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.

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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.

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

Liabilities:

  • 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

Liabilities:

  • 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.

Conclusion

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.

Valuations

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.

Catalysts

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

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Conclusion

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.

Valuations

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.

Catalysts

  • 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.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Conclusion

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).

How To Value Float, Book Recommendation, And An Update On What I Have Been Doing Including Info About The Potential Investment Firm I Plan To Open

More Float Info and a Book Recommendation

While I was beginning to write my UNAM article I realized that of all the learning I had done about float, I had not learned how to value it.  Below are some more sites that I learned from while I was putting my article together on how to evaluate and value a company’s float.  Some of the information and valuations made it into my UNAM article and a lot of the other stuff made it into my written notes.

Personally I would put these links on about on par with some of the other information on float I have learned about and posted on the blog from the Fundoo Professor and others, and I hope you learn something from them as well.

I cannot recommend The Davis Dynasty highly enough.  I wish I would have known about this book and read it when I had first started learning about investing and would put in on the same level as The Intelligent Investor, Security Analysis, Margin of Safety, and You Can Be a Stock Market Genius as some of my favorite investment books.

The Davis Dynasty is a book about the Davis family starting with the older Shelby Davis who started with $50,000 in investment funds almost at the age of 40 and turned it into approximately $900 million by the time he died.  His son and grandsons are now continuing his investment legacy and have continued to compound portions of that money still to this day, or at least when the book was published.  The book goes over the general family and investment philosophies and how they made so much money.  The older Shelby Davis made his money mostly with insurance stocks.  The younger Shelby Davis made most of his money with a mixture of financial, insurance, and other stocks.  The grandsons have continued the overall philosophy but have expanded out from the so called boring insurance stocks.

Again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

I have started to read The Farmer From Merna about how State Farm Insurance was started to continue gaining knowledge about the insurance industry.  After I finish this up I plan to look for another company to research.

Some Other Things I Have Been Up To

  • I am still learning Mandarin and at this point I have learned probably somewhere north of 2000 words or close to that.  Still amazing and I think this will definitely help me at some point down the road.
  • Nate (Oddball Stocks) and I were having a conversation a while back about how he read French value investing blogs to help him learn French faster so I decided to try to find some investing blogs that are in Mandarin to help me learn faster.  However, up to this point I have had only minimal luck so I have instead turned my latest article on UNAM into completely Mandarin text and thought I would try this out to see how this works.
  • I got some pretty good news from my lawyer friend about opening up the potential investment firm that I mentioned almost a month ago.  So far no concrete updates and I still have some more calls to make and digging to do, but at this point it looks like nothing should prohibit me from opening up a small investment firm.
  • I have started some work on an investor’s presentation so that when I do figure out things for sure I am ready to start contacting friends, family, and local wealthy people to see if they would like to invest.
  • I have been trying to get myself out there more still in the hopes of getting some kind of job offer, even if it is just someone who wants to pay me for my investment ideas until I open up the investment firm, so I have reapplied to the Value Investors Club.  Last time I applied I had to wait a few weeks to see my rejection letter.  Applied to SumZero and have already gotten an email back from them saying that because I do not have hedge fund/investment firm experience that I cannot join their site.  Started putting my articles on Guru Focus and my Brazil Fast Food article, the first article I have posted to GF, was named an Editor’s Pick.  So far nothing in the way of job offers but people generally say that they like my work a lot and that I do a really good job of laying out my analysis. I have a couple ideas that I may share in the coming weeks about some other ideas I have in this area as well.

Right now I am going to be finishing up The Farmer From Merna, then find another company to research, and keep doing the stuff above.  I will also probably post some more links here shortly.

Unico American Corporation $UNAM: A Company I Would Love To Own Outright

Introduction And History

When I first started out reading about Unico American Corporation $UNAM I was expecting to just use this as a learning experience since this is the first insurance company that I have truly evaluated.  I was planning on learning the important insurance industry terms, what they meant, how they affected the company in question, what the float was and how that affected the company’s operations, etc, and analyzing the company using all the knowledge I have gained lately from my recent foray into studying float and put those findings into an article.  I was not expecting to find what I did: A company that is undervalued by EVERY ONE of my estimates of value, a company that has been for a number of years very disciplined and conservative in its estimates, which I found are of utmost importance in the property and casualty insurance business, and a company that has had underwriting profits every year since 2004, which I found out is really hard to do.  If I had the capital available I would love to own this entire company and to build my investment firm with this company at the core, a la Warren Buffett with Berkshire Hathaway and its insurance companies.  However, unless someone out there would like to endow me with nearly $100 million I will just have to be happy buying shares in UNAM and watching my money compound into the future.

UNAM is a relatively small (Current market cap around $65 million) holding company whose main subsidiary, Crusader, is a property and casualty insurance company who writes insurance only in the state of California.  The vast majority of its operations (around 98%) are in commercial multi peril insurance writing.  UNAM also has some other subsidiaries that operate in various insurance related industries, but for this article I am only going to concentrate on Crusader and UNAM as a whole as its other subsidiaries contribute only fractionally to UNAM’s results.  UNAM used to write insurance in a number of other states but decided to concentrate only on California as it was generally losing money on its insurance operations in those other states.  UNAM is still licensed to write insurance in several other states so it may choose to expand back into those areas but at this time it appears to be content expanding throughout California.  The below quoted areas are from UNAM’s annual reports about the previous business in other states and why its management decided to stop those operations.

