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Greenberg: Ouch! Bad Timing for National Semi Investor Whitworth; Sold Just Before Deal

Proof that even smart guys can get the timing wrong: Ralph Whitworth, founder and principal of Relational Investors, is known for his savvy activism and finding companies that are undervalued and ripe for takeover.

Ralph Whitworth, Founder and Principal of Relational Investors LLC
Source: rillc.com
Ralph Whitworth, Founder and Principal of Relational Investors LLC

At the time of National Semiconductor’s announced deal to be bought by Texas Instruments , he was among the largest investors, with 11.7 million shares.

However, in the ultimate case of “ouch,” he had been the largest investor, owning 20.6 million shares until the end of last year. Since then, he has been an active seller.

Oddly enough, Whitworth has held the company since 2003, when he bought 13 million shares. At the time, he said he intended to seek two seats on the company’s board. He never did take the seats, but he held onto the stock and even bought more, before the recent sales.

Why did he sell? I’ve called Whitworth, but haven’t heard back yet.

This much is clear: Don’t cry for Relational. With this announced takeover the value of its holdings increased by $121 million. Not bad for a few year’s work.

Questions? Comments? Write to HerbOnTheStreet@cnbc.com

Follow Herb on Twitter: @herbgreenberg

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