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An excellent week for Waste Management, Inc.'s (NYSE:WM) institutional owners who own 86% as one-year returns inch higher

To get a sense of who is truly in control of Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE:WM), it is important to understand the ownership structure of the business. With 86% stake, institutions possess the maximum shares in the company. That is, the group stands to benefit the most if the stock rises (or lose the most if there is a downturn).

And things are looking up for institutional investors after the company gained US$2.0b in market cap last week. The one-year return on investment is currently 0.5% and last week's gain would have been more than welcomed.

Let's take a closer look to see what the different types of shareholders can tell us about Waste Management.

View our latest analysis for Waste Management

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Waste Management?

Institutional investors commonly compare their own returns to the returns of a commonly followed index. So they generally do consider buying larger companies that are included in the relevant benchmark index.

As you can see, institutional investors have a fair amount of stake in Waste Management. 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 Waste Management's 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. Waste Management is not owned by hedge funds. Our data shows that The Vanguard Group, Inc. is the largest shareholder with 9.0% of shares outstanding. In comparison, the second and third largest shareholders hold about 8.6% and 7.5% of the stock.

After doing some more digging, we found that the top 20 have the combined ownership of 51% in the company, suggesting that no single shareholder has significant control over the company.

While it makes sense to study institutional ownership data for a company, it also makes sense to study analyst sentiments to know which way the wind is blowing. There are a reasonable number of analysts covering the stock, so it might be useful to find out their aggregate view on the future.

Insider Ownership Of Waste Management

While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. Company management run the business, but the CEO will answer to the board, even if he or she is a member of it.

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 information suggests that Waste Management, Inc. insiders own under 1% of the company. 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$119m 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, who are usually individual investors, hold a 14% stake in Waste Management. 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.

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. Consider for instance, the ever-present spectre of investment risk. We've identified 1 warning sign with Waste Management , and understanding them should be part of your investment process.

If you would prefer discover what analysts are predicting in terms of future growth, do not miss this free report on analyst forecasts.

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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