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Column by Gabelli Funds

During May, Worldwide Deal Making Values Spiked to a New Record

Photo: David Buchi / Pexels CC0 License
By Michael Gabelli

The U.S. stock market rallied in May with the best return since January and the best for the month of May since 2009. Political uncertainties in Europe are rising as a Eurosceptic government is forming in Italy and a newly elected government is taking over in Spain. The Atlanta Federal Reserve bumped its second quarter U.S. GDP estimate to 4.7 percent at the end of the month, up from 4.0 percent previously. The robust economy is tightening the job market and wages and inflation are center stage.

The Trump Administration has levied tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from Europe, Canada and Mexico and is moving ahead with protectionist actions on China. These moves are based on the idea that trade wars can be won since foreign economies depend on U.S. buyers. President Trump’s unpredictable communication and decision-making style has added a new variable to data gathering and investment analysis. A new agenda item in process now includes the possibility of a multi-front trade war. Retaliatory moves may be on the way.

Corporate earnings posted strong first-quarter gains in aggregate but so far this has not been reflected in proportionally higher stock prices. A determined U.S. Federal Reserve remains on track to normalize interest rates with continued policy rate hikes and a shrinking balance sheet during 2018 and through 2019.

Merger and acquisition activity moved sharply higher on 'Merger Monday’ May 21, as announced deals spiked worldwide deal making values to a new record above $2 trillion year to date. Previous records for the same time frames were set in 2007 and 2000 at $1.8 and $1.5 trillion respectively. The spreads on deals subject to Chinese review firmed in May, including Cavium (CAVM -NASDAQ), which is being acquired by Marvell Technology; Rockwell Collins (COL-NYSE), which is being acquired by United Technologies; and, Qualcomm’s purchase of NXP Semiconductor (NXPI-NASDAQ). In addition:

  • On May 15, Microchip Technology announced it received antitrust approval in China for its acquisition of Microsemi Corp. (MSCC-NASDAQ), a piece of good news given the recent slowdown of Chinese reviews. The deal was subsequently completed on May 29.
  • Monsanto (MON-NYSE) shares traded higher after Bayer reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to divest assets to BASF that satisfied the DOJ’s competitive concerns. In May 2016, Monsanto agreed to be acquired by Bayer for $128 cash per share, or about $66 billion. The transaction has recently closed.
  • Biopharmaceutical developer Avexis (AVXS-NASDAQ) was acquired by Novartis on May 15 for $218 cash per share, or about $8 billion.

May was another active month for M&A with new deals that included:

  • Shire plc (SHPG -NASDAQ), a biopharmaceutical company focused on treatments for rare diseases, agreed to be acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. for $30.33 cash and 0.839 shares of Takeda common stock for each share of Shire, or about $80 billion.
  • Grammercy Property Trust (GPT-NYSE), a REIT focused on managing commercial real estate, agreed to be acquired by Blackstone for $27.50 cash per share, or about $7 billion.
  • KLX Inc. (KLXI-NASDAQ) announced it would spin off its Energy Services business, and sell its aerospace distribution and services business to Boeing for $63 cash per share. The transactions value KLX at approximately $5 billion.

We remain well positioned to take advantage of the ongoing opportunities we are seeing in the market.

Column by Gabelli Funds, written by Michael Gabelli


To access our proprietary value investment methodology, and dedicated merger arbitrage portfolio we offer the following UCITS Funds in each discipline:


GAMCO Merger Arbitrage UCITS Fund, launched in October 2011, is an open-end fund incorporated in Luxembourg and compliant with UCITS regulation. The team, dedicated strategy, and record dates back to 1985. The objective of the GAMCO Merger Arbitrage Fund is to achieve long-term capital growth by investing primarily in announced equity merger and acquisition transactions while maintaining a diversified portfolio. The Fund utilizes a highly specialized investment approach designed principally to profit from the successful completion of proposed mergers, takeovers, tender offers, leveraged buyouts and other types of corporate reorganizations. Analyzes and continuously monitors each pending transaction for potential risk, including: regulatory, terms, financing, and shareholder approval.

