Recently, Jove Partners disclosed a 5.2% stake in Lifetime Brands (NASDAQ:LCUT). In its 13D filing, Jove reported that:
The Reporting Persons believe that the Issuer would benefit from additional marketing and industry expertise on its board of directors, and have suggested individuals for consideration by the board.
Lifetime CEO Jeffrey Siegel was quoted as saying “Jove Partners is a [Lifetime Brands] shareholder who has been advising us at our request. They have tremendous expertise in e-commerce.”
Who is Jove Partners and what particular expertise might they bring to the table?
A search of SEC filings reveals no other filings by Jove Partners. However, reading the 13D reveals that Joel Tomas Citron is the managing member of Jove Partners. Mr. Citron is the Chairman of Oxigene (NASDAQ:OXGN). More relevant, he was Chairman of Provide Commerce, parent company of ProFlowers, before its sale to Liberty Media.
The similarly named Jovian Holdings was a major holder of Provide Commerce, with a 29% stake at the time of the acquisition. Citron was a director of Jovian Holdings as were Jared Polis, who was a principal of Blue Mountain Arts, guiding it to a $900 million buyout by Excite, and Arthur Laffer, famous for the Laffer Curve
Based on Siegel’s quote and the experience of the three, I think it is likely that the board candidate(s) proposed include some combination of Citron, Polis and Laffer. Lifetime has significantly stepped up their online presence, adding products from their other brands to pfaltzgraff.com, and the background that Jove Partners has in e-commerce could be helpful in growing direct sales to be a significant part of Lifetime’s business.
Back in September, I wrote about Lifetime Brands. At the time, the stock was trading at $20.10 and the company had projected 2006 EPS of $1.50-$1.70. The company lowered that to $1.45-$1.55 with the release of 3rd quarter earnings, and on December 21, lowered it further to $1.10-$1.15, below 2005 earnings of $1.23. Though the company has not yet released 2006 numbers, on January 25, it stated that it expected 2007 EPS of $1.40-$1.70. The end result of all of this is that on February 15, the stock closed at 19.54, not far from where it was in September.
The particular problems that Lifetime has faced have been largely related to its direct to consumer business. The experience and expertise that Jove brings could indeed be helpful in helping the company resolve these problems and get back on the path to consistent, strong growth. In the meantime, I believe the shares remain a good value.
LCUT 1-yr chart:
Disclosure: I hold a position in LCUT