Lionsgate shares ride Icahn exit

Stock up 17% since he scaled back holdings

The post-Carl Icahn shift at Lionsgate has yielded a notable boost to the company’s stock, which has gained 17% since the billionaire investor thinned his holding to about 1%.

Icahn sold a block of nearly 3 million shares on Oct. 19, when the stock closed at $7.01. Since then, Lionsgate shares have risen steadily including a gain of 17¢ to $8.22 on Monday amid a down market.

It’s the first time since September 2008 that the company’s shares have traded above $8.

The stock sunk below $5 in early 2009 — prompting Icahn to begin his battling with the company in which he relentlessly second-guessed spending and strategy, culminating in a variety of lawsuits between the billionaire and the mini-major. Icahn launched a hostile takeover bid at $6 a share in March 2010 and put up a rival slate of directors for the Lionsgate board, but both efforts were ditched late last year.

On Aug. 30, Lionsgate reached a settlement with Icahn and his son Brett Icahn to end the battling in an agreement to sell the Icahns’ 33% stake in the company at $7 a share via a series of deals totaling about $309 million.

Lionsgate had reported three weeks earlier a $12.1 million profit for its first quarter ended June 30 due to lower costs, compared with a loss of $64.1 million in the year-ago quarter. It said the improved performance included a decrease in expenses “associated with shareholder activism” — a reference to last year’s ongoing expenses from battling Icahn.

Lionsgate’s expected to report on Nov. 9 its earnings for its second quarter ended Sept. 30.

Lionsgate has high hopes for a franchise in “The Hunger Games,” with the first of four planned pics out March 23. It has a busy first quarter with “The Possession” on Jan. 6, followed by “One for the Money” on Jan. 27, “Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds” on Feb. 24″ and “Safe” on March 6.

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