One of the most popular investment topics over the trailing year, special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) have admittedly lost much of their luster. Due to underperformance in the year-to-date relative to benchmark equity indices, SPACs have left a sour taste in the mouths of retail investors. Ironically, though, business experts viewed SPACs cynically as a democratized opportunity, a “poor man’s private equity funds,” using Bloomberg Businessweek’s description.
So far, many SPACs have unfortunately become a double entendre. Certainly, they are democratized opportunities because they essentially put all investors on equal footing. Also known as blank-check firms or shell companies because they have no underlining operations, SPACs launch their own initial public offering for the purpose of finding and merging with a viable enterprise. Once approved by shareholders, a business combination occurs between the shell company and the merger target.
One of the positives about SPACs is that retail investors can jump onboard as soon as the blank-check firm makes its IPO, well before a merger announcement. Typically, a shell company’s stock will debut at $10 (or even a little bit less due to the risks of the unknown). Nevertheless, retail buyers can hop on board in faith that the SPAC’s sponsors will find a lucrative deal. But as post-business combination underperformances demonstrated, participants must perform due diligence before pulling the trigger.
Unfortunately, while the poor man’s private equity funds have provided ground floor prospects, they’ve also made those same folks poor due to lack of awareness. As I’ve discussed previously, SPACs are incredibly dilutive. At the same time, they do open the floor to investment ideas that you would ordinarily not see since this special financial vehicle makes the IPO process for a private enterprise much less onerous regulations-wise than a traditional IPO.
Ultimately, banking on blank-check firms is a highly speculative venture, especially if you’re doing so before the merger announcement. At the same time, there’s an argument to be made that getting in early gives you the best chance for massive upside. If you’re willing to take a shot — but please, only with money you can afford to lose — take a look at these pre-merger SPACs.
- Armada Acquisition Corp. I (NASDAQ:AACIU)
- AfterNext HealthTech Acquisition Corp (NYSE:AFTR)
- AxonPrime Infrastructure Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ:APMIU)
- Argus Capital Corp (NASDAQ:ARGUU)
- Artemis Strategic Investment Corp (NASDAQ:ARTEU)
- Accelerate Acquisition Corp. (NYSE:AAQC)
- 26 Capital Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ:ADER)
Finally, be aware that SPACs can end up choosing any company they wish for a business combo, even if their prospectus mentions a specific target sector or industry. Therefore, take anything you see below and the prospectuses you read with a heavy grain of salt.
Pre-Merger SPACs: Armada Acquisition Corp. I (AACIU)
In August of this year, Armada Acquisition Corp. I closed its IPO, which featured the distribution of 15 million shares priced at $10 per unit, for gross proceeds of $150 million. The equity unit started trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol AACIU.
Per its corporate statement, Armada may pursue any business combination it sees fit — again, a common caveat of buying pre-merger SPACs. However, its sponsors mentioned the following:
“[Armada Acquisition] intends to focus its search on a business in the financial technology industry, with an enterprise value of approximately $500 million to $1.0 billion, with particular emphasis on businesses that are providing digital, on-line, or mobile payment solutions, processing and gateway services, point-of-sale technology, consumer engagement platforms, and ecommerce or loyalty solutions.”
If I were to speculate on AACIU stock, I’m really hoping that the underlying shell company will find a mobile payment solutions provider. Per Allied Market Research, the “global mobile payment market size was valued at $1.48 trillion in 2019, and is projected to reach $12.06 trillion by 2027, growing at a CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 30.1% from 2020 to 2027.”
AfterNext HealthTech Acquisition Corp (AFTR)
Also in August, AfterNext HealthTech Acquisition Corp. made its public market debut, in this case on the New York Stock Exchange. The blank-check firm priced its IPO at $10 per unit, offering 25 million shares under the deal. Though AfterNext could theoretically combine with a hotdog stand, the SPAC’s healthcare focus — it’s practically in the name — makes a radical about-face unlikely.
Further, per the shell firm’s corporate statement, “AfterNext is led by industry veterans Halsey Wise and Anthony Colaluca. The Company’s operator-led team is specialized and purpose-built, with a proven track record of creating value across the technology and healthcare industries. The Company intends to focus on the industries that align with the background of its founders and board, with a particular emphasis placed on the HealthTech sector.”
Since banking on pre-merger SPACs requires a heavy dose of faith in the sponsors, you’ll want to perform your due diligence on the executive track record. Nevertheless, let’s also be fair — past executive performance does not guarantee (nor even imply) future success.
Globally, Grand View Research states that the digital health market size reached a valuation of $96.5 billion last year. By 2028, this sector could command revenue of $295.4 billion, giving AfterNext’s possible business combo a wide addressable market.
Pre-Merger SPACs: AxonPrime Infrastructure Acquisition Corp (APMIU)
Another SPAC IPO that made its debut within the past two months of this writing, AxonPrime Infrastructure Acquisition Corp priced its deal of 15 million shares at a per-unit price of $10. Shares are now trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol APMIU.
One of the more intriguing SPACs based on the shell company’s stated merger intentions, per its corporate statement, AxonPrime “intends to focus its search on potential targets that are developing breakthrough scientific and technological innovations in the areas of communication, robotics, building and construction technology, water, 3D printing, and semiconductors.”
