Just a few short years ago, if you were to ask your average retail investor what a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is, chances are, you’d get plenty of blank stares. Now, SPACs are all the rage, which presents both opportunities and concerns. Frankly, it’s difficult not to have some doubts regarding these shell companies because of their underperformance post-merger.
Indeed, if you were to compare business combinations stemming from SPAC-based initial public offerings, you’d find that the market subsegment is conspicuously lagging the performance of benchmark indices. Much of the reason why SPACs have a poor reputation is that they are dilutive. According to Harvard Law School, during the process of finding a merger target, “SPACs give shares, warrants, and rights to parties that do not contribute cash to the eventual merger.”
Sure, you can debate whether the cash contribution question is all that critical to the narrative. However, the numbers are the numbers. Per a CNBC report this past September, it declared the SPAC boom over, with a majority of deals trading under the key $10 level or the typical initial offering price for SPACs. Under such a backdrop, you might not want to consider shell companies.
However, it’s also fair to point out that over a trailing-month period, SPACs have started to look significantly better. That’s not to say that the segment won’t experience volatility, because it very well might. Nevertheless, it’s encouraging that in some respects that sponsors of these blank-check firms are still wheeling and dealing, presenting possible upside prospects for speculators.
And while SPACs are risky because of their blind bet nature, keep in mind that without SPACs, retail investors may not have the library of opportunities available to them. So, if you want to take a chance, here are some shell companies that can have a banner moment heading into 2022.
- Austerlitz Acquisition Corp II (NYSE:ASZ)
- Ares Acquisition Corp (NYSE:AAC)
- Apollo Strategic Growth Capital (NYSE:APSG)
- Bridgetown Holdings (NASDAQ:BTWN)
- CF Acquisition IV Corp (NASDAQ:CFIV)
- Atlas Crest Investment Corp II (NYSE:ACII)
- African Gold Acquisition Corp (NYSE:AGAC)
Before you venture into the world of blank-check firms, you should always perform your due diligence, not only on the intended industry a SPAC is eyeballing, but also the management team behind the shell company. Essentially, SPACs are wagers in people — and you want to deal with the best. Even then, just beware that this is no guarantee for upside success.
SPACs for 2022: Austerlitz Acquisition Corp II (ASZ)
One of the most hotly anticipated SPACs in terms of its long-term potential, Austerlitz Acquisition Corp II is one of the older names of available pre-merger blank-check firms. Back in late February of this year, the shell company announced the terms for its IPO, announcing the distribution of 120 million shares at $10 per unit.
Further, Austerlitz’s press release disclosed that the underwriters of the offering have the option to purchase up to 18 million shares at the aforementioned price. In total, SPACtrack.net revealed that the trust value for ASZ stock is $1.38 billion, the largest figure on the list of SPACs actively searching for a merger target.
Of course, one of the biggest reasons why investors are intrigued about Austerlitz’s potential is its sponsor, legendary businessman Bill Foley. A leader with a long track record, if anybody can sniff out a deal in the financial technology (fintech) market — the SPAC’s expressed choice of industry — it’s Foley.
Still, a word to the wise. Foley also helped engineer the Paysafe (NYSE:PSFE) deal, which at a year-to-date loss of 73% has many folks very upset. Therefore, past results do not guarantee future performance.
Ares Acquisition Corp (AAC)
The second largest (in terms of trust value) of the SPACs still searching for a business combination, Ares Acquisition Corp had quite the debut. In early February of this year, the blank-check firm announced the closing of its upsized $1 billion IPO. Specifically, the deal called for distributing 87 million Class A common stock at a price of $10 per unit.
As well, underwriters exercised their over-allotment option of 13 million shares at the aforementioned price. Per SPACtrack.net, Ares has a trust value of just over $1.2 billion. Now, what makes AAC particularly intriguing is that the shell company is in merger talks with Equinox Holdings, an American luxury fitness firm and the owner of the popular SoulCycle fitness routine and at-home bike.
As you know, the in-person fitness industry took a massive hit from the coronavirus pandemic. However, with people making up for a lost year in 2020, there’s an immensely strong incentive for consumers to reclaim their lives.
In addition, you’ve got to figure that people are ready to meet that special someone. And that means looking your best, which could further work to Ares Acquisition’s favor.
SPACs for 2022: Apollo Strategic Growth Capital (APSG)
Two factors make Apollo Strategic Growth Capital intriguing. First, this is one of the biggest offerings among SPACs, with a current trust value of $1 billion. While you don’t want to read too much into the size of the IPO, that it attracts significant capital is a positive sign that institutional investors trust the management team to secure a business combination.
The second interesting factor is timing. Apollo Strategic Growth announced the terms of its IPO in October 2020, which involved the distribution of 75 million shares at the usual $10 price tag. Further, the company granted its underwriters a 45-day option to purchase up to 11.25 million additional shares to cover any over-allotments.
