<<<the buyer will certainly not be TLC. They do not have the capital and they would have to get regulatory approval.>>>
I don't have any inside info that TLC wants to buy LCA Vision. But I do want to debate your logic.
TLC is trading at nearly $5/share with 64 million shares outstanding. They have over three times the market cap of LCA Vision. TLC could easily issue shares in exchange for LCAV shares and make the deal happen without raising capital. LCA Vision share holders would receive TLC shares for their purchase and there would just be more TLC shares outstanding. Isn't this how TLC did the LVCI deal?
Then for the regulators. Remember that at least 80% of the LASIK industry volume is performed by independents. The independents of course are the only group to have consistently made a profit in this business. This hardly represents a monopoly concern.
I don't see Joffe accepting a stock deal. I wouldn't agree if it came to a vote. If it's a hostile bid, it gets scrutinized more and concerns of monopoly would be raised, providing a barrier and forcing the price higher and into cash. Look at Oracle and PeopleSoft. SAP is big enough that O+P isn't really a problem, but for PS, the price isn't right.
So you could be right about how TLC would like to do it, but I don't think it gets done.
We know that the market looks 6 - 12 months ahead. As it was mentioned before on this forum, and I fully agree, $1/ share EPS is quite doable for 2004. A PE ratio of 25 is reasonable for a dynamic growth company. On that basis a share price of 25 is not too far fetched. Add to that $20 million in cash, ie $2 per share, it adds up to $27 share price. Add to all that a "temporary euphora" factor of 5 points or so .... what do you get?