First Article Published On Insider Monkey

A few months ago I was approached by an editor at Insider Monkey to start publishing my articles on the site.  Of course I said yes because I love the information that is on the site and have used it regularly in the past when researching my some of my previous articles.

My first article was published on the site today for any of you out there who would like to view it.  The Proposed Going Private Transaction At Dole and Its Shareholders Fighting Back.  The same article that I posted to this blog last week.

What Would You Like To See In My Upcoming Value Investing Book? Asking Me Questions, Starting To Research Again

Before I get too serious about thinking about the advertising and marketing of my upcoming value investing book I wanted to ask you if there was anything specifically you wanted to see talked about in the book?  Maybe something you wish would have been in other books about value investing that you would want to hear about?  At this point I still have time to add things and I will seriously consider any of your suggestions if they are not in the book already.

I have just finished up the second full revision/edit of the book and as of this time it looks like the book will end up being around 200 pages in an eBook format.  This of course is without any of your suggestions and will likely change before the book is released.  It was a lot longer originally as I have since cut several entire chapters to remain as concise and information packed as possible.

Once I hear some of your suggestions and weigh whether or not to include those into the book I will release detail on what the book is about and the title.

Also if there are any questions you have wanted to ask me for a while feel free to ask them as I would be more than glad to answer them.  They do not have to be investing related questions either.  I would love to share more about myself with you all and would love to hear some of your stories as well.  I will also take requests of any companies that you would like me to possibly write an article on as well since I have been drawing blanks while trying to find any interesting or undervalued companies lately.

Up next: Putting some of my advertising/marketing ideas into practice, setting up a site for the book, setting up a preorder page, continuing to revise and edit the book further, implementing some of your ideas into the book, finding a designer for the book cover, and I have also begun researching companies very slowly again.

Excerpt From My Upcoming Book About The Proposed Going Private Transaction At Dole and Dole Shareholders Fighting Back.

I have finished up writing the main transcript of my book and have done one full revision and edit of the book.  I have sent the book off to some family members and a couple recently published investing authors to get some feedback on things that I could be doing better.

After receiving some feedback from those sources, (Thank you all so much!) I am in the process of going back over the entire book to make improvements.   I wanted to release this portion of the book right now to you all because I have talked about Dole quite a bit on this blog and I wanted to share my full thoughts about the ridiculous situation at going on at Dole right now.

It appears that a lot of Dole’s current shareholders agree that the buyout offer at $12 is ridiculously low as its own shareholders have been suing the company to stop the low ball going private transaction offer.

Below are just two of the many articles about Dole getting sued for the proposed transaction.

Levi & Korsinsky Notifies Investors of Claims of Breaches of Fiduciary Duty in Connection With Going Private Proposal From Company’s CEO

More cases against Dole board say Murdock bid too low

Directly below are two pages from my upcoming book where I talk about the transaction. Please feel free to leave any comments or concerns you have about the actual excerpt from my book or the proposed Dole transaction as I would love to converse about either.  Also keep in mind that I still have a lot of editing and revising to do if you find any grammar or editing errors.

“As I have been writing, editing, and revising this book, Dole’s Chairman Mr. Murdock has put in an offer to take the company private once again like I thought that he may do so I wanted to write my thoughts on the ridiculous offer being given to Dole shareholders.  I did think that Mr. Murdock may have wanted to take the company private again but what I didn’t expect was the manipulation of the company’s stock price in my opinion before that happened.  Shortly after Dole sold its worldwide operations to Itochu Dole management began to do some very strange things.  The value of its land holdings, that Dole management themselves estimated to be worth around $500 million when they were getting ready to sell their worldwide operations to Itochu, suddenly stated that they thought their land now was worth only around $250 million only a few months later.

This was shocking to me and led to me sell the stock I owned in Dole in my personal portfolio and the portfolios that I manage because I figured that Dole was doing something untoward to try to get the value of its shares down so the company could be taken private again at a cheaper valuation.  One of my followers on Seeking Alpha and I actually talked about this and both came to the same conclusion that something fishy was going on.

After selling my shares in Dole due to the above situation I stopped paying attention to the company all together to concentrate on the research of other companies until it came out that Dole was planning to do a massive buyback of its shares.  I thought this was a very good thing for them to do since I found the company to be very undervalued when writing my second article on them so I started to look into them a little bit again.  Before I could do even minimal research into the new situation at Dole though its management made another very strange decision.  A few days after Dole announced that it was going to buy back $200 million worth of its shares it changed its mind and all of the sudden decided to update its fleet of container ships instead and canceled the proposed share buyback program.

Of course this sent the share price falling and again led me to believe that its management was trying to manipulate the share price lower so that it could be taken private at an unreasonably low valuation.

Unfortunately it turns out that I appear to have been right because a month or two after Dole decided to cancel its proposed share buyback program to instead buy new container ships, which of course sent the share price lower, Mr. Murdock announced that he was putting in an offer to take Dole private at $12 a share.

Mr. Murdock brought Dole public in 2009 at $12.50 a share so this in and of itself is ridiculous since the company is much more financially stable now than it was then due to getting rid of its giant debt load.  In my opinion this entire situation from the changing of the estimated value of its land by 50% shortly after announcing that they thought it was worth $500 million, announcing the proposed $200 million share buyback and then a few days later canceling it, and then Mr. Murdock attempting to take the company private again at an incredibly low valuation should be investigated.  If Dole is allowed to be taken private at $12 a share, which it probably will because Mr. Murdock at my last check still owned 40% of the company, then the company should be investigated for manipulating its stock price.   If the company is taken private for a paltry $12 per share then its remaining shareholders are getting screwed.

If a situation like this happens to a company you own be very careful, trust your research, trust your instincts, and get out of owning the company if you think you need to.  There are a lot of other companies you can spend your time researching and owning rather than spending your precious time and capital having to worry about whether a company’s management is going to screw over shareholders.  Dole’s current shareholders are fighting back by suing the company and I wish them good luck because the proposed buyout offer is ridiculously low.”

Update On My Value Investing Book, Discount For You Loyal Readers, Company Research, Another Baby Girl, and Dole Shareholders Getting Screwed.

I have been spending the bulk of my time lately getting ready to move, getting ready for another baby girl coming in late October, and writing my book.

We are staying in the same area just getting a bigger house to accommodate our growing family but packing and doing house related things to get ready for closing on both of our houses on the same day later in June, yikes, has been taking up the majority of my time in recent weeks.  Excited but also cannot wait until we are moved and settled in so things can start slowing down again and I can start working on me and my brothers business and researching companies more.  I have been researching companies very slowly but up to this point I am finding everything to still be overvalued.  The search continues though and I hope to pick up steam again after I move and get the book finished.

I am done writing my book and am now onto the editing and revision stage.  So far I have gone through the introduction and six chapters and am getting very excited.  While I was writing the book I was just trying to get the main transcript done without concentrating much on how good it actually was.  Now that I am able to read through the transcript as I am editing and revising it I am getting very excited because I think I will be able to help a lot of people become better investors faster and I cannot wait to release it to everyone.  I hope to have most of the editing and revising of the book done by early July and hope to release the book sometime in the mid October to mid November time frame.  I also plan to release a chapter or two online before the book comes out as well.  Of course if I get picked up by a publisher these things will likely change but if I self publish the book on places like Kindle and others than that is the time frame I am shooting for.