In 2002 the Company began to substantially reduce the offering of insurance outside of California primarily due to the unprofitability of that business.

In 2004 all business outside of California had ceased.  In 2002, primarily as a result of losses from liquor and premises liability coverage which had rendered much of the Company’s business outside of California unprofitable, the Company began placing moratoriums on non-California business on a state-by-state basis. By July 2003, the Company had placed moratoriums on all non-California business. The Company has no plan to expand into additional states or to expand its marketing channels. Instead, the company intends to allocate its resources toward improving its California business rates, rules, and forms.

The Company incurred underwriting losses in 2000, 2001, and 2002. As a result of these underwriting losses, management analyzed and acted upon various components of its underwriting activity. The Company believes that the implementation of these actions contributed to the improved underwriting results. This is reflected in the decrease in the Company’s ratio of losses and loss adjustment expenses to net earned premium from 139% in 2001, to 98% in 2002, to 85% in 2003, and to 69% in 2004.”

As you will see throughout the rest of this article, UNAM’s operations have changed drastically for the better since those decisions were made.

Overview Of Operations

Below are descriptions of UNAM’s insurance business taken from its annual reports.  Emphasis is mine.

The insurance company operation is conducted through Crusader. Crusader is a multiple line property and casualty insurance company that began transacting business on January 1, 1985. Since 2004, all Crusader business has been written in the state of California. During the year ended December 31, 2011, approximately 98% of Crusader’s business was commercial multiple peril policies. Commercial multiple peril  policies  provide  a  combination  of  property  and  liability  coverage  for  businesses.  Commercial property coverage insures against loss or damage to buildings, inventory and equipment from natural disasters, including hurricanes, windstorms, hail, water, explosions, severe winter weather, and other events such as theft and vandalism, fires, storms, and financial loss due to business interruption resulting from covered property damage. However, Crusader does not write earthquake coverage. Commercial liability coverage insures against third party liability from accidents occurring on the insured’s premises or arising out of its operation. In addition to commercial multiple peril policies, Crusader also writes separate policies to insure commercial property and commercial liability risks on a mono-line basis. Crusader is domiciled in California; and as of December 31, 2011, Crusader was licensed as an admitted insurance carrier in the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

The property casualty insurance marketplace continues to be intensely competitive as more insurers are competing for the same customers. Many of Crusader’s competitors price their insurance at rates that the Company believes are inadequate to support an underwriting profit. While Crusader attempts to meet such competition with competitive prices, its emphasis is on service, promotion, and distribution. Crusader believes that rate adequacy is more important than premium growth and that underwriting profit (net earned premium less losses and loss adjustment expenses and policy acquisition costs) is its primary goal. Nonetheless, Crusader believes that it can grow its sales and profitability by continuing to focus upon three areas of its operations: (1) product development, (2) improved service to retail brokers, and (3) appointment of captive and independent retail agents.

The property and casualty insurance industry, P&C insurance, has been in what is considered a “soft market” since 2004.  UNAM has been disciplined enough during this “soft” insurance market of the past 8 years to achieve underwriting profits every year since 2004.  As I will detail later that feat has been very hard to come by for other P&C insurance companies and is extremely impressive.  The strict discipline to keep prices high enough to retain that underwriting profit has led to loss of business since 2004; net premiums written have dropped from $33 million in 2007 to just under $27 million in 2011.  All numbers throughout this article are in millions $US unless otherwise noted.

011513_1652_UNAMPremium1.png
011513_1657_UNAMLossand1.png
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The surplus ratio is supposed to be under 300% so UNAM is well underneath that.  The underwriting profit as a % of net premium has consistently been between 9%-20% since 2007.  Very impressive profit margins especially in comparison to some of the other insurance companies I researched and will talk about later who of underwriting losses.  The statutory capital and surplus numbers is the amount of extra money after all liabilities and assets have been properly calculated according to the accounting standards.  Generally the higher the better and the more money the company has to potentially invest and pay out claims with.  Dividends can be paid out of the surplus capital as well.

I estimated what its profit numbers are for the whole of 2012 and I estimate an underwriting profit of 4.92, net premiums written of 33.21 and underwriting profit as a % of net premium of 14.81%.  I did not include those in the above chart because those numbers are not official.

Last week I wrote about my conversation with Mr. Lester Aaron the CFO of the company and wrote my notes in this post.  After thinking about it some more and after further research I am glad that UNAM has taken the attitude it has to be extremely disciplined and conservative in its investments as those decisions have generally paid off as I will show below.  After looking at some of its competitors I also noticed that P&C insurance companies generally invest 5% and less of their investment funds in equities to be sure that they have funds on hand in case of a catastrophic insurance event so UNAM having no investments in equities does not appear to be as out of line with industry norms as I first thought.  However, I think that UNAM should invest its $2 million self imposed limit in equities to earn at least a somewhat better return than the about 1% it is earning now—If UNAM management is interested and listening I could send some ideas to them, companies that I think are good long term bets that are undervalued 🙂 — or at the very least get a bit more aggressive with buy backs and/or pay out more consistent special dividends with that money so that shareholders can put it to use.  Earning 1% on investments is pretty much useless over the long term so I hope management continues to do or starts doing some of the above things.  In the past several years UNAM has occasionally paid out special dividends and bought back some of its shares.