Merger investments are a highly liquid, non-market correlated, proven and consistent alternative to traditional fixed income and equity securities. Merger returns are dependent on deal spreads. Deal spreads are a function of time, deal risk premium, and interest rates. Returns are thus correlated to interest rate changes over the medium term and not the broader equity market. The prospect of rising rates would imply higher returns on mergers as spreads widen to compensate arbitrageurs. As bond markets decline (interest rates rise), merger returns should improve as capital allocation decisions adjust to the changes in the costs of capital.

Broad Market volatility can lead to widening of spreads in merger positions, coupled with our well-researched merger portfolios, offer the potential for enhanced IRRs through dynamic position sizing. Daily price volatility fluctuations coupled with less proprietary capital (the Volcker rule) in the U.S. have contributed to improving merger spreads and thus, overall returns. Thus our fund is well positioned as a cash substitute or fixed income alternative.

Our objectives are to compound and preserve wealth over time, while remaining non-correlated to the broad global markets. We created our first dedicated merger fund 32 years ago. Since then, our merger performance has grown client assets at an annualized rate of  approximately 10.7% gross and 7.6% net since 1985. Today, we manage assets on behalf of institutional and high net worth clients globally in a variety of fund structures and mandates.

Class I USD - LU0687944552
Class I EUR - LU0687944396
Class A USD - LU0687943745
Class A EUR - LU0687943661
Class R USD - LU1453360825
Class R EUR - LU1453361476


The GAMCO All Cap Value UCITS Fund launched in May, 2015 utilizes Gabelli’s its proprietary PMV with a Catalyst™ investment methodology, which has been in place since 1977. The Fund seeks absolute returns through event driven value investing. Our methodology centers around fundamental, research-driven, value based investing with a focus on asset values, cash flows and identifiable catalysts to maximize returns independent of market direction. The fund draws on the experience of its global portfolio team and 35+ value research analysts.

GAMCO is an active, bottom-up, value investor, and seeks to achieve real capital appreciation (relative to inflation) over the long term regardless of market cycles. Our value-oriented stock selection process is based on the fundamental investment principles first articulated in 1934 by Graham and Dodd, the founders of modern security analysis, and further augmented by Mario Gabelli in 1977 with his introduction of the concepts of Private Market Value (PMV) with a Catalyst™ into equity analysis. PMV with a Catalyst™ is our unique research methodology that focuses on individual stock selection by identifying firms selling below intrinsic value with a reasonable probability of realizing their PMV’s which we define as the price a strategic or financial acquirer would be willing to pay for the entire enterprise.  The fundamental valuation factors utilized to evaluate securities prior to inclusion/exclusion into the portfolio, our research driven approach views fundamental analysis as a three pronged approach:  free cash flow (earnings before, interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, minus the capital expenditures necessary to grow/maintain the business); earnings per share trends; and private market value (PMV), which encompasses on and off balance sheet assets and liabilities. Our team arrives at a PMV valuation by a rigorous assessment of fundamentals from publicly available information and judgement gained from meeting management, covering all size companies globally and our comprehensive, accumulated knowledge of a variety of sectors. We then identify businesses for the portfolio possessing the proper margin of safety and research variables from our deep research universe.

Class I USD - LU1216601648
Class I EUR - LU1216601564
Class A USD - LU1216600913
Class A EUR - LU1216600673
Class R USD - LU1453359900
Class R EUR - LU1453360155

The information and any opinions have been obtained from or are based on sources believed to be reliable but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. No responsibility can be accepted for any consequential loss arising from the use of this information. The information is expressed at its date and is issued only to and directed only at those individuals who are permitted to receive such information in accordance with the applicable statutes. In some countries the distribution of this publication may be restricted. It is your responsibility to find out what those restrictions are and observe them.
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