May 11, 2010

CF Industries : The Perils of overpaying

I have detailed my thoughts on the Fertilizer buyout dance and how CF in its bid to stay independent overpaid. I expected the market to punish the company but the dramatic decline of CF stock exceeded my expectation. True the whole Ag space is under pressure but CF is down more than 30% compared to AGU, 12%.

This was easy short. Most of the time mergers destroy value but to overpay in such reckless fashion is a whole other story.

May 10, 2010

Value Idea: CCE implied spin off

A kind of a spin off in the works as a result of the buyout of Coke (KO) of it North American bottlers. The result of the transaction will be an independent bottler in Europe as KO will buy the NA division of CCE.

The transaction is very interesting. One thing is the transaction is not done growth. KO is buying NA bottling operation actually to limit competition in its distribution channel. The NA market is very mature and the competition is killing pricing and profitability in the system. That is why Pepsi and Coke have forked out billion to re-consolidate their own companies again. So the company being left behind is left alone not for economic issues. Actually CCE Europe is the better growth story of the two divisions.

CCE Europe or the New CCE is achieving 3% volume growth while NA coke case growth is experiencing a permanent decline. Profit growth and revenues are telling the same story. Europe is growing while NA is flat-lining at best.

So what is the valuation here?

  1. KO paid 8.4 multiple ( Entp value/ EBITDA) for NA operations
  2. the market is valuing CCE (Europe and NA) at 7.43 multiple
  3. that leaves Europe, after some backward deduction, at 6.02 multiple, that is way to cheap. Bottlers overall has an average 8.7 multiple, while other European bottlers have 9 multiple.
  4. doing some complex math the implied price per share of the new CCE will be $13.33, after $10 divined at the close of the transaction. The market may trade at $15, current price less the special dividend.
  5. If we apply peers multiples then the new CCE value is ~$19 per share. Not enough margin of safety for me at this point ( if you buy at now $26, get $10 dividends and be left with $14 to15 worth in new CCE shares, about 27% upside potential to full valuation).
However if CCE follows a typical spinoff behaviour then it might get sold off at the close of the transaction and then it may be a good value. CCE will be 100% European and it may get taken out of the S&P500 ( management “expects” to stay in the index) conditions to have fund managers dump the stock.

So at this point it is on the radar screen to see the development and price action at the close, which is expected to happen in the 4th quarter of 2010.