Bare Escentuals purchase may portend something bigger
Acquisition by Shiseido could mean the Japanese are gearing up for more.
There are these companies, you see them, you hit them up, they are unsponsored, unloved, uncared about, after coming public in another time with a huge splash. Companies like Bare Escentuals (BARE).
Here's a red-hot Goldman Sachs deal from four years ago that literally hit a revenue and earnings-per-share wall not long after coming public that made it a pretty scorned affair.
I remember thinking, "Ha, mineral-based cosmetics, that fooled a lot of people when it reported its first really flat quarter. Probably another Revlon (REV)."
For a while there, Bare Escentuals would be asked about on "Mad Money's" Lightning Round, because, well, the stuff is everywhere in the mall. But then it just kind of died, a stock that doesn't get mentioned about much, if at all anymore.
Shiseido, the huge Japanese cosmetics company, pulled the trigger on Bare Escentuals, paying about 50% more than what you owned Thursday. Shiseido is paying $1.7 billion, or $18.20 a share, a premium of 43% over Bare Escentuals' close Thursday of $12.74. The acquisition moves Shiseido from No. 6 to the No. 4 cosmetics company.
More important, this acquisition is what happens to stocks that are forgotten about that still have great brands but subpar growth: Someone finds them.
In this case, the finder, a Japanese company, might be one-off. But think of the possibilities. There are so many Japanese companies that have little growth and great balance sheets. In the late 1980s they came here and bought a ton of companies because their own markets were on fire.
Then they just went away.
One deal does not a trend make. But I think the Japanese have always had a groupthink philosophy. I do not believe this is out of the blue.
It is a meaningfully paid-up transaction that could signify something bigger, and not just to the people who were unlucky enough to own BARE for the last three years ... until this morning.
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John Stumpf acknowledges that growth has been slow, but he says he's still optimistic.
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