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Why Maxar Technologies Stock Jumped (Again) Today

By Rich Smith – Updated May 14, 2019 at 1:28PM

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Its new "tax benefit preservation plan" could burn investors.

What happened

Shares of Canadian space tech company Maxar Technologies (MAXR 1.44%) are on a tear.

Earlier this month, Maxar stock leaped 21% in response to news that the company can soon expect to collect a big $183 million insurance payment on its lost WorldView-4 satellite. Monday, the stock tacked another 8% onto those gains, in response to an announced "tax benefit preservation plan" that aims (ostensibly) to ensure the company doesn't lose any of its net operating loss (NOL) carryforwards as a result of someone trying to buy it.

And today we're seeing Maxar stock surge forward once again. With shares up 18.3% as of 1:20 p.m. EDT on no new news that I can detect, it seems investors may be taking a harder look at yesterday's news, and finding even more to like about it.

Satellite burning up and falling apart

A claim on a lost satellite was one windfall for Maxar. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

So let's take another look here as well.

As I discussed yesterday, the big news in Maxar's press release was that, in the event that anyone tries to acquire "beneficial ownership of 4.9 percent or more of Maxar common stock" or, in the alternative, to increase a stake that's already above 4.9% to a higher level, it will trigger an opportunity for all other shareholders to purchase Maxar common stock at a 50 percent discount.

Maxar is awarding this right on May 28, in the form of "a dividend of one preferred stock purchase right ... for each outstanding share of Maxar common stock."

Now what

Investors buying Maxar stock today (and yesterday) seemed to be viewing the move as an altruistic offer to sell them shares at half-off. That's understandable. After all, that's how the press release reads -- as well as a savvy move to preserve tax benefits.

As I explained yesterday, however, this also looks to me like a surreptitious "poison pill" that Maxar is swallowing -- the purpose of which is to make it much more expensive for a would-be acquirer to snap up the company in a hostile takeover. Once such an attempt begins, and shareholders begin exercising their "rights" to buy shares at 50% off, Maxar will basically be able to double its share count, and double the cost of acquisition.

The problem is that this will discourage would-be buyers from approaching the company with an offer to buy Maxar shares at a premium. As a result, not only won't shareholders enjoy this premium (i.e. profit from a sale of the company), but they also won't ever get a chance to exercise the "50% off coupons" Maxar is promising them ... which would only become effective in the event of a buyout offer ... which now will never come!

While what Maxar is offering sounds like a good deal for shareholders, it isn't. And investors who are buying Maxar stock on this news are making exactly the wrong move.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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