Poor Jan Brady. The awkward middle sister of The Brady Bunch clan famously lamented lacking the looks, style, and popularity of her older sister.
"Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!"
Well, Janus Capital Group
You remember George Glass, don't you? An attention-starved Jan Brady made up the character as her mysterious beau in one of the show's more memorable episodes. Janus seems to be doing the same thing these days, by conjuring images of potential suitors MassMutual and Franklin Resources
What's that? Janus Brady's "George Glass" may be real? The mutual fund company could be on the block?
You wouldn't know it from yesterday's conference call, in which several analysts grilled the fund operator over the abrupt resignation of its CEO. One analyst -- Roger Freeman from Barclays Capital -- really put Janus on the spot, by indicating that in his 12 years of covering companies, he has never received so many emails from Janus employees who were disgruntled over the company's mismanagement.
It wasn't until shortly after the call that reports surfaced suggesting that CEO Gary Black resigned because he favored selling the company. The company's board chose to raise capital instead, despite the rumored interest on behalf of Mass Mutual and Franklin Resources.
The stock, which had tanked earlier in the morning on news of the CEO resignation and the lackluster numbers, turned around to close higher.
What? Did investors realize that the guy who wanted to sell the company is the one who had to walk away? Maybe they figure that a Janus in transition is ripe for a buyout.
Janus has never fully recovered from being a part of the 2003 industry scandal. Janus, Alliance Capital, and Bank of America
With an average of $126.7 billion in assets under management this past quarter, Janus is watching over a smaller asset base than it was before the scandal broke six years ago. Market weakness over the past year has certainly hurt, but rival no-load fund families such as T. Rowe Price
There has been way too much turnover among its fund managers, too. If Freeman's comment about employee unrest is true, why wouldn't Janus be open to exit strategies beyond Black's?
Face it, Janus. You're not going to be Marcia. If George Glass is real, run to him before he changes his mind.
It could be worse, you know. You could be Cousin Oliver.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz invests mostly in stocks but always has a mutual fund or two in his portfolio. He owns no shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.