Another Conglomerate Deconglomerates

OK, I know -- "deconglomerate" is not in the dictionary. (Note to self: Call Mr. Webster today.)

The latest deconglomerator (hey, we need a noun to go with the verb) is Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation Tyco (NYSE: TYC  ) . The company sees splitting into three separate corporations as "the best way to position these three market-leading companies for sustained growth and value creation." Let's take a look at this value play in health care, electronics, and fire/security/engineered products.

If you think of value and earnings together, then today's news is not good. The company's previous guidance for its fiscal 2006 first quarter (which ended last December) was $0.40 to $0.42 a share. Analysts were optimistic and adopted the higher end as their consensus. Now that the quarter has ended (results will be reported Feb. 2), the company says $0.38 is their new number (which just happens to be below the $0.42 earning in the same quarter last fiscal year). Yikes!

"Organic growth" (which has the ring of a fertilizer-business buzzword) was certainly not rapid at 4%, but it would appear to fit the definition of "sustained growth." That's not the case, though; two major businesses, health care and fire & security, reported flat growth.

Confused on where the value is? It appears that investors are, too; at Friday's low, the stock was off 11.7% and about a buck above its 52-week low. Analysts expect the company to earn $2.25 for the year ending September 2007. That prices Tyco at 11.7 times forward earnings, below the 13% annual growth rate analysts expect for the next five years. But there's a bit of a flip side if we look into the relative valuations assigned to companies operating in similar realms.

Tyco's ADT security operations offer a dominant market share in a lucrative security-monitoring business. The allure here is that competitor Brinks (NYSE: BCO  ) , which has a security services division, has a forward earnings multiple of 20.

It's the same story in health care, where Tyco is involved with medical products. In this industry, a company like Becton Dickinson (NYSE: BDX  ) can command a 17.2 times forward earnings multiple.

Tyco is also the world's leading supplier of passive electronic components. Competitor Molex (Nasdaq: MOLX  ) commands a forward earnings multiple of 18.8 times earnings.

In Tyco's case, the parts may be worth more than the whole -- if the pieces can be priced using multiplies applied to their market segments. It may work out, but investors would be wise to check out other pending deconglomerations, like the four-way split coming this summer at fellow Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation and travel-focused company Cendant (NYSE: CD  ) . Concerns about debt allocation (a problem with Tyco, too) and earnings growth rates have sent this stock down since the split was announced.

As Cendant plows lower, it may hit value territory at some point. In this observer's opinion, that's already happened for Tyco.

Are you looking for great companies selling at value prices (less than intrinsic value)? Let theMotley Fool Inside Valuenewsletter bring you two selections to consider each month. Try a free trial subscription today.

Fool contributor W.D. Crotty does not own any shares in the companies mentioned. Clickhereto see The Motley Fool's disclosure policy.


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