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ConocoPhillips' (NYSE:COP) institutional shareholders had a great week as one-year returns increased after a 3.5% gain last week

Key Insights

  • Given the large stake in the stock by institutions, ConocoPhillips' stock price might be vulnerable to their trading decisions

  • A total of 17 investors have a majority stake in the company with 51% ownership

  • Insiders have bought recently

If you want to know who really controls ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), then you'll have to look at the makeup of its share registry. And the group that holds the biggest piece of the pie are institutions with 82% ownership. In other words, the group stands to gain the most (or lose the most) from their investment into the company.

Last week’s 3.5% gain means that institutional investors were on the positive end of the spectrum even as the company has shown strong longer-term trends. One-year return to shareholders is currently 5.0% and last week’s gain was the icing on the cake.

In the chart below, we zoom in on the different ownership groups of ConocoPhillips.

Check out our latest analysis for ConocoPhillips

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About ConocoPhillips?

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.

As you can see, institutional investors have a fair amount of stake in ConocoPhillips. This can indicate that the company has a certain degree of credibility in the investment community. However, it is best to be wary of relying on the supposed validation that comes with institutional investors. They too, get it wrong sometimes. 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 ConocoPhillips' earnings history below. Of course, the future is what really matters.

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

Investors should note that institutions actually own more than half the company, so they can collectively wield significant power. ConocoPhillips is not owned by hedge funds. The company's largest shareholder is The Vanguard Group, Inc., with ownership of 9.2%. For context, the second largest shareholder holds about 8.0% of the shares outstanding, followed by an ownership of 6.3% by the third-largest shareholder.

After doing some more digging, we found that the top 17 have the combined ownership of 51% in the company, suggesting that no single shareholder has significant control over the company.

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 ConocoPhillips

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.

I generally consider insider ownership to be a good thing. However, on some occasions it makes it more difficult for other shareholders to hold the board accountable for decisions.

Our data suggests that insiders own under 1% of ConocoPhillips in their own names. It is a very large company, so it would be surprising to see insiders own a large proportion of the company. Though their holding amounts to less than 1%, we can see that board members collectively own US$123m worth of shares (at current prices). Arguably recent buying and selling is just as important to consider. You can click here to see if insiders have been buying or selling.

General Public Ownership

The general public-- including retail investors -- own 18% stake in the company, and hence can't easily be ignored. This size of ownership, while considerable, may not be enough to change company policy if the decision is not in sync with other large shareholders.

Next Steps:

I find it very interesting to look at who exactly owns a company. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Case in point: We've spotted 2 warning signs for ConocoPhillips you should be aware of, and 1 of them is significant.

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.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. 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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