When I saw a headline last night that Outlook will be acquired by Vista, I began scratching my head and thinking about Inside Value recommendation Microsoft
Then I dug deeper to find that it was actually private equity firm Vista Group Holdings agreeing to acquire printing, packaging, and direct-marketing specialist Outlook Group
As far as small-company buyouts go, this one was pretty clean. Outlook shares had been trading in a pretty tight trading range over the past few months, and that's a refreshing twist to acquisitions in which loose lips drive shares higher in anticipation of the ultimate announcement.
Vista was also formed with the intent to acquire Outlook, and the company will be in good hands, considering that Vista is headed up by a former CEO from commercial-printing giant Banta
Then I began to scratch my head again when the company -- all of 32 minutes later -- issued a press release detailing its fiscal-third-quarter results. It's pretty much what you would expect from a company ready clock out one final time: The company simply broke even after earning $0.17 a share a year earlier. Sales did inch higher, but only by a 7.4% spurt.
Then again, Outlook could have just as well said that it had discovered a way to turn recycled paper into renewable energy or stumbled across the wonderful Direct Marketing Diet weight-loss method. The quarterly report was irrelevant. Outlook is spoken for, and the price has been set. At this point, investors should be more concerned about the financial viability of Vista to pull the deal off -- and it certainly seems to be the case -- than Outlook's actual performance.
If I had to nitpick, it would be that Outlook's timing could have been better in agreeing to a buyout. The third quarter has been the company's weakest, historically speaking. This was a company that traded as high as $19 a share back in November. Yes, the fundamentals were weakening, and that's why Outlook was on the block. I just prefer to see companies go out on top. It stings less that way for shareholders.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz really does think that some companies can turn pulp into fuel. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. T he Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.