Monday, March 19, 2007

Why I sold Alberto-Culver

A few weeks ago, I sold a call option against Alberto-Culver and on Friday, the option was exercised. I can't think of a better way to sell my shares: I sold for $22.50, the price on Friday was $22.51, and I got paid 30¢ for the privilege. As a result, my total combined ratio (after taking a penny a share loss) is 25.92%.

I still have a few shares left, but I got out of the bulk of my position in Alberto, because my original thesis is no longer valid—Sally Beauty was spun off. As it happens, I estimate that I earned 17.47% (38.90% annualized) on the first purchase and 16.32% (46.72% annualized) on the second purchase. "New Alberto" did better than I prediced, so I'm quite pleased with the overall transaction.

I still think Alberto will outperform the market over the next 5 to 10 years, but I don't think it will be a dramatic overachiever. I'll maintain a minimal stake in the company for a long time, if only because it isn't cost-effective to sell. Based on the dividend discount model, I guesstimate the shares are worth closer to $25 apiece, but I'm happy to sell in order to free up cash for an even better opportunity that I hope to buy into within a few weeks.

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