As a thank you to the loyal readers of this blog, my followers on Twitter and Seeking Alpha, and my Facebook friends I also wanted to let you know that if you follow me on this blog, Twitter, Facebook, or Seeking Alpha that you will be getting a 25% discount off of each package I am going to offer for my book.  The same discount is going to apply to anyone who mentions this blog or the upcoming book on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit as well.  If you want a discount when the book comes out make sure to # or @ me on Twitter, get my attention on Facebook, or email with the link where you mentioned this blog or the upcoming book as I will start to keep a list of everyone who has helped me promote this book and who has supported me while I was just getting started.  I also plan to offer an even bigger discount or prize of some kind for the person or people who help promote the book the most but have not come up with a solid idea for that yet.  Again this is all dependant on what a publisher would want to do if it comes to that but this is what I want to do.

I also want to let everyone know that we will be welcoming our second baby girl to this blog in late October whose name will be Kailani.  My family is one of the main reasons I have decided to write a book because I would like to find a way to start making some money from my investment writing so for every book package you buy.  Every book you buy or help promote will help support my family and keep continued free content on this blog, and it will be immensely appreciated.  I would like to keep most everything on this blog free except for the book and some other premium content I have planned and any help you can offer would help support that.

Yesterday news came out that the majority owner of Dole, Mr. Murdock, was attempting to take Dole private again at $12 a share.  Dole came public at a price of $12.50 a share a few years ago.  After some of the things that Dole management has done in the past few weeks from saying their land suddenly wasn’t worth as much money, to saying they were going to do a buyback, then a few days later not doing a buyback, to this low ball buy-out offer I am very glad that I got out of Dole when I did.  I figured that something fishy was going on when they said that some of their land suddenly wasn’t worth as much money as they thought and had a conversation with one of my followers on Seeking Alpha about how something funny was going on and how management might be trying to lower the price of the stock so they could take it private again.  Unfortunately it appears that I was right because by my conservative estimates Dole is worth somewhere between $15 and $22 a share.  If Dole management is able to pull this off and only take the company private for $12 a share then there should be an investigation into what management has done over the past month or so as its shareholders are about to get screwed.

I will continue to update happenings on the book and if I find a company to write an article on but until I move later this month posts will continue to be few and far between most likely.

Remember if you follow this blog, me on Twitter, Facebook, or Seeking Alpha you will get a discount on my book when it comes out so please share this with as many people as possible so they can get the discount too, thank you.

Until next time.

How I Look To Have Affected Bab Inc, Big Apple Bagel, $BABB, With My Recent Article On Them.

In the past two months while I have been working on getting our business started I pretty much blacked out everything investing related.  I did this for three reason; so I wouldn’t be tempted to go back to researching companies because that is where my heart lies, so I could concentrate on getting the business going, and because I needed to take a break physically from the amount of work I was doing.

In the past week or so I have been going over the companies I have written articles on, especially the ones I am interested in or own, to see if I have missed any news in the past two months that is very important and it looks like I have with Bab Inc (BABB.)

My recent article series on them, part 1 and the conclusion, laid out how overall I thought BABB was a very interesting company and how I would love to invest in the company, and possibly becoming activist in the company to help fix its major problem of overly excessive executive pay and overall excessive payroll in my opinion.  In my opinion this is the only major problem with the company and if executive pay and overall payroll was lowered it would help raise the companies earnings and cash flow, and would most likely help to unlock the underlying value of the company that I see beneath the excessive pay.

When looking back to see if I missed anything on the companies I am interested in I found this link.  Since I do not believe in coincidences, apparently BABB management noticed my article somewhere or were threatened by another investor, and have decided to adopt a “Stockholder’s Rights Plan.”  This allows the company to issue rights to current shareholders in the event that someone buys 15% of its shares (20% in the case of an institution) to “Protect Shareholders best interests” from outside investors. These rights would be issued to shareholders as of May 13th if someone were to purchase 15 or 20% of BABB and look to essentially be a way to keep people from making too much noise about change at the company.

There is also this line from the announcement:

BAB’s Board of Directors may redeem the Rights for $0.001 per Right at any time before an event that causes the Rights to become exercisable. The Rights will expire on the third anniversary date of the Agreement, unless the Rights have previously been redeemed by the Board of Directors.

This gives a further advantage to insiders over regular shareholders and is again put in there to keep outside investors from making changes in the company, and is completely ridiculous in my opinion.


It looks to me that current BABB management likes the status quo of taking giant payrolls, losing market share, and losing restaurant counts and does not want to have things shaken up by outside investors who may want to lower overall pay, help the company become more profitable, and help the company potentially grow again.

This is my first experience with a company doing something like this and I knew it would eventually happen because of how most nano caps are managed by only a small number of individuals who control the company.  It is still surprising and disappointing that they would do something like this, but apparently they would rather just keep milking the company instead of putting some of that excessive pay towards growing the company or growing earnings and cash flow.  Suffice it to say that I am glad I did not buy into BABB as this shows that in my opinion management does not care about the best interests of shareholders.

This does make me want to buy into the company though to change things even more for the betterment of all shareholders and not just the few at the top of the pyramid, maybe I will at some point.

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things, My Investing Book, Sold $STRT Up 75%, And What Have I Missed?

Since my last post almost two months ago now my brother and I have been working very hard in our business Black Hills Tech Solutions so I have had almost zero time to look at the stock market since then.  We are doing relatively well so far and are working on building a company’s website right now.  Okay well my brother and his buddy are doing the bulk of the website building since I have no idea how to do any of that.

I have also gotten off of my allergy shots, which have made me feel quite a bit better consistently and have also been forcing myself to take time off from things and relax every once in a while.  I do not know which has helped me the most but I have not been sick in about two straight months since I have started the above and have generally felt pretty decent most of the time.

Since I have been feeling better, (i.e not getting sick all the time mainly) and since I have had a bit of free time with less going on at the business I have had some time to fill my want/need to research companies, learn about investing, and work on my investing book in the past week or so.

In the past week so far I have finished up another two chapters in my book and tonight I will start on another chapter.  I also have been looking for a company to start research on but have thus far had no luck.  It seems that the market has continued to get even more over heated in the past couple months as a week ago I took cursory looks through about 250 companies to potentially do research on and the only ones I found to be even a little undervalued or interesting were Chinese nano caps.

If you have been following this blog for a while you know that Chinese small caps terrify me because of the fraud, misreporting, lying, etc and that I lost a lot of money on them when I first started investing.  Suffice it to say that if I am not comfortable buying into Chinese small caps that I won’t consider even looking into Chinese nano caps.

I have also sold out of Strattec (STRT) in the portfolios that I manage due to it reaching the higher end of my valuation range and I sold out up 75% since December when I originally bought into them.  If, and more likely when, the market crashes I will definitely think about buying into them again as I still really like what they are doing now that they have fixed the bulk of their problems and their management.  The portfolios that I manage are now sitting around 55% cash because of how overheated I think the market is.

I will continue to look for a company to do research on and continue working on my book and hope to post again a bit more regularly now that we have slowed down and settled in a bit more at the business.

Having said that I now ask you if there are any links, websites, articles, etc that have come out in the past couple months that you think are fantastic.  I pretty much blacked everything investing related out in that time frame to concentrate on opening and starting the business so I am sure I missed out on some pretty good information.  I would very much appreciate it if anyone has anything to share that you think I would like to learn from and might have missed in the past couple months and would really appreciate if you were able to share some of those with me.

Until next time.

My Epiphany and Horrid Health, Having A Baby, Writing An Investment Book, And I Started A Business

As you probably know if you have been following this blog for any amount of time I have been trying to find enough funding to open up my own investment firm and I have also been sending out my information and stock analysis articles to a bunch of value investing firms to try and land a job at one of these firms in the meantime while I try to raise capital to open up my own firm.  I figure that I would need around $5 million in assets under management to be able to comply with all regulations, have my results audited, pay accountants and lawyers to make sure I stay in compliance with everything, and still have enough left over to make some money for myself.

