BIG-NAME corporate spinoffs have garnered considerable attention this year, starting in January when CBS split off from its parent, Viacom, and resumed trading on the Big Board. Early last month, 155-year-old Western Union became a separate company again when it split off from First Data. And late last month, Altria said it was moving closer to spinning off its giant food subsidiary, Kraft.
Investors drawn to the reemergence of marquee names like these may be onto something: investing in spinoffs can be very profitable. Nearly two-thirds of the companies spun off over the last three years have beaten the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index this year, according to figures from Spin-Off Advisors, a Chicago research firm.