OMAHA — As Cabela’s reports its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday, questions about a sale of the entire company — or parts of it — most likely will take precedence over sales of guns, apparel and outdoors equipment.
The report will be the first time management has spoken publicly since the Sidney-based retailer announced in early December that it would undergo a “strategic review,” which often points to a sale of the company or parts of it. The move came after activist hedge fund Elliott Management in October declared an 11 percent stake in the company and said it would press for big changes.
Wall Streeters and residents of Sidney who are waiting to hear word on the future of the company should get some clues — if not the entire answer — on Thursday.
“It’s very rare that they would say nothing,” said Damien Park, managing partner at Hedge Fund Solutions in Philadelphia, which advises companies and investors on shareholder activism.
In such quarterly reports, company executives speak on a conference call with Wall Street analysts who pepper company leaders with questions.
“They’re going to have questions and they’re going to come out ahead of it,” Park said of Cabela’s, which employs about 2,000 people in Sidney, a town of 6,800 about six hours west of Omaha.
Elliott, the New York-based hedge fund, has said nothing beyond an initial government filing announcing its stake. In that filing, it noted potential ways to “unlock” the value of Cabela’s — including a sale of the company, or parts of it.
Since then, Bloomberg News has reported that Bass Pro Shops is interested in buying the company. Reuters also reported that Cabela’s was shopping itself around to private-equity firms. Cabela’s hasn’t commented on the sale talk. Elliott also hasn’t commented.
The company found itself under activist pressure after its stock price had fallen 37 percent in 2015 before Elliott announced its stake. Some have said the chain expanded too quickly and its sales suffered.
Elliott’s silence since the October announcement of its Cabela’s holdings might signal that the hedge fund is satisfied with the company’s actions so far, some hedge fund watchers say.
Andrew Burns, a senior research analyst with D.A. Davidson Co. in Portland, Oregon, who follows the company, said he’s expecting an update Thursday on the so-called strategic review process. But he said he isn’t expecting the announcement of a finalized deal — like a sale. Cabela’s probably needs more time to hammer something out, Burns said.
“That’s going to be top of mind for investors,” he said. “I wouldn’t expect any sort of conclusions, but maybe a little more than just the press release,” which announced the strategic review.
Another analyst who follows the company, Nathan Yates of Forward View Consulting, in Virginia, agreed.