Since I do not have a lot of rich friends, know a lot of rich people, and myself do not have anywhere near that amount of money, I had to put this goal to the side for the time being and will explain why below.

As you also know if you have been following this blog for any amount of time, I have alluded multiple times to some pretty serious health issues that I have not fully explained to you and will do so later in this post.  Over the past several months I have been pushing myself extremely hard, too hard as it turns out, to try to get as good as possible as fast as possible at evaluating, valuing, and analyzing companies to determine if they are a good investment, in the hopes of either opening my own firm, or getting noticed by a value investing firm and paid for my research.

Since the summer of 2004, the year before my senior year of high school, up until today I have been, and still on a daily basis deal with extreme dizziness to the point where I have not been able to have a “normal” job since shortly after I graduated high school.  Due to this I have also not been able to go to college and get a bachelor’s degree which I have found out is apparently a MINIMUM requirement to even being considered for being hired at most investment related firms so I have also had zero luck in finding an investment related job up to this point.  My dizziness has gotten quite a bit better over the years (Finally making some progress after almost 9 years of dealing with this) as I have found a couple wonderful doctors who have helped me out quite a bit, but I still need to get over a few humps to get more towards “normal” or at least for me normal health, whatever that may end up being.

Due to me pushing myself to learn as much as possible as fast as possible relating to investing over the last several months I appear to be pushing myself too hard as I have gotten sick/flu/sinus infection/etc 5 or 6 times in the past 5 months or so.  These colds/infections  exacerbate my dizziness while I am sick and makes my dizziness worse than normal for at least a week or two AFTER I get over whatever sickness I have had, so for the past 5 months or so I have felt pretty miserable almost the entire 5 months.  This is one reason why you have seen a slowdown in my blog postings and stock analysis articles over this time period.

A different doctor that I saw has not found any reason why I keep getting sick so I figure it must be because I have been pushing myself so hard lately.  At the recommendation of ValuePrax for something investing related, and completely unrelated to the sickness situation, I read The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss, which I highly recommend especially for those who are skeptical like I was about pulling this kind of thing off and who wants to be an entrepreneur.  The book is amazing and I highly recommend everyone read it but the main part of the book that I want to talk about here that relates to my health issues is a part of the book where he says you should evaluate how you spend your time to see what you can cut out to become more efficient.  After looking over how I have been spending my time over the past several months I believe I have found the main reason why I keep getting sick, I have been pushing myself WAY too hard.

It turns out that since I dedicated myself to learning and becoming a true value investor in February of 2012 that between taking care of my now 2+ year old daughter full time and learning about investing, evaluating, analyzing, valuing, and writing about companies, I have been working around 100 hours a week for almost a year straight now, or the equivalent of 2.5 full time jobs!  Since I cut out free/relaxing/video game/watching sports, etc time to learn as much as possible as fast as possible literally the only free time I had where I wasn’t trying to learn something, take care of my daughter, or recovering from being dizzy was when I was sleeping.  Not exactly a healthy lifestyle apparently.

The last time I pushed myself like this was shortly after the dizziness started.  I kept trying to do the normal things I used to do at the time: Finishing high school, hanging out with friends, running track, working out, and combined with working a full time job at the time and having a girlfriend who is now my wife.  After having to go to the ER because I was so dizzy I fell down when I was at work and couldn’t walk without falling, I realized that I pushed myself too hard.  I ended up making my dizziness so bad that for a period of literally 2 or 3 straight years I could do literally nothing except lay around and watch TV because I felt so horrible all the time.  Since I do not want to feel that horrible again and set myself back like that, especially considering how much better my dizziness has gotten since then, I realized I needed to change course before I did that to myself again.

Using some of the techniques in the Four Hour Work Week I started to brainstorm business ideas and ways to start making money for my family but also lowering my hours worked dramatically in the hopes to stop getting sick all the time and putting off any kind of massive deterioration in my dizziness like what happened before.  The first idea was to write an investment book.  I have already shared the idea with a couple investors who have had investing related books published, gotten some feedback, changed some of my original thoughts, and they think that if I can write the book properly that the idea is good enough and unique enough to potentially be picked up by a publisher and fully published, not just self published by me!  Up to this point I have written the outline that still needs to be tweaked a bit, the introduction, and five full chapters.  I do not know when this will be done because of the business my brother and I have started which I will talk about below but I think that I can help a lot of newer and intermediate level investors and hope to have the transcript finished as soon as possible.

The second idea was something my brother and I have been kicking around for a while now and we decided to go for it.  My brother and I have started what is called a managed service provider, MSP, computer business to monitor local small businesses computers; do data back-ups, eliminate viruses, spyware, and malware, etc.  Make sure their servers, computers, and computer networks are working properly and keep them working properly and to help the particular businesses become more profitable due to saving them a lot of money, enabling them to have less or no down time, and having a lot less computer related headaches they have to deal with.  Our company is called Black Hills Tech Solutions.  If anyone is interested in this business please visit our website which I have linked.  We do not have any clients as of this time but once we start getting clients we will be making pretty good money and helping companies out by saving them a lot of money, time, and frustration.  If we do things right this will also enable me to work less once we get things rolling due to automation.  My brother is handling the computer and tech side of things and I am handling the business/marketing/sales side of things at this point.

The main reason I had to make a change in what I was doing on a daily basis was because of my horrid health.  The other major reason I had to change course was because frankly I am tired of not being able to make money for my family and I needed a way to make money sooner rather than later.  Why do I need to make money sooner rather than later?  Well besides the fact that I just want to start making my family money and not being able to due to my health reasons up to this point, we have another baby on the way which is very exciting but also expensive, and I want to contribute monetarily to my family.

Due to everything above I will probably post only every once and a while on this blog for the foreseeable future.  My hope is that once we start getting clients at our business and automate things properly is that I will be able to resume this blog on a more regular basis and start researching companies again as this is still my passion.  I also hope that writing this book and starting this business will make me enough money and gain me enough contacts that I will be able to open up my own investment firm sooner rather than later and resume my passion of searching for undervalued companies to buy into on a full time basis.

You all know that I am not a macro guy at all, but another reason I thought this was a good time to change course for a while was because how crazy the market is getting.  It seems to keep going up for absolutely no reason at all and I fear that there will be a major crash at some time in the near future.  Due to the starting of the business, saving up for baby, and my fear of an impending market crash, I have sold all of the stocks in my personal portfolio to help fund me and my brothers business start up and to put some money in savings in preparation for the baby that is due in late October.  The people that I manage portfolios for are sitting around 40% cash right now. Again my hopes are that I will start making some pretty good money relatively soon from the book and business that I will be able to open up my own investment firm relatively soon.

At this time I will urge anyone who is interested in contributing to this blog to please let me know as I am still very interested in having people write while I am working on some of the above things and if possible would like to keep the blog active until I can start writing on a more regular basis again.

I apologize that I have to take some time off from this blog due to my health issues but I do not want to go back to where I could literally do nothing for 2 or 3 years because I felt so horrible all the time. I am deeply saddened by this necessary step away from my passion of value investing but also excited at the same time for the ventures I will be concentrating on for the foreseeable future.

I want to thank you all so much for reading, I appreciate it so much and I hope you continue to read while I concentrate on these other ventures.  I hope to continue writing and researching companies as soon as physically possible.

Again, I would really love to keep content flowing on a somewhat regular basis so if you personally or you know anyone who would want to contribute to the blog it would be very much appreciated and please let me know.

