We have what seem to be reliable reports (via investor relations) that the board is meeting today (perhaps right now). Here's some thoughts on what they may have discussed:
1 - the dividend. Obviously, but even if they make a decision it is unlikely to be announced before tonight, and that's probably a good thing give the general market-wide push down. Ones the decision is made, of course, there is the possibility of leaks, so they won't wait too long.
2 - the changes that have occurred over the last week and their implications to RAS quarterly reporting. There are probably some serious decisions to be made here, and they may not even know everything they need to know to make those decisions yet. This set of discussions will probably make this a long meeting that will end with another meeting set sooner rather than later.
3 - The status of loan payments at the end of 3Q. 3Q is over. What's left is rolling up the numbers and creating the quarterly report. If the dividend comes in at 46 cents, then the quarter was fine. This discussion will happen in the course of discussing the dividend, but will also matter to decisions on loss reserves, current strategy, and the level of detail added to the dividend announcement.
4 - How much to disclose in the dividend announcement. Such announcements are usually pretty matter of fact, but with all the changes that are happening, the board may need to disclose more in order to exit this blackout period. My guess is that, at current prices, they will want to disclose more this time, especially if all the expected payments came in.
5 - Ongoing strategy. The current strategy seems to be to buy back long term debt (notes, preferreds, and more) from earnings. I don't think that will change materially, especially if payments are coming in. Common is a more compelling buy than it has been in a long time, however, so exercise of the buyback will likely be a discussion topic as well.
There's more, but I'll leave that to another post.
Moving the 4Q dividend into 2008 helps with this, and there are some other losses that were reported earlier in the year, so there is room to make some amount of profit without putting upward pressure on the dividend, but long term you are certainly correct.
Its difficult to speculate on what exactly needs to be discussed at the meeting
It may be significant, however, that the price went down before the board meeting started and has been up since.
I wouldn't put much stock in such measures, but little things can mean a lot.
What is certain is that the challenges that RAS faced in August, 2007 haven't gotten much better (if they've gotten better at all.
Some things have clearly improved, like the discounted reduction in long term debt and having Taberna VIII come back online. Other things have gotten worse. Any RAS borrower who depends on short term debt for any portion of their business could be having payment problems right now.
The stock price has held up well until this week, but far too many people have their money on the sidelines now. The RAS board can't do anything about this, of course, but it does limit their options.
It is easy to imagine a long and difficult board meeting.