(By Tim - iStockAnalyst Writer)
The financial news this morning is starting to show the results of the recent indiscriminate sell off of stocks. I have been amazed at how the current bear market has taken down companies with good financial positions and prospects right along with those companies that have less than stellar futures due to bad decisions or being in the wrong sector. Now I am starting to see some smart players try to pick up great assets at deeply discounted prices.
One of the first news items up this morning was the rejection by the board of directors of NRG Energy Inc. (NRG) of an unsolicited $6.1 billion bid by Exelon Corp. (EXC). In their rejection of the all stock bid the board calculated that NRG shareholders would end up with only 17% of the stock but the NRG assets would provide 30% of the cash flow for the new, larger company. This is a good example of a large company trying to pick up valuable assets on the cheap. Just 6 months ago, NRG had a market cap of over $10 billion, well above the $6 billion bid from Exelon. During the same period NRG was able to increase their 3rd quarter profits by 300%. Yet the indiscriminate stock market sell off drove NRG stock to as low as $14.40 a share after trading at $40 to $45 in the early summer.
The other news item that caught my eye was the announced purchase of Argentine seed producer SPS Argentina SA by Syngenta AG (SYT). Syngenta is a Swiss agribusiness that specializes in crop seeds, herbicides and fungicides. The purchase of SPS gives the company strong access to Argentina's soy producers. Argentina is the world's 3rd largest soy producer with 21% of the global crop. The recent global stock sell off has knocked the Merval Buenos Aires (MERV), Argentina's major stock index, down by over 60% from the early summer levels. Syngenta was able to pick up a valuable, profit adding asset for pennies on the dollar.
If you see companies making these types of deals you can take a pretty good guess that the addition to the purchasing company's bottom line will be immediate and strongly accretive. Stay from the industries that are truly being hurt by the financial crisis: Banks, insurance companies, now retail stores and retail product manufacturers. Look for companies whose business will be little affected by a consumer or financial slowdown. I am pretty sure that Syngenta's customers will still need seed, herbicides and fungicides for their crops. And when these companies make a strategic acquisition, take a really close look at their profit picture and expect some additional good news in the near future. Before today, I knew nothing about Syngenta, now I am going to take a very close look at their business and financials.