It's been quite the ride for Vodafone (NASDAQ:VOD) since the start of the year. My Special Situations portfolio has benefited nicely from calls that I bought back in March (my original write-up), when I suspected that a buyout of the U.K. telecom's 45% stake in Verizon Wireless was in the offing.
Of course, that did play out, with Verizon (NYSE:VZ) acquiring the unit for about $130 billion. So I'm very pleased to report that the options gained 273% over that time period. But with Vodafone approaching what I think is a reasonable value, I've decided to close out the position.
Vodafone is returning about $84 billion of the proceeds to shareholders. Most of that is in the form of Verizon stock. A fairly high return of the proceeds was the right move for Vodafone and for investors. The telecom is deleveraging significantly with the remainder, investing more in its operations, and hoarding a little bit for a rainy day, too.
While all this looks fine, I'm also selling because Vodafone stock now relies on the performance of Verizon and the market more generally, at least in the short term. With Verizon stock already looking pretty pricy, and Vodafone's European operations a bit of a mess, I'm happy to realize the profit I have now, rather than wait for a few dollars more in upside. That's especially true when I have other great opportunities on deck for my Special Situations portfolio.
Sure, AT&T (NYSE:T) may swoop in to make a bid on Vodafone. In fact, I think that's more likely than not. That company has been selling off assets, cleaning itself up for a takeover. But I'm not waiting around for it.
Two final points. When it announced the Verizon deal, Vodafone noted that it would keep the dividend at the same yield following the payout of Verizon stock and cash and a reverse split of shares (likely a 1:2). What the market might be missing here is that, while the yield may remain the same after the reverse split, the payout per share in terms of pre-split shares will decline.
With my sale, I'd also like to take advantage of the slight run-up before the ex-dividend date, since the options are not entitled to any payout.
Foolish bottom line
I'm reasonably pleased with how this investment worked out, as the return approached 300% in about eight months. If you're looking for more excellent ideas, continue to watch this space. I'll have more ideas out in the next weeks.