BABB Vs PARF Conclusion Article

This article is the culminating piece that will talk about and compare BABB’s and PARF’s margins, weigh the pros and cons of each company, talk about each companies float, and decide which one, if either of the two companies I plan to buy into.  Originally I had planned to write articles on another two companies but was asked by a fellow value investor who recommended them to me to please not write an article on them since he was planning to.  Of course this is only right since he is the one who mentioned those two companies to me.  I still plan to research both of those companies to see if I would want to invest in either one of them and will let you know if I decide to buy into either of them when I make that decision.

Margin Comparison

BABB Margins PARF Margins
Gross Margin TTM 96.2 28
Gross Margin 5 Year Average 88.64 26.32
Gross Margin 10 Year Average 79.25 26.37
Op Margin TTM 17.9 9.9
Op Margin 5 Year Average -0.76 5.9
Op Margin 10 Year Average 6.75 4.24
ROE TTM 15.51% 8.31
ROE 5 Year Average -2.80% 5.064
ROIC TTM 14.51% 7.59
ROIC 5 Year Average -17.20% 9.278
My ROIC TTM With Goodwill Using Total Obligations 24.39% 11.09%
My ROIC TTM Without Goodwill Using Total Obligations 88.11% 11.29%
Earnings Yield EBIT/TEV 14.15% 19.91%
FCF/Sales TTM 15.02 -5.55
FCF/Sales 5 Year Average 13.296 3.116
FCF/Sales 10 Year Average 15.658 2.828
P/B Current 1.47 0.55
Insider Ownership Current N/A N/A
My EV/EBIT Current 6.58 4.95
My TEV/EBIT Current 7.07 5.02
Working Capital TTM 1 mil 15.62 mil
Working Capital 5 Yr Avg 1 mil 12.2 mil
Book Value Per Share Current 0.43 39.72
Book Value Per Share 5 Yr Avg 0.498 36.254
Total Executive Compensation as a % of Sales 26.17% 6.00%
Total Executive Compensation as a % of Gross Margin 26.17% 21.00%
Total Executive Compensation as a % of Market Cap 15.91% 16.00%
Total Executive Compensation as a % of Total Enterprise Value 19.65% 11.47%
Debt Comparisons:
Total Debt as a % of Balance Sheet TTM 3.05% 10.12%
Total Debt as a % of Balance Sheet 5 year Average 4.88% 2.64%
Current Assets to Current Liabilities 2.17 4.25
Total Debt to Equity 4.84% 12.56%
Total Debt to Total Assets 3.74% 11.70%
Total Obligations and Debt/EBIT 30.36% 98.78%
Costs Of Goods Sold As A % Of Balance Sheet TTM 0 71.98%
Costs Of Goods Sold As A % Of Balance Sheet 5 Year Avg 10.60% 73.54%

Keep in mind while looking at these margins that PARF is an extremely seasonal business so it margins will probably look different in a month when the company reports its full year results, and probably for the better, at least marginally.

Margin Thoughts

  • BABB’s gross margins are phenomenal which should be expected from a company whose only business right now is to sit and collect royalty and franchise fees.
  • BABB has superior operating margins, ROE, and ROIC in comparison to PARF.  Again, this should be expected with its business model in comparison to PARFs.
  • PARFs earnings yield, in this case EBIT/TEV, is superior to BABBs by about 25%.
  • Since this is a new metric I am using I went back and calculated this for the two most recent companies I have bought stock in, STRT and BOBS, and here is how the earnings yields compare: 1) STRT-20.79% 2) PARF-19.91% 3) BOBS-14.80%, 4) BABB-14.15%.
  • As I talked about in both of the previous articles both companies ROIC could be higher if executive pay and overall payroll were not at the excessive levels that they are at currently.
  • Earnings yields is a rough estimate of the kind of return you may be able to expect in the future by buying the company at its current price and is compared to the current 10 year treasury yield.  I have seen prominent value investors say they like to buy companies with earnings yields at least 3X to 4X higher than the 10 year yield.  Current 10 year treasury yield is 2% currently so all of these companies surpass the 3X to 4X benchmark with Strattec leading the way.
  • BABB’s FCF/Sales is exceptional and PARF’s is currently negative but that should change once the full year results are announced.
  • PARF’s P/B ratio is incredibly low as the company is selling for only half of its current book value and this value is likely a bit undervalued which would mean PARF is currently selling at even a lower true P/B.
  • PARF’s current estimated book value per share is around $40 per share and the company is selling at $22 a share currently.
  • Both companies are selling for EV/EBIT and TEV/EBIT ratios fewer than 8 which is again what I want them to be under.
  • Both companies executive pay is excessive in my eyes especially BABBs.  Remember also about BABBs is that its entire payroll structure is inflated and the above calculations are not including overall payroll.  Including overall payroll for BABB and its payroll and executive pay take up more than 50% of the company’s gross margin; absolutely insane in my opinion.
  • Both companies have minimal debt and have stellar balance sheets.
  • PARF’s total obligations and debt/EBIT is too high in my opinion but again this should be at least somewhat corrected when the full year numbers are released.
  • COGS for BABB is completely irrelevant now that they do not directly operate any of its restaurants.
  • PARFs COGS has been coming down over recent years which have been why margins rose in recent years.

Float Analysis Comparison

BABB Analysis

Financial assets: Cash and cash equivalents=1,256+prepaid expenses of 66+ deferred income taxes 248=1,570.

Operating assets: Accounts receivable of 86+inventories of 27+other current assets of 393+net property, plant, and equipment of 11+goodwill of 1,494+intangible assets of 505+other long term assets of 4=2,520.

  • Total assets=4,090


  • Equity=3,158
  • Debt=125
  • Float=accounts payable of 14+deferred revenues of 71+other current liabilities of 722=807

Total liabilities=923

Float/operating assets=807/2,520=32.02%.  Float is supporting 32.02% of operating assets.

Pretax profits/total assets=ROA

  • 434.15/4,090=10.62%

Pretax profits/(total assets-float)=ROA

  • 434.15/3,283=13.22%

PARF Analysis

For this analysis I used PARFs 2011 full year numbers because of the extreme seasonality of its business and to get an idea of what the company may look like when its 2012 full year numbers come out in March.

Financial assets: Cash and cash equivalents=7,469+deferred income taxes of 235+ prepaid expenses of 295=7,999.

Operating assets: Accounts receivable of 2,579+inventories of 6,197+net property, plant, and equipment of 4,184+goodwill of 413+intangible assets of 566+other long term assets of 223=14,162.

  • Total assets=22,161


  • Equity=19,734
  • Debt=313
  • Float=accounts payable of 359+taxes payable of 371+ccrued liabilities of 1,218+deferred tax liabilities of 166=2,114

Total liabilities=2,427

Float/operating assets=2,114/14,162=14.93%.  Float is supporting 14.93% of operating assets.

Pretax profits/total assets=ROA

  • 1,929.29/22,161=8.71%

Pretax profits/(total assets-float)=ROA

  • 1,929.29/20,047=9.62%

Float Thoughts

  • BABBs float is supporting more of the company’s operations than PARFs is.
  • Other than the directly above, the companies have pretty similar ROAs and amount of float and neither one a distinct advantage in this area.


Combining the above with the information in the previous two articles I have come to some conclusions and about the companies.  BABB has the better business model that leads to generally higher margins and minimal work for the company.  PARF has dominated its market for years, still does and it has found a small niche that has led to great profitability over the years.  Both companies have excessive executive pay in my opinion that if lowered could help each company’s operations become more profitable.  Both companies look like potentially good investment candidates right now so how have I decided which is the better one to buy into at the current time with the companies being very even overall?

With these two companies being so even overall, even in terms of overall undervaluation, how did I come to a conclusion about which company was the better buy now?

