Embedded-chip specialist NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ: NXPI) is in a weird state of limbo these days. The company has a firm buyout offer from larger peer Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), ready to sign as soon as one last regulatory approval comes in. But that approval has been pending for several months. Investors don't quite know whether the buyout will close or not.
So NXP shares are hovering more than 12% below Qualcomm's all-cash offer of $127.50 per share. Is this the perfect time to get greedy about NXP's pricing gap, or would your hard-earned money be more effective somewhere else?
The "yea" case
In a perfect world, the final thumbs-up from Chinese regulators could turn up at any moment. After 17 months of wrangling and foot-dragging, Qualcomm would then execute whatever pre-closing concessions the final approval might require and put this thing to bed. NXP shareholders would receive a cash payment of $127.50 per share, which is more than 12% above current prices and a pretty great return on a short-term investment. They will then be free to invest that cash in Qualcomm shares -- or in anything else, and the options include simply holding on to the cash instead.
This makes sense if you expect a positive outcome from the final chapter in Qualcomm's buyout struggles. And why not? Qualcomm recently had President Trump himself reach in and chase away an unwelcome hostile takeover bid from Broadcom (NASDAQ: AVGO). With friends in high places, Qualcomm should be able to overcome nearly any roadblock along the way.
If the deal does fall apart at the goal line, Qualcomm would owe NXP a $1.7 billion breakup fee. On top of that, there's nothing stopping NXP from running a great stand-alone business, and some would argue that the stock remains undervalued even at $127.50 per share. So you buy now and suffer through some volatility around a potential thumbs-down action, then sit back and watch the stock rising by NXP's own power for years to come.
The "nay" case
Or you could assume the worst. China won't give Qualcomm the go-ahead to close its $44 billion buyout of NXP, share prices plunge on the news, and the company never comes back from that deep, dark trough.
This outcome would require NXP to lose ground in the automotive computing and Internet of Things markets, making it less attractive both to Qualcomm and as a stand-alone business. Sea changes happen every day, so nothing is impossible. This could happen, and then you'd look smart for staying away from NXP's shares at their current prices.
The final verdict: Go ahead and buy
In the end, I think you'll be a happy NXP shareholder either way. If China gets its regulatory act together, the deal could close any day now and give you an instant 12% pop. That's not a bad return for a yearlong holding, and a downright excellent result for a stock you've held for only a few days or a couple of weeks.
And if the Qualcomm deal falls apart, I'm sure that NXP's share prices will plunge at first. But in the long run, it remains an excellent business with a leading role in the automotive computing industry. Yes, things could change, but that risk is pretty slim in the short term.
The stock is trading at just 14.5 times forward earnings today -- bargain-bin pricing for an explosive growth stock. You might want to snap up more NXP shares if and when the bottom drops out, but buying the stock today is a great start.
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Anders Bylund has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool recommends Broadcom Ltd and NXP Semiconductors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.