Cramer drills down on Honeywell’s breakup to see if it will pay off

Investing


When the broader market is strong, sometimes CNBC’s Jim Cramer likes to zoom in on specific companies to review what they’re doing right.

On Friday, Cramer turned to Honeywell, the massive industrial conglomerate manufacturing aircraft engines, climate control systems, security equipment and other specialty products.

“Honeywell’s stock has roared up over 25 percent year to date and I think a lot of that strength comes down to the fact that the company’s management is quite simply very thoughtful and very rigorous,” the “Mad Money” host said. “They’re patient, they’re deliberate, and they know how to establish smart processes then let them play out.”

This methodology came in handy in March, when Honeywell’s longtime CEO David Cote stepped down after 15 years at his post. The board picked Darius Adamczyk, the company’s former president and chief operating officer, as Cote’s successor after a thorough, 10-year-long search.

“If you thought this guy was some untried and untested newcomer, you’re sorely mistaken. He is whip-smart and really knows the company. Cote had been grooming him for years and by the time Adamczyk took over he was more than ready,” Cramer said.

Less than a month after taking on the role, Adamczyk was confronted with a challenge from activist investor Dan Loeb and his firm, Third Point.

Loeb, who has incited activist campaigns at various companies including Dow Chemical and Yahoo, wanted Honeywell to spin off its aerospace business, which accounts for almost 40 percent of its sales. He argued that, by spinning off its aerospace arm, Honeywell could unlock $20 billion in shareholder value.

While it’s easy for activist situations to turn contentious — just look at Nelson Peltz’s drawn-out proxy fight with Procter & Gamble — Honeywell calmly took Loeb’s advice under consideration as part of a larger review of its own business.

When the review results came in, Honeywell announced it would indeed be splitting itself up, even as it would keep most of its aerospace business as part of the main company.

“It was a huge shift, yet the stock hasn’t done much since the news broke, even though the company also pre-announced a strong quarter that same day,” Cramer said. “Personally, I think the lack of investor enthusiasm could be a fabulous buying opportunity for you.”

After careful deliberation, Honeywell decided that spinning off its aircraft business was thinking too small, Cramer said.

Instead, the company will break off its home technologies and ADI global distribution segments into one publicly-traded company, and its transportation systems segment into another publicly-traded company, a plan endorsed by Loeb and Third Point.

The new home company will deal in air conditioning, heating and ventilation as well as security systems and fire protection; the transportation entity will make and distribute Honeywell’s turbocharger technology for cars and trucks.

As for the rest of Honeywell, Adamczyk said it will keep “high-growth businesses in six attractive industrial end markets” tied to energy, infrastructure, urbanization and safety.

“This is all about getting Wall Street to give the stock the credit it really does deserve, unlocking it. Money managers have trouble analyzing big conglomerates. They just do. But a leaner, stripped-down Honeywell with laser focus will be easier to get your head around,” Cramer said. “It makes me want to be a buyer.”

If the company was valued more simply, like competitor 3M, Cramer said it would get a higher price-to-earnings multiple and Honeywell’s $145 stock could trade up to $205.

“What can I say? Being thoughtful pays off, and I bet this stock has a lot more room to run,” he said.



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