Investing

13 Spin-Offs Set to Radically Change Top Companies in 2017 and 2018

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The bull market is now closer to nine years old than it is eight, and the great stock market rally of 2017 has continued to amaze skeptics and bulls alike. One consideration about a bull market is that there are many companies that underperform their peers and the market. There are also instances in which companies can operate better and more efficiently if they are more focused on core areas. This has led to waves of unit sales, spin-offs and other business unit separations.

It may not yet be the end of the third-quarter earnings reporting season, but 24/7 Wall St. is already looking toward late 2017 and into the first half of 2018 for some preliminary views for what investors should expect. The stock market gains have been massive, but the Dow could even be headed for over 25,000 in 2018. And there will be many more spin-offs and asset sales coming down the pipe.

For a company to announce a spin-off, sale or divestiture of a business, the usual goal is to unlock value or to focus on a core part of the business. Either way, this is a constant push by activist investors and by members of corporate boards of directors who think somewhat like an activist investor would think.

These are of course subject to change, and there are no assurances that any of the plans will come to fruition. After all, anything can happen in the financial markets, and stocks are now at all-time highs.

Investors may think they do not want to pay attention to companies looking to create so many changes. After all, these can be complicated and can be tax-free or taxable under certain circumstances. But there is some simple proof that these potential spin-offs might be incredibly important to more than just the direct shareholders of each company — many of these are S&P 500 members and some are even members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Here are 13 featured spin-offs already underway and potential spin-offs that could be seen in 2017 and into 2018 that could radically change how Wall Street and Main Street evaluate companies ahead.

BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE: BHP) has been under activist pressure from Elliott Management to spin off or sell its shale and oil-producing operations so that it can concentrate on everything else in its mining empire. It turns out that Paul Singer’s efforts won here, and the company is exploring a sale or spin-off of the North American shale and oil operations. How it occurs remains to be seen, but now BHP’s CEO is under more pressure by the activist. This is after billions of dollars have been thrown at the oil unit at much higher prices, and this move is certain to create complicated charges for a multinational company that is already listed in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

The activist once used a value of $22 billion for the oil operations, which is not without consequence for the U.S.-listing value of $96 billion. BHP Billiton American depositary shares (ADSs) were recently trading at $36.50, less than 10% off of a 52-week high — but less than half of its 2011 peak.

BP Midstream Partners

BP Midstream Partners L.P. (NYSE: BPMP) is an imminent spin-off of the much larger BP PLC (NYSE: BP). The oil giant is set to spin off the master limited partnership of its Midwest and Gulf Coast pipeline assets.

BP ADSs were last seen up 1% at $39.19, about 1% shy of a 52-week high. BP shares were trading closer to $35 in mid-August, and the market cap is currently about $128 billion for the oil giant. BP’s ADSs have remained under fire for some time, and its 6% dividend yield has more than baffled some investors. BP’s ADSs were also valued above $70 a decade ago.


Delphi Automotive

Delphi Automotive PLC (NYSE: DLPH) is a $26 billion outfit and its shares have recovered handily from the dog years. Now Delphi is set to split up its Powertrain Systems business and the old Delphi. The company has entered into credit agreements to move closer to that spin-off. The old Delphi will be named Aptiv and remain under the existing CEO, and certain approvals are up for vote in November. The spinco will hold the efforts under the move toward autonomous and connected vehicles.

In September the stock had run over 30% since the plans to break the company up were announced in May. Also, Delphi just announced a $450 million acquisition of a self-driving car startup named NuTonomy for $450 million.

DowDupont

DowDupont Inc. (NYSE: DWDP) is now the merged Dow Chemical and DuPont, and it is about to get a serious makeover. In order to secure approvals to the merger, the two chemical giants effectively had to set the stage to break up into three areas of operations. The merger closed late in the summer, and the shares just hit a post-merger high above $72.

This three-way spin-off is not going to be completed until well into 2018, and there is always a possibility that shareholders might not see it occur all at once and might see more changes to the deal on top of those that already have been seen. DowDuPont has a $167 billion market cap now. As of last look, DowDuPont’s three future businesses are as follows: plastics and materials under the Dow brand, an agricultural chemicals and seeds unit and then a specialized products company.

Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) has continued to talk up the ability to spin off its Elanco animal health business. The animal health unit contributed close to 15% of sales in 2016, but more focused competition has come into play and investors have signaled a welcome to this effort. Its third-quarter unit sales were $740 million, and that was up 5% from a year ago’s third quarter. The Dow Jones news service has used a JPMorgan figure that this could fetch $14 billion to $16 billion in an outright sale.

Eli Lilly’s shares were last seen close to $86, about 4% shy of a 52-week high, and with a $90 billion market value. This is still a potential deal that may not have a final destination even known until 2018.

FMC

FMC Corp. (NYSE: FMC) was a boring chemicals company that most investors might have ignored for years. But its outside view as a key lithium player has driven its shares up and up, now that investors have looked beyond just Tesla, as China and the United Kingdom have joined in the effort to ultimately end using combustion engines. Energy storage is also just getting going as a real business in the move for cleaner energy.

