Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this article, the Fool incorrectly overstated the revenue of ASM’s two units. The revenue should have been approximately $115 million, making Applied’s offer four times sales, instead of .7 times sales. The Fool apologizes for the error.
Bravo, Applied Materials
In recent quarters, most of the ink being "Applied" to this company has focused on its entree into the solar power industry. It's currently hawking "thin film solar" equipment to companies such as LDK Solar
A press release issued Friday, though, drew all eyes back to Applied's bread-and-butter semiconductor business, when the chip equipment maker announced its non-binding proposal to purchase the "atomic layer deposition" and "plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition" operations of Dutch rival ASM International
It's difficult to figure out the two ASM units' combined revenue estimates, but it appears that they collectively brought in $115 million in sales last year. With a $400 million-$500 million bid, Applied would be paying about four times sales, which seems reasonable enough. However, the deal might spur questions for ASM's board about whether it plans to sell any of its other units; its answers could affect the company's long-term strategy.
An offer most fowl
So what's the deal here? Is Applied offering to take a couple of garbage businesses off ASM's hands, in hopes of turning them around itself? Hardly. After a close look at ASM, Forbes called the two units in question the "golden goose" of ASM's business.
Given the impact that these two units' loss will likely have on ASM, I'd ordinarily say that the company's unlikely to accept Applied's offer. Then again, ASM is being pressured by major shareholder Hermes Focus Asset Management to "do something" to improve its profitability.
While it may not be smart for the business, putting the golden goose on the chopping block would technically meet the definition of "doing something." And Applied's offer has already raised ASM's stock price by more than 9%. This just might be the perfect time to apply pressure to ASM.
Further fully applied Foolishness: