PlanetOut (NASDAQ: LGBT)'s short history as a public company has been nothing short of a miserable failure. After going public at $10 per share in late 2004, the company's stock will, barring bad news, hit a new 52-week high sometime around October 1. The problem is that that will only be because of a 1-10 reverse split announced today. The stock is currently trading at $1.42.
PlanetOut is a media company focused exclusively on the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered market, with such notable properties as The Advocate, Out, Gay.com, and RSVP Vacations. The company took on far too much debt to build its empire, and shareholders recently found themselves badly diluted when the company had to raise money through a private placement with investors including a hedge fund controlled by Bill Gates.
But don't worry too much. The company's insiders have still gotten rich, even if they've wiped out somewhere around $150 million of shareholder value. The insider transactions (very few lately... mostly when the stock was trading over $8 per share) tell the story.
Given the demographic trends that should be so favorable for an LGBT media company, there's only really one explanation for such weak performance: mismanagement. The company's CEO, Karen Magee, said as much on a recent conference call. And no, she won't be returning any of the money she's made.
But everything will be OK. Even if they can't make the company profitable, PlanetOut's management can slice the pie in different ways to raise the share price. What PlanetOut needs is not a stock-split. It needs new management.