Our posts on ValueVision Media Inc. (VVTV) attract more attention than any other posts on this site, though we exited the position last year. We initially liked VVTV because it looked like a cheap net net with other potentially valuable assets. That was a mistake. VVTV has huge contractual obligations relative to its current assets.* Those contractual obligations are the difference between VVTV being a cheap net net and having no value in liquidation. Let us repeat that: VVTV has no value in liquidation. VVTV’s stockholders face an absolute loss of capital if VVTV fails. In other words, VVTV’s downside is 100%. We exited on that basis. Really, we should never have opened the position.
VVTV’s best chance to salvage some value for its stockholders lay in the auction process it was conducting. The auction process seems to have been reasonably extensive (the financial advisor contacted 137 parties and executed confidentiality agreements with 39 of them). It was also unsuccessful:
ShopNBC (Nasdaq: VVTV), the premium lifestyle brand in electronic retailing, today announced that the Special Committee of independent members of its Board of Directors has concluded its comprehensive review of strategic alternatives commenced on September 10, 2008, with the assistance of its independent financial advisor, Piper Jaffray & Co.
The Special Committee and Piper Jaffray broadly solicited expressions of interest in a purchase of or strategic relationship with the company and also evaluated several other strategic alternatives, including a distribution to shareholders through a sale of assets and liquidation of the company. While a number of parties engaged in the process and conducted due diligence, the Special Committee did not receive any final bids from any of the parties involved. In addition, the Special Committee concluded that a liquidation of the company would not likely result in any distribution to the company’s shareholders. Therefore, at the recommendation of the Special Committee, the full Board of Directors determined to continue and subsequently to conclude the strategic alternatives review process. As outlined in the accompanying press release, the company plans to continue its implementation of new corporate strategies designed to grow its EBITDA levels, increase revenues and decrease expenses.
Since September 10, 2008, Piper Jaffray contacted a total of 137 parties and executed confidentiality agreements with 39 of them. Initial indications of interest were received from 13 parties and, based on the credibility of their financing plans, four parties were invited to the second round of the sale process, which included in-depth discussions and meetings with management. Of the four, two were strategic parties and two were financial sponsors. Additionally, each of the four parties had access to an extensive electronic data room and the opportunity to conduct a thorough due diligence process.
The company encountered a number of external and internal issues that adversely affected the process, including current market conditions and economic circumstances, difficult retail and credit environments, the company’s recent operating performance and cost structure, uncertainty surrounding the status of the possible redemption of the Series A Redeemable Convertible Preferred Stock held by GE, and the early stage of the company’s cable and satellite distribution negotiations.
The Special Committee stated that after the conclusion of this extensive process, no final bids were received. “Over the last few months, we thoroughly explored a wide range of strategic alternatives and held extensive discussions with a number of interested parties,” commented George Vandeman, Chairman of the Special Committee and member of ShopNBC’s Board of Directors. “While we hoped to find a viable transaction through these discussions, no final bids were received. As a result, the Special Committee concluded and recommended to the Board that the best option at this time is to continue to operate the company as an independent entity.”
Notwithstanding the formal termination of the strategic alternatives process, the Special Committee and Board remain committed to maximizing shareholder value and will pursue any reasonable alternatives that present themselves.
The failure of the company to sell was obviously disappointing for those holding on for the conclusion of the auction process: the stock crashed from $0.52 to $0.28 on the day of the announcement and now trades at $0.26. There are now no other positive catalysts for the company in the near term. Those holding on for a turnaround in this particular situation might wish to consider two points:
- A position in VVTV carries the risk of a 100% loss of capital. From the press release: “The Special Committee concluded that a liquidation of the company would not likely result in any distribution to the company’s shareholders.”
- Of the four parties invited to the second round of the sale process, which included in-depth discussions and meetings with management, access to an extensive electronic data room and the opportunity to conduct a thorough due diligence process, none submitted a final bid.
*The obvious question is how we missed the contractual obligations. The answer’s not a particularly good one, but here it is: It was a rookie blunder. When we started applying Graham’s formula, we were applying it too narrowly and we missed anything that wasn’t carried in the financial statements, including VVTV’s huge contractual obligations. We figured it out after several commenters pointed it out first. We now make sure to at least consider whether a prospect’s contractual obligations, off-balance sheet arrangements or litigation could have a material effect on the asset value.
Full Disclosure: We do not have a holding in VVTV. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.