Float Analysis

Unico American Corporation $UNAM

  • Financial Assets: Total investment 124.84+cash 0.09+accrued investment income 0.27+premium and notes receivable 6.02+unpaid loss and loss adjustment expense 7.81+defered policy acquisition costs 3.93+deferred income taxes 1.84=144.8
  • Operating Assets: PP&E net 0.66+other assets 1.4=2.06
  • Total Assets=146.86

Liabilities

  • Equity of 75.23
  • Debt of 0
  • Float: Unpaid losses and loss adjustment expense 51.03+unearned premiums 16.6+advance premium and premium deposits 0.93+accrued expenses and other liabilities 3.1=71.66

Total liabilities are 71.66

Float/operating assets=71.66/2.06=34.79.  Float is supporting operating assets almost 35X.  Float is considered to be “free money” in this case because UNAM earns an underwriting profit and has since 2004.

Full year 2012 estimate of underwriting profit/total assets=ROA

  • 4.92/146.86=3.37%

Full year estimate of underwriting profit/ (total assets-float) =levered ROA

  • 4.92/75.2=6.54%

Competitors Info And Ratios And Comparison To UNAM

As I found out while researching other insurance companies to compare to UNAM, underwriting profit over a sustained period of years and the discipline to achieve that is very difficult.  I looked at around 5-7 other insurance companies combined ratios and underwriting profits and found that only a couple of them had underwriting profits for more than two out of the last five years, and generally their combined ratios got much worse in the last three years.  All of that makes UNAM’s sustained underwriting profits since 2004 all the more impressive.  Below are two of UNAM’s competitors that I compared it to and their ratios.

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Of particular note is the giant leap in both companies Loss and LAE and combined ratios since 2007.

Those numbers are generally much worse than UNAM’s ratios as you will see below.

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UNAM’s ratios have generally either stayed the same or gotten better since 2007.  A drastic contrast to the other insurance companies I looked at, almost all of whose combined ratios have gotten worse since 2007.

Also of note are how the companies risk based capital ratio compares.

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Numbers are supposed to be over 200% or insurance regulators may sanction or even take over the company as the company is deemed to be under potentially serious financial risk if its ratio is below 200%.  Employer’s Holding’s $EIG does not state what its RBC ratio is and only says that it exceeds the minimum requirement.  I found that a lot of the other insurance companies I looked into also did not state what their RBC ratio was.  As you can see Hallmark Financial $HALL ratio has been under the minimum recommended 200% for a few years now.

I found out pretty quickly into my research that of paramount importance in the insurance industry is management discipline and conservatism.  UNAM’s management has shown an impressive amount of both and it has paid off as all of the company’s ratios have improved, sometimes substantially for the better as a lot of its competitors ratios are getting worse.

I found it very curious that pretty much all the insurance companies I looked at said that they were more primarily concerned with underwriting profits even if that meant that the number of premiums written declined.  The reason I found that curious is because almost all of those other companies had underwriting losses going back several years, sometimes while premiums written had been growing.  So in some cases the other companies managements are at worst outright lying to its shareholders or at best being disingenuous with their stated underwriting policy as it relates to profitability.  UNAM’s managements focus, discipline, and conservatism appears to be an amazingly exceptional outlier in comparison to the other P&C insurance companies I looked at in terms of producing consistent underwriting profits.

Other Things Of Note

  • Generally there aren’t any barriers of entry into the P&C insurance industry.  The main advantage a company can gain is to be the low cost operator, but that sometimes comes with an underwriting loss as well.
  • UNAM is a controlled company as Mr. Erwin Cheldin-former CEO, president, and chairman of the board of UNAM, Founder of UNAM, and father of Cary; Cary L. Cheldin-Chairman of the board, president, and CEO of UNAM, son of Erwin Cheldin; Lester A. Aaron-treasurer, director, and CFO of UNAM; and George C. Gilpatrick-director of UNAM, hold approximately 53.20% of the voting power of the Company and have agreed to vote the shares of common stock held by each of them so as to elect each of them to the Board of Directors and to vote on all other matters as they may agree.
  • Biglari Capital, run by activist investor Sardar Biglari who tries to emulate Warren Buffett, owns 9.48% of UNAM.  His fund has had recent discussions with UNAM.  Nothing to report yet but Mr. Biglari has already tried to buy an insurance company before.
  • Schwartz Value and Ave Marie Catholic Values combined own 8.51% of UNAM.
  • Dimensional Fund Advisors owns 8.73% of UNAM.
  • All of the above shareholders combine to own 79.92% of UNAM.  Combine that with various other funds that own smaller portions of UNAM and probably under 10%, less than 500,000 shares, of the company’s shares are truly outstanding.
  • Cary Cheldin and Lester Aaron, both of whom are executives of UNAM, are also on the company’s competition committee.
  • On September 29, 2003, the Company borrowed $1,000,000 from Erwin Cheldin, director and the Company’s principal shareholder, president and chief executive officer, and $500,000 from The Cary and Danielle Cheldin Family Trust. Very dedicated and committed shareholders and owners.
  • Book value per share has been rising.  The nine year average book value per share is $11.36 per share and currently UNAM’s TTM book value per share is $14.12 per share.  UNAM is currently selling for less than its book value per share.
  • Revenues have dropped every year since 2004 when the soft insurance market started from a high of 62 down to a present TTM of 33.
  • UNAM has a negative EV, TEV/EBIT, and EV/EBIT.
  • UNAM’s AM Best rating is A- which is deemed excellent.  The AM Best rating is a measure of financial strength.
  • UNAM has four reinsurers all of whom have AM Best ratings of A of higher.
  • UNAM looks to be properly covered if a catastrophic insurance event happens as it carries a substantial amount of short term investments, currently worth more than its entire current market cap, it has substantial statutory capital and surplus, also currently worth more than its current market cap, and adequate reinsurance.

