1. Carl Icahn: Introduction
  2. Carl Icahn: Early Life and Education
  3. Carl Icahn: Success Story
  4. Carl Icahn: Net Worth
  5. Carl Icahn: Famous or Infamous
  6. Carl Icahn: Most Influential Quotes

Carl Icahn's notable sayings have taught many up-and-coming investors. Below are some of his most famous quotes.

Icahn on His Investment Strategy

"I look at companies as businesses, while Wall Street analysts look for quarterly earnings performance. I buy assets and potential productivity. Wall Street buys earnings, so they miss a lot of things that I see in certain situations."

"I have to look out for the shareholder’s interests, and I’m the largest shareholder," Icahn on the good that his brand of investing does for other investors and the markets as a whole.

Icahn on Takeovers

"In takeovers, the metaphor is war. The secret is reserves. You must have reserves stretched way out ahead. You have to know that you could buy the company and not be stretched."

"My opinion is that, philosophically, I’m doing the right thing in trying to shake up some of these managements. It’s a problem in America today that we are not nearly as productive as we should be. That’s why we have the balance-of-payments problems. It’s like the fall of Rome, when half the population was on the dole."

"Literally, half the board is dozing off. The other half is reading the Wall Street Journal. And then they put slides up a lot and nobody can understand the slides and when it gets dark they all doze off. The chief executive officer at that time was a very intimidating sort of guy. A big, tall guy, strong personality, and he was in control of that board. I mean nobody could say anything. I was the only one who owned any stock so I had an interest. I wanted to know what the hell was going on.”

Icahn on Ethics

"It sounds funny, but I was always ethical," Icahn on accusations that his style of investing is unethical.

"I’m happy stockholders benefited. But I’m no Robin Hood. I enjoy making the money."

"How can one airline pay one guy $120,000 a year when the guy at the other airline is flying the same plane for $30,000 or $40,000? It makes no sense. The company will go bankrupt. You’ll get another two years out of it, and they’ll go bust, and what good does that do you? Like the steel industry. The union did such a great job that they lost their jobs. They lost the industry! If the unions do too good a job, it’s no good," Icahn talking about some of the problems at TWA, where the pilots and other employees took pay cuts after he acquired the airline. (For more, see: Unions: Do They Help Or Hurt Workers?)

"If we are psychoanalyzing each other, why don’t you admit what you really care about is your job, and you are afraid I am going to take it away from you," Icahn on accusations that all he cares about, in his corporate raids, is making a fast buck.

"I sit on a lot of boards…I don’t have to watch Saturday Night Live anymore, I just sit at the board meetings. I will tell you it’s a sad commentary that we have an inability to compete. You can blame unions to some extent. But the real problem is that boards – there’s a symbiotic relationship between boards and CEOs today. And as a result, there is no way to hold these guys accountable except when someone like myself comes along or some other person who is really well to challenge them. But you have to go through contortions. There is no corporate democracy."

"A likeable guy, maybe even a buffoon… Also a good political guy… He doesn’t make waves… he moves up the corporate ladder… doesn’t have many ideas… but this doesn’t help our corporations very much. Doesn’t help us be competitive," Icahn said about American CEOs in 2008.

"He’s number two to the CEO. Sooner or later the CEO retires. The CEO puts him there because the CEO realizes this guy's not a challenge because he’s a little dumber than the CEO. So now he becomes the CEO and now he finds his number two guy a little dumber than him. Sooner or later we’re going to be run by morons. By definition… And we are not far from that now," Icahn on executive succession at America’s largest corporations.


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