  1. BABB has a lot of competition in its industry, has been having to close restaurants, and has been losing its miniscule market share to other companies.  Meanwhile PARF has only a few minor competitors and dominates its industry with an estimated 80% share of its market.  Another major positive is that it dominates a very niche industry which should keep competition out of its market further cementing its hold on market share.
  2. PARF owns land, building, and property that are conservatively estimated to be worth about $10.40 per share and partially protects the company’s downside. BABB has no such downside protection and if it continues to lose franchisees shareholders are completely out of luck and could stand to lose all of their investment in the company.

So having stated this you would assume that I would no doubt be buying into PARF at this time right?  Normally you would be right to assume so but I have recently had an epiphany about investing and how that relates to my overall health, which has been horrid for the past four month or so, and I have now realized that I have to make changes to what I am doing or I will end up feeling horrible forever.  I did buy PARF and a not yet disclosed company for a couple of accounts I manage but not for myself and I will explain why in the coming days.

My next post I will be talking about the epiphany I had, what I plan to change in the short term to hopefully fix my horrible health of the last several months, the business my brother and I have started, and the investing book I am writing.

Paradise Inc, $PARF, Operates In A Consistently Profitable, Extremely Small Niche That It Has Dominated For Years

In Part 1 of this series I told you that I was starting a series of posts where I would be taking a look at a few nano caps, compare them to each other, and at the end decide which one, if any, would be the best buy right now.  The first article in this series was on BAB Systems Inc (BABB) which looked like a potentially good investment.  The second article in this series is going to be on Paradise Inc (PARF).

Introduction, History, Management Discussion, and Overview of Operations

Paradise began as a subsidiary of a different diversified corporation soon after World War 2, but very soon afterward candied fruit became the focus of its business.  Current ownership purchased the company in 1961 and the name Paradise Fruit Company was adopted in 1965.  It later changed its name to Paradise Inc after diversifying its operations a bit in the 90s.  Paradise Inc. is the leading producer of glace (candied) fruit which is a primary ingredient of fruit cakes sold to manufacturing bakers, institutional users and supermarkets for sale during the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Paradise, Inc. consists of two business segments, fruit and molded plastics.  As of the most recent quarter the glace fruit segment makes up about 61% of all company sales with the plastics segment making up the remaining 39% of sales.

Candied Fruit Segment Description-Production of candied fruit which is a basic fruitcake ingredient and is sold to manufacturing bakers, institutional users, and retailers for use in home baking. Also, based on market conditions, the processing of frozen strawberry products for sale to commercial and institutional users such as preservers, dairies drink manufacturers, etc.  When PARF does sell these frozen strawberry products it is generally not a big part of its operations.  While there is no industry-wide data available, management estimates that the Company sold approximately 80% of all candied fruits and peels consumed in the U.S. during 2011. The Company knows of two major competitors; however, it estimates that neither of these has as large a share of the market as PARF’s.

Being the dominant company in your industry for years on end, owning an estimated 80% market share of the industry, and being in a niche business that makes it likely that you will not see many, if any new competitors in its market is an absolutely exceptional thing to find in any business.  This combination of characteristics is something I have been looking for in a company since I have started investing seriously and had not found it in any single company until now.

The demand for fruit cake materials is highly seasonal, with over 85% of sales in the glace fruits taking place in the months of September, October, and November.  In order to meet delivery requirements during this relatively short period, PARF must acquire the fruit and process it into candied fruit and peels for an estimated 10 months before this time period just to meet demand. This means that PARF has a massive build up in inventory in the quarter before the holiday months every year, and depletes its cash hoard to pay for the inventory that is needed to make sales in the last quarter of its fiscal year.  These very seasonal circumstances in the fruitcake industry makes the full year results of the company, generally which come out in March of every year, the only financial report of its fiscal year that shows how truly profitable PARF has been for the preceding trailing twelve month period.

Molded Plastic Segment Description-PARF produces plastic containers for its products and other molded plastics for sale to unaffiliated customers.  The molded plastics industry is very large and diverse, and PARF’s management has no estimate of its total size. Many products produced by PARF are materials for its own use in the packaging of candied fruits for sale at the retail level. Outside sales represent approximately 85% of PARF’s total plastics production at cost, and, in terms of the overall market, are insignificant.  In the plastics molding segment of business, sales to unaffiliated customers continue to strengthen. This trend began several years ago when management shifted its focus from the sale of high volume, low profit “generics” to higher technology value added custom applications.

PARF has only recently started to sell these types of packaged fruits as well which could become a bigger part of operations going forward.

Costs of goods sold have ranged between 71-75% of sales every year since 2003 and this year’s trailing twelve month COGS is coming in at 71.98%.  Despite an increase in the cost of raw materials within the fruit segment and increasing cost of resins within the Plastics segment, PARF has successfully maintained control over its production labor costs during the past year.  Management says that this can be traced directly to its previously disclosed decision and action to eliminate 15 full time positions, reduce executive and salary wages by 15% and 10%, respectively, and rescission of a 4% merit increase awarded to hourly workers. These actions remained in place throughout 2011 and have help reign in the cost of sales during this timeframe.

Selling, general and administrative expenses have generally taken up between 18-20% of sales over the past decade but have started to come down a bit over the decade from a high of 20.33% in 2002 to the trailing twelve month period being only 18.14%.   This all leaves PARF’s trailing twelve month operating margin at 9.86% which is much improved and is its highest operating margin in the past decade.  Operating margin has actually been below 5% for most of the last decade so PARF has been able to double its operating margin in recent years.  It’s ROIC and ROE are a bit more volatile over the past decade but are both up over recent years and currently stand at 7.59% and 8.31% respectively over the trailing twelve month period.  My estimates of ROIC are 11.29% without goodwill and 11.09% with goodwill.  One thing of note and concern is that PARF’s cash conversion cycle has jumped dramatically as it stood at 160 days in its 2011 fiscal year and it now stands at 282 days in the trailing twelve month period.  This is most likely the buildup in inventory for the 2011 holiday season and may only be an aberration because of the seasonality of its business but it is something that definitely bears watching when PARF’s full annual report comes out.

PARF is pretty much a family owned and operated business as out of the top five executives four of them are related.  The only one who seems not to be related to anyone is the CFO and treasurer Jack M. Laskowitz.  Melvin S. Gordon who owns around 37% of PARF, and who is the current CEO, Chairman, and a director of the company, has been with PARF since the 1960s in various capacities.  His two sons, one daughter in law, and a cousin make up the remaining five member executive team.  The group of executives has done a pretty good job over the years of managing the company and expanding its operations into the plastic industry to become more diversified which has helped the company’s sales and profitability.  In total insiders own right around 41% total of PARF so outside of Mr. Melvin S. Gordon the other executives own very small percentages of the company.

As with BABB in my previous article, PARF also has excessive executive pay in my opinion.  Just the five executives in the company got paid including bonuses, in 2011 $1.551 million, or about 16% of PARF’s market cap, about 6% of revenues, and about 21% of gross profit.  While BABB’s executive pay is worse in relation to these benchmarks PARFs pay is still excessive in my opinion especially in relation to the company’s small size of around $10 million.


These valuations were done by me, using my estimates and are not a recommendation to buy stock in any of the companies mentioned. Do your own homework.

Valuations were done using PARF’s 2011 10K and 2012 third quarter 10Q. All numbers are in thousands of US$, except per share information, unless otherwise noted.

Also remember that these valuations are not containing the full year’s number which generally come out in March of every year, and will show a much truer picture of how the company is operating.  The company’s operations are extremely seasonal and in the most recent quarter PARF had to use up nearly its entire cash hoard to buy inventory.  The cash should be at least partially replenished in the full year report and was standing near $7.8 million before they had to buy inventory.