Valuations

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 UNAM’s 2011 10K and 2012 third quarter 10Q. All numbers are in millions of US$, except per share information, unless otherwise noted.

Absolute Minimum Valuation

This valuation is expecting 1% interest rates for the long term and no growth in float over time.

  • (float X 10%) + Equity=estimated value/number of shares.
  • (71.66 X 10%) +75.23=82.40/5.3=$15.55 per share.

Base Valuation

  • Float + Equity=estimated value/number of shares.
  • 71.66+75.23=146.89/5.3=$27.72 per share.

High Valuation

Assets: Book Value: Reproduction Value:
Fixed Maturity Securities

47

40

Short Term Investments

78

78

Premiums and Other Receivables

6

3

Deferred Policy Acquisition

4

2

Deferred Income Taxes

2

1

PP&E Net

1

0

Other Assets

9

4

Total Assets

147

128

Number of shares are 5.3

Reproduction Value

  • 128/5.3=$24.15 per share.

This valuation does not take into account any of UNAM’s float at all.  Add float onto that asset reproduction value gets us to:

  • 128+71.66=199.66/5.3=$37.67 per share.

Valuation Thoughts

  • Current share price is $12.25 per share.
  • UNAM appears to be massively undervalued.  There is a 22% margin of safety to my absolute minimum estimate of intrinsic value.  I actually think UNAM’s true intrinsic value is somewhere in the $25-$35 range which would either be a double or triple from today’s prices.  These estimates of value do not even count the companies potential future growth in float, premiums, and investable money over time.  My estimates of value also do not count on the insurance industry as a whole improving either, which will happen eventually.
  • UNAM’s downside is at least somewhat protected by its investments as well as it is currently selling for less than just the value of its short term investments, which mostly consist of cash, cash equivalents, and CDs.  Current per share value of short term investment is $14.72 per share.
  • I also found UNAM to be undervalued with every one of my other valuations.
  • UNAM is selling for less than just what its float is worth per share at book value, $13.52 per share.
  • UNAM is selling for less than the per share value of just its net assets after subtracting all liabilities including float, $14.15 per share.

Pros

  • UNAM is undervalued by every one of my estimates of intrinsic value.  As an example, UNAM’s per share price is lower now than the per share value of JUST its short term investments.
  • UNAM’s management looks to be very disciplined and conservative, which I found is of absolute importance in the insurance industry.
  • Sardar Biglari, an activist investor, has recently bought just fewer than 10% of UNAM and may look to buy it outright as Mr. Biglari has already tried to buy an insurance company before.  At the very least he could try to help unlock some of the value of UNAM’s shares by working with management and has already had contact with UNAM management.
  • UNAM has a negative enterprise value.  This article from Greenbackd explains why that can be a good thing for shareholders as a negative enterprise value can mean a value dislocation.
  • UNAM has earned an underwriting profit every year since 2004.  More impressive is that 2004 started a soft market in the insurance industry which generally means it is harder to earn an underwriting profit.
  • Even though UNAM is only earning 1% on its investments currently, UNAM still should have enough funds on hand to pay claims if a catastrophic insurance event happens as its surplus and statutory capital has grown substantially in recent years.  UNAM actually has more in just statutory capital and surplus than its current total market cap.  UNAM also has more in short term investments than its current entire market cap and it also looks to be adequately reinsured.
  • Book value per share has been rising in recent years.
  • UNAM’s management seems to be dedicated to the company as the current CEO and his wife loaned the company money in 2003 when it was having some problems.
  • Although UNAM’s CEO and CFO are on its compensation committee, their pay seems to be fair to me.
  • The former CEO, former president and founder, current CEO and president, and CFO own substantial portions of UNAM.
  • In recent years UNAM has bought back some of its shares and paid special dividends on occasion because “We think that the shareholders can put the dividends to better use than I think that we can currently in the market.”  Very shareholder friendly.
  • My entire conversation that I had with Mr. Aaron that I linked to above gave me confidence in management and laid some of my concerns to rest.
  • All of UNAM’s risk and insurance industry related ratios are far in excess of what they need to be and far better than its competitors that I looked at.
  • UNAM’s float should be considered as free money and looked at as kind of a revolving fund since it earns, and has earned since 2004, underwriting profits.
  • UNAM has no debt.  Some of the other insurance companies I looked at had to take on debt just to keep their operations out of regulators hands in recent years.

