Cramer: What do change agents do?
Jim Cramer | email@example.com
But here's the problem: They are better as catalysts where the companies have underperformed, even as they are strong franchises. These classic, sleepy companies, if woken up, would do much better. Or these catalysts have been best at putting companies into play so they ultimately get bids.
So let's consider those opportunities. First, Yahoo was once a great company. But it has fallen behind drastically and it isn't clear if Dan Loeb, the Third Point agitator, can make something happen. That's because the company's stock price is humongous and the bidders are few and far between.
Yes, I am sure the breakup value is worth more than the whole, but not MUCH more, and that's what's needed here to make it worth investing in. It is not worth MUCH more because of problems in the core business. Yahoo's been getting its butt kicked by everyone on the Web and loses value by the day.
That said, as long as there is NO NEW CEO with anything but a temporary credential, a deal can happen. I would say two points up and not much down. That's OK in this environment. I will not bet against Dan Loeb in that he is too smart NOT to bring out value. I just don't know how much value there is.
But the balance sheet is a good one, the assets are divisible and the brand is still worth something. Plus, who would have thought that AOL had so much intellectual property? Who knows how much Yahoo has--certainly not the ousted team.
Chesapeake is much harder. Here's a company with fabulous assets but a balance sheet that's horrendous. The core of this business is natural gas, and while we know there are foreign bidders for natural gas, we know that they might believe that Chesapeake might default on its obligations if left alone.
While I do not believe this is the case, I keep hearing that Chesapeake reminds people of Enron--doing too many things that are not understandable and with too many hidden problems. The opaque nature of Chesapeake leaves much to be desired.
Judging by the filings, it is hard to figure out how Chesapeake can sell assets and not run afoul of its own covenants. I have no doubt that Icahn would like to put the whole company in play, and I have to believe there would be willing foreign buyers.
In fact, the biggest reservation I have is if the Chinese buy the company, because if they could, it might actually be a buy. Otherwise, I see the assets in decline. I don't expect a bottom in natural gas, and I would rather pass on owning this one.
Disclosures: Cramer's charitable trust has no positions in the stocks mentioned.