It seemed like a master stroke when
bought $930 million worth of
at a discount in a
private deal on Jan. 27.
Like a jealous
(Marsha! Marsha! Marsha! becoming Janus! Janus! Janus!), investors who didn't own Janus funds gaped as the Denver juggernaut got its shares at 62 a pop and the stock shot up to 71 on news of the deal.
But then the script changed.
losses and recent acquisitions have weighed on the stock. Since the deal was announced, it's down nearly 40%.
Did Janus, the seemingly infallible growth shop whose
stock fund rose a startling 81.6% last year, screw up?
If Janus thinks the stock is worth $62 and investors think it's worth $40 (as of Tuesday's close), someone is wrong. Either the stock is a bargain at today's price or Janus overpaid for a company of which it now owns more than 10%. Janus' $930 million investment is currently worth about $600 million.
Atlanta-based Healtheon/WebMD hopes to reduce health care's paper chase by becoming the place where doctors, patients, drug companies and insurers meet online. Industry observers say the Atlanta-based shop is well ahead of competitors, but its current results aren't shooting the lights out. Last Thursday's fourth-quarter earnings report, which triggered a selloff that has continued through today, showed growing revenue but growing losses.
On the heels of the announcement,
Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown
downgraded the stock from market perform to buy. Today,
Salomon Smith Barney
initiated coverage with an outperform rating. That might sound like good news, but the broker's 12- to 18-month price target is 52 -- 10 below what Janus paid in its recent deal.
Even before the announcement investors were concerned about the company's ability to successfully integrate a flurry of recent acquisitions. Last year, Healtheon acquired
as well as
. The stock hasn't seen 62 since Feb. 25.
Analysts and portfolio managers say the company is in a "show me" stage, where it must show rising revenues to send its stock higher. None are expecting any short-term miracles.
"They've made a lot of progress on the acquisition and strategic partner front, getting things in line to execute. But we haven't seen that execution yet," says Steve Fitzgibbons, a senior research analyst who covers the company for
, which helped underwrite Healtheon's initial public offering.
And that execution isn't a foregone conclusion.
"The risk now is integrating those new businesses, while continuing to execute. I think the Healtheon-based business actually slowed down on a quarter-to-quarter basis. If that's slowing and they have to integrate, that's a concern," says Robert Hallisey, co-manager of
John Hancock Global Health Sciences, up 29.2% over the past year. The fund has owned Healtheon in the past, but doesn't today.
Beyond these issues, some insiders say the paper morass the company is trying to solve is overblown. See
column for more on that.
Barbs aside, it seems far too early to write the company off. Hallisey says Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Mike Long is a savvy executive, and the company could become a smashing success. He also says the stock might be a bargain at its current prices. But where does that leave Janus with those 15 million shares at $62 a piece?
"In the long run Janus could still make a lot on the investment," says Hallisey.
However, Chase H&Q's Fitzgibbons doesn't expect the stock to "go much higher in the near future," though he concedes that if the company executes well the stock could still be a coup for Janus.
A Janus spokeswoman said the firm's portfolio managers aren't going to comment on the stock yet. But Janus wouldn't grab that much of a company without seeing it as a long-term investment.
Janus hasn't yet disclosed which funds got the shares -- and the short-term loss -- but
made a few educated guesses in a recent
story. Of course, back in January shareholders probably hoped their fund would get the shares because they looked like a real boost. Now they look a lot more like a burden.
In any event, this deal shows that every investor, even Janus, can miss the mark.