Cons

  • Revenue and premiums written have generally dropped every year since 2004.
  • UNAM is currently only earning 1% on its investments.  This could mean that if a catastrophic insurance event happens in the future that UNAM may not have enough money to pay claims.
  • UNAM may be too conservative with the investments it owns and the company seems to have a lot of excess capital not being utilized at all currently.
  • The current CEO and CFO are on UNAM’s compensation committee.
  • Some would say that UNAM’s special dividends in recent years are just being paid to further pay the insiders of the company who own large portions of the company.

Catalysts

  • Mr. Biglari could try to influence UNAM’s management to help unlock some of the value of its shares, or buy the company outright as Mr. Biglari has already tried to buy an insurance company before.
  • An improvement in the overall insurance industry could help unlock the value of UNAM.
  • A catastrophic insurance event in California would harm UNAM’s results.

Conclusion

This experience of learning about float over the last month or so has been an amazingly rewarding experience. As a relatively new investor I am always looking for opportunities to learn new things and expand my circle of competence and I think that I will look back years from now and see that this time period of my value investing journey was a turning point in getting me closer to my ultimate goals of opening up my own investment firm.  As icing on the cake I also ended up finding another company to invest in as UNAM is a company that is undervalued by every one of my estimates of intrinsic value, has potential catalysts in place to help unlock value, has had underwriting profits since 2004, and has very focused, disciplined, and conservative management.  For all of the reasons I list above, UNAM is a company that I would like to own all of and build my investment firm around.

Update as I was getting ready to publish the article.

After I finished up writing the article at the end of last week I started reading The Davis Dynasty and realized I had a lot more I needed to learn about the insurance industry as a whole before being comfortable enough with my knowledge to make the decision to buy into UNAM.  At this point I do not think that I have enough overall insurance industry knowledge to be able to make a definitive buy or sell decision so for now I am going to continue to learn about the insurance industry and when I feel I have enough knowledge, at that point I will make a definitive buy or sell decision about UNAM.

Hopefully UNAM’s shares do not pop before I gain more knowledge as they are by far the best insurance company I have found up to this point but I do not want to repeat some of the mistakes I made in the past and buy something before I fully understand the business and industry.

Brazil Fast Food Company Is Substantially Undervalued and Has A Moat

In this article I will be talking about Brazil Fast Food Company (BOBS.OB).  Bob’s was founded in 1952 by American tennis player Bob Falkenberg and serves hamburgers and sandwiches with a Brazilian twist, shakes, French fries, and other typical fast food offerings.  BOBS has grown to become the second biggest fast food chain in Brazil with operations in every state of the country, Angola, and Chile.

When I talk about BOBS in all capital letters I mean the company as a whole.  When I refer to Bob’s it means just the fast food burger chain.

A fellow value investor mentioned on my blog that I should research BOBS as a possible investment since I have already researched and written articles on a couple fast food companies; Jack In The Box (JACK) and Wendy’s (WEN).  Also with my recent turn towards concentrating on micro caps he thought I might find this company interesting.

I have found BOBS to be very interesting and it has turned into only the fifth company I have bought into this year as it meets most of my criteria for things I look for in a potential investment.  Some main points of interest are: I have found BOBS to be substantially undervalued, I believe BOBS to have a competitive advantage, or moat that has been growing in the past several years, the company is very small and under followed, and its sales and margins have also been growing in recent years.

Introduction

For the better part of the last 60 years Brazil Fast Food has been operating and franchising only its Bob’s fast food burger chain and expanding the chains reach throughout Brazil.  Here is a history of BOBS up to 2004 that goes over its many struggles and near death multiple times. Very interesting read especially when you consider what they have become now.  After updating its stores, changing the Bob’s logo, enacting cost cutting and efficiency measures, and changing its strategy to become a multi-brand restaurant company with partnerships to bring KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants to Brazil, and through acquiring Doggi’s and Yoggi’s, BOBS has expanded its restaurant count dramatically and expanded from just selling burgers, sandwiches, shakes, and fries, into selling KFC’s chicken related products, pizza’s, hot dogs, frozen yogurt and smoothies to become the second largest fast food chain in Brazil.

As we found out in my Wendy’s article, growth is not always a good thing if your cost of capital is very high due to debt and other costs.  Luckily, BOBS debt is at a very manageable level and BOBS has been lowering its costs over the last few years.  The growth in the amount and type of products along with the growing restaurant count has helped grow revenues and margins at pretty substantial percentages over the last several years.  Most importantly of all, I believe BOBS is growing at less than its cost of capital because as it has grown its store count and sales it has become more profitable.

