The big shareholder groups in Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV) have power over the company. 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.
With a market capitalization of US$23b, Southwest Airlines is rather large. We’d expect to see institutional investors on the register. Companies of this size are usually well known to retail investors, too. In the chart below, we can see that institutional investors have bought into the company. We can zoom in on the different ownership groups, to learn more about Southwest Airlines.
What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Southwest Airlines?
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.
We can see that Southwest Airlines does have institutional investors; and they hold a good portion of the company’s stock. 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. If multiple institutions change their view on a stock at the same time, you could see the share price drop fast. It’s therefore worth looking at Southwest Airlines’ earnings history below. Of course, the future is what really matters.
Since institutional investors own more than half the issued stock, the board will likely have to pay attention to their preferences. We note that hedge funds don’t have a meaningful investment in Southwest Airlines. Our data shows that PRIMECAP Management Company is the largest shareholder with 12% of shares outstanding. In comparison, the second and third largest shareholders hold about 7.4% and 7.1% of the stock.
Looking at the shareholder registry, we can see that 50% of the ownership is controlled by the top 19 shareholders, meaning that no single shareholder has a majority interest in the ownership.
While studying institutional ownership for a company can add value to your research, it is also a good practice to research analyst recommendations to get a deeper understand of a stock’s expected performance. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.
Insider Ownership Of Southwest Airlines
The definition of company insiders can be subjective and does vary between jurisdictions. Our data reflects individual insiders, capturing board members at the very least. 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.
Most consider insider ownership a positive because it can indicate the board is well aligned with other shareholders. However, on some occasions too much power is concentrated within this group.
Our most recent data indicates that insiders own less than 1% of Southwest Airlines Co.. As it is a large company, we’d only expect insiders to own a small percentage of it. But it’s worth noting that they own US$72m worth of shares. 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 Southwest Airlines. 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.
It’s always worth thinking about the different groups who own shares in a company. But to understand Southwest Airlines better, we need to consider many other factors. Consider risks, for instance. Every company has them, and we’ve spotted 4 warning signs for Southwest Airlines you should know about.
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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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. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.
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