The thing about cement is, it wants to stick together. Mix and pour? Pshaw. Back in my days as a professional ditch digger, we used to just dump a bag of concrete in a posthole and wait for the rain to do the rest. Just get it damp -- don't worry, it'll stick.
It seems the same goes for cement companies. Why, you don't even need rain to get these guys to bond. They're doing it all on their own. Last September, for example, we saw Mexico's Cemex
Yesterday's deal, though, turned out to be purely Teutonic: Spohn Cement is buying out Germany's largest cement maker, HeidelbergCement (Pink Sheets: HDESF.PK), for $7.9 billion -- a 20% premium to HeidelbergCement's Friday closing price. In fact, according to a report published by MarketWatch yesterday, this latest acquisition is not so much a spontaneous purchase as it is a picking-up-some-loose-pieces deal. Privately held Spohn, it seems, has a familial connection to a gentleman by the name of Adolf Merckle, who owns 13% of HeidelbergCement directly, and 22% more of the company through his ownership interest in Spohn.
So in this respect, the cement consolidation begins to resemble another recent merger/reorganization with a family twist -- last year's creation of Mittal Steel
The other resemblance between yesterday's deal and the creation of Mittal is, of course, that both of these companies, HeidelbergCement and Mittal, work in what have historically been pretty inefficiently run, capital-intensive, and shareholder-capital-destructive sectors. Yet some very savvy, very wealthy investors are seeing value in these sectors and buying actively.
Fools on the hunt for new investing ideas might want to steal a page or two from these billionaires' playbooks and take a look for themselves at companies that share characteristics with steel and cement. I'm thinking timber, aluminum, titanium -- industries in which companies make stuff that other companies use to build stuff. It seems to be all the rage.
For more on the exciting world of pulverized rock, read:
- Cemex Profits From Good Works
- Cemex Cementing Its Lead
- Lafarge Lost in Translation
- European Cement Mix
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any of the companies mentioned in this article.