Sunday, July 16, 2006

Redeploying Engelhard takeover proceeds

Engelhard (EC)'s acquisition by BASF (BF) was completely recently, and I received cash for my shares a week ago. I have redeployed the cash, buying more shares of these 3 companies that I already have small positions in :
  • Atherogenics (AGIX): This drug developer is a speculative bet. The large volume of insider buying and a big-pharma partnership are an added bonus.
  • Audible (ADBL): After momentum traders left this stock it has returned to a more meaningful level. The stock trades at a low multiple of book value, the company has sufficient cash in hand, and insiders are not selling at the current depressed price. It could also be a target for traditional media companies, or even for Yahoo or Apple.
  • MarketAxess (MKTX): This bond trading platform provider is now expanding into other instrument types. The stock is trading at less than twice its book value and there has been some insider buying too recently. I expect this to be ultimately acquired by someone like International Securities Exchange (ISE). I had mentioned MarketAxess earlier here.
I have not marked Engelhard as a hit since I had bought the shares after the takeover announcement by BASF. Englehard initially rejected the hostile offer and had even rejected the revised/increased offer. I read the material sent out by both companies as part of the takeover battle, and believed in the Englehard story that the company was worth lot more down the road. As to why Engelhard management changed its mind suddenly and decided to proceed with the sale - I have no clue whatsoever, as the usual excuses appear lame.

All I can think of is that executives must have received sweetened packages, that we may never know or details about which will be filed by BASF in a late Friday, preferably before a long-weekened, filing with the SEC. It was a break-even investment for me, but I have learnt again that buying at a low price is absolutely essential to come out ahead as shareholder interest is not something that executives or boards can be expected to think about when making deals.


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