Monday, May 22, 2006

Hit #98

Jameson Inns (JAMS) is being taken private in a transaction valuing the company at $371 million. The cash offer, of $2.97/share, from JER Partners, represents a premium of 58% over my average cost of $1.88/share.

I own a somewhat larger than usual number of shares, more than what I normally put in a takeover target.

I had mentioned Jameson as a target when La Quinta went private.

Coincidentally, another target I mentioned in the same post, Boykin Lodge also announced today that it is being taken private. I did not own the stock, having decided to wait for a better price.

Other targets mentioned there, Lodgian (LGN), Winston (WXH) and Equity Inns (ENN), still look attractive.

Previous hit - SSA Global (#97)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Eeks! It is alive!

The SEC is not dead, despite its seeming inability to do much to help investors. It has finally started taking action on the massive options backdating that has been going on, unless you believe in some supernatural ability to time options grants, for a long time now.

Over the past few weeks, Juniper, Affiliated Computer Services, RSA Security, Safenet, Comverse, Vitesse, United Health, Caremark, Jabil Circuit, Brooks Automation, American Tower have been named by the SEC. Stocks in these companies have taken big hits, and many like Juniper (JNPR) and Safenet (SFNT) have become very attractive as takeover targets.

But more importantly, like with past such suits, the executives in the worst case will be fired, with a generous exit compensation. They are unlikely to see the walls of a prison, which is unfortunate. The options backdating is just another example of extreme greed, which starts with excessive options going to a selected few, who also then routinely grant themselves more, via a nodding board, and ends with disgraceful salaries/exit packages. Looting on this scale, from investors/customers/employees, makes the Huns and Barbarians look decent.

While the SEC temporarily has insomnia, it should also consider banning filings on Fridays and last working days before long weekends, as these seem to be the preferred times for companies to file details that they don't want the press or investors to pick up. Wonder what kind of filings will we find for the coming Friday, May 26th!

Will ordinary investors get anything out of the current bout of activity from the SEC ? Unlikely, going by past experience. A few suits and some settlements without admitting any wrongdoing, and pretty soon we will be back to the good old days of pillage.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

NCO Group going private

NCO Group (NCOG) has received a $27.5/share cash offer from its CEO to take the company private. This is a 38% premium to my average cost of $19.9/share. I got all my NCOG shares when NCO acquired RMH Teleservices in a stock-swap in 2004, as mentioned in one of my earliest posts. The board has yet to decide on the offer, but I expect this to be accepted, since it is an extremely generous bid.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hit #97

SSA Global (SSAG) announced today that it is being acquired by Infor for $1.35 billion in an all-cash deal. The offer, of $19.5/share, is a premium of 48% over my average cost of $13.18/share.

Earlier when SSA Global acquired Epiphany (Hit #58) in a cash deal, I had written that I would have preferred a stock swap since SSA Global shares looked undervalued then. I ended up buying some shares later from cash returned in another takeover.

At this point QAD (QADI), Retalix (RTLX), Manhattan Associates (MANH) look like targets too, with Manhattan Associates being the least speculative and a fairly-valued one.

JDA Software (JDAS) and Lawson (LWSN) will remain as standalone players, with the latter also being a candidate for going private. Both remain attractive buys today.

Previous hit - Cambridge Antibody (#96)

Hit #96

AstraZeneca announced a deal to buy its partner, Cambridge Antibody Technology (CATG), for $1.33 billion, a pleasing 67% premium to the last closing price. The cash offer, which amounts to around $24.98/share is a 84% premium over my average cost of $13.6/share. I had bought all my shares just 2 weeks ago, as CATG started looking like a bargain with all that cash pile and its strong partnerships.

CATG became an increasingly likely target after Abgenix was acquired by Amgen a while ago (Hit #70).

Another British biotech, which also happens to be headquartered in Cambridge, that appears like a bargain now is Acambis (ACAM). I have been adding to my position for a while now, though the stock seems to do nothing but going down on a regular basis! I could do with a whopper premium on Acambis!

With this takeover, PDL Biopharma (PDLI) remains as the only viable target left. I own a few shares, and would be a buyer at current prices. Medarex (MEDX) has been mentioned as a target too, but I would like to see stronger signals before buying.

Previous hit - Advanced Digital (#95)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Recycling takeover proceeds

I had hoped to make regular posts on how I end up redeploying cash returned from takeovers. If only there were a few more hours to the day ...

I will attempt to post every once in a while on this topic.

Over the last two weeks, I received cash from these takeovers - J. Jill, Net2Phone (update), Sports Authority, Raindance and Pegasus. There were also a couple of one-time dividend payouts that were large enough to be reinvested on their own - from Cablevision and Saks.

I have split the proceeds into CNet (CNET), which became attractive after the recent pullback following earnings, Printronix (PTNX) and Playboy (PLA), which also had its share of earnings-related bad news.

CNet remains a target, as I had mentioned a while ago here when iVillage got acquired.

Playboy (as detailed in this post) and Printronix both look undervalued, with the former being a target for a management-led buyout, and the latter a target for a larger competitor/partner.

I will also be looking to add to my current Taro Pharmaceuticals (TARO) position.

Hit #95

Advanced Digital (ADIC) is being acquired by Quantum in a $770 million deal, valuing ADIC shares at $12.25/share, a premium of 53.7% over my average cost of $7.97/share.

ADIC shareholders can opt for cash or Quantum shares. I would go with cash, since I believe that Quantum will be available at a cheaper price later.

I had mentioned ADIC a few times on this blog, with the most recent one in this post on increased demand for bandwidth/storage to go with digital music/video downloads.

When Sun acquired StorageTek, I had also posted on what could have been better, more manageable targets for Sun, including ADIC. Having indulged in such a huge buyout, Sun may actually decide to sell StorageTek soon - that would be one of the most wasteful roundtrips ever!

I will likely recycle the cash back into the storage sector, with Overland (OVRL) on the top of the list. Note that ADIC had made a hostile bid on Overland last year, and after being rebuffed, withdrew its bid abruptly. The absence of a second bid should have been an indirect indicator that something else must be in the works for the potential acquirer. Another missed sign, though not as interesting as the one detailed here!

Previous hit - NetIQ (#94)

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A call to action

Recently, I listed footnoted as one of the sites I frequent. As investors who are being deceived and robbed everyday, we should do everything possible to encourage such bloggers. A site like Footnoted does more to raise awareness of executive corruption than all the financial publications and news outlets combined.

As a start, I donated a small amount to Ms Leder, who runs footnoted, last week (I received a personal thank you note too - you are most welcome!). I am hoping to donate on a regular basis in return for the knowledge gained.

I am hoping that readers of this blog can do the same. Please consider it seriously. We need hundreds, no thousands, of Leders. You can give up your Starbucks coffee for a week and donate, right ? Or maybe just cancel your subscriptions to Money, Smart Money, Forbes, Fortune, Barron's, Wall Street Journal, and donate the savings. Please.

If you do donate, please leave behind a comment to this post. I am hoping that would inspire others to follow in your footsteps.

While on digging up disclosures that companies don't want you to see, here is another great source of information - the 10Q Detective.

If you are not shocked by the daily revelations on these two sites, you may need immediate medical attention!