Minimum Estimate of Value

EBIT Valuation

PARF has a trailing twelve month EBIT of 2,624.

5X, 8X, 11X, and 14X EBIT + cash and cash equivalents + short-term investments:

  • 5X2,624=13,120/520=$25.23 per share.
  • 8X2,624=20,992/520=$40.47 per share.
  • 11X2,624=28,864/520=$55.51 per share.
  • 14X2,624=36,736/520=$70.65 per share.

I would use the 5X EBIT estimate of intrinsic value as my minimum estimate of value for PARF.

Base Estimate of Value

Assets: Book Value: Reproduction Value:
Accounts Receivable 8,088 6,875
Inventories 11,664 5,832
Deferred Income Tax Asset 235 118
Prepaid Expenses & Other Current Assets 481 241
Total Current Assets 20,468 13,060
PP&E Net 4,037 2,624
Goodwill 413 0
Customer Base & Non-compete Agreement 471 236
Other Assets 233 0
Total Assets 25,622 15,920

Number of shares are 520

Reproduction Value:

  • 15,920/520=$30.62 per share.

High Estimate of Value

EBIT Valuation

PARF has a trailing twelve month EBIT of 2,624.

5X, 8X, 11X, and 14X EBIT + cash and cash equivalents + short-term investments:

  • 5X2,624=13,120/520=$25.23 per share.
  • 8X2,624=20,992/520=$40.47 per share.
  • 11X2,624=28,864/520=$55.51 per share.
  • 14X2,624=36,736/520=$70.65 per share.

This time I would use the 8X EBIT value of $40.47 per share and it would be my high estimate of value for PARF.

Relative Valuations

  • PARF’s P/E ratio is currently 6.9 with the industry average P/E standing at 16.7.  If PARF was selling at the industry average P/E it would be worth $48.40 per share.
  • PARF’s P/B ratio is currently 0.5 with the industry average P/B standing at 1.8.  If PARF was selling at the industry average P/B it would be worth $72.00 per share.
  • PARF’s TEV/EBIT is currently 5.02.
  • PARF’s EV/EBIT is currently 4.95.

Something of major note that is not included in any of the above valuations is that:

“The Company owns its plant facilities and other properties free and clear of any mortgage obligations.”

This means that PARF has some substantial hidden assets that are not fully on its books in the above valuations.  I found one set of links that showed PARF’s combined land, building, equipment, and properties were valued at a total of $6.6 million.

Being conservative I will use the link here where you can search for Paradise in the search bar, which shows a more conservative set of values for the property, land, equipment, and buildings valued at an estimated $5.41 million, or $10.40 per share.  This is probably a very low estimate and the combined value of the land, buildings, and equipments is most likely worth more than the $5.41 million.  Discounting this amount by 40% due to where the locations are at and for the overall sake of conservatism it still brings an extra $6.24 per share to the company’s valuations above.

This means the true valuations above should be: Minimum-$31.47 per share, Base-$36.86, and High-$46.71, making the company even more undervalued.

Valuation Thoughts

  • By my absolute minimum estimate of value PARF is undervalued by 36%.  By my base estimate of value PARF is undervalued by 46%.  With my high estimate of value PARF is undervalued by 53% and is a potential double from today share price at $20 per share.  Again, these valuations are not including any cash which will be at least partially replenished when the full year results come out and make PARF even more undervalued.
  • PARF is undervalued by every one of my estimates of intrinsic value and relative value.
  • PARF’s TEV/EBIT and EV/EBIT are both under 8 which is generally the threshold I like to buy under.
  • Again all of these valuations do not contain the full year’s results which are not out yet and will show a much truer picture of the company and its operations.

Customers Thoughts

PARF sells its products on its website, through Wal-Mart and Aqua Cal around the holiday seasons, smaller stores, some restaurants, and Amazon.  Wal-Mart and Aqua Cal both make up a substantial portion of all sales so if either decided not to reorder it would affect the company’s sales, profitability, and margins.

On Amazon, like everything else that is sold on the site, customers leave reviews and generally as you can see with this link, customers seem to think very highly of Paradise’s products.  After reading through all the reviews most people talked about the high quality of PARFs products, and how they couldn’t get glace fruit in their individual local stores even sometimes around the holidays, so they had to search online for them.  This could also be a potential opportunity for PARF because if there is more demand for their products that isn’t being fulfilled currently that could lead to higher sales if more people knew about them.

Some of the negative comments were about how the packaging of the product was poor and came partially crushed or even broken in some cases.  In a couple of extreme cases people said that their products came with ants, bug legs, and other bug parts inside of the products.

It is hard to tell whether this is PARF’s or Amazon’s fault but assuming at worst that it is PARF’s, this is a problem that they need to fix in the process of packaging the product and shipping it because as I talked about in my BABB article, customer reviews like this could lead to trouble in the future for the company if it were to continue to have these types of problems.

PARF has also made it to number 2 in the Top 20 Glace Fruit Sites.  Only one or two of the companies on this list look to be direct competitors with PARF as most of the other companies have operations in a lot of other areas and only do a small amount of business in the glace fruit area.


  • PARF becoming more known to people who like making fruit cakes would heighten their sales.


  • PARF is the leader in its industry by far, owning an estimated 80% of all sales in the glace food market.
  • PARF is in a very niche industry which should keep away competitors and its dominance intact.
  • PARF is substantially undervalued by all accounts.
  • PARF’s management team has done a very good job running the company over the years.
  • Customers generally seem to love the product.
  • There could be potential for a lot more sales if more people knew about PARF’s products as a lot of the customer reviews on Amazon stated that they struggled to find any glace fruit products in their local markets, sometimes even during the holiday season, and had to resort to looking online.
  • PARF has nearly $500K worth of non-compete agreements signed with people to keep them from competing with PARF.
  • PARF’s margins are overall pretty good and I will talk about that in the conclusion article.
  • PARF operates on some amount of float which I will also talk about in the finale article.
  • To boost the company’s margins PARF cut costs and payroll in recent years which has helped strengthen its margins.


  • PARF’s business is very seasonal and requires a lot of lead time so if demand drops for fruitcake during the holiday season the company’s results would be highly affected.
  • PARF’s management and executive pay is a bit excessive in my mind.
  • A few customers have had some nasty problems with PARF’s products being delivered to them broken or with bug parts being in the product.
  • PARF is highly dependent on Wal-Mart and Aqua Cal (Sales to these two companies make up between 20 and 25% of sales in recent years) purchasing their products for sale around the holiday season so if either one didn’t reorder it would affect PARF’s results.
  • So far in the trailing twelve month period there has been a 120 day jump in the cash conversion cycles which is alarming.  Hopefully this is just due to the lead up in having the buy inventory for sale during the holiday season and will not be a problem after full year results come out.


Paradise looks like a fantastic company to own right now.  It is undervalued substantially and owns a conservatively estimated $5.4 million with of property and land that partially protects the downside of buying into PARF.  It has dominated its market for years and continues to do so.  Being in a very niche market and industry that it is dominating, it is unlikely that someone would come in and try to compete with them.  PARF has generally good to very good margins and its operations are partially supported by float.  The continued dominance and good to very good margins lead me to believe that the company also has at least a small moat as well or at the very least being in this extreme niche market has helped it to gain moat like qualities due to lack of competition.  I will talk about margins and float in depth in the conclusion piece of this series of posts.  PARF’s customers seem to love its products and since a lot of them complain that they cannot find glace fruit products in their local markets PARF might be able to capitalize on this with  through more advertising and advertising to a wider audience that they sell their products online.

PARF does have some negatives as well with what is in my opinion excessive executive pay, heavy reliance on two customers, some previous problems with its packaging, and it’s very seasonal market but up to this point PARF looks like a very exceptional company to invest in as the positives far outweigh the negatives in my opinion.

