Inside the Madness

Corporate Splits, Just as Easy as TomKat Divorce

From: James Cramer
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 1:35 PM
To: Nicole Urken
Subject: NEWS CORP

Let’s gather research on this breakup and review the performance of our other breakup plays

Nicole Urken, Mad Money Research Director

From: Nicole Urken
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 3:35 PM
To: James Cramer
Subject: Re: NEWS CORP

Research attached along with list for performance of recent breakups — Fortune Brands, Tyco, Sara Lee, Marathon, Conoco, ITT, Covidien, Abbott, McGraw Hill, Kraft

From: James Cramer
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 4:11 PM
To: Nicole Urken
Subject: Re: NEWS CORP

Let’s also look back at Viacom / CBS and Altria / Phillip Morris

Typically, when earnings season kicks off — as it did this past Monday with the report from Alcoa — analysis shifts marginally from top-down, macro-driven to a more bottoms-up (or company-centric) posture. However, this season we remain saddled with a multitude of global growth concerns … and so, macro continues to reign supreme. The parade launch of quarterly report cards was preceded by the dismal pre-earnings present we received from the U.S. Labor Department last Friday. And internationally, continued uncertainty in Europe is front and center, exacerbated by continued debate over whether or not China will face a hard landing.

Ultimately, earnings results are being processed through the lens of macro concerns — Alcoa’s solid report case-in-point. While the company is executing well, analysts continue to remain worried about its ability to execute given the difficult environment. Additionally, the guide-down from truck behemoth Cummins on Tuesday became confirmation for many of the macro fears that have been brewing, as discussed on "Mad Money."

Given the difficulty of “individual stock picking” amidst this macro-driven environment and turbulent earnings season, one of the themes we have been coming back to on "Mad Money" is companies breaking up, a value-creation trend that has become commonplace.

Front and center this summer has been News Corp, after Rupert Murdoch announced plans to split its print assets from itscable network, television and studio businesses. But this is icing on the cake of a long list of names we have highlighted on the show that have benefitted from surges upon their splitsville announcements.

Read on for Corporate Splits, Just as Easy as TomKat Divorce

Just this past Monday, Jose Almeida, the CEO of Covidien — the health-care company that makes everything from branded drugs to medical supplies and devices — joined "Mad Money" to talk about his his business drivers. The company announced in December of last year that it would be spinning off its pharma business (about 17 percent of sales), a transaction that should be completed by mid-2013. We got behind the stock at that time, and the name has climbed a nice 20 percent since then amidst a difficult market.

Why bring this up now? Because many management teams are conscious that in the current environment, markets aren’t giving their earnings much value at all. Instead, focus has shifted to longer-term strategies and unlocking value.

Ultimately, the logic of the Covidien breakup reflects the logic behind many of the big breakups we have seen of late. Let’s take a look:

First: Lack of synergies among the segments. Covidien’s medical device business and medical supplies business have completely different life cycles from the pharmaceuticals business — very different sales channels, customers, capital requirements and talent bases. Even the segments’ product innovation pipelines diverge — as getting a new medical device approved by the FDA takes much less time and is generally much less risky than getting a new drug approved. Separating will allow each business to focus on its respective specialty areas. Additionally, more pure focuses frees up capital for investment and/or acquisitions.

Second: Ability to forecast and predict for the future. In Covidien’s case, the pharma business has historically been much more volatile than medical devices, making it harder to forecast for the full company on a sales and earnings basis. Separating will allow for more precise future measurement, which is key from an investment perspective.

Third and very importantly: Lack of recognition of full value of the growth business. Covidien’s medical device business growth is diluted by pharma’s lower margin and more volatile positioning. Breaking up will allow the medical devices' separate company to achieve the higher multiple it deserves. The separation into growth and value correctly mimics what is going on in the marketplace, in that mutual funds are either value-oriented or growth-oriented. The same fund that is willing to pay nosebleed multiples for growth will not be interested in a slow growth value company.

Ticking down some recent “breakup” winners helps drive this value-enhancing point home.

