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So NXP Semiconductors NV (NASDAQ: NXPI) is being acquired by larger sector peer Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM). With a firm cash offer of $110 per NXP share on the table, the final value of this deal doesn't even depend on Qualcomm's stock prices.
That doesn't mean you should forget about NXP as a stand-alone stock. There are actually several ways this stock can still be useful -- even if you don't own any NXP shares yet.
Here are two simple ways you could still benefit from investing in NXP shares right now.
A nearly guaranteed 11% return in less than 14 months
NXP investors have left some headroom between the current stock price and Qualcomm's final cash offer. The buyout is expected to close before the end of calendar year 2017, so if you expect smooth sailing ahead, it's a near-certain 11% return in less than 14 months.
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To put that promise into perspective, the S&P 500 market index has delivered an average annual return of 7.7% over the last 30 years. With dividends reinvested along the way, the gains rise to an even 10%. Either way, that's no more than in line with NXP's annualized return of 9.6%. And if the deal closes just a couple of weeks early, NXP investors will have enjoyed a 10.4% gain in 13 months.
In short, this could be a profitable year-long parking spot for some of your capital, especially if you're just looking for a low-risk opportunity with limited-but-decent returns.
There is a downside to this strategy, of course.
There is no such thing as a free lunch, and Qualcomm's buyout offer may indeed fail. And that brings us to investment strategy No. 2...
A canceled buyout deal could be a great short-sale opportunity
Regulators and shareholders must still approve the agreement, after all. And if the deal falls apart, NXP would be back to life as a stand-alone business and stock. Even if everything is hunky dory at that point, share prices would probably plunge in the short term.
Adventurous investors who don't expect the Qualcomm-NXP deal to materialize could bet on it with a short sale or some combination of stock option plays. Now, these strategies are often risky because a rapidly rising share price could leave short-sellers upside down in a big way. But there's effectively a cap on NXP's upside here, thanks to the pending Qualcomm deal. So the current situation lets you mitigate the traditional risks of short sales while leaving plenty of room for a big win.
Again, no free lunches here. In my opinion, negative plays seem like unlikely winners at this point for several reasons.
NXP and Qualcomm may look similar to investors with little exposure to the semiconductor sector -- two of the world's largest chip designers are joining forces to create an even larger behemoth. Why wouldn't antitrust regulators hate that kind of deal?
But the two companies actually have very few customers and end markets in common. NXP focuses on security solutions and automotive computing. Qualcomm is a huge player in mobile communications. There's no real antitrust issue to worry about here.
And if you think that NXP investors might feel slighted by a small buyout premium, think again. Sure, NXP shares only rose 2% when the Qualcomm offer was announced, but deal rumors had already baked in a lot of the expected premium by then. And don't forget about the still-pending 11% we discussed earlier. Taken together, you're looking at a 34% premium compared to NXP's share prices before the rumor mill started spinning in September. That's a generous offer by any measure, and quite likely to get shareholder approval.
So whether you expect this big-ticket business combination to close or not, there are ways to take advantage of the situation. If you used to think of NXP as a high-octane growth opportunity, on the other hand, things have changed and you should look elsewhere for that type of investment opportunityuntil further notice.
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