I find it very interesting to look at who exactly owns a company. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Take risks for example - Sasol has 3 warning signs (and 1 which is a bit concerning) we think you should know about.

If you are like me, you may want to think about whether this company will grow or shrink. Luckily, you can check this free report showing analyst forecasts for its future.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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