This Breakup Was Long Overdue
Some breakups take longer than others. Hollywood hookups are lucky to last a month, but Advanced Micro Devices (NYS: AMD) just put the finishing touches on a separation more than three years in the making. Kim Kardashian should be taking notes.
AMD's manufacturing arm is now entirely out of the company's hands. GlobalFoundries becomes the sole property of the Abu Dhabi-based Advanced Technology Investment Company. Most of the time, companies get paid for divesting unwanted operations. In this case, AMD is paying ATIC $425 million in cash for the privilege. You'll see a $703 million charge for this transaction in AMD's next report.
Investors are hating this endgame with a passion -- AMD shares fell 5.5% as of this writing, and the downward trend continues.
That's probably not the right reaction. Recall that AMD jumped 30% when the plan to unload its manufacturing operations was first announced. This relationship hasn't exactly been fruitful, including a $200 million goodwill writedown in the latest reported quarter. Don't let the door hit you in the back, darlin'; the faster AMD can end this dead-end partnership, the better.
Chief rival Intel (NAS: INTC) claims its beefy manufacturing know-how as a competitive advantage, but AMD just never had the size and scale to keep up in that race. Better, then, to let deep-pocketed investors foot the bill for expensive factory upgrades and technology research. Moreover, AMD uses worldwide foundry leader Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYS: TSM) for some chips today and could expand that relationship going forward. It's good to keep your options open.
Yeah, this breakup is costing AMD a lot of money in the short term. It's more expensive than the results of Tiger Woods' promiscuous ways. But it's the right thing to do, nearly at any cost. If anything, I'd rather berate AMD for doing the $334 million SeaMicro deal this close to another major cash drain. This double-whammy is a risky move, kind of like dating Lindsay Lohan.
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