What Kind Of Shareholders Own Merlin Entertainments plc (LON:MERL)?

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Every investor in Merlin Entertainments plc (LON:MERL) should be aware of the most powerful shareholder groups. Insiders often own a large chunk of younger, smaller, companies while huge companies tend to have institutions as shareholders. We also tend to see lower insider ownership in companies that were previously publicly owned.

Merlin Entertainments has a market capitalization of UK£3.8b, 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. Taking a look at our data on the ownership groups (below), it’s seems that institutional investors have bought into the company. Let’s delve deeper into each type of owner, to discover more about MERL.

See our latest analysis for Merlin Entertainments

LSE:MERL Ownership Summary, June 12th 2019
LSE:MERL Ownership Summary, June 12th 2019

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Merlin Entertainments?

Many institutions measure their performance against an index that approximates the local market. So they usually pay more attention to companies that are included in major indices.

Merlin Entertainments already has institutions on the share registry. Indeed, they own 44% of the company. 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 Merlin Entertainments, (below). Of course, keep in mind that there are other factors to consider, too.

LSE:MERL Income Statement, June 12th 2019
LSE:MERL Income Statement, June 12th 2019

Our data indicates that hedge funds own 9.3% of Merlin Entertainments. That’s interesting, because hedge funds can be quite active and activist. Many look for medium term catalysts that will drive the share price higher. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.

Insider Ownership Of Merlin Entertainments

While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. Management ultimately answers to the board. However, it is not uncommon for managers to be executive board members, especially if they are a founder or the CEO.

Insider ownership is positive when it signals leadership are thinking like the true owners of the company. However, high insider ownership can also give immense power to a small group within the company. This can be negative in some circumstances.

We can see that insiders own shares in Merlin Entertainments plc. This is a big company, so it is good to see this level of alignment. Insiders own UK£46m worth of shares (at current prices). Most would say this shows alignment of interests between shareholders and the board. Still, it might be worth checking if those insiders have been selling.

General Public Ownership

The general public, with a 10% stake in the company, will not easily be ignored. While this size of ownership may not be enough to sway a policy decision in their favour, they can still make a collective impact on company policies.

Private Equity Ownership

With a stake of 35%, private equity firms could influence the MERL board. Some might like this, because private equity are sometimes activists who hold management accountable. But other times, private equity is selling out, having taking the company public.

Next Steps:

While it is well worth considering the different groups that own a company, there are other factors that are even more important.

Many find it useful to take an in depth look at how a company has performed in the past. You can access this detailed graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow .

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.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.