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Why Blucora Shares Crashed on Wednesday

By Brian D. Pacampara, CFA - Oct 14, 2015 at 3:36PM

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Blucora is starting a big strategic transformation. Mr. Market isn't impressed.

What: Shares of Internet company Blucora (BCOR 4.30%) were down 14.5% as of 3:30 p.m Wednesday after it announced plans to acquire HD Vest Financial services and that Bill Ruckelshaus would be stepping down as the company's president and CEO.

So what: Blucora shares have slumped sharply over the past three months on concerns over slowing demand, and today's news raises even more uncertainty about the company's financial and competitive position going forward. So while Blucora's purchase of HD Vest and Ruckelshaus' resignation are all part of the plan to transform into a "pure-play financial services and technology industry leader," today's price action suggests that Wall Street is skeptical about the cost, as well as the leadership change, required to do it.

Now what: Blucora expects the acquisition to be synergistic with its tax preparation software TaxACT and, in turn, be immediately accretive to its bottom line. "This transaction enables a transformation for Blucora that allows us to focus strategically, streamline our portfolio, and meaningfully reduce corporate overhead in the coming months," said Ruckelshaus. "With these moves, the new Blucora will be well positioned in markets that will benefit from positive trends within the financial services and technology space and the company will generate substantial free cash flow that will be returned to shareholders starting in 2017." When you couple the high level of uncertainty surrounding HD Vest with Blucora's still-hefty debt load, I wouldn't be so quick to bet on that bullishness just yet. 

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