Granted, this is a wide net and it will be impossible to cover every potential angle in a paragraph or two. However, if the company goes into the 3D printing market — particularly on the commercial scale as the “infrastructure” in its name implies — APMIU could be a viable upside candidate.
Mainly, Today.com noted that companies using industrial 3D printing services are able to build homes at half the cost they would ordinarily incur. Given the incredible — and some would say unsustainable housing market — AxonPrime is at least worth consideration with your gambling money.
Argus Capital Corp (ARGUU)
In the second half of September of this year, Argus Capital Corp. launched its IPO, distributing 26.5 million shares at a price of $10 per unit. Shares began trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol ARGUU on Sept. 22.
Now, what makes Argus Capital shares distinct from the other SPACs mentioned is that at time of writing, ARGUU is trading at a slight premium over its initial offering price. At $10.12, a 1% upside difference probably isn’t going to be a huge deal for you. However, if the blank-check firm fails to secure a business combination, you’ll get your money back at the initial rate, not at a dime over $10.
So, that’s a risk factor for SPACs that carry a premium over its IPO price. Make no mistake about it — contrary to misleading information out there, blank-check firms can go awry on you.
As for Argus Capital, its prospectus states that it’s “targeting businesses across the tech-driven media landscape.” Adding credibility to ARGUU stock, Argus’ management team features former ViacomCBS (NASDAQ:VIAC) executives, along with higher-ups from Fortune 500 companies. With so much emphasis on streaming and home entertainment following the pandemic, this one is worth considering for its relevance.
Pre-Merger SPACs: Artemis Strategic Investment Corp (ARTEU)
One of the most recent SPACs that entered the public arena, Artemis Strategic Investment Corp announced the pricing of its IPO on Sept. 29, with the deal involving the sale of 17.5 million shares at a per-unit price of $10. The equity unit trades on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol ARTEU.
Like Argus Capital above, at the time of writing, ARTEU stock is trading at a very small premium, four cents above its initial offering price. Nevertheless, shrewd investors may want to wait out the market and see if the SPAC will drop lower. That way, if the blank-check firm fails to find a business combo, your redemption price will be higher than your buy-in price, allowing you (not including opportunity cost) a risk-free yield.
Of course, the SPAC will do its best to find a deal, seeking per its prospectus businesses involving “casino gaming, sports, sports betting and iGaming, distributed gaming, gaming technology and equipment, lodging, social and casual mobile games, restaurants, fitness and wellness, live entertainment and leisure.”
Naturally, investors will be interested in the sports betting angle (perhaps the reason why ARTEU carries that slight premium) as a U.S. Supreme Court ruling paved the way for a gambling paradigm shift.
Accelerate Acquisition Corp. (AAQC)
In March of this year, Accelerate Acquisition Corp. closed its IPO of 40 million shares priced at $10 per unit. Shares are trading in the NYSE under the ticker symbol AAQC. UBS Investment Bank acted as the sole bookrunning manager for the deal.
What makes AAQC enticing amid a sea of pre-merger SPACs is its leadership team. Supported by former executives in blue-chip firms like Home Depot (NYSE:HD), General Electric (NYSE:GE) and IBM (NYSE:IBM), Acceleration Acquisition has an impressive resume. The other factor that will likely draw interest is the time-of-writing price of AAQC.
Trading hands at $9.72 a pop, AAQC represents a nearly 3% discount from its initial offering price. That means you can pick up shares now if you believe in management’s ability to find a viable business combo and if not, you can secure a 3% yield for your troubles. Just keep in mind the opportunity cost: a 3% yield over an approximately one-and-a-half-year period is a pittance for what you might be able to get with a different investment.
Also, the company hasn’t truly pinpointed what it wants, mentioning megatrends like automation, manufacturing, robotics, mobility and environmental sustainability, among many others. Perhaps that’s the reason why AAQC is trading at a slight discount.
Pre-Merger SPACs: 26 Capital Acquisition Corp. (ADER)
In January of this year, 26 Capital Acquisition Corp. closed its upsized IPO involving the sale of 27.5 million shares at a per-unit price of $10. This included 3.5 million units that the SPAC issued regarding underwriter exercise of its over-allotment option. Solely running the books was Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. Shares trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ADER.
Similar to the situation with Acceleration Acquisition above, 26 Capital Acquisition shares are trading at a discount at time of writing, $9.74 versus the initial offering price of $10. Again, we’re talking about a yield of just under 3% should you decide to go through with ADER stock. But the difference here is that 26 Capital IPO’d several months earlier than most of the SPACs above. Therefore, you have less time till redemption if no business combo is found.
Still, you must be aware of the opportunity costs involved with holding up your money. Also, you want to buy SPACs because you believe in the potential, not for sub-standard yields.
For its part, the blank-check firm is seeking “high quality businesses in the gaming and gaming technology, branded consumer, lodging and entertainment, or Internet commerce sectors.” Should it move with the gaming industry, ADER could enjoy massive upside due to the pandemic-related catalyst of gaming consumption during the lockdowns.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.