When Rackspace (RAX) presents second-quarter earnings after the close on Monday, CEO Taylor Rhodes will likely want to update shareholders on anticipated deal closes and changes in the sales staff.
Wall Street will want details on reported talks with private equity suitors, however. While the Wall Street Journal put a potential takeout at $27 per share or $3.5 billion, analysts suggested that $32 per share could be a more agreeable sale price.
Shares of Rackspace traded at about $29 on Monday afternoon, roughly 25% above their open on Thursday, Aug. 4, when reports of buyout talk surfaced. The stock reached $31.53 during Friday's intra-day trading.
"We believe that [$27 per share] is low and that a deal in the $32 area is more likely," Oppenheimer analyst Timothy Horan wrote in a report on Sunday.
Among other steps, a private equity backer could cut operating expenses by 20% and boost leverage to 4 times Ebitda, Horan observed. At $32 per share, Rackspace's valuation would come to $4.3 billion including debt. The analyst suggested that private equity could get away with just a $1.3 billion equity check, or about 30% of the total valuation.
Should another tech company emerge as a bidder, Horan suggested the price could reach the upper $30s. However, insiders might be tempted by a lower offer if they could take equity in the company.
Rhodes took over as Rackspace CEO in 2014, and has been trying to turn around the cloud services company. Cloud computing services from Amazon (AMZN) - Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report , Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report and Alphabet's (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report Google are reshaping the cloud sector. However, Rackspace partners with companies such as Amazon and Microsoft.
Gray Powell of Wells Fargo also modeled a $32-per-share takeout of Rackspace. If the private equity buyers paid 30% of the total in equity, he suggested, they could cover the rest with debt equaling 4 times Ebtda. The deal would put the sponsors in line to collected a 25% annual return over three years, he suggested, if they could sell for $5.3 billion in 2019.
Powell's exit expectations are lower than Horan's, though, who suggested that the PE owners could sell for 8 times projected 2021 Ebitda, which would come to about an $8 billion in total.
But private equity might have to pony up more equity to make a deal work, Barclays analyst Amir Rozwadowski suggested in a report.
Based on a $4.2 billion sale price, including debt, Rozwadowski wrote that PE suitors could raise 2.8 to 3.1 times 2016 projected Ebitda, or $2 billion to $2.2 billion, in debt.
"Thus to make a deal work," he wrote, "private equity sponsors would need to contribute [$2 to $2.2 billion] of equity."
When Rhodes presented first-quarter results in May, he told investors of "several large deals that we expect to close," in the second quarter. New Global Sales and Marketing head Alex Pinchev started in the first quarter, Rhodes told investors, and was "moving aggressively to shift resources toward our new fast-growing offers while sustaining our core business."
While Rhodes and Pinchev may show progress in the second quarter, talk of a sale is clearly driving the stock.