Fee, fi, fo, fum, I smell a brilliant move by
Don't know Wilmar? Heck, I don't blame you. I only know the company because I am from Philadelphia and it is from Moorestown., N.J., home of the Moorestown Mall.
Wilmar is one of those benign, mundane little companies that has ceased to get any respect from Wall Street in the latter half of the 1990s. It is the nation's leading direct distributor of maintenance and repair supplies to apartment buildings.
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This was, when it came public four years ago, a great growth business, as using Wilmar saved individual apartment building owners a ton of money. It shot out of the chute at a huge premium and looked like the category killer in this niche.
A year after Wilmar came public,
bought its main competitor. That hammered Wilmar, but then it bounced to the high 20s (it came public at 11) on strong earnings. Soon after, however, it began a ratcheting down of revenue growth that made the growth hounds angry, as Home Depot hurt its growth considerably. Inevitably, the growth mutual funds threw this pristine maiden into the earnings blowup volcano, and it stumbled along for a couple of years in total oblivion.
It was trading around its offering price for most of 1999 until management and
Chase Capital Partners
recently decided to take it private at $18.25, a nice bump from where it was, but a nasty fall from where it had traded.
To which I say, yes, you bet, way to go. I want to cyber-high-five these guys. Because if I were running this business, I would do exactly the same thing. A few months after this deal closes, and long after the class-action attorneys have stopped paying attention, I would hire
and write that company a check to put this whole thing online, a la
. Six months, or a decent interval after the going-private announcement, I would bring Wilmar.com public. It will be a smash hit. A perfect dot-com. A
, maybe even a
These hard-working managers, who have seen fortunes made by lesser souls, will be able to hit the ball out of the park if they design the right site. They can cut back on staffing, beef up offerings and do it in a way that would make
And why shouldn't they? Why shouldn't anyone who has suffered through this miserable non-dot-com downturn seize this moment to recapitalize and take advantage of the market's high dot-com spirits?
Brilliant, gents. My hat is off to you. Well done. If you can't beat 'em, I say join 'em.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long BroadVision. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at