Starboard Value has built a 7.5% stake in digital storage firm Box, saying shares “were undervalued and represented an attractive investment opportunity.”
In a Tuesday regulatory filing, Jeff Smith’s hedge fund gave scant details about its intentions but revealed that it had been buying shares since at least July. Schedule 13D forms are required to disclose purchases for the 60 days prior to filing.
On July 30, Activist Insight Vulnerability argued that Box could be a target for an activist investor, citing “a handful of setbacks including poor performance and slowing growth.” The stock has fallen around 40% over the last 12 months.
“An activist might insist that the company launch a strategic review to consider a sale to a larger peer or private equity fund that could better handle the high expenses, fierce competition, and fluctuating market conditions,” the report said. “Its global presence could help attract potential suitors like Amazon, which hasn’t yet gone head-to-head with Microsoft or Google over web-based apps but has a profitable cloud business.”
Two directors received around 70% support at the annual meeting in June, with investors criticizing the board’s accountability and independence. According to Activist Insight Governance, Box has a staggered board, a combined CEO/chairman, and no majority vote standard.
Box’s nomination window is February 23 through March 24, leaving Starboard plenty of time to spell out its demands.
Later on Tuesday, Box reacted to Starboard’s disclosure by saying that it is “focused on delivering growth and profitability to drive long-term stockholder value” while maintaining an “active and engaged dialogue“ with its shareholders.