Next up in this now shortened series is the conclusion.

BAB Systems Inc, $BABB, Owner of Big Apple Bagels and My Favorite Muffin Is Undervalued But Has A Glaring Issue

This is the beginning of my series on nano-cap companies.  Specifically in this series I will be turning my analytical eye towards companies with market caps of $10 million and under to see if I can find any good companies to buy in this very small and relatively unfollowed area of the market. Over the next several articles I will introduce each company, talk about its operations, pros and cons, valuations, etc. At the end of each article I will state my overall opinion of the company and whether or not I think the company would be a good potential investment.  At the end of this series I will go over and compare all of the companies’ margins, floats, the pros and cons of buying into each company, and valuations to determine which one(s), if any, I have decided to buy and state why I have decided to buy into at this time.  I hope you enjoy this series on nano cap companies.

Introduction And Overview

The company I will be talking about in this article is BAB Systems Inc, (BABB) a very small and unfollowed $4.4 million market cap that is traded on the OTC market, company based in Deerfield, Illinois which is the parent company and franchise owner of My Favorite Muffin, Sweet Duet Frozen Yogurt & Gourmet Muffins, and Big Apple Bagels stores.  BABB also sells Brewster’s Coffee at its restaurants. As of August 31, 2012 BABB had 97 franchise units and 6 licensed units in operation in 24 states and zero owned stores after selling the only one last year. BABB’s revenues are derived primarily from the ongoing royalties paid to it by its franchisees and from receipt of initial franchise fees. BABB also gets income from the sale of its trademark bagels, muffins and coffee through nontraditional channels of distribution including to Mrs. Fields Famous Brands (Mrs. Fields), Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard, Braeda Cafe, Kaleidoscoops, Green Beans Coffee, Sodexo and through direct home delivery of specialty muffin gift baskets and coffee.  Below are descriptions of the different operating segments taken from BABB’s annual and quarterly reports.

Big Apple Bagels

BAB franchised stores daily bake a variety of fresh bagels and offer up to 11 varieties of
cream cheese spreads.   Stores also offer a variety of breakfast and lunch bagel sandwiches, salads, soups, various dessert items, fruit smoothies, gourmet coffees and other beverages.

My Favorite Muffin

MFM franchised stores daily bake 20 to 25 varieties of muffins from over 250 recipes,
plus a variety of bagels. They also serve gourmet coffees, beverages and, at My Favorite Muffin and Bagel Cafe locations, a variety of bagel sandwiches and related products.

Brewster’s Coffee

Although the Company doesn’t have, or actively market, Brewster’s stand-alone
franchises, Brewster’s coffee products are sold in most of the franchised units.

Sweet Duet Frozen Yogurt

On May 7, 2012 the Company issued a press release announcing the launch of its new franchise concept, SweetDuet Frozen Yogurt & Gourmet Muffins, which it is preparing to roll out this year. While BAB will be offering franchises in all 50 states, its initial development focus is targeted for the Midwest, specifically Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio. As part of its introductory development plan, BAB will be donating 10% of the initial franchise fee from its first 50 units to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, of which BAB is a corporate sponsor.  SweetDuet, as its name implies, is a fusion concept, pairing self-serve frozen yogurt with BAB’s exclusive line of My Favorite Muffin gourmet muffins, broadening the shop’s offering and therefore differentiating itself from the numerous frozen yogurt outlets already populating the market. SweetDuet Frozen Yogurt & Gourmet Muffins shops will also include BAB’s. Brewster’s Coffee and a streamlined breakfast menu. The concept is designed to work in 1600 square feet of space.  The SweetDuet concept will be included as part of the Systems franchise operating and financial information.

Typically all of these restaurants seat around 30 people.

Operations And Management Discussion

Currently BABB’s is pretty much a holding company operation now that it does not directly run any of its restaurants and it derives its revenue from collecting royalty fees from its franchisees (5% of net sales.)  Initial franchise fees when a new store opens ($25,000 for a franchisees first “Full production” Big Apple Bagels or My Favorite Muffin.  Fee for subsequent stores opened by franchisees is $20,000.)  Big Apple Bagel and My Favorite Muffin franchisees also contribute 3% of net sales towards advertising and marketing to BABB.

Since BABB does not currently directly operate any restaurants, and BABB just does corporate back office work for the whole company, locates new franchisees and franchise locations, markets the company, and sits back to collect fees from the franchisees of course you would expect BABB to have absolutely exceptional margins.

The company does have some pretty good TTM margins: Gross margin at 96.2%, operating margin at 17.9%, ROE of 15.51%, and an ROIC of 14.51%.  However the companies operating margin, ROE, and ROIC could potentially double if payroll and payroll related expenses could be halved from their extremely high current levels (Which is probably a bit optimistic and I will talk about more below) and didn’t amount to more than $1 million, or about 25% of the companies entire market cap, and about 1/3 of its enterprise value.

If payroll and payroll related expenses which totaled about $1.4 million for the entirety of 2011, 53% of BABB’s gross profit, (Or an incredible $100,000 per employee at a $4.4 million market cap company) could be cut in half that would add 9 cents to BABB’s EPS, which would almost triple current EPS.  Cutting payroll expenses by half is just an estimate of what the company could do and may be a bit optimistic but BABB management should certainly be able to get close to halving payroll if it really wanted to become a more efficient company.  That 9 cents per share extra could be put towards growing the company further, paying an even bigger dividend (current dividend yield is 3.31%), or my favorite option, buying back shares outstanding since I am finding BABB to be undervalued currently and which I will talk about later.  Just the top three executives of the company made nearly $700,000 in 2011, not including the also generous options that have been given in the past, are still being given, and can still be exercised for even higher compensation for the three main executives of BABB.  Company insiders do own about 38% of BABB but that is down from a few years ago where insiders owned 48% of BABB.

At November 30, 2011 there are 360,400 of unexercised options that are not included in the computation of dilutive EPS because their impact would be antidilutive due to the market price of the common stock being higher than the option prices.  At November 30, 2010 there were 368,373 unexercised options that were not included in diluted EPS because their impact would be antidilutive due to the market price of the common stock being higher than the option prices.

Executive pay has also been rising in most recent years even as the number of total restaurants franchised and owned has dropped from 129 total restaurants in 2007 down to 103 total restaurants.  Since BABB no longer operates any of its restaurants the drop in number of total restaurants has also dropped royalty income, operating income and total company value.  Again, executive pay has continued to rise in recent years as this has been going on.

On top of all of this the CEO Mr. Michael G. Evans, is on BABB’s compensation committee which never looks good, especially in this case due to the high executive pay in comparison to the overall size of the company.

Also of note as it pertains to how the company operates is that as I talked about above the company receives 3% of net sales towards marketing and advertising for the restaurants.  This amount for several years now at year end has stayed consistently in the $300,000 a year range in unused advertising and marketing funds that the company could be putting towards better use than just sitting in company accounts waiting to be used.

Management could also be getting a bit sidetracked with opening up its new restaurant concept Sweetduet Frozen Yogurt as well and may be better served concentrating on and improving its already established Big Apple Bagel and My Favorite Muffin restaurants.


This section will illustrate why I think management could be doing a much better job, especially when it comes to their own pay, and putting some of that money to better use for shareholders.

These valuations were done by me, using my estimates and are not a recommendation to buy stock in any of the companies mentioned. Do your own homework.

Valuations were done using BABB’s 2011 10K and 2012 third quarter 10Q. All numbers are in thousands of US$, except per share information, unless otherwise noted.

