You can't script your way out of a cash crunch. Entertainment and environmental services giant VivendiUniversal
From the company's hamstrung cable empire in Europe to its vast stateside media properties under the Universal banner, it's hard to call this a fire sale, when even the weakest piece of the troubled conglomerate would fetch billions in the open market. Yet, Bloomberg is reporting that a $3.4 billion offer has been made for the company's publishing assets, including its Houghton Mifflin operation.
Publishing might seem like an odd choice for Vivendi to give up. This is the steady business, predictable when the highs and lows of its volatile entertainment holdings rock the company. However, the consistency of the company's publishing division is what makes it such an easy sell, and, let's face it, Vivendi needs greenbacks right now like the company's environmental clients need water.
While the company's Universal business is meaty, cashing out now, while the advertising market remains iffy and the music industry is reeling from piracy and a lack of quality product, would be a mistake. Buying high and selling low is not a sound business practice. So, the sleepy book business is a good start for a company that will still need to raise at least another $2 billion come March.
With the stock languishing in the low teens, vulture investors might be tempted to sample Vivendi. The shares are marked down to less than the sum of its parts, even if many of those parts appear to be damaged goods right now. But, as opportunistic value-hunters will tell you, some of the best bargains occur when the horizon appears the darkest.