Mitek Systems (MITK) is a small software company that a decade ago invented the image capture technology enabling check deposit now embedded in almost every bank's mobile app. The product is loved by both banks and their consumers, for banks it is much cheaper to process a mobile deposit than to maintain the ATM/branch infrastructure and for consumers they can make a deposit instantaneously from anywhere without needing to stand in line. While growing -- Mobile Deposit is 65-70% of Mitek's business -- mobile check deposits only make up a small percentage of the overall number of bank transactions, however paper checks continue to decline in use and Mitek needed a second act for its image capture technology. They turned to mobile identification verfication; to open a bank account in the U.S., banks need to complete a series of steps to "Know Your Customer" (KYC) and that includes getting a government ID. If banks or other regulated entities want to source customers through their mobile app, they need a way to verify their identity, opening up another growth path for Mitek. The user takes a picture of their government issued ID and a selfie, Mitek's software compares to the two to confirm a match and also ensures the government ID is valid.
It's an interesting business and a nice little growth story, but what makes it especially interesting is Elliott Management (via a portfolio company called ASG Technologies) has made a hostile bid for the company, first at $10/share and now at $11.50/share in cash, MITK trades a touch over $10 today. Elliott is of course a famous large activist investor known for getting their way, I personally recall how quickly American Capital (ACAS) changed course and folded to their demands a couple years ago before being pushed into the hands of a strategic buyer. Mitek is a much smaller company at ~$370MM market cap, no debt, and no controlling shareholder. Until recently, the company didn't have a CEO or a CFO, presumably that's when Elliott smelled blood and made their initial bid for the company. Prior to the bid becoming public, but after it was made privately, Mitek did a strange thing and established a shareholder rights plan to protect the NOL, despite the NOL being only $27MM and thus insignificant to the value of the company. More likely they were trying to prevent Elliott from acquiring a significant stake in the company in order to buy time and possibly end up in the arms of someone of their own choosing. Mitek issued a statement regarding the most recent $11.50 offer, in it they disclosed that "other parties have expressed interest in Mitek" and also disclosed that Elliott is looking to replace the board with its own slate of directors. With the shareholder base turning over quickly to arbs and others sympathic to Elliott, management is likely overmatched here.
At current prices you have low teens upside to Elliott/ASG's $11.50 offer, with the potential for more if the board is able to squeeze out a third bid from Elliott or able to quickly find a white knight strategic partner willing to pay an even higher premium. If not, the stock probably falls temporarily but with the growing business providing some downside protection as mobile deposits continues to grow and identity verification gains traction.
Disclosure: I own shares of MITK