It didn't surprise me yesterday to learn of a rumor that Oracle (ORCL) might be interested in taking over Juniper Networks (JNPR). That's because I'm familiar with Larry Ellison's approach to business, life and sports. He loves to win, he lives to win, and he'll do whatever he needs to do in order to be a winner.
His way of winning and his (and the directors of Oracle) willingness to spend a great deal of money to buy the companies, products, services, territory and inroads that he desires reminds me of the late owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner.
When Steinbrenner set out to win the American League championship in the mid 1990s and to win the World Series too, he put his money where his mouth was. Both Ellison and Steinbrenner have made mistakes, but they've also made some very successful acquisitions.
By the way, Juniper Networks went up today on heavier than normal volume. This was on a day when the Nasdaq was down on lower than normal volume. That alone has my curiosity, but it proves nothing.
Now back to the comparison of Mr. Ellison and the Steinbrenner way of owning and building a winning baseball team, both are based on the spending of many billions of dollars.
Oracle has a "war chest" of almost $25 billion, although they have $17 billion in debt. They have levered free cash flow of almost $9 billion. And with 21% profit margins and 34% operating margin, we might conclude they are making a lot of lucrative, "winning" decisions.
But are they about to pay a big price for a "player" that provides network infrastructure used for the deployment of "services and applications over a single Internet Protocol based network worldwide"?
Perhaps the rumors are true. JNPR has zero debt and is sitting on "Total Cash" of $2.3 billion. Their profit and operating margins are very respectable, and their Quarterly Earnings Growth (year-over-year) for the last reported quarter was phenomenal.
Larry Ellison could give Cisco Systems (CSCO) some head-to-head competition and maybe take some business away from them. This could be the "America's Cup" of competion between network infrastructure and solutions companies. Oracle would be able to buy a "cash cow" with no debt and depending on the price they paid, could expand their presence in a vital industry.
Is there any "hard evidence" that a takeover or buyout offer is forthcoming? Not really, but there's considerable upside buying in JNPR call options, and somebody stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night somewhere.
The Yankees will probably be American League contenders for many years to come if the Steinbrenner tradition carries on. In like manner, Oracle will be one of the super-stars of technology and a frequent "winner" as long as Larry Ellison is calling the shots and their business model is based on Ellison's ego and values.
Here's another piece of trivia that you can confirm, but like a takeover rumor, I wouldn't bet on its significance. Larry Ellison was born in 1944. So was Henry Kravis of Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts (KKR) fame. Their style of leadership and business acumen (as well as their level of confidence and bravado) are quite similar.
My point is we can't make any safe investment decisions based on rumor or on what year the leaders of a company was born. But it is fun and it might eventually be profitable to consider the possibilities and research accordingly.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this commentary should be construed as investment advice or guidance or any recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument. It is not intended as investment advice or guidance, nor is it offered as such. It is solely the opinion of the writer, who is NOT an investment counselor/professional. All content of this commentary is solely an expression of his personal interests and is posted as free-of-charge commentary and is subject to error and change without notice. Please do your own due diligence before investing in ANYTHING. The presence of a link to a website does not indicate approval or endorsement of that website or any services, products or opinions that may be offered by them.
I don't own any ORCL, JNPR, but I do own some CSCO.
Disclosure: I am long CSCO.