What is quite possibly the biggest change in Advanced Micro Devices' (NYSE: AMD ) rocky history was supposed to go to a shareholder vote Tuesday. A vote of "yea" would send AMD down an entirely new path, dressed in a lighter balance sheet and following in the footsteps of Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN ) and others. A "nay" vote would keep AMD's manufacturing in-house, for (a little bit of) good and for (mostly) bad.
So far, so good. But AMD threw the party and nobody showed up. Meeting adjourned until next week, folks. Grab a canape on your way out, and be sure to tell your friends about the luncheon spread!
AMD needed more than 50% of outstanding shares to have voted one way or another, but fell short of a quorum with just 42% of those stubs represented. And no, it's not my fault -- like 97% of those who did respond, I've voted my tiny hand in favor of the proposal and the dilutive stock actions required.
Look, folks: This is a big friggin' deal. I don't like dilution any more than the next shareholder, but spinning out the manufacturing arm to an Abu Dhabi investment firm makes too much sense to get hung up over that detail. The faster that AMD splits into two parts -- a heavy, expensive foundry, and a lightweight, nimble, securely funded chip-design company -- the better.
The company needs every advantage it can get in the neverending uphill fight against industry titan Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) . A rash of inexpensive and fast new chips is a start, but AMD needs to do more. Nobody wants to see the underdog carved up like a holiday turkey, the way I expect networking expert Nortel Networks (NYSE: NT ) will end up. IBM (NYSE: IBM ) could certainly afford to invest in AMD or buy it wholesale, but licensing issues and competitive forces make it safer for Big Blue to stay on the sidelines.
The stock plunged more than 10% on this news Tuesday. Feel free to pick up a few shares, contribute a bunch of votes, and get rich riding that bouncy stock back up when the vote passes.
And then hold tight for another year or two. Let the split work its magic while management gets back to running the business, undistracted by foundry operations, financial woes, and all the hassle of working out the whole split deal in the first place. You can thank me in 2011, Fool.