Yoga and solar energy may be earthly pursuits, but leave it to Gaiam
The fitness media specialist finally succeeded in taking its Real Goods Solar
It didn't go well.
Gaiam was hoping that Real Goods Solar -- which installs residential and small commercial solar energy systems for well-to-do West Coasters -- would be a hit. Unfortunately, the IPO priced at $10 a share, at the low end of the original pricing range. Mr. Market has made matters worse. The stock opened lower in its Wall Street debut on Thursday. The stock is now trading 20% below its IPO after falling in each of its first three trading days.
Gaiam still owns 10 million of the 15.5 million shares outstanding, and an even greater chunk of the voting power. It figured that it would be in a win-win situation if it could spin off its lower-margin solar business at a time when the sector was hot, giving it more focus on its lifestyle lines that include everything from instructional yoga DVDs to Pilates stretch systems to workout apparel. Gaiam's "store within a store" concept is resonating with retailers, especially at Target
Unfortunately, investors haven't warmed to solar energy stocks the way they used to. First Solar
Gaiam also isn't getting any help from market sentiment in its own niche, despite the monster growth at upscale yoga apparel retailer lululemon athletica
It's a shame, because Gaiam may be the coolest stock that you have never heard about. Last night's quarterly report was solid. Revenue climbed 12% to $65.2 million. Net income soared 26% to $2.2 million, or $0.09 on a per-share basis. It may not have been enough for investors, who sent the stock lower today, but it's still respectable growth. The company has been aggressively buying back stock, which explains why the diluted share outstanding count is lower today than a year ago, despite a few acquisitions along the way.
In the meantime, Gaiam is now holding more than $3 a share in what appears to be depressed Real Goods Solar stock. It also has nearly $2 a share in cash, which will grow to nearly $3 a share once it receives its proceeds from last week's IPO.
I'm not much for yoga or exercise ball chairs, but I know relaxation when I see it. It's hard not to like Gaiam here, especially once the market warms up to the Real Goods Solar story.