Sources tell Bloomberg that shoe-maker Crocs (CROX) is discussing a possible range of deals with investment firm Blackstone Group (BX), but that a full-scale takeover of CROX is no longer likely.
CROX had held talks with a number of other private equity firms, including KKR & Co. (KKR) about a possible sale of the maker of colorful clogs, but no bids for Crocs materialized. CROX could still pursue a joint venture with Blackstone, or sell the investment firm a stake in CROX.
CROX stock climbed 10% to $13.89 a share on Tuesday, spurred by report of the buyout talks, boosting the CROX’s market capitalization to $1.23 billion; but that’s still a far cry from CROX’s $5.6 billion market cap back in 2007 — at the height of the clog-fad. Even with yesterday’s gains, this year, CROX stock is down 30% from a May peak of $17.95 a share.
The decline in CROX stock price has prompted takeover bids well below the level CROX management found acceptable, blocking a potential acquisition of CROX, a source said. On paper, CROX looks like a tempting buyout target. CROX had very little debt and $300 million in cash at the end of September. A private equity owner would be able to pare costs and boost CROX margins.
Rising competition from cheaper clog makers and poor retailing decisions, along with fading consumer interest in the brightly-colored shoes, caused CROX growth to falter after 2007. CROX is expected to post a $65 million annual profit this year, down from $131 million last year. In 2007, it earned $168 million. CROX missed its earnings estimates in the second quarter, and trimmed its outlook for the third quarter.
CROX stock fell about 1% in Thursday morning trading.