Salesforce’s strong stock price wooed some investors during third quarter – filings

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Boasting a booming share price, Salesforce attracted more investor cash during the third quarter even as one of the software company’s early public critics further cut its stake, according to regulatory filings.

Sachem Head Capital Management increased its stake in Salesforce by 33% during the third quarter while Farallon Capital Management upped its holding by 30% to own 2.5 million shares on September 30, the filings show.

The two hedge funds had each cut their investments in Salesforce during the second quarter.

Salesforce had become a favorite target for activist investors early in 2023 with five prominent corporate agitators, including Elliott Investment Management, pushing publicly and privately for changes.

Cost cuts, a boost in share buybacks and the dismantlement of its mergers and acquisition committee, plus stronger earnings increased investor backing. And news that one of the activists, Mason Morfit who runs ValueAct Capital, was invited onto the board helped silence some critics, people familiar with the discussions said.

Salesforce’s stock price has surged 64% since January.

Still Starboard Value the first activist to speak publicly in October 2022 about needed changes at Salesforce cut its stake again, the filings show. On Sept. 30, the hedge fund owned 1.7 million shares, marking a 14% drop from what it owned at the end of the second quarter. In the second quarter, it cut its stake by 20%.

Investment managers must disclose what they hold in U.S. stocks at the end of each quarter and report that information to the Securities and Exchange Commission 45 days after the end of the quarter. The deadline for so-called 13-F filings for the third quarter is on Tuesday.

While 13-F filings are backward-looking, they are closely watched by investors for trends.

Other investors who may not have been pushing for changes also reduced their holdings during the third quarter. Light Street Capital Management cut its stake by 44%, while Polen Capital Management trimmed it by 3.2%, the filings show.

Activist investors, unlike some mutual funds, often cut their positions quickly after finding success or failure in their efforts to secure changes.

While Salesforce’s stock price lost some ground during the third quarter, it has continued to move higher and closed trading at $221.18 on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Aurora Ellis)