S&N shares have risen 7% since 23 December, when it was rumoured once again that S&N would be taken over by Stryker for about 13bn ($20bn). According to Bloomberg sources, S&Ns equity could be valued at almost 1,400p, for an implied 20% premium from its current level.
How realistic is such a price tag, though?
Firstly, S&N stock should trade below 900p to draw interest from investors, in my view.
Secondly, S&Nis a prized asset but its shares had already gained 30% of value before Christmas Eve on the back of takeover rumours rather than meaningful operational improvements in 2014.
S&Ns share price rallied (+25%) to 1,100p in less than eight weeks to 10 June 2014. In those days,Zimmerhadagreed to acquireBiometfor $13 billion, so investors decided to pay up for other takeover targets such as S&N in the sector.
Based on S&Ns enterprise value (EV) divided by revenue, and EV/adjusted operating cash flow, the shares already trade in line with their mid-cycle multiples and also trade at an implied 25% discount to peak-cycle multiples. In short, they are pretty expensive.
While consolidation for medical device makers is on the cards, its unlikely that any buyer would be willing to offer a meaningful premium to S&Ns current valuation of 1,165p although, admittedly, S&N could be broken up, while certain assets could be flipped to private-equity firms at a marked-up price.
Another issue is that a tax-inversion deal isnt likely to happen any time soon, although a smaller number of bigger players are competing in a sector whereMedtronicandJohnson & Johnsonmay also decide to grow their asset base inorganically and, equally important, could deploy lots of cash held abroad.
S&N Is Not Cheap
A full bid at 1,400p a share would value S&N at almost 13bn, for an implied forward adjusted operating cash flow multiple of about 11x which seems a rich valuation for a business whose cost-cutting potential is more attractive than its organic growth prospects at this point in the business cycle.
S&N stock is currently valued at a high multiple of 29x forward earnings, and trades 5% above the average price target from brokers, which are bullish, of course, about M&A prospects in a sector where rising costs point to more deal-making to preserve operating margins. Both S&N and larger players must also preserve market share ashospital consolidation in the US leads to lower budgets, which in turn puts pressure on suppliers profits.
Yet do you recall what happened to the value of Shire when merger talks withAbbViecollapsedin October 2014? I would bet on a similar, painful outcome for S&N shareholders this year
S&N, Shire, GlaxoSmithKlineand AstraZenecado not top my wish list right now, but I strongly recommend you learn more about alternatives that do not price in any takeover premium and have the greater resources to ride out tough economies, based on fundamentals, as our analysts point out inareportthat is FREE for a limited amount of time!
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