Aspen Exploration Corporation (OTC:ASPN) has announced that it will pay a cash dividend of $0.73 per share to stockholders of record on November 16, 2009 from the proceeds of the sale of its California oil and gas assets to Venoco, Inc. $0.73 per share represents $5.3M, which is just over the mid-point of the $5.0M to $5.5M range estimated by the company.
We’ve been following ASPN (see our ASPN post archive) because it’s trading at a discount to its $1.17 per share liquidation value and there are several potential catalysts in the stock, including a 13D filing from Tymothi O. Tombar, a plan to distribute substantially all of the net, after-tax proceeds from the completion of the Venoco sale to its stockholders ($5.3M), and the possibility that the company will dissolve. The stock is down 0.2% since we initiated the position to close yesterday at $0.983. This values the remaining stub of ASPN at $0.253 ($0.983 less $0.73) against a liquidating value I estimate at $0.44 ($1.17 less $0.73). I still think there’s obvious value here, and there might be another interesting play in the stub after the dividend. This is worth watching. It’s should also be noted, as reader bellamyj has pointed out, that, regardless of outcome of the upcoming shareholder vote, ASPN may not liquidate. This is not necessarily a bad thing if the controlling shareholder plans on monetizing the shell and its remaining cash. He owns 20% of the stock, so he’s got some incentive to do so, and he’s paying out a big cash dividend, which is a shareholder-friendly act. That said, it’s not clear whether that dividend was as a result of Timothy O. Tombar’s agitation or a spontaneous effort on behalf of the board. I’ve been wrong about managers before, but hope springs eternal.
Here’s the 8K filing:
On November 2, 2009 Aspen Exploration Corporation (“Aspen”) declared a cash dividend of $0.73 per share. The dividend will be paid to stockholders of record on November 16, 2009, with the dividend being paid on or about December 2, 2009. A copy of the news release describing the dividend is attached hereto as Exhibit 99.1. The distribution follows the final settlement of the sale of Aspen’s California oil and gas assets to Venoco, Inc., at which the parties made a number of immaterial adjustments to the purchase price paid at the June 30, 2009 closing, and made certain other payments that were not determined until after the closing. At the final settlement date Aspen received a net payment from Venoco, but was required to make various payments to third parties which ultimately resulted in a cash outflow from Aspen in an amount not considered to be material.
Aspen expects that after the payment of the dividend, and its anticipated operations through the end of the current calendar year, on December 31, 2009 it will have more than $3 million of working capital remaining. Aspen currently intends to utilize its remaining funds to maintain its corporate status as a reporting issuer under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and to explore other business opportunities. Pending developments with respect to any business opportunities Aspen identifies, Aspen may later reevaluate its status and plans and consider alternatives to wind up its affairs. Aspen’s projections and future plans described in this report are “forward-looking statements” (as such term is defined in Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) which are dependent upon a number of factors. There can be no assurance that Aspen’s projections will prove to be accurate or that Aspen will be able to successfully execute or implement its operations as described herein.
Hat tip Joe G.
[Full Disclosure: I do not have a holding in ASPN. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]