"No option is off the table."
And with those six words, the stock of hotel chain Starwood (HOT) is off to the races.
Don't you wish that every company you own shares in would make that bold statement? When I look at the detritus of the earnings of the last 24 hours -- including the hideous Twitter (TWTR) and the less-than-nothing-to-write-home-about Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) and the ridiculous Stratasys (SSYS) -- this Starwood announcement is a total breath of fresh air.
Starwood, right now, is being run by Adam Aron, a former board member who stepped in to run the company after Frits van Paasschen was let go from the chain that includes Sheraton, W, St Regis and Westin. Aron promised to be a proactive and "real" CEO, not just some caretaker and I know he was not happy with the slower growth of Starwood vs. pretty much everyone else in the industry (especially the exceptionally-well-run Marriott chain).
So, what do you do when you take over a company and you aren't sure what you do? I think you should do exactly what this company just did, which is to analyze everything -- maybe become a management company, maybe split the company up the way Marriott did, maybe just sell it.
I think Starwood is worth a heck of a lot more money to other hotel chains than it is to itself. That's why the stock is spiking as others see that, too.
But more important is the whole notion of what Aron's doing here. He's upending the activist paradigm. He's being the activist inside, the one who says, "Hey, we can't do it as well as others, maybe someone else should take a crack at it."
I salute him and his team.
They are working for shareholders and they don't need to be told by someone with 5% of the stock how to do it.
They did it themselves. Well done.