Icahn Earns 457% On Netflix Bet

Oct 23 2013 | 12:35pm ET

Carl Icahn has posted some eye-watering returns on his year-old investment in Netflix Inc.

The billionaire hedge-fund manager has an extra $800 million to play with after cashing out half of his stake in the streaming-video and DVD rental company. His gains on the sold share clock in at an impressive 457%.

"As a hardened veteran of seven bear markets, I have learned that when you are lucky and/or smart enough to have made a total return of 457% in only 14 months, it is time to take some of the chips off the table," Icahn said in a regulatory filing.

Icahn bought a 9.4% stake in Netflix 14 months ago, and still owns a 4.5% stake in the company. He sold some three million shares between Oct. 10 and yesterday.

After the filing, Icahn turned to his favorite mode of communications, Twitter, to offer his thanks to Netflix's management team, led by CEO Reed Hastings, "for a job well done."

"And last but not least, I wish to thank Kevin Spacey," the star of Netflix's hit series, "House of Cards."

Icahn's sale may have come just in time, as Hastings moved yesterday to tamp down on enthusiasm about his company's stock. The CEO said the soaring price was due mainly to investor "euphoria."

"Every time I read a story about Netflix is the highest-appreciating stock on the S&P500, it worries me because that was the exact headline we used to see in 2003," Hastings said during a conference call with analysts. "You can definitely—we have a sense of momentum investors driving the stock price more than we might normally. There's not a lot we can do about it but I wanted to honestly reflect upon that."

Netflix shares sank 4.5% yesterday in the wake of the comments.

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