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Could The Whitbread plc (LON:WTB) Ownership Structure Tell Us Something Useful?

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·4 min read
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A look at the shareholders of Whitbread plc (LON:WTB) can tell us which group is most powerful. Large companies usually have institutions as shareholders, and we usually see insiders owning shares in smaller companies. Companies that used to be publicly owned tend to have lower insider ownership.

Whitbread is a pretty big company. It has a market capitalization of UK£5.2b. Normally institutions would own a significant portion of a company this size. Taking a look at our data on the ownership groups (below), it seems that institutional investors have bought into the company. Let's take a closer look to see what the different types of shareholders can tell us about Whitbread.

See our latest analysis for Whitbread

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Whitbread?

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.

Whitbread already has institutions on the share registry. Indeed, they own a respectable stake in the company. This implies the analysts working for those institutions have looked at the stock and they like it. But just like anyone else, they could be wrong. 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 Whitbread's earnings history below. Of course, the future is what really matters.

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

Institutional investors own over 50% of the company, so together than can probably strongly influence board decisions. Whitbread is not owned by hedge funds. Looking at our data, we can see that the largest shareholder is BlackRock, Inc. with 7.6% of shares outstanding. Meanwhile, the second and third largest shareholders, hold 4.4% and 4.1%, of the shares outstanding, respectively.

After doing some more digging, we found that the top 21 have the combined ownership of 51% in the company, suggesting that no single shareholder has significant control over the company.

Researching institutional ownership is a good way to gauge and filter a stock's expected performance. The same can be achieved by studying analyst sentiments. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.

Insider Ownership Of Whitbread

The definition of company insiders can be subjective and does vary between jurisdictions. Our data reflects individual insiders, capturing board members at the very least. 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.

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.

Our information suggests that Whitbread plc insiders own under 1% of the company. It is a pretty big company, so it would be possible for board members to own a meaningful interest in the company, without owning much of a proportional interest. In this case, they own around UK£5.5m worth of shares (at current prices). It is good to see board members owning shares, but it might be worth checking if those insiders have been buying.

General Public Ownership

The general public-- including retail investors -- own 13% stake in the company, and hence can't easily be ignored. While this size of ownership may not be enough to sway a policy decision in their favour, they can still make a collective impact on company policies.

Next Steps:

It's always worth thinking about the different groups who own shares in a company. But to understand Whitbread better, we need to consider many other factors. Case in point: We've spotted 1 warning sign for Whitbread you should be aware of.

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 (at) simplywallst.com.

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.

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