Lexmark confirmed Friday morning that its board of directors "has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value."
The Wall Street Journal posted an article Thursday saying Lexmark was exploring alternatives including a possible sale of the company. On Thursday, Lexmark would not address the article, saying it doesn't address speculation or rumors.
It was unclear whether the Friday morning pivot on Lexmark's part was significant in terms of a possible sale. Company spokesman Jerry Grasso said the company would have no additional comment.
Lexmark's quarterly earnings are to be released Tuesday.
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In the news release, chairman and chief executive officer Paul Rooke said the company's board of directors and management "are committed to taking the appropriate actions to enhance value for Lexmark's shareholders."
The company's statements make it impossible to read the tea leaves about a possible sale, but the statement in the email from the lead director of Lexmark's board indicates that the company is looking for better financial performance from the company, which has been expanding its business to focus more on a range of business information solutions in addition to printing.
"The Board does not believe Lexmark's current share price fully reflects the intrinsic value created by the company, and the board has concluded it is appropriate to explore strategic alternatives as the next step to unlock this value." said Jean-Paul Montupet, lead director of the Lexmark board of directors.
The Friday news release said that its strategic review of options "is the next step to unlocking the intrinsic value created by the company."
Lexmark employs about 2,300 people in Lexington and is one of the Lexington area's largest employers. The company employs 12,700 people worldwide.
Friday, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said, "I've spoken with Lexmark's CEO Paul Rooke and he assures me Lexmark will continue to keep its employees at the top of its decision making. That's been its record as the company has experienced many changes since it was once a part of IBM."
Now, Lexmark might be on the verge of another big change.
Friday's news release said the Lexmark board has formed a committee of independent directors "to assist in the exploration of strategic alternatives."
It also confirmed that the investment banking firm Goldman, Sachs & Co. is assisting the board. Ernst & Young LLP transaction and advisory services firm and the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz also are assisting the board.
Lexmark's news release said no decision has been made, "and there is no assurance that the board's exploration of strategic alternatives will result in any transaction being entered into or consummated."
"Lexmark does not intend to comment on the exploration process or disclose further developments until the board approves a specific transaction or otherwise concludes the exploration of strategic alternatives," the news release said.