From another rumor that game-maker Zynga might have a buyer, to a Trian bid for Papa John’s, to Bill Ackman’s stake in Starbucks, deals and rumors of them abound. Suppose it’s your company, investor-relations professionals. How do you add value for your executives?
These situations are often chess games. Here’s an example, since much of the drama is now old news. When Disney battled Comcast for 21st Century Fox and before bids were hiked, patterns of deal arbitrage signaled starkly that a war would ensue.
One could say it’s logical that the price would rise, and so it was. But there is no certitude like the power of data – patterns of long bets, covered bets. They are stark in the market if one knows how to measure the data (which we do).
After Disney won the bidding war, data then showed high expectation Comcast would win Sky Broadcasting, the European unit partly owned by Disney. Data then signaled a sudden turn toward accelerated bidding – before the UK Takeover Panel announced that a speeded process would indeed follow.
Think about the data-powered value investor-relations, so armed, delivers to those making important decisions.
I’ll give you more examples. Two years ago, longtime client Energy Transfer tried a combination with The Williams Companies that would have created an energy giant. The deal-arbitrage data were woeful. Active money stopped buying. Massive short bets formed and never wavered. Ultimately, the firms called off the effort.
A later plan to consolidate Sunoco, an Energy Transfer unit, presented challenges. It would cut cash distributions by roughly a quarter. Would holders support it?
Data patterns were opposite what we’d seen in the Williams deal – strong, long bets, solid Active investment. We were confident shareholders would approve. And they did.
The company is now consolidating its Master Limited Partnership into the general partner. We highlighted big positive bets at September options expirations. A week later, both Glass Lewis and ISS came out in favor of the transaction.
Data are every bit as powerful an IR tool as telling the story. Maybe more so, because we have a mathematical market today riven with behaviors that arbitrage events and track benchmarks passively, motivations fueled by mathematical probabilities and balances more than story.
Oh, did I mention? We have never yet missed an Activist in the data. We’ve always warned early. And we’ve seen a bunch of them. We know legacy market intelligence struggles to find them because, as we wrote last week, routinely 98% of trading volume fails to manifest in settlement data.
In one instance years ago, Carl Icahn took a major stake in a pharmaceutical company that had two high-paid surveillance providers watching. Neither saw it. Suddenly, Icahn filed with over 8 million shares – accumulated without buying a single share (he used European-style puts.).
We showed the company Market Structure Analytics and the stark patterns of derivatives. They hired us. Subsequently, our data showed investors were betting against Icahn. His proxy bid to put a slate of directors on the board failed. We then tracked his gradual withdrawal in the data. Not through shares owned but in patterns of behavior (nearly realtime, at T+1).
Lips can lie. Data those behind it believe are hidden from view – but which shine like light through night-vision goggles for us – is truth. We have an unfolding situation now where what hedge funds are doing and saying are diametrically opposite. That’s a negotiating tactic. Since management knows, they have the stronger hand.
That’s IR in the age of Big Data. And it’s fun to boot! Seeing patterns of behavior and reporting it to executives and board directors puts IR in the right-hand advisory seat. Right where it belongs in this era of fast machines and market reavers.
If you want a confidential analytics assessment of what’s behind your price and volume (which are not metrics but consequences of behaviors), let us know.