Sohn Conference

Investors Bancorp shares pop after recommendation from Blue Harbour's Cliff Robbins


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Activist investor Cliff Robbins likes to look for socially responsible investing ideas and believes he has found one — in a bank.

Blue Harbour's Robbins recommended shares of Investors Bancorp Monday at the Sohn investment conference in New York.

The hedge fund manger said he owns owns a 9.9 percent stake or 30 million shares in the regional bank based out of Short Hills, NJ.

The shares jumped nearly 2 percent intraday Monday after the mention by Robbins.

While providing value in multiple other ways, Robbins said he likes the company because it follows the ESG code of environment, society and governance, an increasingly popular space in the financial markets both for stocks and bonds.

The bank has "a very strong ESG profile in the way it deals with its customers and its employees."

"We think it's materially undervalued vs. its peers. We think there's scope for very significant growth in net income and franchise value," Robbins added. "The management team is really strong."

With $1 billion in excess cash, the bank is a strong target both for deals on its own, and as an acquisition target for a larger bank, Robbins said.

As a result, he said the growth from here for the stock could be up to 60 percent.

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