From IOU to IPO: Obama’s Government Motors Folly

 

Read Shikha Dalmia at Forbes:

The General Motors IPO, the second largest ever, is arguably this decade’s most hyped financial event. But it might also turn out to be this decade’s biggest financial fiasco. Its timing is driven not by the financial needs of the company– or the interests of taxpayers who are poised to get royally screwed–but the election-year needs of the Obama administration.

[…] potential investors are likely to take a dim view of the company’s prospects right now, making it nearly impossible for taxpayers who still have somewhere between $40 billion to $60 billion “invested” in it to come out whole. For that to happen, the Treasury’s 304 million of the company’s 500 million common shares would need to average $131 to $197 per share, notes Brad Coulter director at O’Keefe & Associates, a Michigan-based corporate finance firm. That would put GM’s implied valuation at somewhere between $65 billion to $98 billion.

To understand just how absurdly high this is consider that Ford Motor Company, whose earnings are expected to be six times those of GM, has a market value of only $40 billion. “There is no rational reason for investors to choose GM relative to Ford right now,” notes Francis Gaskin of IPODesk.com. But even if investors valued both companies the same that would still represent a 50% loss for taxpayers. It was always unlikely that taxpayers would ever recover their entire investment, but a more auspiciously timed IPO might at least have limited their losses.

Tonight, in his Oval Office address on the Iraq War, President Obama will studiously avoid one very tarnished phrase. But, as Dalmia notes, if actions speak louder than words, the GM IPO makes for one very large MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner. Quite the backdrop for a prime time address.