Can We See Significant Institutional Ownership On The ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) Share Register?

If you want to know who really controls ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), then you’ll have to look at the makeup of its share registry. Generally speaking, as a company grows, institutions will increase their ownership. Conversely, insiders often decrease their ownership over time. Companies that have been privatized tend to have low insider ownership.

ConocoPhillips has a market capitalization of US$47b, 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. In the chart below, we can see that institutional investors have bought into the company. Let’s delve deeper into each type of owner, to discover more about ConocoPhillips.

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NYSE:COP Ownership Summary June 2nd 2020
NYSE:COP Ownership Summary June 2nd 2020

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About ConocoPhillips?

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 own 75% of ConocoPhillips. This suggests some credibility amongst professional investors. But we can’t rely on that fact alone, since institutions make bad investments sometimes, just like everyone does. 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 ConocoPhillips, (below). Of course, keep in mind that there are other factors to consider, too.

NYSE:COP Income Statement June 2nd 2020
NYSE:COP Income Statement June 2nd 2020

Since institutional investors own more than half the issued stock, the board will likely have to pay attention to their preferences. Hedge funds don’t have many shares in ConocoPhillips. Looking at our data, we can see that the largest shareholder is The Vanguard Group, Inc. with 8.6% of shares outstanding. With 8.0% and 4.9% of the shares outstanding respectively, BlackRock, Inc. and State Street Global Advisors, Inc. are the second and third largest shareholders.

Our studies suggest that the top 25 shareholders collectively control less than 50% of the company’s shares, meaning that the company’s shares are widely disseminated and there is no dominant shareholder.

Researching institutional ownership is a good way to gauge and filter a stock’s expected performance. The same can be achieved by studying analyst sentiments. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.

Insider Ownership Of ConocoPhillips

While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. The company management answer to the board; and the latter should represent the interests of shareholders. Notably, sometimes top-level managers are on the board, themselves.

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.

Our information suggests that ConocoPhillips insiders own under 1% of the company. It is a very large company, so it would be surprising to see insiders own a large proportion of the company. Though their holding amounts to less than 1%, we can see that board members collectively own US$43m worth of shares (at current prices). It is good to see board members owning shares, but it might be worth checking if those insiders have been buying.

General Public Ownership

With a 25% ownership, the general public have some degree of sway over COP. While this group can’t necessarily call the shots, it can certainly have a real influence on how the company is run.

Next Steps:

It’s always worth thinking about the different groups who own shares in a company. But to understand ConocoPhillips better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We’ve identified 4 warning signs with ConocoPhillips , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you are like me, you may want to think about whether this company will grow or shrink. Luckily, you can check this free report showing analyst forecasts for its future.

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.

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