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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor (NYSE: CCO ) were getting a big thumbs-up from investors today, gaining as much as 12% in intraday trading after the company announced a debt offering and a big special dividend.
So what: In a press release today, Clear Channel, which is largely controlled by Bain Capital, announced that it will be raising $2.2 billion via two debt offerings. The company will then turn around and use $2.17 billion of the proceeds to pay a $6.08-per-share special cash dividend to shareholders on record as of March 12. As the big jump in the stock suggests, the move was well received by investors.
Now what: You'll have to excuse me if I throw up in my mouth just a little bit. Maybe I'm just a sissy when it comes to debt, but the idea of a company practically doubling its indebtedness in order to pay out a massive dividend just doesn't sit well with me.
This is a move that's straight out of the MBA/private-equity playbook and may work out just fine. In fact, it may work out better than fine -- if the company views its cost of equity as high, shifting the capital mix to more debt could bring down the company's overall funding cost and be a boon for shareholders.
You can call me Foolish or perhaps just foolish, but I prefer that my returns come from investing in top-quality companies earning solid returns, not fancy leverage tricks.
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