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In the wake of Schlumberger Limited's (NYSE:SLB) latest US$5.1b market cap drop, institutional owners may be forced to take severe actions

Key Insights

  • Institutions' substantial holdings in Schlumberger implies that they have significant influence over the company's share price

  • The top 21 shareholders own 51% of the company

  • Insiders have been selling lately

Every investor in Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) should be aware of the most powerful shareholder groups. The group holding the most number of shares in the company, around 83% to be precise, is institutions. That is, the group stands to benefit the most if the stock rises (or lose the most if there is a downturn).

As a result, institutional investors endured the highest losses last week after market cap fell by US$5.1b. The recent loss, which adds to a one-year loss of 1.0% for stockholders, may not sit well with this group of investors. Institutions or "liquidity providers" control large sums of money and therefore, these types of investors usually have a lot of influence over stock price movements. As a result, if the downtrend continues, institutions may face pressures to sell Schlumberger, which might have negative implications on individual investors.

In the chart below, we zoom in on the different ownership groups of Schlumberger.

Check out our latest analysis for Schlumberger

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Schlumberger?

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.

As you can see, institutional investors have a fair amount of stake in Schlumberger. 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. 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 Schlumberger, (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. We note that hedge funds don't have a meaningful investment in Schlumberger. The company's largest shareholder is The Vanguard Group, Inc., with ownership of 9.0%. With 7.5% and 5.9% of the shares outstanding respectively, BlackRock, Inc. and State Street Global Advisors, Inc. are the second and third largest shareholders.

A closer look at our ownership figures suggests that the top 21 shareholders have a combined ownership of 51% implying that no single shareholder has a majority.

While studying institutional ownership for a company can add value to your research, it is also a good practice to research analyst recommendations to get a deeper understand of a stock's expected performance. 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 Schlumberger

The definition of an insider can differ slightly between different countries, but members of the board of directors always count. Company management run the business, but the CEO will answer to the board, even if he or she is a member of it.

Most consider insider ownership a positive because it can indicate the board is well aligned with other shareholders. However, on some occasions too much power is concentrated within this group.

Our most recent data indicates that insiders own less than 1% of Schlumberger 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 US$164m 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

With a 17% ownership, the general public, mostly comprising of individual investors, have some degree of sway over Schlumberger. This size of ownership, while considerable, may not be enough to change company policy if the decision is not in sync with other large shareholders.

Next Steps:

While it is well worth considering the different groups that own a company, there are other factors that are even more important. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 3 warning signs with Schlumberger , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

Ultimately the future is most important. You can access this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

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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