With the shareholder vote nearing, and time running down on the regulatory process, analysts are quickly running out calendar days to take a position on the merger. To date, there is still a larger field of analysts that cite the chances for approval in the 50% range, basically leaving the decision in the hands of the investor. While this may be a “safe” stance, it also does not do the investors any favors, or offer any real guidance.
The recent sell-off provides one last chance for analysts to take and recommend a position relative to the merger.
There are a few merger watchers that still see only 30% to 40% odds for approval. At this point they are in the minority, and to a certain extent are putting their reputations on the line. If the merger is approved, they will have left their clients sitting on the sidelines when several good buying and arbitrage opportunities have happened in this roller coaster merger process. In the opinions of most, the downside risk is smaller than the upside potential if the merger gains approval. If the merger nay-sayers are correct, it will be a feather in their cap. If they are wrong, it could well spoil reputations.
There is a pretty big group sitting on the fence. Basically saying that the merger carries the same odds as a coin flip. Investors looking for a play in this merger are basically left to rely on other data, or come to their own conclusions. With the recent sell off, the analysts in this category have one last opportunity to take a decisive step in one direction or the other. A few may make their move in the coming week.
Several analysts have merger approval odds at over 60%. A few committed to higher odds early on, providing their clients with several opportunities to get involved at better prices and arbitrage spreads if they also felt the approval were more likely. As time has passed, and more and more information has become available, other analysts have changed their odds higher.
Basically, the M&A followers and analysts that have been negative on the merger have remained negative throughout the process regardless of all of the information that has become available. Amazingly, even after a-la-carte pricing, pricing guarantees, and many in depth reports, this group remains staunchly in the same position they were at on day one.
Regardless of opinion, the clock is running out to make any changes in analysis.
Personally I look for all regulatory approval to be in place between November 20th and December 6th, and believe that the merger will gain approval.
Position – Long Sirius, Long XM