Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda, Gone Long Energy

In light of Gustav's increasing strength and imminent re-destruction of Louisiana coastline, I wish I would have gone long energy before the close on Friday.

I'd be absolutely shocked if oil and natural gas prices don't rocket upward by at least 5% during Asian trading tonight. Gustav has shut down the majority of energy production in the Gulf and a significant portion of refining capability on land.

Refining capability had been underutilized during the previous weeks leading up to the storm, so refineries not affected by the storm should be able to maximize production (if they want to) to compensate for shut-downs. The US Department of Energy plans to release oil from reserves if it is deemed necessary; so there should be no lines at the pumps next week.

My instincts say that futures will jump and oil company equity will drop Monday, so long both USO and DUG would have been a good trade. Higher prices don't help companies who are shutting down production and are enduring damage to their rigs, while the Saudis will reap higher prices for the oil they are pumping.

Thankfully I don't do much driving while here at school, but gas prices should surely be higher in the coming weeks and months, even if only due to the fear factor. The extent of Gustav's disruption and damage waits to be seen. I sympathize for lives and property in the path of the storm, and hope that the early evacuations minimize damage.

A Crucial Side Note: Multiple democratic pundits, from position-holders to the fat, shameless Michael Moore, have called Hurricane Gustav a "blessing from God." Below are two links. Please note that these are thoughts produced by the intellectual kin of Barack Obama when you don't vote for him this November. How heartless must a person be to claim that the destruction of homes and property and loss of life can be a positive event?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Backing up the Take-Two Truck

I closed my last post, which was about Take-Two and Electronic Arts entering into a confidentiality agreement, with a cautious sentiment. I said that I was planning on maintaining my disclosed position, TTWO Sept $27.5 and $30 calls, or selling contracts as premiums rose.

There was little spike in the stock price or options premium, so I decided to load up on more calls. TTWO has now set September 4th as the date of their earnings report and conference call for the quarter ended July 31st.

TTWO made $1.52 per share in during the quarter ended in April; much of that money was made during the few days that Grand Theft Auto IV was sold during the end of that quarter. However, sales continued to be strong during this quarter and TTWO's results should reflect this. The consensus estimate for this quarter is only $.55/share, which could easily be beaten; in fact, TTWO has beaten estimates handily each of the past four quarters. Full-year predicictions (currently $1.85) also may be revised upward; so far this year, TTWO has tallied -$.41 and $1.52, for a total of +$1.11. The estimes for the next two quarters, $.55 and $.19 could be easily crushed. TTWO is releasing GTA IV in Japan in early October and on the PC in November (which falls under the next fiscal year), so sales should continue to trickle down to TTWO's bottom line.

As long as TTWO comes in at least in-line this quarter, ERTS will have to re-bid at a much higher price or admit that TTWO is too expensive for them. If ERTS does make the $1.52/share that they're expecting to tally this year, the stock trades at about a 32 P/E. ERTS's asking price of $26/share for TTWO assigns a 14 P/E. Activision-Blizzard trades at a P/E in the high 20's. ERTS cannot expect TTWO to sell out at such a discount to itself and the industry.

So I am indeed speculating as this tango proceeds. If TTWO's management has presented its material to ERTS's board already, they could forseeably make an offer before earnings to minimize the influence of the investor community's reaction on a takeover price. If TTWO reports in-line or surprises positively, shares should jump for many reasons - TTWO's shares are deeply undervalued compared to its competitors, and investors like me may think that ERTS will pony up more for the company.

Shares currently seem to be hugging the $25 level, but I'd be surprised if they stayed there for long. It's time for ERTS to sack up and make a reasonable bid, or leave TTWO alone. The lead-lined takeover cloud capped TTWO's share price as it released the best-selling media release of all time and subsequently reported unbelievable earnings. It's time for the sun to shine on TTWO.

Disclosure: Long TTWO Sept. $27.5 and $30 calls.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Electronic Arts Wining and Dining Take-Two

According to a Reuters press release after-hours, Electronic Arts (ERTS) and Take-Two (TTWO) have now entered into confidential discussions regarding a potential merger.

This is the latest development in a soap-opera-like courtship that has disappointed TTWO investors as the share price has been stagnant since ERTS's first offer of $26 this spring. ERTS extended the offer multiple times throughout the summer. ERTS withdrew the offer earlier this month, but agreed to view a presentation of non-public material by TTWO's executives.

This disclosure of privacy should stoke investor speculation that a new offer may be in the works. Whether an offer is publicly made, however, remains to be seen. Electronic Arts seemed set on acquiring TTWO at $26, but many investors thought that the bid was a shrewed tactic to cap TTWO's share price as it released Grand Theft Auto IV, the biggest game release ever. But Electronic Arts shareholders may be disappointed by a higher bid, as each dollar increases the takeover price by about $75 million. A price in the $30s, which would represent a reasonable premium in light of GTA's success and TTWO's earnings potential, would represent a bid increase of hundreds of millions of dollars.

I may sell some of the options, likely the 30s, if TTWO share prices (or options premiums) pop tomorrow at the open. After speculating twice on this merger, I'm willing to take profits when I can (hopefully) get them. TTWO didn't move much after hours, so maybe longs aren't enthused by this hype anymore. However, TTWO and ERTS will probably clear the air with a new bid or a conclusive "not-interested" statement fairly soon.

I held TTWO calls that expired (worthless) at the end of August, and did buy September calls at both the 27.5 and 30 strike.

Search StudentStocks or the web. Thanks for your support!