Broadcom Stock Dives on Software Deal Doubts

Investors question the logic behind the chipmaker's $18.9 billion acquistion of enteprise software firm CA Technologies.
Matthew HellerJuly 12, 2018

Broadcom shares crashed on Thursday as investors questioned the strategic rationale behind its $18.9 billion acquisition of infrastructure software provider CA Technologies.

The deal is Broadcom’s first since the company in March dropped its offer to buy rival chipmaker Qualcomm amid pushback from the Trump administration.

Under CEO Hock Tan, Broadcom had appeared to be focused on growth through complementary hardware acquisitions. CA Technologies, though, makes cloud-based and traditional enterprise software products.

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In a news release announcing the deal on Wednesday, Tan said it “represents an important building block as we create one of the world’s leading infrastructure technology companies.”

“With its sizeable installed base of customers, CA is uniquely positioned across the growing and fragmented infrastructure software market, and its mainframe and enterprise software franchises will add to our portfolio of mission critical technology businesses,” he added.

But Broadcom stock fell more than 15% on Thursday, reflecting investors’ doubts over the potential synergies between the two companies.

“This deal runs completely against the investment narrative that management has been articulating since their attempt to buy Qualcomm,” Instinet analyst Romit Shah wrote. “Management has stressed that Broadcom is focused on delivering shareholder value through organic growth, capital return and tuck-in acquisitions. This deal hurts management’s credibility, in our opinion.”

Vijay Rakesh at Mizuho said investors were surprised Broadcom was making an acquisition that “strays from its hardware focus with little overlap with current strategy.”

Under the terms of the agreement, CA’s shareholders will receive $44.50 per share in cash, a premium of about 20% to the closing price on Wednesday. “This combination aligns our expertise in software with Broadcom’s leadership in the semiconductor industry,” Mike Gregoire, CA’s chief executive, said.

The Register noted that there is a “huge gap” between CA and “a company which designs and produces silicon, and whose sales and marketing operations are geared towards getting product engineers to recommend their chips rather than those from Qualcomm, Marvell, and the like.”

But the publication also suggested CA’s recurring revenue may be “attractive to Broadcom given the ups and downs of the world’s waxing and waning demand for smartphones and other consumer gadgets.”