Timing is everything:
Normally it wouldn't be worth writing about something as small as
recently announced acquisition of a miniscule privately held consulting firm called
Strategic Reimbursement Services
, or SRS.
It's the latest in a string of acquisitions as Sabratek,
no stranger to this column, expands away from its original business of medical infusion pumps. What makes the acquisition so noteworthy is that it was done on the day before the end of last quarter (end of June), and the press release then only referred to the company as SRS, not by its full name. And unlike other recent transactions, it didn't say how much Sabratek was paying, leading any investor (and certainly short-sellers) to figure it was a nothing of a deal.
That was before last Friday when Bob Gienko, CEO of SRS, filed a 13-D showing that he had acquired 965,454 shares of the company for an 8% stake. That meant it was a $20 million deal. Then, on Wednesday, Sabratek filed an 8-K with the
with more details -- showing that it paid for the company with 1.6 million shares, putting the value in excess of $30 mil.
The rub: If the company
makes its quarter or beats it by a penny or two, skeptics -- and there are skeptics (I've talked to at least one short-seller) -- will figure the company decided to do the deal when it did the deal to make its quarter.
CEO Shan Padda says that wasn't the case. He adds the deal had been in the works since February, but didn't say why it was completed when it was. He says there was no conscious decision not to use SRS's full name or to exclude other details.
What kind of earnings does SRS have? At first Padda told me they could be found on a
Dun & Bradstreet
report. However, D&B doesn't have earnings for SRS. Padda then said the deal will be neutral to slightly accretive. (In other words, it'll drop a few pennies to the bottom line.)
Why should any of that matter? Because when a company is trading at 75 times trailing earnings and 35 times forward earnings, there's not much room for error. Making earnings
of an acquisition isn't what Wall Street usually wants to hear. Of course this is the same company that missed its last quarter, but judging by the stock's performance since then (it has risen nearly 100%), even this news isn't likely to pierce Sabratek stock's armor.
Hooray for Hollywood:
A few weeks ago, when William H. Baumhauer quit as president of
The Wall Street Journal's
Richard Gibson did his usual gonzo job of coverage. The best part was a quote by CEO Robert Earl, who has presided over Planet Hollywood's rise
fall. Asked why Baumhauer quit, he referred to the recovery strategy and said: "Two leaders don't work on this. The initiatives to be carried out are particularly specialist to what I do."
Huh?! Isn't Earl the guy who ran Planet Hollywood into the ground? Why should anybody think Earl can bring it back to life? I asked the question of Earl, via an email to his handler (as is their policy) and never heard back.
David Faber, clearly one of TV's best biz journalists, with a report on open access to the Internet. He was interviewing
John Malone, whose parent --
-- plans to provide Internet service over cable. At issue is whether cable companies should open their cable to rivals like
. America Online obviously believes they should. AT&T obviously believes otherwise -- at the least, AT&T wants users to pay. That approach prompted Malone to tell Faber, "Try to get to
if you're an AOL customer."
It just so happens that I was at my PC with my AOL up and running, so when I saw the clip, I went to the top of the AOL screen, typed in http://www.yahoo.com, and, wouldn't ya know it, in a second Yahoo! popped up. No muss. No fuss. Give it a try sometime, John.
"I just hope you will be 'man enough' to eat an appropriate amount of crow when the facts down the line show how incredibly wrong you were regarding
. "Always swinging for the fences" invariably goes hand-in-hand with a high strikeout rate.
Actually, my batting average is public and for all to see. Every six months
I publish a report card regarding companies mentioned aggressively in this column. That means every six months I fess up to what I did right and what I did wrong. That means every six months I eat crow and/or take accolades. That's what's called accountability.
Speaking of which, the last report card failed to mention one of this column's worst failures so far this year:
was overhyped and its stock overcooked. So far: Wrong!
Meanwhile, in response to reader revolt, Tom V.writes:
"Hey, some of us do support you and your right to say what you think as long as it is supported by facts. We think the emotional behavior and emails of the (fill in the blank) idiots is inappropriate and, well, just plain idiotic. How about mentioning us (not me by name, I mean the group)? Not all your readers are mentally disturbed and unaccountable for their choices. Well, I am disturbed but I try to keep it to myself."
Tom, thanks. Truth be known: With the exception of those rare days when the Hostile React-O-Meter is spinning out of control, the Appreciation-O-Meter is spinning on daily. It should go without saying (if somehow a response fell through the electronic cracks): Muchas gracias. (Whaddaya want? I grew up in Miami.)
Finally, Iomega insanity:
stock and fundamentals do so poorly when its
did so well?
Joe Nocera delivers the best explanation in the current issue. A must read for all stock cultists.
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
email@example.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.