Why? Because it surged on a dismal day, where negative retail news out at the ICR XChange Conference killed the averages.
But more importantly, because it is the product of a break-up that was right to do. Yes, the stock surged 25% on Monday to $83.42 from $66.97, but far more impressive is the stock's performance over the last couple of years when it traded as a standalone entity in the low $40s in October of 2011.
Remember, the original Fortune Brands was a real mis-matched mosaic of firms from a liquor business to home and furnishings to, yes, golf. A true sum-of-the-parts story. In May 2011, it sold off the Golf segment for $1.1 billion. Then in October 2011, Fortune spun off its Home & Security business to create Fortune Brands Home & Security (FBHS).
This left the fabulous liquor business as a stand-alone company, with a new name Beam. Shrinking to grow!
Beam--the name behind Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Sauza tequila, Courvoisier cognac, Canadian Club whiskey, and Teacher's Scotch--has been a pure play primed for growth and, well, takeover. This is particularly attractive when its peers, are (1) family owned, like Brown Forman (BFB), (2) very large, like Diageo (DEO), or, (3) part of a larger conglomerate like Moet Hennessy, part of Louis Vuitton.
And its liquor focus makes it an attractive 'vice' stock - a name that works in good times, bad times, and uneven times - a defensive industry with growth.
The simple math tells an incredibly compelling story. When the old Fortune Brands announced it would spin off into three businesses in December 2010, it had an enterprise value of $13 billion at the time. Compare that with the current enterprise value snapshot (Golf segment was sold for just over $1 billion in May 2011, Fortune Brands Home & Security has current enterprise value of $8 billion and Beam's total consideration was $16 billion): That adds up to $25 billion in enterprise value currently... or $12 billion in value creation (or almost a double) in just three years.
Beam is just one of the names that has benefitted from breaking up - think about ConocoPhillips (COP - Get Report) and Phillips 66 (PSX), which were formerly one integrated oil company. Or Marathon Oil (MRO - Get Report)and Marathon Petroleum (MPC), which split in the same fashion. News Corp (NWSA) has benefitted from splitting off Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA). Some other examples of value creation? Pfizer (PFE) and Zoetis ZTS, Abbott (ABT - Get Report) and Abbvie (ABBV), Kraft Foods (KRFT)and Mondelez (MDLZ), White Wave (WWAV) which was part of Dean Foods (DF), and Post Holdings (POST) which was spun off from Ralcorp and is now part of ConAgra (CAG). These are just a few... Shrinking to grow- chart of the day!
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