Cramer: A smart spinoff for speculation

It seems to Jim Cramer that executives are really starting to embrace the concept of a spinoff. Last year, there were 38 spinoffs, and dozens more are in the pipeline for 2016.

"I am a huge backer of this break-up strategy, in part because the stock market prefers smaller, easy-to-understand, pure-play type companies over big, complicated conglomerates," the "Mad Money" host said.

Cramer decided to focus on the value of one particular spinoff after reading piece of research from Goldman Sachs' chief U.S. equity strategist, David Kostin, who found that spinoffs tend to outperform the averages.

CST Brands is a chain of convenience stores and gas stations that was spun off by Valero in 2013. The idea behind it was that Valero could focus on its core refinery business, while CST could focus on the retail side.





Corner Store CST Brands
Source: Corner Store

Since the spinoff, Valero has soared higher, though much of the gains pertain to the large decline in oil process, which tends to help refiners since oil is an input cost for them.

At the time of the spinoff, CST was the No. 2 independent gas station and convenience store play in North America with 1,032 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, 60 percent of CST's locations were owned instead of leased, making this a real estate play on top of the convenience store core.

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CST Brands was on a roll when it first spun off. The company began making small, tuck-in acquisitions to expand its footprint, and the stock caught fire.

However, declining oil prices were a mixed blessing for CST. The company gets more than half its business from Texas. So, with the Texas economy hurting from the energy collapse, that offset the gains it was receiving from cheaper gasoline.

When it reported in May 2015, the stock was pounded after CST missed Wall Street's top and bottom line estimates. And even though the shares began to rebound later in the year, it wasn't enough for many investors.

At the beginning of 2016, CST was then slammed with the rest of the market. The company has now grown to 1,880 locations. More important, management announced it was trying to figure out a way to monetize its real estate holdings to use the money and build more stores.

But even that couldn't get the stock going. Finally, in early March, management announced it was pursuing strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value.

"My view? With CST Brands trading at just 17 times next year's earnings estimates, the stock is not exactly what you would call cheap, but I am willing to give it my blessing for speculation," Cramer said.

Both the monetization of real estate and the strategic review could be positive catalysts for CST, and Cramer doesn't think it pays to wait around for the stock to turn around. At that point it will be obvious to everyone, and you will be too late.

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