Rite Aid Corp. (NYSE: RAD) may have found some rekindled love out there. Reports that renewed takeover chatter has surfaced around Rite Aid have sent shares about 5% higher. The question that investors really should be considering here is not what price may be paid for Rite Aid, but who might actually buy it.
The prior speculation was after the CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (NASDAQ: WBA) said that the group was looking for a U.S. acquisition. A report from Yahoo! noted, “Traders are speculating Rite Aid is a better target compared to smaller mom and pop drugstores. And there still are a few of those.”
There may be a problem here in an acquirer actually pulling the trigger on an outright buyout of Rite Aid. The drugstore chain’s market cap remains rather low at $8 billion. Also, the company likely would love to deliver shareholders a big buyout. Still, there is more than meets the eye here.
Rite Aid is still considered to be leveraged by many standards, with total long-term debt maturities of $5.67 billion. The company also still is considered to be in a turnaround. That debt has come down in recent years to much more manageable levels. Keep in mind that the debt will rise again due to a buyout — Rite Aid recently announced the planned acquisition of Envision Pharmaceutical Services from the private investment firm TPG.
The planned acquisition is valued at $2 billion, 90% of which is cash and the remaining in Rite Aid stock (roughly 27.9 million shares). EnvisionRx is a national, full-service pharmacy benefit management company with projected 2015 calendar year revenues of approximately $5 billion and projected 2015 calendar year EBITDA in a range of $150 million to $160 million. The deal is expected to close by September of 2015 and is expected to be accretive to earnings after its first full year.
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When Rite Aid gave its fiscal 2015 outlook with the most recent earnings report, it said:
- EBITDA is expected to be between $1.275 billion and $1.305 billion.
- Net income
is expected to be between $315.0 million and $370.0 million, with income per diluted share between $0.31 and $0.37.
- Sales are expected to be between $26.25 billion and $26.4 billion.
- Same-store sales are expected to range from an increase of 3.75% to an increase of 4.25% over fiscal 2014.
- Capital expenditures are expected to be approximately $525 million.
So, what do analysts think? The consensus analyst price target for Rite Aid is now about $9.50. S&P Capital IQ recently gave it a $10 price target. This consensus target is far higher than the $7.88 level from Tuesday, and better than the $8.25 level after the merger-hope gains on Wednesday.
Options show a mixed picture, indicating that if a deal is announced it may be later rather than sooner. The $8.50 calls expiring this week were trading at only $0.05 on last look. Still, the $9.00 calls expiring in July of 2015 were valued at $0.60.
It is hard to imagine that Rite Aid would be held back or held in a much lower light as it would have been in the past. Still, one has to wonder how much the company could fetch in a buyout. A premium would have to be offered, and this was under $2 just under two years ago. Would a buyer think this is cheap just because it was a $40 stock back in the late 1990s?
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If a buyer was to surface, it seems hard to imagine that a buyer would pay more than $9.50 or $10.00 per share. At $9.50, Rite Aid is valued at almost 22 times expected February 2016 earnings and is valued at roughly 27 times trailing earnings.
Anything is possible in the realm of M&A. Still, one has to wonder if a would-be acquirer missed the boat on picking up Rite Aid when it was down and out rather than after it has staged a serious recovery. If a buyout does come, the market is not factoring in any massive premium purchase price — not yet at any rate.