Garmin's Genius

To the short-sellers who've sold off Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN  ) shares by more than 30% over the last three weeks, all on fears that the company would be shut out of the digital mapping game, or overpay to stay in it, I have just one thing to say:

We told you so.

Garmin ended the trading week with a bang and a press release this morning. Notably:

  • Garmin sealed a six-year extension of its contract with Navteq (NYSE: NVT  ) , ensuring that Garmin's preferred provider of mapping data will continue to remain so through 2015 -- with an option to extend the relationship through 2019. Problem solved.
  • And with it, Garmin's need to keep up the pretense of being interested in buying rival TomTom's preferred provider, Tele Atlas. Garmin therefore announced that it will not be pursuing its bid for the latter company.
  • Of course, that still leaves TomTom on the hook for the $4.2 billion offer it made to counter Garmin's feint. For the record, that's roughly 45% more than TomTom initially wanted to pay for Tele Atlas, and represents the worst sort of Pyrrhic victory for TomTom: It's likely to pay a too-high price (10.2 times sales for an unprofitable company) to win a war that Garmin wasn't even serious about waging.

So breaking down the winners and losers:

  • TeleAtlas wins, because it likely will get 45% more loot out of this deal than it was expecting just four short months ago.
  • Garmin wins, because it ensured its continued access to mapping data well into the millennium, without overpaying for the privilege.
  • Nokia wins (NYSE: NOK  ) , because as Navteq's new owner, it's secured a long-term source of recurring revenue from a financially strong and rapidly growing Garmin.
  • And the loser in all this? That would be TomTom.

The rest of the winners
In conclusion, let me congratulate Garmin's management for a game well played, Motley Fool Stock Advisor members for keeping the faith, and Stock Advisor analyst Nick Kapur, who saw through the smoke and mirrors to predict how Garmin would emerge unscathed from this battle.


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