|Bid||153.02 x 800|
|Ask||155.49 x 1200|
|Day's range||153.68 - 155.53|
|52-week range||110.65 - 155.53|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.22|
|PE ratio (TTM)||26.05|
|Earnings date||27 Jan 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||2.94 (1.91%)|
|Ex-dividend date||12 Nov 2019|
|1y target est||165.19|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- There’s no clearer sign we’ve reached peak breakup in industrials than a pure-play transportation and logistics company blaming a “conglomerate discount” for its decision to consider cleaving itself into smaller pieces.XPO Logistics Inc. confirmed late Wednesday that it was exploring strategic alternatives including the possible sale or spinoff of one or more of its units. The review could see businesses that generate as much as 75% of XPO’s revenue jettisoned, with the European, North American and Asia-Pacific supply-chain operations and its European and North American transportation arms all potentially on the block, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News. That would leave XPO with its North American short-haul trucking business. XPO CEO Brad Jacobs told Bloomberg TV he’s exploring breakup options because the company is suffering from a “conglomerate discount” and “Wall Street understands pure plays.”Those are in-vogue words right now for industrial CEOs after an unprecedented wave of breakups. But the majority of those splits involved businesses that had little or only tenuous connections to each other – think the separation of Ingersoll-Rand Plc’s golf cart, tools and pumps business from its HVAC division, or United Technologies Corp.’s breakup of its aviation, climate and elevator businesses. Even controversial breakups such as Honeywell International Inc.’s spinoff of its Resideo Technologies Inc. thermostat and Garrett Motion Inc. turbochargers businesses, or Fortive Corp.’s plan to carve out its legacy industrial products, involved divisions that clearly didn’t fit. XPO is splitting the hairs much more finely. According to its most recent annual filing, the company gets 65% of its revenue from transportation and 35% from logistics.All the same, the market clearly does love this move. The stock climbed more than 10% on the news, with some of that likely reflecting a squeeze on short sellers who have a 13.1% interest in shares outstanding, according to Markit. Citigroup Inc. analyst Christian Wetherbee estimated a breakup could add as much as $66 a share to XPO’s equity value. And that’s likely appealing for investors looking for a story to bet on amid generally elevated valuations elsewhere in industrial stocks. But it’s hard not to view this breakup plan as a waving of the white flag for a company that was built via consolidation but has struggled of late to get deals done. XPO hasn’t announced a major acquisition since 2015, despite Jacobs’s exclamation in 2017 that he was ready to spend up to $8 billion. Last year, XPO said it would pivot away from M&A and plow billions into share buybacks instead. That helped drive XPO shares to a 40% gain in 2019, despite a recession in freight markets.With its debt levels rising and little in the way of real earnings growth, keeping the party going presented a challenge. Jacobs laid out a plan in August to add as much as $1 billion of profit by 2022 via cost cuts and new business. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Lee Klaskow, who noted at the time that such a push carried significant execution risk, says the breakup may be a sign that XPO had already squeezed all it could from the business as far as operating improvements and technology investments.The point of all of XPO’s M&A activity was to wring costs out of the combined operations and gain more negotiating clout with suppliers. Jacobs told Bloomberg TV that XPO’s combination of businesses had helped it add more than $2 billion of revenue organically. “We actually will lose some bargaining power as smaller companies with vendors because we won’t have the global procurement capability,” Jacobs said. But he thinks smaller, more agile businesses will be more appealing to both customers and shareholders.When a CEO is talking out of two sides of his mouth, it sure sounds like financial engineering.To contact the author of this story: Brooke Sutherland at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brooke Sutherland is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and industrial companies. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A would-be Boeing Co. takeover target has found its own dance partner.Woodward Inc., a maker of cockpit controls and engine-actuation systems, announced late Sunday that it’s merging with fellow aerospace supplier Hexcel Corp. The all-stock deal values Hexcel, a maker of lightweight composite materials, at about $7.5 billion including debt, with Woodward shareholders set to own about 55% of the combined company. While both suppliers have felt the sting of Boeing’s 737 Max grounding, executives said Sunday that the deal wasn’t a response to that crisis but rather an effort to position the combined company to better compete in the pursuit of more fuel-efficient engines.The effort to sell this merger as a play on climate change is interesting, and it shows the degree to which companies are taking seriously the increasing criticism of greenhouse-gas emissions. At the same time, it’s hard to extricate Boeing and its Max woes from the context of the deal. Just two years ago, it might have been Boeing making these kinds of arguments about the benefits of scale and combined research-and-development budgets.Boeing held preliminary talks with Woodward as it scouted targets for its push to build a services division with $50 billion in sales, according to reports in early 2018 from Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal. Woodward pushed back on those reports and said it wasn’t in discussions with Boeing on a possible sale. Boeing instead acquired KLX Inc.’s aerospace-distribution business for $4.25 billion and announced an auxiliary power unit joint venture with Safran SA. This added to home-grown efforts in avionics and cabin interiors and spooked investors in traditional suppliers of those parts and services.As recently as May, ex-Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg was talking about the prospect of additional deals in the vein of KLX – “a substantial, multi-billion dollar acquisition, but one that was complementary.” With the now 10-month Max grounding draining Boeing’s cash flow and mounting scrutiny over the company’s corporate culture and the integrity of its design process, it’s highly unlikely the company will be making acquisitions anytime soon, and entirely possible that its parts and services ambitions go no further.That creates an opportunity for its suppliers, and Woodward and Hexcel are right to seize the moment to gain more clout, particularly as it looks increasingly likely that Boeing will have to speed up development of a narrow-body successor to the 737. With new technologies requiring ever-higher levels of spending, it also just helps to have a bigger balance sheet. Woodward and Hexcel expect to spend $250 million on R&D in the first