Keith Meister's Thesis on YUM Brands China Spin-Off; Talks Pandora & Williams ~ market folly

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Keith Meister's Thesis on YUM Brands China Spin-Off; Talks Pandora & Williams

Keith Meister of activist firm Corvex Capital was just interviewed by CNBC where he talked about YUM Brands (YUM), Pandora (P), shareholder activism and more.  On the market in general, he said he's bullish on his individual positions but not necessarily the market in general.  He notes, "I'm not a buyer of the market here, per se.  My guess is we're more near a top than a bottom."

Meister on YUM Brands Spin-Off

Corvex is the largest shareholder of YUM and will spin-off its China business to shareholders on November 1st and he believes it's "1 plus 1 equals more than 2."

He notes that the remaining HoldCo will be a 98% franchised, asset light business in the quick service food industry.

Meister says the China co is a different story as 7,500 restaurants (KFC, Pizza Hut) in China gives them a huge advantage as they were first to move and have become the dominant player there in the QSR space and they can now go into tier 2 and tier 3 cities.  He acknowledges that it will be a volatile ride, but says it can be an 'up and to the right' chart over time.

He argues it should trade at 10-12x EBITDA after spin-off, but acknowledged it could start trading around 8x which would basically be trough earnings.  "The market's not gonna make it easy to own YUM China, but that's where I think the best return will be."

He feels the remaining HoldCo will trade more like an annuity, with smoother returns. 

On shareholder activism, Meister says that these types of investors are simply trying to buy good businesses, help make positive changes, and acting like an owner in the public markets.

Meister on Pandora (P)

Meister still owns Pandora (P).  When asked if they're going to sell themselves, he said he didn't know.  He compared the company to competitor Spotify and notes the gap in valuation as one is private and one is public.   He argues that music is so core to many tech players these days (Apple, Amazon, etc) and he says "so it's a hugely valuable piece of property for someone who wants to win."

He concedes the streaming business is a commodity business, but argues that Pandora isn't due to the built up userbase as an asset.

Meister on Williams (WMB)

The Corvex founder also talked about Williams (WMB) and has left the board and commended the company on the work done.  He personally feels that the company has "undermaximized the opportunity set" over the past 5 years.

He thinks it could probably be worth more as part of another entity.  He thinks consolidation is happening and you don't want to be left out.  "It's hard to build new pipeline, so it makes existing pipeline more valuable." 

We'll post up the video of the interview once it's released.  Be sure to also check out CNBC's interview with David Tepper from yesterday, as well as their conversation with Carl Icahn.

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