AMP Limited (ASX:AMP) share price surges as it preps for bun fight with shareholders

The AMP Limited (ASX: AMP) share price jumped 3.9% to $2.40 this morning – making it the third-best performer on the S&P/ASX 200 (Index:^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) index after the Afterpay Touch Group Ltd (ASX: APT) share price and Appen Ltd (ASX: APX) share price.

Our largest wealth management company is one of the best-performing stocks on our market today as management responds to damning criticisms from its largest shareholders over the sale of its insurance business.

AMP released a presentation to justify the financial logic of selling the AMP Life division to Resolution Life for $3.3 billion.

Management has been under intense pressure as a number of institutional shareholders blasted the company in the media for selling the business too cheaply and at the bottom of the cycle.

These shareholders were infuriated as they believed AMP was selling the asset at a very large discount to previous deals in the sector and that the price tag reflected a tiny 6.3 times historic earnings, according to the Australian Financial Review.

These aggrieved fundies believe shareholders would be better off if AMP kept the business or looked to divest it through a spin-off into a separate ASX listed entity.

AMP refutes this and points out that the transaction actually represents an 11-times multiple to earnings and that doing a spin-off would incur significant costs.

The board of the disgraced wealth manager added that the sale would leave the group with net cash and equivalents (part of the $3.3 billion is to be paid in non-cash assets like preference shares) of nearly $1.1 billion while AMP’s minimum regulatory capital requirements would largely stay the same.

The response seems to have won over investors for now, but I don’t think the bun fight is over. The issue is that the explanation could reinforce criticism that AMP is indeed selling AMP Life at the bottom of the cycle.

The sales multiple of 6.3 times or 11 times are both technically correct. The lower multiple is based on what AMP made in the past while the 11 times is based on management’s view of what the business will make in the future.

In other words, AMP is expecting a further sharp deterioration in the performance of AMP Life. I don’t believe this is the consensus view of analysts although who can argue with AMP as its executives are the best placed to judge how the business is performing.

But I will say management’s assumption to back its decision looks a little too convenient. The operating earnings from the parts of the business being divested dropped 20% in FY18 from the year before and management is tipping another 25% decline as it annualised the 2HFY18 results (which were appalling).

What management is saying is that it doesn’t believe it can turnaround these business units – ever.

Under such a gloomy scenario, any fire sale can be justified.

I don’t think the AMP share price volatility is about to end anytime soon.

But AMP isn’t the only one bruising from the Royal Commission. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) share price and the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) share price along with National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share prices have also been under tremendous strain.

I would stay away from the sector for now but that doesn’t mean there aren’t blue-chip stock opportunities in the market.

Follow the free link below to find out more.

Top 3 ASX Blue Chips To Buy In 2018

For many, blue chip stocks mean stability, profitability and regular dividends, often fully franked..

But knowing which blue chips to buy, and when, can be fraught with danger.

The Motley Fool’s in-house analyst team has poured over thousands of hours worth of proprietary research to bring you the names of "The Motley Fool’s Top 3 Blue Chip Stocks for 2018."

Each one pays a fully franked dividend. Each one has not only grown its profits, but has also grown its dividend. One increased it by a whopping 33%, while another trades on a grossed up (fully franked) dividend yield of almost 7%.

The names of these Top 3 ASX Blue Chips are included in this specially prepared free report. But you will have to hurry. Depending on demand – and how quickly the share prices of these companies moves – we may be forced to remove this report.

Click here to claim your free report.

Motley Fool contributor Brendon Lau owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Limited, National Australia Bank Limited, and Westpac Banking. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO, Appen Ltd, and National Australia Bank Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

The 5 mining stocks we’re recommending in 2019…

For decades, Australian mining companies have minted money for individual investors like you and me. But if you believe the pundits and talking heads on TV, those days are long gone. Finito! Behind us forever…

We say nothing could be further from the truth. To earn the really massive returns, you’ve got to fish where others aren’t fishing—and the mining sector could be primed for a resurgence. That’s why top Motley Fool analysts just revealed their exciting new research on 5 ASX miners they believe could help you profit in 2019 and beyond…


The best way we see to play the global zinc shortage… Our #1 favourite large-cap miner (hint: it’s not BHP)… one early-stage gold miner we think could hit the motherlode… Plus two more surprising companies you probably haven’t heard of yet!

For free access to our brand-new research, simply click here or the link below. But be warned, this research is available free for a limited time only, and we reserve the right to withdraw it at any time.

Click here for your FREE report!