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Rating:Winters' Activist Approach Catches Morningstar's Eye Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Friday, June 05, 2009

Winters' Activist Approach Catches Morningstar's Eye

by: Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

David Winters' shareholder battle with management at a portfolio company just gained him some media attention from a fund ratings giant. Bridget Hughes, associate director of fund analysis with Morningstar, highlights Winters' mostly successful struggle against the board of Consolidated-Tomoka Land -- Wintergreen Fund owns more than a quarter of Consolidated-Tomoka.

Winters, the former CEO and chief investment officer of Franklin Mutual, first launched Wintergreen Advisers four years ago (see MFWire, 5/11/2005).

According to Hughes, Winters managed to put three of his chosen directors on Consolidated-Tomoka's board while getting all three of his shareholder proposals passed (including one separating the CEO and chairman positions for the company). Hughes praises Winters and Third Avenue Value's Marty Whitman (who recently filed suit over the break-up of MBIA: see MFWire, 4/7/2009), though she acknowledges that it's unclear how such moves will benefit Third Avenue Value's and Wintergreen's shareholders.

"It's too soon to tell whether or not their maneuvers will translate into higher returns for the funds that they lead," Hughes writes, "but we appreciate how engaged the managers are."

"We remain confident in Winters' varied portfolio-management techniques for the long run," Hughes added. 

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