Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Syms Legal Battle Continues On...

With Syms, there always seems to be some sort of wrangling going on... The recent court battle is no exception.

A few weeks ago, Judge Thomas Oliveri gave an order for Syms to turn over it's book to Esopus Creek (Page 1, 2, and 3 of said order)... This was after the company and the activists went back and forth in the courtroom over keeping the company's books hidden from shareholders. When the judge ruled for the plaintiff, Syms immediately requested a stay, which was denied on the spot.

Now, it seems that the parties involved in the case are still going back and forth as an agreement has yet to be reached. Due to the judges scheduling, it seems that there won't be any more clarity until the first week of October. With all of this said, the case has yet to be appealed.

This is particularly interesting, as, during the original hearing on August 1st, it was made known (at several points during the hearing) that there is the potential for a derivative lawsuit against Syms. Here is a quote from Judge Oliveri in the case:

"And the plaintiff seeks to examine books and records of account and minutes of Syms' in order to investigate potential mismanagement of Syms and to investigate the filing of a derivative action."

In addition to this quote from the case, it is reassuring for shareholders everywhere that a case like this (which references club deals and LBOs, similar to that of what Syms could, and arguably, has tried to do) is getting some life breathed into it by a federal judge. This combination could prove to be a catalyst coming to fruition much sooner than I had originally expected... Though, with that said these court cases can go on for a long time. In the meantime, the company is trying to revitalize operations... Plus, there is the mound of real estate that is tremendously understated on their books!

From where I sit, with Syms comfortably selling below tangible book value (and, with what appears to be room to bleed for a while) shareholders presently have a nice margin of safety... Everything else- the activism, the chance of a management buyout, and the chance of a turnaround, is purely icing on the cake that isn't paid for when buying the stock.

Disclosure: Long Syms. This is not advice or a recommendation of any kind. Always do a ton of your own research in regard to anything that I say, do, write, or so much as even think about.

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