Last night’s guessing game at Hamptons dinner parties was what Daniel Loeb, Nelson Peltz and Richard McGuire see in Sotheby’s stalk considering all three have amassed significant stakes during a period where the stock price has climbed to a 52-week high even in light of a price-to-earnings ration over 30 and two missed quarters. With Christie’s radically revamping itself under private ownership, could the goal here be to find a private buyer?
The stock site Value Walk quotes a Stifel Nicholas research note on one potential strategy for unlocking value at Sotheby’s. The firm has $700m in cash on hand with $500m in cheap long-term debt and a lot of talk about a real estate transaction for the York Ave. headquarters:
Actually shareholders, management, customers, and employees might all be served best by a private Sothebys (NYSE:BID) – and we think this would have many intriguing characteristics as a trophy asset. We believe market value is potentially greater than book value for the York Ave. office given recent NYC property sales, and strategic buyers in the area that could help drive up the price offered.
We also note moving from 500k square feet to “several hundred thousand” indicates that BID may be intending to move storage and back-office functions to a less expensive location. We see greater visibility and closer access to a major commuter hub versus their current location on the Upper East Side. Additionally, the London space on Bond Street may have even more of an opportunity.