Dan Loeb's Third Point Builds Stake in Nokia (NOK) in Q3
Updated - October 22, 2013 10:28 AM EDT)
In his third quarter letter to clients, Dan Loeb said his Third Point LLC hedge fund bought shares of Nokia (NYSE: NOK) during the quarter following the announced sale of its Devices and Services business to Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) for €5.44 billion in an all-cash transaction.
Loeb explained the purchase:
"At our purchase price, we seized an opportunity to create new Nokia at a substantial discount to target value", Loeb said. "The company will have approximately €8 billion of net cash when the transaction closes, and we expect a meaningful portion of the excess will be distributed to shareholders in coming quarters. Either a buyback or a special dividend is possible, which should draw additional investors to new Nokia when the cash return scenario develops following the deal closing.
The de facto spin of the D&S business leaves Nokia with a significantly different strategic and operational profile, with 40% of today’s market capitalization reflected in pro forma net cash and a portfolio of three distinct businesses each generating positive free cash flow. Each of Nokia’s businesses has interesting opportunities and dynamics. In the case of NSN, years of restructuring have resulted in a more profitable business, while the market structure has improved following years of consolidation ahead of a global 4G upgrade cycle. Having acquired Siemens’ 50% stake in NSN this summer at a very attractive valuation, Nokia now has greater control over the operating and strategic prospects for the business. The HERE maps business has exceptional share in the built-in automotive navigation market (estimated at 80 – 90%) along with significant potential in portable navigation, an increasingly strategic area for smartphone vendors.
The Advanced Technologies intellectual property licensing business has historically operated on a net basis in commercial agreements with other smartphone vendors. Going forward, Nokia has the opportunity to realize royalty revenues on a gross basis and focus on a broader licensing program of its 10,000 patent families, which include leadership positions in 2G/3G/4G standard essential patents, as well as a broad array of non-standard essential patents. Nokia’s patent portfolio has been successfully defended in court and via settlement agreements over the years, enhancing its licensing prospects and strategic value.
For years, the investment case for Nokia has centered on the prospects for the handset business with little emphasis on NSN, the maps business or the intellectual property licensing opportunity. We think the repositioning of the “new” Nokia story will take time for the broader investment community to absorb, which allows us to initiate the position at such a significant discount. Meanwhile, the prospect of a substantial one-time capital return and possible reinstatement of a regular dividend further enhance our upside potential. Nokia’s commitment to return excess capital and the attractive price paid for Siemens’ 50% stake in NSN suggest Nokia’s leadership will remain prudent in capital allocation decisions going forward.
Event-driven situations like the Nokia/Microsoft transaction are the bread and butter of our strategy. We have recently seen an increase in the number of these opportunities and welcome the chance to populate the portfolio with them."