When It's FMC, Breaking Up Isn't Hard to Do

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Sometimes you have to search to find rewarding investment themes. I found them in FMC Corp. (FMC).

It's a diversified chemical firm serving agricultural, industrial, environmental and consumer markets globally for more than a century with innovative solutions, applications and products. Its shares are up 3.7% for the year to date as of the Thursday close of $78.24.

FMC had annual sales of approximately $3.9 billion in 2013 and I expect that number to leap by more than 13% to $14.4 billion by the end of 2014. The company's market cap is about $10.4 billion and trades an average 1.1 million shares daily. It employs approximately 5,600 people throughout the world and operates its businesses in three segments: FMC Agricultural Solutions, FMC Health and Nutrition and FMC Minerals.

Those three segments are the big investment reward that awaits savvy investors. The company announced last month it plans to separate into two independent public companies: "New FMC," which will be comprised of FMC's Agricultural Solutions and Health and Nutrition segments and "FMC Minerals," which will be comprised of FMC's current Minerals segment.

The company expects the separation, which remains subject to final board approval and other customary conditions, will take the form of a tax-free distribution of shares to existing FMC shareholders. FMC expects to complete the separation in early 2015, with each company expected to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Before the March 10 announcement, shares of FMC were on a downward-sloping course that hit a nadir of $67.31 on Feb 6. As the chart below illustrates, the news of the split culminated in a 25% rally to a zenith of $83.94. Since then shares have cooled to a more attractive level.


FMC Chart
FMC
data by YCharts


The decision to break up the company is a stroke of competitive genius, allowing management of each company to pursue its own profitable strategy.

From my vantage point, this will give each company greater focus on the success factors that are most important to its business and allow the incorporation of a capital structure that is appropriate to its unique strengths and business profile.

The New FMC, combining FMC Agricultural Solutions and FMC Health and Nutrition segments, will be a technology-based and customer-driven company with deep application expertise. Based on the midpoint of the company's February 2014 outlook, combined revenue and earnings for the Agricultural Solutions and Health and Nutrition segments are expected to be approximately $3.35 billion, up 16% over 2013, and $815 million, up 15% over 2013, respectively.

The payoff for investors, according to Yahoo! Finance, is that analysts still give FMC an average one-year price target of $88.33, about 13% above the current share price. Few analysts recognize the breakup of FMC may lift that target price by over 20%.

Jim Cramer recently said the company's pending breakup could add 22% to the value of its shares. I'm more optimistic and see a 25% upside potential. FMC pays an annual dividend of 60 cents per share representing only a 25% payout ratio. I anticipate the possibility of it being increased when the company announces its first-quarter earnings on May 6.

There's one thing better than owning one "cash cow" and that's owning two! FMC's prescient plan to split into two profitable companies will reward patient shareholders with a tax-free distribution of shares of the New FMC, so start accumulating the stock before Wall Street catches on.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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Marc Courtenay is the founder and owner of Advanced Investor Technologies, LLC, as well as the publisher and editor of www.ChecktheMarkets.com.

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