The Six Flags
This does not mean that Weitz plans on submitting a bid for the company. It only means that the company is positioning itself and its 9.8-million-share stake in the company to be a more prolific voice in shaping the company's near-term destiny.
Ever since the company announced that it would put itself up for sale back in August, its shares have been awakening from six years of slumber. The move was sparked by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder after he launched a proxy battle to take operating control of the company.
When Snyder suggested ways to improve the chain's performance last fall he was slapped down by Six Flags. "Your suggested strategies to improve the operating performance of the Company both at the meeting and in your letter were not insightful and demonstrated a lack of understanding about the theme park business in many respects," the company's board wrote back in October, in response to Snyder's public display of frustration.
Then again, consider the source. Six Flags can use the change of scenery in the boardroom. Its directors aren't seasoned carnies. They are mostly investment bankers and attorneys. They are accomplished, but their average age is just over 60. One has to wonder how in tune they are with what draws their target audience; the bulk of the park's 33 million annual guests are teens and young families.
Later in the letter, the company blamed its shortcomings on the industry itself, but that doesn't pass the taste test. Compare the performance of rival Cedar Fair
That doesn't mean that a bidding war will break out for shares of Six Flags. For a debt-heavy company, it is easy to gobble up shares that don't truly represent the cost of acquiring Six Flags whole.
Six Flags commands a market cap of $650 million, but it's also carrying another $2.1 billion in long-term debt. That means that while it will run you about $70 million to acquire a 10% stake in the company these days, $700 won't buy it all. That sum is closer to $3 billion.
Then again, that is also why a potential bidding war can get really interesting. The difference between a $3 billion offer -- and a $4 billion offer -- is a buyout offer of $8 a share compared to one of nearly $20 a stub.
That doesn't mean that Six Flags will command a $4 billion buyout (or even a $3 billion price tag). One can assume that the last thing that Google
Then again, the possibilities off that steep leverage is as good enough reason as any to light a fire under the Six Flags board to have it live up to its true potential.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to take his family to new amusement parks every summer. He practices what he preaches: He owns shares in Cedar Fair and Six Flags. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.