Icahn sees energy sector rebound but urges patience

FILE PHOTO: Billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn gives an interview on FOX Business Network's Neil Cavuto show in New York February 11, 2014. Icahn has backed off from his campaign urging Apple to increase its stock buybacks, citing the company's recent repurchases as well as an influential proxy adviser's call against his proposal. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid//File Photo

BOSTON (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Carl Icahn said on Thursday the energy sector will bounce back one day but shareholders need to be very patient and he is not urging people to buy.

Icahn, with stakes in CVR Energy, Cheniere Energy and Occidental Petroleum, said the key to making money is to buy when companies are out of favor.

“I’m not saying go out and buy energy stocks tomorrow,” he noted at the 13D Monitor Conference on activist investing.

But Icahn said, without elaborating, that he was bracing for a sweep of bankruptcies in the sector, which is in a slump as demand has plunged during the coronavirus pandemic. He joked that in three years time, people may kick themselves for not having snapped up inexpensive energy companies in 2020.

Icahn’s investment style, he acknowledged, is a little different as an activist who proposes remedies to companies with management problems and often wins board seats.

“We’ve been really helpful at many companies,” often by freeing them from incompetent management, Icahn said. Forbes estimates his net worth at $16.7 billion.

Critics have called him a corporate raider for his hostile takeover in 1985 of Trans World Airlines whose assets he stripped, leading to its demise.

“I work all day, don’t ask me why,” said Icahn, aged 84, when most people are comfortably retired. “I have a lot of different deals going on. I like the action.”

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Richard Chang