Table: An Investor's Guide to Spin-Offs

-- Seek less-publicized deals. Bargains often appear when companies distribute shares of spin-offs to existing shareholders rather than first selling a small stake through an IPO.

-- Make sure managers clearly articulate a growth plan.

-- Avoid spin-offs that the parent overloads with debt.

-- Check to see if IPO proceeds will go to the spun-off subsidiary, not just the parent company.

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