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May 23, 2013

Security is diversion in $20 bln-plus Sprint fight

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own.)

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, May 23 (Reuters Breakingviews) – SoftBank (9984.T: Quote, Profile, Research)
and Dish Network (DISH.O: Quote, Profile, Research) have pulled out the stops in their $20
billion-plus battle to control Sprint Nextel (S.N: Quote, Profile, Research). But SoftBank
has the edge. Dish’s claim that Japanese ownership of the U.S.
cellphone operator is a risk to national security is half-baked
and shows boss Charlie Ergen’s desperation.

May 21, 2013

Breakingviews:Property investors take pitiful governance cake

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own.) (Refiles to widen distribution.)

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, May 21 (Reuters Breakingviews) – A segment of the
U.S. property sector takes the pitiful governance cake. A
shareholder revolt has been audaciously ignored at two real
estate investment trusts with a combined market value of nearly
$7 billion and their family-run manager. The situation
represents only the latest example of the wretched practices
plaguing the sector.

May 16, 2013

Breakingviews-Cisco stock luxuriates in low expectations

(The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions
expressed are his own.)

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK, May 16 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Cisco Systems’
(CSCO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) stock evidently benefits from the luxury of low
expectations. The U.S. networking giant’s quarter to April was
only mediocre. But John Chambers, the chief executive, said on
Wednesday evening that the economic outlook is improving
slightly, margins aren’t shrinking and sales are rising as
expected. The stock then rocketed more than 10 percent. At that
rate, truly good news could make the CEO look a hero.

May 15, 2013
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Speech-tech firm’s M&A machine could go in reverse

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By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Over the past decade, Nuance Communications has been on a frenetic shopping spree. The $6 billion firm now encompasses businesses ranging from medical transcription to powering Siri on the iPhone. But Nuance, the M&A machine, is sputtering. Margins are falling, the stock hasn’t advanced in five years, and debt is accumulating. Moreover, Carl Icahn recently upped his stake in the company from 9 percent to 11 percent in what could signal an end to acquisitions – even the start of a breakup.

May 6, 2013
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BMC deal shows how activist playbook brings profit

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Elliott Management has once again pushed a technology firm into selling itself. This time BMC Software is going for $6.9 billion to a private equity group led by Bain Capital and Golden Gate Capital. At $46.25 a share, the 2 percent headline premium over Friday’s closing price may seem tiny. But that’s more than a 30 percent return for Elliott, adding to its record of similar successes at Novell, Packeteer and Blue Coat.

May 3, 2013
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PepsiCo resistance against activists looks futile

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By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A PepsiCo breakup looks like a matter of time. Investors with a hankering for corporate restructurings have taken stakes in the $128 billion snacks and drinks conglomerate. Splitting the two operations in some way would be straight out of their standard playbook. Though the company has opposed such efforts in the past, the success of Nelson Peltz at Cadbury and his interest in another food biggie, Mondelez, may be hard to resist.

Apr 24, 2013

Breakingviews – $50 billion buyback hike one sign of Apple middle age

By Robert Cyran

NEW YORK (Reuters Breakingviews) – Apple’s (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) $50 billion increase in its share buyback program is a sign it is hitting middle age. The company is slowing down a bit. But the $380 billion Apple still has plenty of spring in its step. And its absurd level of financial comfort means it can give much more back to investors.

Apple’s 11 percent revenue growth in the quarter to March from a year earlier was well short of its previous breakneck pace. And the company’s gross margin slipped to 37.5 percent and may fall further – enviable for most companies, but not up to Apple’s innovative best. The company blamed factors ranging from increased sales of lower-margin iPads to changes in service policies in China.

Apr 23, 2013
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Will Netflix star in “The Easter Island Effect”?

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Will Netflix have a starring role in “The Easter Island Effect”? The Internet video service seems to be using up resources faster than it can produce them. New series like “House of Cards” lure customers, at a cost. Netflix cash flow remains negative and obligations are rising. It’s starting to evoke the centuries-old Polynesian society that eventually exhausted its means of sustenance.

Apr 22, 2013
via Breakingviews

Mafia and Cyprus may release IPO animal spirits

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By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The mafia and Cyprus could trigger a full release of animal spirits. High debt didn’t deter buyers from this month’s Intelsat and SeaWorld initial public offerings. Now comes Qiwi, a Cyprus-domiciled, Russian payment system warning about the potential effects of organized crime, the island’s bailout, money laundering and a dual-class share structure. It puts investor appetite to the ultimate test.

Apr 18, 2013
via Breakingviews

Hostile drug deal gets too clever for its own good

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By Robert Cyran
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Royalty Pharma is suffering from some self-inflicted wounds in its hostile pursuit of Elan. The finance firm tried to use the drug maker’s $1 billion stock buyback to swoop up the entire company. But it devised a puzzlingly complex tender offer that was too clever for its own good. The scheme ended up replacing a long-term shareholder with other investors far more likely to demand a chunkier premium.

    • About Robert

      "Robert Cyran, U.S. tech columnist, joined Breakingviews in London in 2003 and moved four years later to New York, where he continues to cover global technology, pharmaceuticals and special situations. Robert began his career at Forbes magazine, where he assisted in the start-up of the international version of the magazine. Before working at Breakingviews he worked as a market researcher and reporter covering the pharmaceutical industry. Robert has a Masters degree in economics from Birmingham University and an undergraduate degree from George Washington University."
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