Comverse Technology (CMVT) - A Risk Arbitrage Opportunity (3 Times in 12 Months Potential Payoff)
Comverse Technology (CMVT) is a holding company with three major assets:
- Comverse, a supplier of software and systems to telecommunications companies – comprised of two segments: Comverse BSS and Comverse VAS.
- 54% ownership of Verint (NASDAQ:VRNT), a publicly traded defense software company that provides actionable intelligence solutions. CMVT owns both common stock and a preferred stock in Verint. Its stake is worth approximately $875 million at current market prices ($4/share).
- Majority ownership of Starhome, a small private company that provides roaming technology to telecommunication companies.
Looking at CMVT on a sum-of-the-parts basis highlights a significant value opportunity.
Note: Since CMVT owns 54% of Verint, it consolidates the debt of Verint on its books, so essentially, in a sum-of-the-parts, Comverse Spin is debt free (with all the debt on the public Verint company). Netting out the debt would be double counting.
Comverse + Verint Valuations
Net cash - $380 million
Common - $530 million
Preferred - $350
Verint Value $880 ($4/share)
Cash + Verint - 1,260 million
Com Shares Out. - 220 million
Cash + Verint/CMVT $5.70/CMVT share
CMVT = $6.45/share today, Comverse Spin implied value = $0.75/CMVTshare or $165 million
What do you get for $0.75/share? – i.e., what is Comverse Spin comprised of?
It includes: Comverse (with cash) + Starhome + NOLs
Comverse has around $700 million of revenue and $70 million of estimated operating income. Depending on multiples applied, at 5-7x operating income, Comverse Spin is worth $350-$500 million of value (which seems very draconian, but conservative) amounts to at least $1.60-$2.30/CMVT share.
Starhome – 1x revenue implies about $35 million or $0.16/share
NOLs – NPV = $160 million or 0.75/share
So summing up the parts (adds up to $8.50/share):
- Verint = $4/share
- Comverse Spin in total = $4.50/share
o $1.87/share for Comverse (somewhere in the middle of the range)
o $1.72/share of cash
o $0.16/share for StarHome
o $0.75/share for NOLs
o $8.50 TOTAL
Thus, using very conservative estimates, upside is 30-40%. The downside would be just the cash on the balance sheet plus the shares in Verint valued at the current market price. Together this equals $5.70 per CMVTshare, assuming Comverse Spin is valued at nothing. Obviously, that is dependent on Verint’s current share price not collapsing. So downside of -12% and upside is 30-40%. This is a very attractive 2.5:1 reward:risk.
How to triple your money within 12 months:
If you want to just make real money (3-4x your money in 12 months) there is a synthetic way to make an investment in just the Comverse spin-off. Rather than buying the stock for $6.45 per share hoping the stock climbs to $8.50 per share, a respectable gain of $2 per share, an alternative is to hedge out the Verint stock and get exposure to just Comverse Spin + StarHome + Cash.
For every share of CMVT stock that you pay $6.45 per share for, you are essentially getting $4 per share of Verint (since CMVT owns 54% of Verint). Currently, Verint trades for $32 per share.
Thus, to isolate (i.e., hedge) just the Comverse Spin business, for every eight shares of CMVT long, go one share of Verint short.
1 share of CMVT = $4/share of Verint value
8 shares of CMVT = $32/share of Verint Value
1 Verint = $32/share
Long CMVT - 8 X $6.45 = $51.60 which = $32/share of Verint + $19.60/share in cash + Comverse Sub
Short VRNT - (1) X $32.00/share of Verint
Think of exposure as for every eight shares of CMVT you buy, you get $19.60/share of non-Verint ($13 of which is cash).
In the arbitrage scenario – shorting one share of Verint for every eight shares long of CMVT, an investor is essentially getting into Comverse spin-off at $0.75 per share or $165 million TEV for the spin. The $2 of “gain” if the stock rises from $6.45 per share to $8.50 per share becomes for the arbitrager a $0.75 per share net investment in the Comverse Spin worth $2.75 per share ($0.75 per share of isolated Comverse Spin-off + $2 per share of value accretion), 3.6x the net investment
Obviously, the gross exposure of the arbitrage scenario is greater than just buying the stock (i.e., the investor is leveraged). So for example, if you might be interested in just buying $10,000 of CMVT stock to play the upside of the stock going from $6.45 per share to $8.50 per share, then you’d have to buy $26,322 of CMVT and short $16,322 to get the same $10,000 of net exposure in the arbitrage scenario.
4,081 shares of CMVT - $26,322
(510) shares of VRNT (short) ($16,322)
Net Exposure - $10,000
Gross Exposure - $42,644
An investor is much more levered in the risk arbitrage scenario, but also has the chance of making 3x his/her money for the same $10,000 net investment. This is how the hedge funds make money in risk arbitrage. Here is a situation for the little guy. Good luck to all of you!
Disclosure: I’m in the arbitrage trade shown above
Relevant Segment Financials: