|A Bidding War?|
A Colossal Screw-Up
A company that priced a deal the day before and began trading the next day pulled the IPO by day’s end. While I vaguely remember the two most recent instances of this occurrence, I have to go back to 1990 or 1991 to when I was in the business and this happened to a deal a firm I was working for attempted to bring public. That company should never have gone public anyway.
BATS Global Markets, the 3rd largest U.S. stock exchange operator priced its 6.3M share IPO on Thursday evening at $16. On Friday, shortly after its IPO began trading mid-morning, different prices were quoted for BATS stock. Within minutes, the auction price on its exchange went from $15.25 to $0.02. To make matters worse, AAPL traded down sharply after a 100 share trade on BATS was priced 9% below the market price, which prompted a halt in AAPL trading.
On the one hand, you have to love the irony as BATS was to be the first stock to list on its exchange. On the other, you feel bad for these guys but become wary of nascent, immature trading platforms, and how they can cause flash crashes and other issues. Imagine you are one of the biggest trading operators and you can’t trade your own stock right. Ouch.
When other IPOs have been pulled post-trading, it has been because of the relative youth of the company or other factors. Not because of what is perceived as incompetence in your core. Best of luck, BATS.
Up then Down
The market hasn’t a clue what to do. Last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index were down, while NASDAQ was up. Once again, with Apple (NASDAQ—AAPL) up 1.7% for the week, it carried NASDAQ to a .4% rise for the week. The stock rallied on last week’s news that the Company plans to engage in a $10 billion stock buyback and offer a $2.65 per share quarterly dividend beginning in the September quarter this year.
All in all, it looks to me like this may be the high water mark for Apple for a while. If that’s the case, considering how much it accounts for the stock market, we have likely reached a near-term high water mark for NASDAQ as well.
Perhaps buying some puts is an interesting, although speculative play. Something to think about…
We mentioned last week that window dressing might be starting. Given the AAPL craziness in the beginning of the week, poor economic news from China mid-week and the BATS debacle late, we probably will see some window dressing such as AAPL buying in the early days of trading this week.
In addition to window dressing, this type of environment is usually where a few shekels can be made by riding short term small stock waves. You may not own a surfboard, but surf those waves if you find them. They won’t last long and when they break they break. So just be careful.
A Tale of Two Takeover Plays
There are two companies engaged in announced takeover offers right now that I find very interesting. The one getting the most press is Great Wolf Resorts (NASDAQ – WOLF - $5.59), an indoor water park operator with locations across the U.S. Disclosure: It is a mini-vacation favorite of my kids.
Apollo Management, the huge private equity player, put in an offer to buy it for $5.00 and take it private. The Street and major shareholders are revolting, believing the price is too low. With the current price well over the buyout offer, it looks like Apollo may have to raise its bid. This story is likely to stay in the news for a while. Interestingly, it has had the same effect on a much smaller company. While WOLF targets kids and families, this takeover candidate’s primary business is anything about family offerings.
New Frontier Media (NASDAQ – NOOF - $1.28) announced roughly 2 weeks ago that it received an unsolicited all-cash bid for the Company at a price of $1.35 per share from an investment company incorporated in Jersey (Channel Islands not U.S.) called Longkloof Ltd., which apparently owns 15% of NOOF stock. NOOF is a leader in transactional television, primarily delivering adult-themed pay-per-view networks to cable and satellite, along with video-on-demand provision.
What usually happens in these situations is that if the bid is believed to be legitimate, the stock price will hover just below the buyout price. In this case, it had traded between 90-95% of the all-cash offer. On Friday, however, it zoomed past the buyout price, due to external factors unrelated to NOOF such as the WOLF situation. Late in the day, it was announced that NOOF had received another bid for $1.50 per share in cash from another party, driving the stock to $1.43, up 16%.
It could be based on cash flow, EBITDA, book value, etc. At $1.50 per share, NOOF would be valued at roughly $24 million. Operationally, the Company is on track to generate over $40M in revenue for its current fiscal year and record positive EBITDA along with positive cash flow. NOOF has even bought a great deal of stock in the open market, believing the share price has been too low.
From an asset perspective, NOOF has about $12M in cash and is expecting to collect $2M in a tax refund in the next 12 months. Plus, NOOF has $8.3M in receivables, $30M in non-current assets and total debt of $7M. So, for a company operating profitably, the premium on asset basis or even net asset basis is favorable to the acquirer, even if a small amount of the receivables are collected and if some non-current assets are monetized.
Until next week…
Analyst: Robert Goldman
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