Jana Partners is trying to keep the pressure on Agrium Inc., firing out another presentation detailing what it says is an attempt by the farm products seller to avoid debate on Jana's proposal to split the company in two.
While Agrium has clearly chosen to lay low, betting it has an insurmountable level of support from happy shareholders, the New York hedge fund continues to try to generate a wave of shareholder dissatisfaction and demands for change at the Calgary-based company. In the latest bid, Jana accuses Agrium of trying to dodge questions on such criticisms such as Jana's contention that the company doesn't disclose enough about its retail arm's operations (something Jana has not been alone in saying).
The new barrage from Jana comes about two weeks after the hedge fund manager publicly put out a presentation detailing how it said changes at Agrium could add $50 to the stock price. In addition to the radical split of the company's fertilizer production assets from the farm supply store network, the ideas included changing the way Agrium manages working capital and cutting costs. The proposal detailed some of the things that Jana had been pitching behind the scenes for a couple of months, and Agrium immediately dismissed the proposals as nothing new.
"Agrium calls Jana's analysis 'nothing new,' yet has failed to address many issues entirely and relies on misdirection or overly narrow analysis to address others," Jana says in the latest presentation, which runs to 22 pages.
The stock has barely budged since Jana made its case publicly, and Agrium still believes it has the bulk of its shareholders behind it, so is largely avoiding engaging publicly in a detailed war of words.
A week ago, an Agrium spokesman told Bloomberg News that the company had met lately with four-fifths of "top 50 active shareholders" and that "over 90 per cent have indicated strong support for Agrium's integrated strategy, with virtually no support for the proposed spin out of retail."
"There are major flaws in JANA's analysis and conclusions and, as a result, its ideas lack both merit and investor support ," said Agrium spokesman Richard Downey.
Jana has also yet to win over some critics in the analyst community. There's general backing for the idea of pushing Agrium to unlock value, but skepticism on some of the details. For example, Scotia Capital analyst Ben Isaacson went through Jana's last presentation and concluded that "some of Jana's key points on Agrium may be incomplete or incorrectly framed. Accordingly we are not yet convinced that Jana's prescription can fully unlock its proposed $50 a share of 'true value potential.'"
Jana has a beef with that too, devoting three pages of the latest presentation to debunking Scotia's debunking of Jana's last set of criticisms.