Minutes before Tuesday's closing bell, good old Reuters said that Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ: AMD ) is looking for "options," going so far as hiring JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) to guide the company. Strategies might include selling a chunk of AMD's patent portfolio, or indeed looking for a wholesale buyer of the company.
Shares jumped as much as 15% on the surprising news, then cooled down a bit. AMD shares closed 5% higher.
But then we were reminded that even Reuters' anonymous sources might not have all the answers. Reaching out to Drew Prairie, AMD's longtime press contact, I was told in no uncertain terms that there's no deal on the table: "AMD's board and management believe that the strategy the company is currently pursuing to drive long-term growth by leveraging AMD's highly differentiated technology assets is the right approach to enhance shareholder value. AMD is not actively pursuing a sale of the company or significant assets at this time."
In other words, AMD believes in its strategy and isn't interested in any major strategy shifts. Thanks for asking.
Cynics might ask whether AMD really means it, or just wants to cover its tracks. But the SEC wouldn't look kindly on unambiguous denials of game-changing deals that turn out to be in progress after all. Misleading investors might even qualify as fraud, and nobody in AMD's offices wants any of that action. A simple "no comment" might keep the buyout rumor alive, but this statement kills it.
The company even has a history of debunking acquisition rumors. Back in 2010, when Oracle (NYSE: ORCL ) had just swallowed chip-designing server company Sun Microsystems, incessant chatter pointed to AMD being next on Oracle's takeout menu. But ex-CEO Dirk Meyer took the stage at an industry conference to lay that idea to rest: "AMD is not for sale, but we are happy to listen to any proposal which is in the interest to our shareholders."
And indeed, Oracle still hasn't bought AMD.
The straight-faced denial of the Reuters report took the shine off AMD's price spike, but the stock still traded at least 3% above pre-rumor levels all night long. That's also where trading started up this morning.
AMD might not have an exit strategy in mind, but a buyout really wouldn't be a bad idea right now. The company is fighting a losing battle against larger rival Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) even as their shared market shrinks at an alarming pace.
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