At the time of writing, no rumors exist regarding what company Apollo desires to merge with. But for the shrewd speculator, that means the clock is ticking. Usually, SPACs have around two years to secure a deal. Otherwise, in many cases, the blank-check firm closes shop and investors get their money back — at the redemption rate of $10.
Therefore, if you acquire pre-merger-announcement SPAC shares below $10, you can redeem at $10, giving you risk-free profitability (minus, of course, the opportunity cost of holding up your money). It’s something to think about if APSG continues to find itself in single-digit territory.
Bridgetown Holdings (BTWN)
If I were to get involved with SPACs right now, I’d take a long hard look at Bridgetown Holdings. Like the other shell companies mentioned on this list, Bridgetown is a sizable entity. In October 2020, the SPAC announced the closing of its IPO, which featured the sale of 55 million shares at $10 per unit.
UBS Securities and BTIG acted as joint bookrunners for the deal. Moreover, Bridgetown granted them a 45-day option to purchase an additional 8.25 million shares to cover any over-allotments. Per the latest data, the SPAC has a trust account of $595.3 million.
Now onto the fun stuff. According to its IPO prospectus, management disclosed that it’s seeking a business combination with a firm tied to the “technology, financial services, or media sectors in Southeast Asia.” According to many analysts, Southeast Asia is primed for growth. For instance, the Covid-19 impact saw the region add 40 million new internet users in 2020, bringing the internet penetration rate up to 70%.
Therefore, if Bridgetown can find a viable merger target within the stated market, BTWN would at least enjoy a very robust ecosystem.
SPACs for 2022: CF Acquisition IV Corp (CFIV)
If you’re the type to roll the dice, you may want to consider CF Acquisition IV Corp. Back in December 2020, the shell company announced the terms of its upsized IPO, which saw the firm offer 45 million shares at $10 a pop. As well, the underwriter of the deal — Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., which was the sole bookrunner — had the option of acquiring an additional 6.75 million shares to cover over-allotments, if any.
Following the IPO, CF Acquisition had $500 million in trust, making it one of the bigger SPACs still searching for a merger target. According to its prospectus, CF Acquisition is considering a merger within the following industries: financial services, healthcare, real estate services, technology and software industries.
Given the broad and frankly disparate sectors, it’s hard to pinpoint the potential of CFIV stock. Nevertheless, it’s possible that CF is heavily focused on real estate technologies based on the expertise of the sponsor, Howard W. Lutnick.
If that turns out to be the case, there’s plenty of potential due to the booming housing market. However, as historical data shows, rising energy prices tends to have an inverse correlation with housing prices.
This time could be different but you never know.
Atlas Crest Investment Corp II (ACII)
Despite the intense interest in SPACs, the vehicle itself has been underwhelming following their business combinations. Some say that it could be that we’re in a SPAC bubble; that is, with so many private enterprises choosing to go public via the “backdoor” method, this segment of the IPO market may be oversaturated.
Further, due to the less-rigorous vetting process for SPACs as opposed to traditional IPOs, too many businesses may have bit off more than they could chew. However, it’s quite possible that Atlas Crest Investment Corp II could buck this trend.
Let’s start first with the basics. In February of this year, Atlas announced the closing of its upsized IPO, which involved the distribution of 34.5 million shares at $10 per unit. Further, Atlas granted the sole bookrunner, Cantor Fitzgerald, an over-allotment option of 4.5 million shares.
What makes ACII stand out is its industry focus: “media, fintech/payments, software and technology enabled services, online gaming/sports betting, healthcare and disruptive consumer.” Should the company seek a business combination with a sports betting enterprise, it may have a better chance for sustained success.
Keep in mind that some of the longer-term top performers among SPACs feature sports-betting angles, including DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) and to a lesser extent Golden Nugget Online Gaming (NASDAQ:GNOG).
SPACs for 2022: African Gold Acquisition Corp (AGAC)
While SPACs have brought much color to the public market, they usually tend to bring technology or software-related enterprises to the investing arena. However, with African Gold Acquisition Corp, the management team has a far more elemental approach.
In early March of this year, African Gold Acquisition announced the closing of its upsized IPO, which featured the sale of 36 million shares at a price of $10 per unit. B. Riley Securities represented the sole bookrunner for the IPO, which received an over-allotment acquisition option of 5.4 million shares at the aforementioned price. Presently, the SPAC has a trust value of about $505 million.
As you can guess from its name, African Gold Acquisition seeks an enterprise in the gold mining sector. Given the uncertainties of the post-Covid economy and the favorable backdrop of the fear trade, AGAC garnered early interest. Since late August, shares have started to pick up again, this time due to inflation fears.
Anytime you’re dealing with precious metals and the mining sector, you’ve got to watch out for the very real possibility of downside movements. However, the Financial Times reports that U.S. consumer sentiment hit a 10-year low recently due to surging costs of everything.
Certainly, the timing is a huge benefit for AGAC.
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.