Rock star Bono must be a lot less well off financially than he was two years ago. He must also wish he never met Roger McNamee, who runs private equity firm Elevation Partners where Bono is one of the five professionals who run the firm. Hard to say whether he really spends any time on the job.
Elevation has set its money on fire by putting it into Palm (PALM), which may not survive through the end of next year, Move (MOVE) a flailing real estate listings company, and Forbes, which is losing its value due to the recession in business and consumer advertising.
Palm (PALM) traded at $8.45 late last year. It now changes hands at $1.62. As Barron’s wrote when Palm recently warned on earnings, "The Street this morning scrambled to cut estimates, ratings and price targets – with some analysts wondering out loud whether the company can survive." Deutsche Bank voiced concern for Palm’s "long-term viability."
Move is another company with severe problems. It trades at $1.13. Less than two years ago, that number was $6.60. In the September quarter, revenue dropped slightly to $61.2 million. The firm had an operating loss of $4.1 million. Wall St. obviously thinks the chances that the shares will recover are grim.
Forbes may be one of the preeminent business magazines in the world, but it has not been immune to the huge downturn in financial and luxury consumer advertising. Elevation’s investment is further compromised by the fact that Forbes is private, and there is no ready way to cash out.
Bono better go back on tour. He may need the money.
Douglas A. McIntyre