St. Joe Shares Surged: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Florida real estate developer St. Joe (NYS: JOE) were basking in the sun today, soaking up gains of as much as 11% in intraday trading.

So what: There was a change at the top at St. Joe today, a development that often prompts stock market activity. Janna Connolly, who became the company's CFO in a temporary role of sorts last year, was replaced by former eDiets.com CFO Thomas Hoyer.

On paper, the switch-up seems like somewhat of a strange one, given that Hoyer is moving from the unprofitable, bulletin-board-listed, Internet-based diet marketer eDiets, which has a current market cap of $5 million and trailing 12-month revenue of $24 million, to run the finance show at St. Joe, which has a $1.6 billion market cap and more than $650 million in assets on its balance sheet.

Further, with past experience at Digital Angel (electronic ID tags), NationsRent (construction-equipment rentals), and GlobEquip (equipment leasing), this appears to be his first attempt at a real estate company -- though I should point out that specific industry experience isn't always a must for a qualified CFO and the equipment leasing business is of the general financial-services flavor.

Now what: Even though Hoyer's resume might not be what you'd expect for the CFO of St. Joe, and even though investors tend to react poorly to changes in the CEO and CFO positions in particular, St. Joe's shares were booming today. Why? It may have to do with what investors think is on the horizon.

Here's what Morningstar had to say about the hire:

Some investors may be looking favorably on the hire, given that a couple of Hoyer's past CFO positions were followed by some sort of corporate transaction. We have no insight into this possible perception, but do note that Hoyer was CFO at NationsRent before it was sold to Sunbelt Rentals in 2006, then CFO of Digital Angel until shortly before Applied Digital Solutions purchased all of the remaining stock it didn't already own in 2007.

Could a sale be in the cards? It's certainly possible, but that's never something that I'm keen to gamble on.

Want to keep up to date on St. Joe? Add it to your watchlist.

At the time this article was published Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.Fool contributorMatt Koppenhefferhas no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting hisCAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter,@KoppTheFool, or onFacebook. The Fool'sdisclosure policyprefers dividends over a sharp stick in the eye.

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