Sara Lee, a breakup name we highlighted back in April, is benefitting from being able to focus on two distinct growth strategies within its respective core markets. The company announced in January 2011 that it would be separating its “MeatCo,” now known as Hillshire Brands, and its international-focused “CoffeeTeaCo,” now known as DE Master Blenders 1753 (quite a mouthful of a name!) that trades on the Dutch Exchange. Hillshire will be emphasizing cost cuts along with innovation, while the Coffee Tea company will focus on acquisitions. Also on the food front, Kraft is a name we highlighted in January based on its announcement last year that it would be splitting its faster-growing global snacks business (“SnackCo”) and its mature domestic grocery biz with slower growth but higher margins and yield (“GroceryCo”). The announcement of the split brought Irene Rosenfeld off the "Mad Money" Wall of Shame (where she had been placed due to underperformance) and free into celebration mode.

Beam is another breakup name we highlighted back in October and which has continued to surge, up over 30 percent since then. Of course, BEAM is the liquor company stub of Fortune Brands, which sold off its golf segment and spun off its Home & Security business under the symbol FBHS.

Post, a stock we aptly recommended on Valentine’s Day from its split off from Ralcorp, is another one that has benefitted from the splitsville phenomenon. Even within the competitive cereal category, Post’s ability to invest in the business as a standalone company versus being starved as a part of Ralcorp will be key to future growth — something investors recognize despite recent lackluster results.

McGraw-Hill, which we highlighted back on May 31 on the pullback in shares, is aiming to break out its financial segment from its education business. This announcement last September to break up into “growth” (financial) and “value” (education) has been a key driver of the stock and makes strategic sense due to the segments’ very different profiles.

What else? Abbott. We highlighted the back in November largely based on its decision to split its branded drug company from its diversified medical products company that sells nutritionals, medical devices, generic drugs and diagnostic products. Here, the pharma biz will have slow and steady growth with a healthy pipeline of new drugs to keep the earnings coming with a solid yield. On the other hand, the medical products biz will have double-digit earnings growth. Again, the split allows for a separate growth vehicle and dividend vehicle. Breaking up has never felt so good! Remember, one of the reasons Bristol-Myers has been among the most successful big pharma names is because of its December 2007 decision to shed its non-core businesses and focus on its pipeline and innovation, positioning it strategically versus peers. In 2011, Bristol outperformed peers (up 33 percent versus 19 percent) largely due to this increased strategic focus. Not to mention that other names that are not breaking up may want to consider it — take Johnson & Johnson, for example. Goldman Sachs had a great piece out highlighting the value that could be created if new CEO Alex Gorsky separated out the consumer, pharma and medical device businesses.

Split-ups in the energy space also highlight the merits of separating growth and value businesses. Remember, Marathon announced in January 2011 that it would spin off its downstream business to focus on the higher-growth energy and production company. With the announcement, the stock opened 10 percent higher. The stock continued its upward trajectory, rising 30 percent until the spin-off of Marathon Petroleum was completed in July of that year. ConocoPhillips announced in July 2011 it would separate into two standalone public companies, something we highlighted and celebrated that day in a segment. With the spinoff of the downstream business, Phillips 66, from the stub energy and production company , each division could focus on its respective areas.

And separations in the industrials space have also been quite common, given the diversified nature of the industry. Look no further than ITT, which announced its split-up in January 2011 and completed it in October of last year … or, of course, Tyco, which announced in September of last year it would split into ADT North America residential security, flow control and fire and security. Of course, this follows its 2007 split-up that included getting rid of Covidien. It is also worth mentioning that Nelson Peltz’s stake in Ingersoll-Rand has been aiding in keeping the stock afloat amidst a multitude of macro worries. While a split here doesn’t look imminent, if management can’t prove that the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts, we may see some action.

The bottom line: When it comes to companies thinking of calling it splits, it often isn’t about heartbreak but instead about value creation. Even in a market that is hard to “game” — especially with a turbulent earnings season — keep a look out for case-specific value enhancers that are divorced from macro drivers.

"Inside the Madness" appears twice a week at

Follow Nicole Urken on Twitter @nicoleurken

Call Cramer: 1-800-743-CNBC

Questions for Cramer?

Questions, comments, suggestions for the Mad Money website?