November 20, 2012 Comments

I mentioned a couple of times that the Hudson’s Bay IPO looked to be proceeding quite slowly. It has finally closed. They sold I understand $365 million of shares rather than the hoped for $400 million. And the price at I believe $17.50 is lower than hoped. (hyped?)

Most larger share issues in Canada are “bought deals” whereby the investment banks basically gurantee that they will sell all the shares. Whatever they don’t see they buy. Many of these sell out in minutes due to marketing and/or investor interest. Hudson’s Bay was a “marketed deal” whereby the investments banks just sell what they can. It seems to me that Hudson’s Bay was open for close to two weeks. It appears that they had to flog this hard to get it sold. Much of apparently going to American buyers. Canadians, probably unimpressed with the stores were not much interested. Especially with Target coming in.

I only mention Hudson’s Bay as a sort of curiosity. I have not analysed it at all. I just have no interest in it. The company was very clever in selling off its Zellers leases for $1.8 billion to Target. It’s a bit strange that so soon after that they want to raise money. They had years without much competition to make money and mostly did not make that much. Now with Target coming in they ask you and I to buy it. No thanks.

I noticed the big ($8.8 billion!!!) write-down at Hewlett Packard. To put that in context the company has a total equity market value of $23 billion. So this is a HUGE writedown. Again, this is just a curiosity, I have no knowledge of HP’s value as an investment. But I will say it seems to take CEO’s with huge inflated salaries to screw up like this. Apparently they just completely stupidly over paid for a huge acquisition even after rumors of accounting problems had already surfaced. Absolutely stunning incompetence. Years ago the paid big dollars to acquire Compague Computers (or however you spell that). Another complete disaster, as I recall. A while ago they apparently had a good CEO but then fired him because he had affair with a secretary (I forget why that was such a big deal). I remember Kevin O’leary saying the Board should all be fired and I think he was right. Apparently there was another even huger write-down in August related to the acquisition of Electronic Data Systems. Unbelievable that CEOs get paid millions for losing billions and then we have to hear crap about having to pay big dollars for talented CEOs. The latest occupant of the CEO chair is Meg Whitman. I believe she largely built up eBay so definitely has some credentials. But it is sad that HP could not find talent in their own ranks.

This HP writedown is so big it will likely even make a noticeable little dent in the S&P 500 earnings figure.