FMC shares were last seen closer to $94.20, down just 1% from an all-time high. Its market cap is $12.6 billion. The company has been prepping the markets for a spin-off of the lithium operations since earl in 2018, and the spin-off is now looking out well into 2018.

GE

General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) has been so unloved and such an underperformer for so long that Jeff Immelt took early retirement. Now it has demonstrated a kitchen-sink earnings bucket in which the company looks in disarray. John Flannery is now firmly set to be in charge, and Flannery has committed to somewhere around $20 billion worth of carve-outs from capital-intensive business operations under GE that don’t help toward the growth of the company.

Flannery did not even commit to maintaining the current dividend for GE, and he has gone as far as saying that there are no sacred cows. That has led some investors to wonder if Baker Hughes, a GE Company (NYSE: BHGE) could be set for a relaunch as a fully independent company, even though it has only one full quarter as a GE entity. GE spun off Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) in its move to exit consumer finance, and it’s harder to find people who love the oil services and equipment business in 2017 than it was a decade ago. Flannery is set to offer a longer-term strategy for GE at a presentation set for November.

Honeywell

Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON) is set to de-conglomerize after many years of having multiple segments. The company was unable to grow via a super-merger, and it is now well over a decade past when General Electric tried to acquire the company. Its $112 billion market cap means that there could be large new entities focused on core operations ahead, targeting a spin-off (or even a sale) of the Home Business and the Transportation Business from the parent. Honeywell shares are close to $146.50 and effectively at all-time highs.

Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box Inc. (NASDAQ: JACK) is really two companies in one, but some regions would never even have heard of the lesser Qdoba brand. This is only a $3 billion company, but even the hint of a breakup here sent shares screaming higher. That being said, with shares at $102.00 it is almost 10% under its recent highs.

Jack in the Box is refranchising its core brand, and Morgan Stanley has been assisting in evaluating options for the Qdoba brand. As of August, this was still under review and no timeline has been set. Of the 2,200 stores in the Jack in the Box empire, about 700 are under the fast-casual Qdoba Mexican Eats brand.

La Quinta

La Quinta Holdings Inc. (NYSE: LQ) is set to split into two operations. This represents a separation of its real estate business into a company named CorePoint Lodging away from the franchise and management businesses that will represent the new La Quinta on a post-spin basis. The filing was made in the summer of 2017 and the operating details already have been set, whereby the transaction was shown to be a taxable spin-off to trade under the CPLG stock ticker.

As a stand-alone company, the post-spin La Quinta total adjusted EBITDA for 2017 was projected to be between $110 million and $115 million, including fee revenue under ongoing franchise and management agreements with CorePoint — and CorePoint Lodging will pay La Quinta a management fee of 5.0% of gross hotel revenues in return for day-to-day management of its hotels and a royalty fee of 5.0% of gross room revenues. This could potentially occur in late 2017 or it could take until 2018.

Novartis

Novartis A.G. (NYSE: NVS) is a big European pharma giant, but the Swiss company is in the process of spinning off its Alcon eye care division. That unit generated roughly $1.5 billion in sales in the third quarter alone, up 7% from last year. There is just one problem as of October and that is that the spin-off now appears to be delayed until 2019. Still, anything can happen when it comes to spin-offs. After a 3% drop to $83.40 per ADS, the stock is still less than 5% under a 52-week high, and the market cap here is almost $200 billion.

Pfizer

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) already spun off Zoetis in recent years, and now the company is reportedly eyeing a spin-off of its consumer health business. This deal is not yet set in stone, so if it gets announced soon it may take several quarters to actually occur. This non-prescription and over-the-counter business may be worth as much as $15 billion, according to several published reports. Pfizer has a market cap of $215 billion, and despite being within 2% of their 52-week high of $36.78, its shares are still 15% under former all-time highs.

ServiceMaster

ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SERV) is a $6 billion residential and commercial services company. It has looked at spinning out the American Home Shield home-warranty business from its franchise ServiceMaster line and from the Terminix line. This may not occur until late in 2018, and since this has been intended since summer of 2017, there can be no assurances that the spin-off occurs. With its shares at $45.00, it is still about 7% down from a 52-week high. This stock is still up more than 100% from its mid-2014 listing.

And Others

Recent spin-offs and divesting transactions have been seen as follows:

  • Huntsman Corp. (NYSE: HUN) launched its Venator Materials PLC (NYSE: VNTR) over the summer in a more than $400 million IPO. Huntsman shares were trading closer to $25.00 in mid-August and were last seen hitting a 52-week high of $29.60.
  • MetLife Inc. (NYSE: MET) completed its Brighthouse Financial Inc. (NYSE: BHF) spin-off over the summer, carving out a $7 billion or so value for shareholders to allow a life insurance and annuity spin-off and hopefully to keep MetLife off of the too-big to fail or systemically important financial institution list. MetLife shares were close to $50 at the start of July and just hit $54.00.

Again, there are no assurances that these spin-offs actually will happen. They are also subject to change at any moment, and some of the added value gains in some of these companies already may have become fully reflective.


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