On April 26, I told you this (skip all but the bold face):
Here’s an interesting speculation I do not recommend. I’ve bought some myself, but that’s me. I can’t help myself sometimes. If you buy it and lose, I could never forgive myself.
But let me back up. Remember how, in the days of the South Sea Bubble, people were raising money for all manner of ocean-faring expeditions? No? Well, this was the early Eighteenth Century, so even I would have been too young to remember it clearly. (Where is Strom Thurmond when you need him?) But it happened. And one of the ventures was famously undertaken for an enterprise the specifics of which ‘could not be revealed’ – yet found funding anyway.
Well, today, apparently, accomplished financiers are raising money for SPAC’s – Single Purpose Acquisition Companies – and, although it is a small and arcane field about which I know very little (where is due diligence when you need it?), I am told it works this way, or at least did in the case of Aldabra Acquisition Corporation:
The company is formed by someone with a reputation for being good at this, and raises a bunch of money to make an acquisition – just what acquisition that might be remaining to be seen. In return for their cash, investors get stock and warrants and the promise (if I’ve got this right) that if no acquisition is made within 18 months – the first dozen of which have now passed – yes, their warrants to buy more stock will expire worthless, but they will get their original cash returned to them.
So their main risk is losing the use of the cash for eighteen months . . . while, if the acquisition does get done and proves savvy, well, happy days are here again.
And what some of the initial investors do, apparently, is sell the warrants in the public market, so that, even if no acquisition is made, they make an immediate 12% or so on their investment, 100% of which is then returned 18 months later. Not so terrible. And if an acquisition is made, their stock itself may rise smartly. They win small or they win big, but they win.
So yesterday I bought a bunch of the warrants – ALBAW.OB is the symbol – at 70 cents each, and in an aggregate amount I can afford to lose.
I’ve done no research on this except to know that someone smarter than me will lose three times as much if this doesn’t work (famous last words, by the way) . . . and that the people behind all this will lose a million or two in expenses if they don’t wind up concluding an acquisition before the clock runs out.
In that sorry case, my 70 cents per warrant is gone. Game over. The gamble is that they will do a deal, and that the warrants will rise smartly when they do.
At which point one could either sell them for a short-term capital gain or exercise them and hold the underlying stock in hope of a lightly-taxed long-term capital gain sometime later.
‘Ah,’ you’re thinking. ‘It has come to this.’
Well, yes it has: there is a limit to the number of times I can tell you to pay off your credit cards, quit smoking, and buy fuel efficient cars. The occasional SPAC spec adds zest. It is the piquant sauce on an Antoine’s oyster.
Well, yesterday they did do a deal – ‘Aldabra Acquisition Corporation to Merge with Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Corporation’ – so that part of the gamble worked out just fine. But the stock and the warrants went down (the warrants are now around 38 cents), which was not how this was supposed to work. You see how hard it is to be greedy? I try so hard to get rich without effort, yet am thwarted at every turn.
‘Great Lakes is the largest provider of dredging services in the United States.’ What the Aldabra people may have missed in selecting this acquisition is that, with the oceans rising (have you seen the movie?), dredging will no longer be required. Why didn’t they merge with Great Lakes Pontoon and Life Raft instead?
(I’m not selling.)
Quote of the Day
In 1800, 75% of [an American's] working man's expenditures went for food alone. By 1850, that had dropped to 50%. Today it is a little more than 11%.~The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1996
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