BE Aerospace Pursuing Its Strategic Options Including Possible Spin

Shareholders heading to Winston-Salem yesterday for B/E Aerospace’s (BEAV) annual meeting were likely very disappointed (or worse) to hear that the meeting had been cancelled the day before. The company opted to postpone its annual gathering after issuing a press release stating that the company was engaged in a ‘Process to Explore Strategic Alternatives’. Hopefully the fact that the stock opened up over +10% on the news softened the blow for those stranded travelers.

The company, which manufactures seating for airplanes and distributes fasteners and other products, provided scant details aside from providing a vague description of ‘strategic alternatives’. These options could encompass ‘amongst others, a possible sale or merger of the Company; the sale, spin-off or other separation of selected businesses within B/E or other strategic transactions involving the Company or its businesses’. I wonder why they felt the need to include ‘amongst others’? It wasn’t open-ended enough already?

Luckily, analysts and the financial press were ready speculate about possible suitors and spinoff options. RBC’s Robert Stallard and Oppenheimer’s Yair Reiner tossed out a host of names for the cabin products business (seating) including GE (GE), Honeywell International (HON), Safran, Recaro Aircraft Seating and Zodiac Aerospace. Kepler Cheuvreux’s Christophe Menard thinks Zodiac is too small to pursue B/E on its own though. The distribution business would likely be the subject of any spinoff although it too could be attractive to acquirers such as Boeing (BA). Interestingly, analysts also noted that this announcement represents somewhat of a strategic shift by the company who as recently as April was in the midst of acquiring two other companies for itself.

While no timetable for a decision was given (or even a guarantee that one would be reached), Mr. Reiner suspects that BEAV must be deep into negotiations to have suspended its annual meeting. Obviously, we are rooting for a spin, but in the meantime we will just have to wait for an announcement to be made.

Disclosure: Author holds no position in any stock mentioned.