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Instant Analysis: Nasdaq Makes an Acquisition

By Eric Volkman – Feb 18, 2016 at 11:30AM

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The stock exchange operator strikes a deal to buy news/press release aggregator Marketwired for an undisclosed sum.

What happened?
Like numerous companies that trade on its exchanges, Nasdaq (NDAQ -0.58%) is acquiring a company that it hopes will complement its business. Nasdaq said that it entered into a definitive agreement to buy Marketwired, an online financial information service that publishes news and corporate press releases. The seller is the service's owner, Canadian private equity company OMERS Private Equity.

Nasdaq said that with the new asset in its portfolio "the combined organization will be a leader in global distribution of news releases through Nasdaq's world-class GlobeNewswire distribution capabilities and work-flow platform, as well as Marketwired's leading offering of social media targeting and monitoring services."

The price and terms of the arrangement were not disclosed. Nasdaq did say that it will fund the buy with a mix of cash on hand and debt.

Does it matter?
Without knowing the price Nasdaq paid for Marketwired or having a fix on the latter's fundamentals (its finances aren't made public), it's hard to gauge what impact the deal will have on Nasdaq's business and stock.

That said, it's an intriguing way for the company to expand its presence, and it clearly presents opportunity for it to draw new revenue streams. Grafting Marketwired onto its current news/PR effort will allow it to provide fairly sophisticated, state-of-the art offerings in those areas to the many companies that list on its exchanges.

If done correctly and well, this should help Nasdaq gain a bit of ground on eternal big brother Intercontinental Exchange (ICE 1.07%), operator of the ever-iconic New York Stock Exchange. Marketwired might help boost the top line, which for Nasdaq hasn't really gone anywhere significant (2015's revenue was slightly lower than that of 2011); Intercontinental Exchange, a more aggressive acquirer, has seen its revenue grow notably over that time.

At least Nasdaq has a comparably cleaner balance sheet, with a debt-to-equity ratio of 42%, versus Intercontinental Exchange's 49%. So, from that perspective anyway, it's got more spare change for an acquisition.

The Marketwired buy probably won't light Nasdaq's stock on fire. But it's an interesting move for the company, and it certainly has the promise to enhance its business.

Eric Volkman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Intercontinental Exchange and Nasdaq. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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