Why Even a $100 Million Stock Buyback Matters for Office Depot

Office Depot Inc. (NASDAQ: ODP) may be reeling from the letdown after its failed acquisition by Staples Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS). Well, the company is not sitting around twiddling its thumbs trying to figure out what to do with its post-merger breakup fee cash that it will receive. Office Depot’s board of directors has authorized a stock repurchase program of up to $100 million of the company’s own common stock.

What investors will want to know is that Office Depot’s market cap is $1.94 billion. That would mean that up to 5% of its outstanding shares could be retired, if the prices remain static and if the transaction was completed in short order. Office Depot said that the exact number and timing of share repurchases will depend upon market conditions and other factors. Shares repurchases will be funded through existing liquidity.

It appears that the company will begin buying back shares sooner rather than later, with this plan becoming effective immediately. Office Depot said that it can repurchase shares of its stock “from time-to-time through a combination of open market repurchases, privately negotiated transactions, 10b5-1 trading plans, accelerated stock repurchase transactions and/or other derivative transactions.”

The company also said that its program will extend for a period of 12 months, but the plan may be suspended or discontinued at any time.

Another issue here is that Staples was required to pay a $250 million breakup fee after the acquisition of office Depot failed to receive regulatory approvals. That means that another $150 million in cash is available for store revamping and for bolt-on acquisitions, if they can be found, on top of its available cash and liquidity already on the books as of March 31, 2016.

Office Depot had $879 million in cash and short-term investments at the end of March. It also had another $900 million in long-term investments — versus about $1.44 billion in direct long-term debt. Office Depot’s total equity was $1.66 billion at the end of March, with a net tangible asset level of $1.232 billion.

Office Depot Chairman and CEO Roland Smith said:

As we communicated on May 16th, we are finalizing our comprehensive strategic review, which includes capital structure and return of capital alternatives. Today’s announcement reflects our commitment to shareholder return. We are continuing to work with our advisors to explore additional opportunities to further enhance shareholder value.

Shares of Office Depot were up nearly 2% at $3.59 on Tuesday morning, after closing at $3.53 on Friday. Its 52-week trading range is $3.18 to $9.36, and the consensus analyst price target is listed at $5.42.

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