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Is Liberty Global plc's (NASDAQ:LBTY.A) Shareholder Ownership Skewed Towards Insiders?

Simply Wall St
·5 mins read

A look at the shareholders of Liberty Global plc (NASDAQ:LBTY.A) can tell us which group is most powerful. Institutions will often hold stock in bigger companies, and we expect to see insiders owning a noticeable percentage of the smaller ones. I generally like to see some degree of insider ownership, even if only a little. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb said, 'Don’t tell me what you think, tell me what you have in your portfolio.

Liberty Global has a market capitalization of US$14b, so it's too big to fly under the radar. We'd expect to see both institutions and retail investors owning a portion of the company. Our analysis of the ownership of the company, below, shows that institutional investors have bought into the company. Let's take a closer look to see what the different types of shareholders can tell us about Liberty Global.

See our latest analysis for Liberty Global

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Liberty Global?

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.

Liberty Global already has institutions on the share registry. Indeed, they own a respectable stake in the company. This can indicate that the company has a certain degree of credibility in the investment community. However, it is best to be wary of relying on the supposed validation that comes with institutional investors. They too, get it wrong sometimes. When multiple institutions own a stock, there's always a risk that they are in a 'crowded trade'. When such a trade goes wrong, multiple parties may compete to sell stock fast. This risk is higher in a company without a history of growth. You can see Liberty Global's historic earnings and revenue below, but keep in mind there's always more to the story.

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

Institutional investors own over 50% of the company, so together than can probably strongly influence board decisions. It would appear that 10% of Liberty Global shares are controlled by hedge funds. That worth noting, since hedge funds are often quite active investors, who may try to influence management. Many want to see value creation (and a higher share price) in the short term or medium term. The Baupost Group, LLC is currently the largest shareholder, with 10% of shares outstanding. Harris Associates L.P. is the second largest shareholder owning 6.9% of common stock, and Dodge & Cox holds about 6.2% of the company stock. Additionally, the company's CEO Michael Fries directly holds 0.8% of the total shares outstanding.

A closer look at our ownership figures suggests that the top 12 shareholders have a combined ownership of 51% implying that no single shareholder has a majority.

While it makes sense to study institutional ownership data for a company, it also makes sense to study analyst sentiments to know which way the wind is blowing. There are a reasonable number of analysts covering the stock, so it might be useful to find out their aggregate view on the future.

Insider Ownership Of Liberty Global

The definition of company insiders can be subjective and does vary between jurisdictions. Our data reflects individual insiders, capturing board members at the very least. Company management run the business, but the CEO will answer to the board, even if he or she is a member of it.

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.

We can see that insiders own shares in Liberty Global plc. Insiders own US$915m worth of shares (at current prices). I sometimes take an interest in whether they have been buying or selling.

General Public Ownership

The general public holds a 15% stake in Liberty Global. While this group can't necessarily call the shots, it can certainly have a real influence on how the company is run.

Public Company Ownership

We can see that public companies hold 4.5% of the Liberty Global shares on issue. We can't be certain but it is quite possible this is a strategic stake. The businesses may be similar, or work together.

Next Steps:

It's always worth thinking about the different groups who own shares in a company. But to understand Liberty Global better, we need to consider many other factors. Take risks for example - Liberty Global has 1 warning sign we think you should be aware of.

If you would prefer discover what analysts are predicting in terms of future growth, do not miss this free report on analyst forecasts.

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.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. 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.

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