Also helping to grow BOBS as a whole is that I believe that it has at least some minor competitive advantages which it has had for a while now but has only recently been fully unleashed due to BOBS growing scale as it pertains to its growing number of restaurants, and its cost cutting and efficiency measures over the last several years.  At this point I cannot say for certain whether the small moat I see for BOBS is sustainable for the long term, but this is the first company I have evaluated in a while where I see some kind of very clear moat.

Overview of Operations and Subsidiaries

Before 2007, Brazil Fast Food Company just comprised of Bob’s burger chain which I described above.  In 2007 BOBS as a whole started on its path towards becoming a multi-brand restaurant operation as it agreed with Yum Brands (YUM) to open KFC restaurants in Brazil.  In 2009 BOBS further expanded to include operating some Pizza Hut’s in Brazil and it also acquired Doggi’s hot dog chain.  In 2012 BOBS further expanded as it acquired Yoggi’s frozen yogurt and smoothie company.  Since its beginnings as a regional company in Brazil with the bulk of its operations in the Southeastern portion of the country, BOBS has grown into the second biggest fast food chain in Brazil behind only McDonald’s (MCD) with operations in every state in Brazil.  BOBS has also started to grow outside of Brazil as it now has operations in Chile and Angola.  Below is a chart showing how BOBS has grown its restaurant count since 2007.

122112_0045_NumberofRes1.png

Restaurant count has grown by 7% annually since 2007.  Its growing size and now countrywide operations have enabled BOBS to sign some very favorable agreements with suppliers.  Here are some direct quotes from BOBS 3Q 2012 10Q about the favorable relationship with its trade partners.  Emphasis is mine.

“We enter into agreements with beverage and food suppliers and for each product, we negotiate a monthly performance bonus which will depend on the product sales volume to our chains (including both own-operated and franchise operated). The performance bonus can be paid monthly or in advance (which are estimated), depending on the agreement terms negotiated with each supplier. The performance bonus is recognized as a credit in our Consolidated Statements of Operations (under “Revenues from Trade Partners”). Such revenue is recorded when cash from vendors is received, since it is difficult to estimate the receivable amount and significant doubts about its collectability exists until the vendor agrees with the exact bonus amounts.”

‘The rise in the number of franchisees, from 774 on September 30, 2011 to 916 on September 30, 2012, together with the expansion of the multi-brand concept, has given the Company’s management greater bargaining power with its suppliers. Such increase of point sales did not derived an increase on Revenue from Trade Partners from 2011 to 2012, because the Company had agreements with new trade partners during 2011 and 2010 which originated bonus paid in advance. The bonus recorded during 2012 was from the regular business since no further advances were received during 2012.”

BOBS also has several exclusivity agreements including with Coca-Cola (KO).

“We participate in long-term exclusivity agreements with Coca-Cola, for its soft-drink products, Ambev, the biggest Brazilian brewery company, Farm Frites, the Argentinean producer of French fries, and Sadia, one of the biggest meat processors in Brazil, as well as with Novartis Nutrition for its Ovomaltine chocolate. These agreements are extensive from four to five years. The Coca-Cola agreement was amended in 2008 to extend the exclusivity period to April 2013.”

“Amounts received from the Coca-Cola exclusivity agreements (see note 12) as well as amounts received from other suppliers linked to exclusivity agreements are recorded as deferred income and are being recognized on a straight line basis over the term of such agreements or the related supply agreement. The Company accounts for other supplier exclusivity fees on a straight-line basis over the related supply agreement. The Coca-Cola agreement was amended in 2000 to extend the exclusivity period to 2008.  Later amended and extended until April, 2013. Performance bonuses may also include exclusivity agreements, which are normally paid in advance by suppliers.”

Due to its growing size and economies of scale BOBS has gained a competitive advantage over competitors by being able to receive “bonus payments” in advance from some of its suppliers.  Its size and scale has enabled the company to sign these preferential and exclusive agreements, which have helped expand BOBS competitive position and moat in my opinion.  Another reason I think BOBS has at least a minor moat is because it has been able to raise prices in recent years without losing sales which has helped to raise margins.

BOBS has had these preferential agreements in place for years, and hopefully will be able to continue them for years to come.

Due to BOBS growing store count, the agreements above, and the moat that I think it has, BOBS has been able to improve its sales, reduce its costs, and improve margins in recent years.  Numbers in below charts are taken from Morningstar or BOBS filings.

122012_0603_BOBSRevenue1.png

122112_0359_BOBSCOGSand1.png

122012_1741_BOBSMargins1.png

As you can see in the above charts as BOBS restaurant count has grown, it sales have gone up, costs have gone down, and margins have gone up, substantially so since 2008.  As BOBS continues to grow the same three things should continue to happen as BOBS should continue to compound its economies of scale: More restaurants means more sales, more restaurants means more compact grouping of restaurants which means lower costs and higher margins.  It seems that BOBS has taken some lessons on how to cultivate and grow competitive advantages from companies such as Wal-Mart (WMT).

Margins

All numbers are taken from Morningstar, Yahoo Finance, or BOBS financial reports unless otherwise noted.

