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Mainfreight Limited's (NZSE:MFT) largest shareholders are retail investors with 51% ownership, institutions own 30%

Key Insights

  • Significant control over Mainfreight by retail investors implies that the general public has more power to influence management and governance-related decisions

  • The top 25 shareholders own 47% of the company

  • Insiders have bought recently

To get a sense of who is truly in control of Mainfreight Limited (NZSE:MFT), it is important to understand the ownership structure of the business. With 51% stake, retail investors possess the maximum shares in the company. In other words, the group stands to gain the most (or lose the most) from their investment into the company.

Institutions, on the other hand, account for 30% of the company's stockholders. Institutions will often hold stock in bigger companies, and we expect to see insiders owning a noticeable percentage of the smaller ones.

Let's delve deeper into each type of owner of Mainfreight, beginning with the chart below.

See our latest analysis for Mainfreight

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Mainfreight?

Many institutions measure their performance against an index that approximates the local market. So they usually pay more attention to companies that are included in major indices.

We can see that Mainfreight does have institutional investors; and they hold a good portion of the company's stock. 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. When multiple institutions own a stock, there's always a risk that they are in a 'crowded trade'. When such a trade goes wrong, multiple parties may compete to sell stock fast. This risk is higher in a company without a history of growth. You can see Mainfreight's historic earnings and revenue below, but keep in mind there's always more to the story.

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

We note that hedge funds don't have a meaningful investment in Mainfreight. Our data suggests that Bruce Plested, who is also the company's Top Key Executive, holds the most number of shares at 15%. When an insider holds a sizeable amount of a company's stock, investors consider it as a positive sign because it suggests that insiders are willing to have their wealth tied up in the future of the company. In comparison, the second and third largest shareholders hold about 4.8% and 3.3% of the stock. Additionally, the company's CEO Donald Braid directly holds 2.9% of the total shares outstanding.

A deeper look at our ownership data shows that the top 25 shareholders collectively hold less than half of the register, suggesting a large group of small holders where no single shareholder has a majority.

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 plenty of analysts covering the stock, so it might be worth seeing what they are forecasting, too.

Insider Ownership Of Mainfreight

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.

It seems insiders own a significant proportion of Mainfreight Limited. It is very interesting to see that insiders have a meaningful NZ$1.2b stake in this NZ$6.7b business. It is good to see this level of investment. You can check here to see if those insiders have been buying recently.

General Public Ownership

The general public, who are usually individual investors, hold a substantial 51% stake in Mainfreight, suggesting it is a fairly popular stock. With this amount of ownership, retail investors can collectively play a role in decisions that affect shareholder returns, such as dividend policies and the appointment of directors. They can also exercise the power to vote on acquisitions or mergers that may not improve profitability.

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.

I like to dive deeper into how a company has performed in the past. You can access this interactive graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow, for free.

Ultimately the future is most important. You can access this free report on analyst forecasts for the company.

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@simplywallst.com

Simply Wall St analyst Simply Wall St and Simply Wall St have no position in any of the companies mentioned. This article 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.