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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast


Midwest Shareholders May Only Care About Money

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Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies, especially freshly baked and still warm? For cookie lovers, and fans of Midwest Airlines, it seems Airtran wouldn't have a chance in its hostile takeover bid. Here's the thing, the decision in the hands of Midwest shareholders will have little to do with chocolate chip cookies.

Since this is a news story which as an anchor I will report on, I must stay publicly neutral on Airtan's offer to buy Midwest. I take no position on whether it would be a good thing or bad thing for Milwaukee. I cannot within the confines of this job.

I know the overwhelming number of passengers we've interviewed at Mitchell International Airport, Midwest's home base, hope that Milwaukee's hometown airline remains exactly that. They consider those chocolate chip cookies. They consider the wide leather seats. They consider the direct flights, and the support from Midwest to the local economy. They're willing, at times, to pay a little extra for the "best care in the air," if that's what it takes.

These are Midwest Airlines passengers. Do not confuse them, however, with Midwest Airlines shareholders.

That's why I say it will have little to do with the cookies. I know virtually nothing about investing, or stocks, or the markets, or any of it, but this reality hit me while discussing the topic with some colleagues. Think about why people invest in a particular company. Sure, there are those who throw support to companies for altruistic reasons. Most investors, however, buy a particular stock for a singular reason: to make as much money as possible.

One has to believe the majority of Midwest Airlines shareholders will base their decision to sell or not to sell on their perceived answer to this simple question, "What makes me more money?"

Midwest is a stock that less than a year ago was selling for 4 bucks a share. Less than 2 years ago it was 2 bucks a share. It opened on Wall Street today at $12.80. The Airtran offer is $13.25.

Shareholders have to ask themselves if they can make more money hanging on... or if $13.25 is a height to which they never thought they'd ascend again, and they better take the money while the gettin's good.

No doubt, some Midwest shareholders are also Midwest passengers. They may choose to stick with it believing that Midwest's expansion plan will be good for their investment, or they simply may not care as much about that. It means more to them for all the other afore mentioned reasons that Midwest remain a stand-alone operation.

Whatever the case, the question is more complex than just whether or not you'd prefer fresh baked cookies to a bag of pretzels.

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