Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Paperstand (AMZN, AV, VOD, VSE)

The WSJ reports that Amazon.com (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos said Tue the co will increase its investment in China, which he said is the co's fastest-growing mkt, but where Amazon has been lagging its chief local competitor. On his first trip to China since Amazon bought Chinese Internet co Joyo.com in ‘04, Mr. Bezos unveiled a new name for the Chinese site and several other new features execs said are aimed at attracting more customers, including free shipping. He said that Amazon intends to pour more capital into its China operations, b/c of the opportunity its offers for rapid growth, although he declined to specify any amounts for new investment. Joyo "is our fastest growing business anywhere in the world," Mr. Bezos told reporters, adding later "and not by a little bit." "This business is remarkable, and it's growing so rapidly that it deserves even increased levels of investment."

According to the WSJ, Silver Lake and TPG Capital last night agreed to purchase Avaya (AV) for about $8.2bn. The deal is expected to close in the fall. The buyers will pay $17.50 a share for the co.

“Heard on the Street” column reports that some observers are whispering about whether Vodafone (VOD) could be the next target. Vodafone may be worth more in parts than it is whole, making it a prime candidate for investors agitating for a breakup. The co has been harangued by shareholders recently and has several large holdings that look tempting to other buyers, making Vodafone attractive to activist-type investors. Among the most valuable pieces: its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless. The biggest obstacle to pushing for change at the company is its sheer size. Some analysts think Vodafone could have a higher valuation if sold or split up. Vodafone's shares currently trade at about 6x EBITDA for the FY ended Mar’07. But recent sales of some telecom co’s have fetched as much as 9x.

Barron’s Online “Insider Scoop” section reports that VeraSun (VSE) director Steven Kirby bought nearly $608K worth of stock on May 31. Kirby's purchase was the largest insider buy in nearly a year. Kirby was joined last week by 2 other execs, CFO Danny Herron and Senior VP for Logistics Barry Schaps. Herron bought 1,500 shares, while Schaps bought 2K shares. Kirby now owns 1.6m shares in VeraSun, or 2.1%. Not every VeraSun exec was in a buying mood last week, however. William Honnef, Senior VP for sales and marketing, sold 45K shares, Senior VP and General Counsel John Schweitzer exercised 5K options and then sold the shares. Additionally, Matthew Janes, VP for technology, exercised 16K options and then sold the shares. Despite the stock slide and Kirby's bullishness, Jonathan Moreland, of InsiderInsights.com, says overall insider sentiment remains negative. Moreland says Kirby's buy, coupled with other insider purchases last week are "insignificant compared to sales occurring at the same time." Any near-term positive movement in the stock might also be delayed, Moreland says. "Insiders tend to be early in these crash-and-buy situations."

No comments: