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Some good timing on Bowne…

On Tuesday, after the market closed, Bowne & Co. (BNE) announced that it was being acquired by RR Donnelly (RRD) for $481 million, or about $11.50 a share. Given that Bowne stock closed at $6.97 on Tuesday, there were no doubt some smiles on a few investors’ faces over the news.

Given this, we decided to go back and look at some of Bowne’s recent filings and we weren’t all that surprised to find a number of large funds that seem to have piled in to Bowne in a very large way — filing 13Gs, the form required when the position exceeds 5% — with near-perfect timing (Please see correction to this post below). Indeed, we counted four funds that filed 13Gs since the beginning of this month: Robeco Investment Management, Capital World Investors, Lord Abbett, and Steinberg Asset Management. Two other large funds — Dimensional Fund Advsiors and Wellington Asset Management — recently added to their positions in Bowne, according to the filings. BlackRock (BLK) also disclosed a new position in Bowne, though that was almost certainly due to the Friday night dump we footnoted earlier this month that was related to the acquisition of Barclay’s Global Investors.

A quick scan of Steinberg’s most recent 13F, which was filed just last week, shows that the stake in Bowne was worth just shy of $13 million on Dec. 31 at the time of the filing on Feb. 16. It’s not clear from the filings what the cost-basis was so it’s impossible to calculate the exact return, but given the sharp appreciation in the stock as a result of the M&A news we’re pretty sure that whoever made that decision to pile into Bowne in such a large way received a hearty congrats on Tuesday afternoon.

CORRECTION: As an anonymous commenter points out, I got the filing requirements for 13Gs and 13Ds mixed up in my head. As a result, the fact that four 13Gs were filed in February isn’t so unusual since the rules say that new 13Gs must be filed 45 days after the calendar year in which the position was established (which kind of makes them useless in my book, but that’s a different story!). As the commenter suggested, I went back and pulled the 13Fs for the four funds and found that 3 of the 4 started buying shares of Bowne during the quarter ended Sept. 30, 2009. The fourth fund — Lord Abbett — has had a position in Bowne since the end of December 2008. I apologize for this error and very much appreciate the anonymous person who brought it to my attention.

Image source: Angela Rutherford