First things first.
When I talked Saturday about Trump adviser and pal, Carl Icahn, dumping a boatload of steel stock a week before the president announced his plans for steel and aluminum tariffs, the usual crop of pouty Trump defenders chimed in to say there was nothing sketchy about the move.
The president had talked about tariffs before. Everybody knew, so it’s not like Icahn needed inside information, or that anything like insider trading was going on, when he sold over $31 million in steel stocks. He was just making a good guess, based on Trump’s past comments, right?
For those that missed it the first time around, insider trading is when someone gets a tip on something that’s about to happen (like steel tariffs) before it’s made public, giving themselves an unfair advantage in the stock market.
That’s what Icahn’s move looked like to the skeptics, but the Trump true believers say he already knew, because Trump’s announcement wasn’t a surprise.
Except now Icahn is saying the exact opposite.
According to Icahn, he didn’t have a clue it was coming.
“We don’t generally comment on rumors, but the recent media speculation regarding our sale of Manitowoc stock calls for a response. We state for the record: Any suggestion that we had prior knowledge of the Trump administration’s announcement of new tariffs on steel imports is categorically untrue. We reduced our position in Manitowoc for legitimate investment reasons having nothing to do with that announcement,” Icahn said in a statement obtained by CNBC.
So unlike those Trumpy cheerleaders, he’s saying he had no idea Trump was about to tank the market.
The fact that he hadn’t touched those stocks or dealt with them on any level in 3 years, but suddenly decided the time was right to unload them – at a profit – a week before his longtime friend’s market-busting announcement was all just a coincidence.
The Manitowoc Company is a manufacturer of construction cranes, so of course, steel is important to the company.
Companies like Manitowoc are those that will feel the pinch from rising steel prices.
After Trump’s announcement, Manitowoc’s stock fell to $26. Icahn sold nearly 94,000 Manitowoc shares at about $32 to $34 each.
Quite a racket.
I’d always heard playing the market was tricky, but it’s a lot easier if you have a pal on the inside signal that he’s about to do something to make your stock portfolio go sideways.
Not that that’s what happened.
It’s all just a coincidence.