Cash and NOL Valuation (Absolute Minimum Valuation)

  • BABB has 1,239 in cash (17 cents per share) + total net operating loss carry forwards of $5,857, discounted 50% which I will talk about later to $2,928 (40 cents a share)= a total valuation of 57 cents per share.

EBIT, Cash, and NOL Valuation

Cash, cash equivalents, and short term investments are 1,239

Total current liabilities are 822

Number of shares are 7,266

Cash and cash equivalents + short-term investments – total current liabilities=

  • 1239-822=417/7266=$0.06 in net cash per share.

BABB has a trailing twelve month EBIT of 504.

5X, 8X, 11X, and 14X EBIT + cash and cash equivalents + short-term investments+$2,928 in NOL’s, or $0.40 per share:

  • 5X504=2520+1239=3759/7266=$0.52 per share+$0.40 in NOL’s=$0.92 per share.
  • 8X504=4032+1239=5271/7266=$0.73 per share+$0.40 in NOL’s=$1.13 per share.
  • 11X504=5544+1239=6783/7266=$0.93 per share+$0.40 in NOL’s=$1.33 per share.
  • 14X504=7056+1239=8295/7266=$1.14 per share+$0.40 in NOL’s=$1.54 per share.

Right now BABB’s operations at 5X EBIT are only adding 2,520 (35 cents per share) to its overall valuation due to overall restaurant count dropping and now only collecting royalty, license, and franchise fees but even at that valuation BABB is selling at a 35% discount to today’s share price of 60 cents a share.    I chose to discount the NOL’s by 50% in the above valuations for conservatism because a lot of these NOL’s will take years to accrue to BABB.

Relative Valuations

  • BABB’s P/E is currently 9 with the industry average being 17.9. With BABB’s current share price of 60 cents per share, if it was selling at the industry average P/E it would be worth $1.20 per share.
  • BABB’s P/B is currently 1.4 with the industry average being 3.7.  With BABB’s current share price of 60 cents per share, if it was selling at the industry average P/B it would be worth $1.58 per share.
  • BABB’s TEV/EBIT is 7.07 and its EV/EBIT is 6.58.  Both of which are under 8 which is generally what I like to see in companies I think about buying into.

Valuation Thoughts

  • BABB’s, which is currently selling at 60 cents per share, is undervalued by every one of my estimates of intrinsic value and relative value estimates when compared to its industry.
  • BABB has $153,000 in total debt, or only 2 cents per share so even subtracting the company’s debt it is still undervalued.
  • By my absolute minimum estimate of value BABB valued about fairly right now but that only includes cash and NOL’s.  Adding in BABB’s operations into the valuation makes BABB undervalued by 35% currently.

Customer Reviews

As I have been researching and writing this article one thing has continued to bother me and not made very much sense about BABB.  The restaurant count dropping has been a bit perplexing to me as the company has been profitable every year since 2002 except for 2009, and I would not have thought that bagel sales would have suffered a massive drop during the recession, so the restaurant count dropping in 2007 from 129 total restaurants to now only having 103 total restaurants (Or a drop in total restaurant count of 20%) has continued to bug me as the process of researching this company has gone on.  I have not eaten at any of BABB’s restaurants before as the closest one of its restaurants are a six hour drive away from me so I decided to find customer reviews online to help me get a bit of perspective on how the franchise restaurants are generally thought of by its customers. After reading through dozens of customer reviews from different franchise locations I think that I am able to come to some conclusions about what its customers think about Big Apple Bagel restaurants and think that I have found the answer to the dropping restaurant count problem that has been bothering me.

  • Generally customers only think that the food is average to good.
  • Generally people think that the bagel/sandwich products are overpriced.
  • A lot of people think that competitors have better bagels in their respective local areas.
  • More than a few people mentioned that they only went there because of coupon promotions (buy 1 get 1 half off or free on bagel sandwiches.)
  • More than a few people who said they went there only because of the coupons said that even with the coupon they thought the products were overpriced.
  • The biggest overall concern that I saw stated over and over again from customer visits to multiple different franchise locations was that customer service was rated at best ok to absolutely horrible.

Through my studies of many different companies in many different industries I have learned many things that can help and hurt the company’s sales and profitability.  One of the biggest things that can help or hurt a company, especially in today’s world where people can write things like customer reviews on the internet for everyone to see, is customer service or the lack thereof.  I think that one of the reasons Amazon has been such a huge success is due to its customer service which is exceptional and one of the best I have ever dealt with.  The reverse can also happen if you have a reputation for poor customer service and can lead to customers not coming back to your stores and restaurants.  Combine the poor customer service with products that the customers think are overpriced (even with buy 1 get 1 free coupons) and the combination of these two things may be why restaurant count has dropped by 20% in recent years.  Maybe the restaurants are losing customers, sales, and the franchise locations are becoming unprofitable leading the franchisees to close restaurants.  There is not really a mention of why the restaurant count has dropped in BABB’s annual reports and to this point I have not been able to talk with company IR and have not had my phone calls returned to get these questions answered so for now this is my best guess as to why the number of restaurants have dropped in recent years.


  • If management decided to cut payroll expenses and put that money towards much better use the share price would no doubt rise.
  • Gaining more franchisees would up sales and profitability which would make the share price rise.


  • BABB is at minimum fairly valued, and undervalued sometimes substantially with my other intrinsic and relative valuations.
  • BABB’s margins are pretty good overall.
  • Insiders own around 38% of BABB.
  • If BABB’s management decided to cut payroll expenses it would raise EPS and overall profitability of BABB, potentially substantially depending on how much they decided to cut payroll.


  • BABB’s restaurant count has dropped by 20% since 2007 which has lowered the amount of royalty fees collected, thus lowering sales and profitability for the overall company.
  • Management’s pay is excessive in my view taking up 53% of gross margin.  Last year overall payroll and payroll expenses amounted to $1.4 million dollars with the company only having a $4.4 million market cap.  Stated another way payroll and payroll expenses make up 32% of the companies entire market cap.
  • Just the top three executives of BABB made around $700,000 last year, not including options, or 16% of the entire market cap.
  • BABB’s margins could be a lot higher if management cut payroll expenses.
  • A few years ago insiders owned 48% of the company and now only own 38%.
  • At the very least the company is perceived to not have very good customer service.
  • Several reviewers online also thought the products sold at BAB restaurants were overpriced, even when they had a buy 1 get 1 half off or fee coupon.


I will save in depth talk about margins, float, and the other normal things I talk about in my articles for the conclusion piece in the series of posts but my overall investment thesis is very simple with this company: BABB is at worst fairly valued when only counting cash and NOL’s and is undervalued by a substantial margin (about 35%) when including its operations.  If management were to cut payroll and other payroll expenses, especially executive pay and options, and put that money (Potentially as much as 9 cents per share if they were to halve payroll expenses) towards improving company operations and/or expanding the number of franchises, paying a higher dividend, or buying back shares the company could potentially appreciate by even more.

In my opinion management could be doing a much better job helping this company expand and to improve operations, especially the customer service side of things.  I do not think that BABB is necessarily a buy and hold forever company like some of the other companies I own, but I do think that BABB could grow its restaurant count, become more profitable, and turn into a much more attractive company to own, and potentially turn into a buyout candidate.  Payroll expenses taking up 53% of gross profit is absolutely insane, and if BABB decides to cut some corporate excess/waste and put that money to much better use for shareholders and the overall company, BABB could potentially double or triple from today’s current share price of 60 cents per share.

I still have a few more companies to write articles about before making a definite buy decision or not about BABB, but overall it looks like a potential investment opportunity at this point, especially if management would cut payroll expenses and put that money towards much better use for shareholders.

The next article in this series will be about Paradise Fruit Company Inc (PARF).