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Jim Nelson
Jim Nelson
Articles (5983) 

Spinoff Stocks: Quick, Proven Way to Grab Easy Gains

December 19, 2008 | About:

What do frozen desserts, designer handbags, and underwear have in common? Two of the best investment opportunities this decade. Allow me to explain…

A single company – one you’re probably familiar with – sold all three seemingly unrelated products. A few years ago, Sara Lee Corp (SLE ) – maker of frozen (yet tasty) pies and cakes – owned hundreds of brands, many of which made no sense.

For instance, the frozen cheesecake manufacturer was the sole owner of Coach handbags and Hanes underwear. These two subsidiaries obviously didn’t make much sense to the company. That’s why – during two separate transactions – Sara Lee’s management and board of directors divested them through a process known as a spinoff.

Spinoffs are common in the business world. They can present smart investors with huge opportunities and sometimes, less fortunate investors with even larger losses. Spinoffs are usually as simple as they sound – a parent company decides it can do without one of its business. So, the subsidiary is spun off onto its own.

There are four basic reasons for a parent to spinoff one of its “children”:

Unrelated Businesses – many times, companies like Sara Lee own certain subsidiaries – like Coach and Hanes – they have no business owning. This happens often in conglomerates when a certain product takes off and is held back by the organization of the parent company.

Tax Benefits – taxes can be burdensome and confusing. But every once in a while, the mathematicians and financial wizards find a loophole to save on taxes and preserve shareholder value. Occasionally, it takes a spinoff to do it.

Refocusing – oftentimes, a large company will take a look at its operations and find one of its businesses lagging behind, which inevitably puts a strain on management to fix the problem. The best solution is to spinoff this business so management of the parent company can get back to growing profitable businesses. This often benefits both the parent and “child” company.

Pinching Off Debt – some spinoffs are created to unload debt and other burdensome liabilities. This is where many unfortunate investors take enormous losses. As you can imagine, a company created out of a need to unload debt is doomed from the start.

It’s important to decipher between the four reasons because if you find the right one, you stand to make colossal gains. Let’s look back at our top example…

As we noted, Sara Lee’s situation fits the first mold – unrelated businesses. Spinning off a perfectly capable business creates earning potential neither the parent nor the “child” even realized.

Sara Lee first spun off Coach in 2000. Almost immediately, the newly formed Coach Inc (COH) began its own marketing program. This turned into an enormous success and unrealized profit potential came to light, which shot shares straight up over the next six years. As you can see in the chart below, Coach outperformed its former parent by more than 2,000% to negative 15%.


The same thing happen in round two, when Sara Lee spun off Hanesbrand Inc (NYSE:HBI) in 2006. Although the gains were not as fantastic, Hanes shareholders watch their shares double as Sara Lee shares stayed flat:


Of course, not all spinoffs work this way. It takes serious studying and an ear to the ground to find out exactly what’s going on.

Many times, when parents spinoff businesses, they keep it quiet. If the media gets a hold of it, shares can crash artificially, or spike prematurely. And, as we mentioned, many spinoffs negatively affect shareholders.

One recent example is InterActiveCorp’s (IACI ) spinoff of Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc (TKTM ) . When Ticketmaster was sent on its way, InterActiveCorp left it with a parting gift of about $750 million in debt, just as the credit crisis began to peak this summer. Shares of Ticketmaster, inevitably collapsed under this weight, falling more than 80 %:


Of course, you have to use your best judgment when you discover a spinoff. You’ll have to make the decision on why you think the parent company spun it off.

More than not, however, buying spinoffs when they’re fresh is a pretty good idea. According to Chris Mayer of Mayer’s Special Situations – a newsletter focused on spinoffs and other unique investments – “spinoffs beat their industry peers and outperformed the S&P 500 Index by about 10% per year in their first three years of existence.”

Those numbers account for both spin offs that lead to gains and those that lead to losses. Obviously, this is something to look into.

If you are lucky enough, and have the right inside knowledge, you can easily take advantage of the next Coach spinoff and leave the next Ticketmaster alone.


Jim Nelson

December 18, 2008


Rating: 1.9/5 (24 votes)



Itznuthin1 - 8 years ago    Report SPAM
dryships: having a ultra deep water drilling rig spinoff

I believe the value of the spun off entity outweighs the market cap that dryships has been selling for over the past few weeks.
Kuuks - 8 years ago    Report SPAM
Jim, spinoffs have been shown to outperform most in their second year. It is waaayy to early to make a call on TKTM. Especially since the entire market has suffered heavily since TKTM's spinoff. This isn't a bullish argument for the stock, it's just that we have to give TKTM another year and a half at least.
Lucdan - 8 years ago    Report SPAM
In his book, however ridiculously named 'You can be a stock market genius', Greenblatt argues that spinoffs are extremely interesting opportunities, even more so when it seems that the spunoff entity is leveraged, and when their management are appropriately compensated (ie interests are aligned with shareholders)

In the case of TKTM, it first possesses a narrow moat and isn't in bad shape financially. According to Mstar, 'operating cash flow should easily cover the interest expense on its $750 million worth of debt, which it took out to fund a cash payment to IAC in its spin-off. Ticketmaster also has more than $550 million of cash on its balance sheet'

Its CEO, Azoff, has significant interest in the current company and is the owner of 5% of outstanding shares... I would assume he would pursue the shareholder's interests with so much of his money involved. My guess is that most of the selling has now been done, and there isn't much downside left. Downside risk seems presently minimal, with tremendous upside. FCF/market cap is presently 73%, meaning it is valued only at 1,36 * FCF.

The main problem actually is their possible merger with Live Nation, which provides imo no interest for shareholders. Hopefully, Azoff will prevent that.

Any other opinion?
Lucdan - 8 years ago    Report SPAM
P.S. I would argue with Kuuks about letting time tell the result of this spinoff.

Current economic downturn has probably exacerbated TKTM selling, and makes it currently extremely attractive.
LOxtoby - 8 years ago    Report SPAM
TKTM will definitely need more time because the company seems to be in a restructuring process and the market suffers from the crisis. I don't think that TKTM shares will extremely rise but they will stabilize and buying is a very interesting option at the moment.
Michelle123 - 8 years ago    Report SPAM
i'm intereeted in global spinoffs, anyone know about these guys?


Newhigh premium member - 7 years ago
Some very salient posts by the OP

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