Gross Margin TTM

28.00%

Gross Margin 5 Year Average

24.12%

Gross Margin 10 Year Average

24.53%

Op Margin TTM

8.43%

Op Margin 5 Year Average

7.26%

Op Margin 10 Year Average

5.39%

ROE TTM

31.64%

ROE 5 Year Average

31.35%

ROIC TTM

23.76%

ROIC 5 Year Average

21.43%

My ROIC Calculation With Goodwill

45.10%

My ROIC Calculation Without Goodwill

48.30%

My ROIC TTM With Goodwill Using Total Obligations

15.56%

My ROIC TTM Without Goodwill Using Total Obligations

15.25%

FCF/Sales TTM

-3.54%

FCF/Sales 5 Year Average

-1.43%

FCF/Sales 10 Year Average

-1.39%

P/B Current             2.5
Insider Ownership Current

70.36%

My EV/EBIT Current

2.72

My TEV/EBIT Current

6.75

Working Capital TTM      22 $R Million
Working Capital 5 Yr Avg     0.4 $R Million
Working Capital 10 Yr Avg    -3.1 $R Million
Book Value Per Share Current

$3.17

Book Value Per Share 5 Yr Avg

$1.89

Float Score Current

0.88

Float Intensity

0.6

Debt Comparisons:
Total Debt as a % of Balance Sheet TTM

16.78%

Total Debt as a % of Balance Sheet 5 year Average

16.40%

Current Assets to Current Liabilities

1.56

Total Debt to Equity

1.71

Total Debt to Total Assets

72%

Total Obligations and Debt/EBIT

4.36

Margin Thoughts

Please reference my Wendy’s or Jack in the Box articles linked above to see how BOBS compares to the other fast food companies.  TEV/EBIT and last three debt numbers talked about also include total obligations.

  • Almost across the board BOBS margins have been improving over the 5 and 10 year periods I looked at.  Especially impressive are its ROE and ROIC.
  • In comparison to the other fast food companies I have evaluated, BOBS margins are at worst about at the industry average or better than those companies.
  • My estimates of ROIC make the company look absolutely exceptional as I estimate that without total obligations its ROIC is 45.1% with goodwill, and 48.3% without goodwill.  Even if I count total obligations its ROIC with goodwill is 15.25%, and without goodwill is 15.56%.  Numbers that are close to McDonald’s ROIC.
  • Even if we just count BOBS 5 years average ROIC using Morningstar’s numbers of 21.43%, which is what I used when I evaluated the other fast food companies, its margin is 6.35% points better than the industry average, and better than McDonald’s by 4.05% points.  Its ROIC is only bested by Yum Brands ROIC which is inflated by debt unlike BOBS.
  • FCF/Sales for BOBS is worse than the industry average by 8.78% points and regularly negative over the past several years, and still negative this year.
  • I think that its FCF/Sales margin is negative due to cap ex related to renovating and updating some of its restaurants.
  • BOBS P/B is lower than the other fast food companies by a substantial margin.  The only company with a lower P/B is Wendy’s which as I talked about in my article on them, should be higher.
  • Insider ownership above 70% for BOBS is fantastic, especially in comparison to the other fast food companies.  BOBS is effectively a controlled family run company as four individuals own a combined 63.2% of BOBS as of the 2011 annual report: Ricardo Figueiredo Bomeny; the CEO and CFO of BOBS.  Jose Ricardo Bosquet Bomeny; father of Ricardo and brother of Gustavo, business partner with Romulo and owns 20 of BOBS franchised restaurants.  Romulo Borges Fonseca; owns 22 of BOBS franchised restaurants and business partner with Jose.  Gustavo Figueiredo Bomeny; brother of Jose and uncle of Ricardo.
  • I am estimating BOBS EV/EBIT to be only 2.72 and it’s TEV/EBIT to be only 6.75.  BOBS EV/EBIT is lower than any company I have evaluated thus far and it is lower than the other fast food companies I have evaluated whose EV/EBIT average including Wendy’s is 20.12.  As I have stated before, I like to buy companies that have EV/EBIT and TEV/EBIT ratios lower than 8 so BOBS on a relative basis looks very cheap, especially when you consider it’s very high ROE and ROIC and other margins that have been growing.
  • Book value has been growing and BOBS debt levels look very sustainable to me.

Due to the sales and margin growth mentioned above, working capital has gone from negative for the better part of the past decade to now being solidly positive, BOBS accumulated deficit has almost disappeared and shareholders equity has improved drastically, all of which can be seen in the chart below.

