The waiting is over. After being halted for several days, TOM Online
Last week must have been trying for both longs and shorts. Investors are used to trading halts that can be clocked with egg timers. It usually takes a few minutes -- perhaps a few hours -- for a company to disseminate information that will alter the course of future stock ticks. TOM Online took all of last week off.
Why was the stock halted for so long? Privatization whispers and buyout buzz never seem to get in the way of letting the free markets run their course. In fact, some companies on the bidding block never even bother to hit the pause button. You get the announcement of some unsolicited offer or the quest for "strategic alternatives" one day, and then a few months later, you get the rest of the story.
However, it was in TOM Group's interest to keep the speculators from jumping on TOM Online. The stock had closed at $11.62 per share a week earlier, and published reports of the privatization attempt began circulating over the weekend. If the stock was to trade into the high teens on the hype, TOM Group would have appeared to be snapping it up at a discount.
TOM Online's parent owns all but one-third of the shares outstanding, making this about as close as a done deal as you will find.
There probably won't be a rival bidder. It's not that a company like Yahoo!
TOM Online stumbled last year, and analysts expect revenue and earnings to dip lower again in 2007. There are far more attractive growers in China -- like search engine giant Baidu.com
Investors that bought in at higher price points might not like the terms, but it's hard to scoff at a 34% premium in a dicey Chinese market. TOM Online may never get the chance to show us if it was going to be the best e-commerce stock for 2007, but at least today -- over the course of a well-needed trading day -- TOM Online is a market champion.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been to mainland China just once, but he's longing to brush up on his Mandarin and make it another go of it. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. Rick 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.