Should You Be Concerned About Esperion Therapeutics Inc’s (NASDAQ:ESPR) Shareholders?

In this article, I will take a quick look at Esperion Therapeutics Inc’s (NASDAQ:ESPR) recent ownership structure – an unconventional investing subject, but an important one. Ownership structure has been found to have an impact on shareholder returns in both short- and long-term. If an activist institution invests the same amount of capital in a stock as a passive long-term pension fund, the implications are potentially different for key corporate financing decisions such as the use of excess cash or the source of financing. While these are more of a long-term investor’s concern, short-term investors may find the impact of institutional trading overwhelming enough to lose out on what could be a potential opportunity. Therefore, I will take a look at ESPR’s shareholders in more detail.

View our latest analysis for Esperion Therapeutics
NasdaqGM:ESPR Ownership_summary Dec 22nd 17
NasdaqGM:ESPR Ownership_summary Dec 22nd 17

Institutional Ownership

In ESPR’s case, institutional ownership stands at 98.25%, significant enough to cause considerable price moves in the case of large institutional transactions, especially when there is a low level of public shares available on the market to trade. These moves, at least in the short-term, are generally observed in an institutional ownership mix comprising of active stock pickers, in particular levered hedge funds, which can cause large price swings. With hedge funds holding a 8.56% stake in the company, its share price can experience heightened volatility. We should dig deeper into the company’s ownership structure to find how the rest of its ownership structure can impact its investment case.

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. Although individuals in ESPR hold only a 2.73% stake, it’s a good sign for shareholders as the company’s executives and directors have their incentives directly linked to the company’s performance. It would also be interesting to check what insiders have been doing with their shareholding recently. Insider buying can be a positive indicator of future performance, but a selling decision can be simply driven by personal financial requirements.
NasdaqGM:ESPR Insider_trading Dec 22nd 17
NasdaqGM:ESPR Insider_trading Dec 22nd 17

Private Equity Ownership

Private equity firms hold a 12.58% stake in ESPR. With a stake of this size, they can be influential in key policy decisions. This is a positive sign for potential investors as these firms play an important role in aligning company policy with shareholder returns.

What this means for you:

I suggest investors seek some degree of margin of safety due to high institutional ownership in ESPR, in particular due to the strong presence of active hedge fund investors. This may enable shareholders to comfortably invest in the company and avoid getting trapped in a sustained sell-off that is often observed in stocks with this level of institutional participation. However, if you are building an investment case for ESPR, ownership structure alone should not dictate your decision to buy or sell the stock. Rather, you should be looking at fundamental drivers such as Esperion Therapeutics’s past track record and financial health. I highly recommend 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.