Who Are The Top Investors In Lithium Americas Corp (TSE:LAC)?

I am going to take a deep dive into Lithium Americas Corp’s (TSX:LAC) most recent ownership structure, not a frequent subject of discussion among individual investors. Ownership structure has been found to have an impact on shareholder returns in both short- and long-term. Differences in ownership structure of companies can have a profound effect on how management’s incentives are aligned with shareholder returns, and whether they adhere to corporate governance best practices. Although this is an important factor for long-term investors, many investors can also be impacted by institutional presence and their high-volume trading. Therefore, it is beneficial for us to examine LAC’s ownership structure in more detail.

See our latest analysis for Lithium Americas
TSX:LAC Ownership_summary Feb 18th 18
TSX:LAC Ownership_summary Feb 18th 18

Institutional Ownership

Institutional investors typically buy and sell shares in large magnitudes which can significantly sway the share price, especially when there are relatively small amounts of shares available on the market to trade. A low institutional ownership of 6.27% puts LAC on a list of companies that are not likely exposed to spikes in volatility resulting from institutional trading. In addition, the fact that the company is covered by only 2 analyst indicates that it is yet to become popular amongst large sell-side institutions. Low coverage stocks like LAC tend to be favourite picks of legendary investor Peter Lynch, who used to cash in on the rally supported by institutional buying as the stock gained popularity.

Insider Ownership

Another important group of shareholders are company insiders. Insider ownership has to do more with how the company is managed and less to do with the direct impact of the magnitude of shares trading on the market. 42.57% ownership of LAC insiders is large enough to make an impact on shareholder returns. In general, this level of insider ownership has negatively affected underperforming (consistently low PE ratio) companies and positively affected the companies that outperform (consistently high PE ratio). It may be interesting to take a look at what company insiders have been doing with their holdings lately. Insiders buying company shares can be a positive indicator of future performance, but a selling decision can simply be driven by personal financial needs.
TSX:LAC Insider_trading Feb 18th 18
TSX:LAC Insider_trading Feb 18th 18

General Public Ownership

A substantial ownership of 17.79% in LAC is held by the general public. With this size of ownership, retail investors can collectively play a role in major company policies that affect shareholders returns, including executive remuneration and the appointment of directors. They can also exercise the power to decline an acquisition or merger that may not improve profitability.

Private Company Ownership

Potential investors in LAC should also look at another important group of investors: private companies, with a stake of 0.55%, who are primarily invested because of strategic and capital gain interests. However, an ownership of this size may be relatively insignificant, meaning that these shareholders may not have the potential to influence LAC’s business strategy. Thus, investors not need worry too much about the consequences of these holdings.

Next Steps:

With a low level of institutional ownership, investors in LAC need not worry about non-fundamental factors such as ownership structure causing large impact on stock prices. However, ownership structure should not be the only focus of your research when constructing an investment thesis around LAC. Instead, you should be evaluating company-specific factors such as Lithium Americas’s past track record and financial health. I urge you to complete your research by taking a look at the following:

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.