Significantly high institutional ownership implies American Express' stock price is sensitive to their trading actions
50% of the business is held by the top 12 shareholders
Ownership research along with analyst forecasts data help provide a good understanding of opportunities in a stock
If you want to know who really controls American Express Company (NYSE:AXP), then you'll have to look at the makeup of its share registry. With 65% 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).
Because institutional owners have a huge pool of resources and liquidity, their investing decisions tend to carry a great deal of weight, especially with individual investors. As a result, a sizeable amount of institutional money invested in a firm is generally viewed as a positive attribute.
In the chart below, we zoom in on the different ownership groups of American Express.
What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About American Express?
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 American Express. 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 American Express' earnings history below. Of course, the future is what really matters.
Since institutional investors own more than half the issued stock, the board will likely have to pay attention to their preferences. Hedge funds don't have many shares in American Express. Looking at our data, we can see that the largest shareholder is Berkshire Hathaway Inc. with 21% of shares outstanding. Meanwhile, the second and third largest shareholders, hold 6.4% and 6.1%, of the shares outstanding, respectively.
Looking at the shareholder registry, we can see that 50% of the ownership is controlled by the top 12 shareholders, meaning that no single shareholder has a majority interest in the ownership.
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 American Express
The definition of an insider can differ slightly between different countries, but members of the board of directors always count. The company management answer to the board and the latter should represent the interests of shareholders. Notably, sometimes top-level managers are on the board themselves.
Insider ownership is positive when it signals leadership are thinking like the true owners of the company. However, high insider ownership can also give immense power to a small group within the company. This can be negative in some circumstances.
Our most recent data indicates that insiders own less than 1% of American Express 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$154m worth of shares (at current prices). In this sort of situation, it can be more interesting to see if those insiders have been buying or selling.
General Public Ownership
With a 14% ownership, the general public, mostly comprising of individual investors, have some degree of sway over American Express. While this group can't necessarily call the shots, it can certainly have a real influence on how the company is run.
Public Company Ownership
We can see that public companies hold 21% of the American Express shares on issue. We can't be certain but it is quite possible this is a strategic stake. The businesses may be similar, or work together.
While it is well worth considering the different groups that own a company, there are other factors that are even more important.
I like to dive deeper into how a company has performed in the past. You can find historic revenue and earnings in this detailed graph.
But ultimately it is the future, not the past, that will determine how well the owners of this business will do. Therefore we think it advisable to take a look at this free report showing whether analysts are predicting a brighter future.
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.
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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.