year after the deal closes, or about 5% of combined sales. That’s a roughly 15% step-up from estimated 2019 levels, notes Jefferies analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu. “Woodward and Hexcel touch nearly every aspect of aerospace design,” Hexcel CEO Nick Stanage, who will retain that role at the combined company, said on a conference call Sunday. The merged entity will be well-positioned to deliver “integrated systems that satisfy demands for aircraft aerodynamics, energy efficiency, improved safety and reduced emissions and noise.”The Woodward-Hexcel combination follows a United Technologies Corp. $100 billion buying spree over the past two years that saw the engine maker link up with avionics supplier Rockwell Collins Inc. and defense contractor Raytheon Co., as well as smaller tie-ups between Parker-Hannifin Corp. and Exotic Metals Forming Co. and TransDigm Group Inc. and Esterline Technologies Corp. Analysts expressed some caution on Hexcel and Woodward’s ambitious goal of generating $1 billion of cash flow in the first fiscal year after closing, and time will tell if the companies can follow through. But strategically, it’s a bold and smart move that should give the companies an upper hand in both the battle against climate change and any future battles with Boeing. To contact the author of this story: Brooke Sutherland at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brooke Sutherland is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and industrial companies. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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(Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. once set the agenda for entire industries by sharing its outlook for the coming year at elaborate December gatherings.The meetings, sometimes held at the iconic Saturday Night Live studio at Manhattan’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza, became a Wall Street ritual -- and often sparked a stock pop. Another titan of industry, United Technologies Corp., was known for renting out art museums for its confabs.Not anymore.The year-ahead events that once dotted the calendar in December are all but gone as companies opt to unveil annual forecasts in January, February or even March. The industrial sector is leading the way on delayed outlooks as a manufacturing slowdown and trade volatility make forecasting more difficult.“With the heightened stage of uncertainty with trade and the direction of the economy, this gives companies another two months not to have to calibrate and describe the coming year,” said Deane Dray, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. This year, for the first time, none of the 29 companies he covers will hold an outlook meeting.GE and United Technologies in recent years have both stopped holding events to spotlight their earnings forecasts, as have Honeywell International Inc., Johnson Controls International, WW Grainger Inc. and Dover Corp. This year, 3M Co. also called it off.Widening TrendAuto executives traditionally convened every January in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show, and CEOs held parallel events to give early glimpses of quarterly results and guidance for the new year. For 2020, the show moves to June, and no new meetings are set to fill the void. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. so far aren’t planning any investor briefings before fourth-quarter earnings in early February.The new approach goes beyond manufacturers. For years, Walmart Inc. held an annual investor meeting in October to give guidance for the upcoming fiscal year. But this year the retail giant decided to push out the event until after its fourth-quarter report in February.At GE, former Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch used the outlook events in December to generate enthusiasm and a late-year stock pop, said Nicholas Heymann, an analyst with William Blair & Co. “It was like a double Christmas rally,” he said.The success of the meetings prompted other industrial companies to follow suit, Heymann said.Reversing CourseGE is helping lead the way again -- in the opposite direction -- as it’s been roiled by management turmoil, market downturns and a deterioration in finances. Former CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who hosted multiple outlook meetings from the SNL studio, stepped down in 2017 and successor John Flannery was ousted a little over a year later.Current CEO Larry Culp, trying to lead a turnaround after an epic share rout, waited until March 2019 before offering this year’s guidance.“We are committed to enhancing transparency to help investors understand the opportunities for GE as well as the risks we face on our multiyear transformation, and we look forward to updating investors on our outlook in early 2020,” the company said in an email.While the shift away from year-end outlooks is partly influenced by market volatility, it also reflects a “herd mentality” by companies that don’t want to move alone, said RBC’s Dray. Delaying the forecast could be seen by investors as a red flag, he said, so many companies waited for their peers to move before they took the leap.“All you needed was a couple of the companies to decide they weren’t going to do it, and everyone said, ‘Then we’re not going to do it either,’” said Dray, who had long referred to the spate of December meetings as the “fifth earnings season.”3M, which cut its 2019 forecast multiple times this year amid market volatility, didn’t respond to a request for comment. United Technologies declined to comment.Shareholder PreferencesHoneywell, which unlike some peers has had a strong 2019, said the change was driven in part by the preferences of investors and analysts. While the company already provided an early look at next year’s trends, it will wait until next year to offer a more complete picture. “Over the last few years, we heard from our shareowners and analysts that they prefer fewer, more impactful meetings,” the company said by email. “As a result, beginning in 2018, we decided to combine our outlook call with our fourth quarter earnings call, which typically occurs in late January.”Only about a third of public companies provide specific financial and market outlooks, which can help reduce volatility in share prices and provide a check on analysts’ estimates, said Baruch Lev, an accounting professor at New York University‘s Stern School of Business who specializes in investor relations and financial reporting.While delaying guidance can reduce shareholders’ visibility into a company, it makes sense for management to wait for the new year to present an outlook, “when the past is clearer and guidance is most needed,” he said.“The sooner investors get information the better,” Lev said. “But in the big scheme of things, there are limits to what managers can say about the future.”\--With assistance from Matthew Boyle, Keith Naughton and David Welch.To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Clough in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Case at firstname.lastname@example.org, Susan WarrenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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