“Oshkosh Corp (OSK) shareholders handed a defeat to activist investor Carl Icahn on Friday, electing ‘at least’ 12 of the 13 management-backed nominees to the company’s board,” reports the New York Times. “Just one of six seats contested by Icahn was too close to call, the company said, reporting the results of the voting at the annual shareholder meeting.” Icahn had nominated six directors to OSK’s 13-member board, including three staffers from his Icahn Enterprises investment firm – Merksamer, Vincent Intrieri and Daniel Ninivaggi. The others were Chief Executive Jose Maria Alapont of Federal-Mogul Corp, consultant Marc Gustafson, and former CIA executive director A.B. Krongard. The company said it was still counting votes and would report them within four business days.
Icahn holds roughly 10 percent of OSK. He also owns around 10 percent of OSK rival Navistar International Corporation (NAV). On December 6, 2011 during a telephone interview on CNBC, in response to a question that he owns stakes in both OSK and NAV, Icahn said he would support a merger between the two companies. He went onto to say that “synergy driven consolidation will be a primary method for defense contractors to drive earnings and cost savings in the years ahead.”
In early January, Icahn delivered a presentation to OSK shareholders (to see the full presentation, click here). In it, Icahn said that he believes that OSK should consider selling its JLG aerial lift business. He also criticized OSK for failing to deliver returns for its shareholders and was in the bottom when compared to its peers, saying JLG might be worth more in the hands of another owner, perhaps even as much as the entire market cap of OSK. “Management should admit they made a mistake in buying JLG and explore alternatives for the decision,” said Icahn. OSK criticized Icahn’s comments, saying that the experienced invetsor lacked nderstanding about its industry.
Icahn responded with a presentation (see it here). In it, Icahn notes that compared to that same peer group OSK has the lowest projected operating income margin the lowest 2012 projected EPS growth and the lowest 2011 shareholder return.