122012_0555_WCSEandAD1.png

Other Things Of Note

  • BOBS intends to focus its efforts on expanding both the number of its franchisees and the number of its franchised retail outlets, neither of which are expected to require significant capital expenditure. In addition, the expansion will provide income derived from initial fees charged on new franchised locations.
  • BOBS franchise agreements generally require the franchisee of a traditional Bob’s burger restaurant to pay us an initial fee of $R 60,000, which is lower for kiosks and small stores, and additional monthly royalties fees equal to 5.0% of the franchisee’s gross sales.  Bob’s fast food burger restaurants make up the vast majority of total restaurants in BOBS system.
  • Lowered franchise fee in recent years from $R 90,000 to $R 60,000 to help attract more franchisees.
  • BOBS has bought back shares recently and is authorized to buy back more shares.  I think management has bought back shares at reasonable prices and I think now would be a good time to buy back even more shares.  On December 5th, 2012 Mr. Romulo Borges Fonseca bought an additional 30,500 shares in the open market.  I love to see buys from insiders who acquire their shares in the open market.  Insiders generally only buy for a couple reasons: They think the company is undervalued, and/or that the company is going to perform well into the future.
  • Operating margin for franchises used to be over 80%.  Recently it has dropped into the mid 60% range and it seems to have stabilized in that area.  It looks like the drop in franchise operating margin is due to franchise related costs rising.
  • BOBS has been an OTC listed company for years, and this year it deregistered its shares with the SEC to save money every year, approximately $300,000.  BOBS management says that it will continue to provide quarterly and annual reports to shareholders and that it will retain its reporting standards at the level they are at now.  BOBS management has been in place for nearly 20 years so these things do not bother me that much as management has done a good job running the company over the years.
  • There are only 51 current shareholders of BOBS stock so the company is very under followed.
  • BOBS has substantial tax loss carry forwards NOL’s: As of December 31, 2011 relating to income tax were R$31.6 million, $1.88 per share, and to social contribution tax were R$57.6 million, $3.42 per share.  Social contribution tax is similar to the corporate tax here in the US.
  • Due to its small size with a market cap around $65 million, only 51 shareholders, and it being a controlled company with 70% of BOBS owned by insiders and/or affiliates of the company, average daily volume is only 2,000 shares, and in the past two weeks about half of the days the market has been open there have been no shares traded.
  • Same store sales have been rising in the 4% range every year since 2007.

Intrinsic Valuations

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 BOBS 2011 10K and 2012 third quarter 10Q. All numbers are in millions of Brazilian Real, except per share information, unless otherwise noted.

Low Estimate of Intrinsic Value

Numbers:
Revenue:

237

Multiplied By:
Average 5 year EBIT %:

7.26%

Equals:
Estimated EBIT of:

16.99

Multiplied By:
Assumed Fair Value Multiple of EBIT:                  8X
Equals:
Estimated Fair Enterprise Value of STRT:

135.92

Plus:
Cash, Cash Equivalents, and Short Term Investments:

28.4

Minus:
Total Debt:

21

Equals:
Estimated Fair Value of Common Equity:

143.32

Divided By:
Number of Shares:

8.1

Equals: 17.69 R$ per share.
Equals: $8.48 per share.

Base and High Estimate of Intrinsic Value

EBIT and net cash valuation

Cash and cash equivalents are 28.4

Short term investments are 0

Total current liabilities are 38.7

Number of shares are 8.1

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

  • 28.4-38.7=-10.3/8.1=-1.27 R$ per share=-$0.61 per in net cash per share.

BOBS has a trailing twelve month EBIT of.

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

  • 5X21.2=106+28.4=134.4/8.1=16.59 R$ per share=$7.93 per share.
  • 8X21.2=169.6+28.4=198/8.1=24.44 R$ per share=$11.69 per share.
  • 11X21.2=233.2+28.4=261.6/8.1=32.30 R$ per share=$15.45 per share.
  • 14X21.2=296.8+28.4=325.2/8.1=40.15 R$ per share=$19.20 per share.

From this valuation I would use the 8X and 11X estimates of intrinsic value as my base and high estimates of intrinsic value respectively.  None of the above valuations takes into account BOBS $5.30 per share worth of NOL’s or BOBS future growth.

Relative Valuations

  • As I said above, I like to buy companies whose EV/EBIT and TEV/EBIT ratios are lower than 8 and BOBS ratios are at 2.72 and 6.75 respectively.  BOBS EV/EBIT ratio is the lowest I have found out of the companies that I have done full evaluations on.
  • Its P/B ratio is also quite a bit lower than other fast food companies.
  • BOBS P/E ratio of 9.1 is less than half of the industry P/E of 19.8.

I found BOBS to be cheap on an intrinsic value basis and it also looks to be equally cheap on a relative valuation basis.  On an EV/EBIT basis, BOBS is the lowest valued company I have fully analyzed which is a bit shocking considering its high ROIC and other margins, and the moat that I think it has.

Competitors

  • McDonald’s (MCD): The number one fast food chain in Brazil and fast food behemoth around the world always provides stiff competition to smaller companies.  Here is some information on Arcos Dorados (ARCO)the largest operator of McDonald’s restaurants in Latin America and the world’s largest McDonald’s franchisee.  As of its 2011 10K it had 662 McDonald’s restaurants in Brazil.  Arcos Dorados’ margins are quite a bit worse than BOBS margins.  Overall McDonald’s has more than 1,000 restaurants in Brazil.
  • Giraffas: A private company with around 400 restaurants most of which are in Brazil, it has recently started opening restaurants in South Florida.  Serves similar food as Bobs burger chain.
  • Yogoberry: Another private company who has more than 100 restaurants in Brazil.  Will be competing with BOBS latest acquisition Yoggi’s in the frozen yogurt and smoothie arena.
  • Various other fast food offerings including from Japanese, Middle Eastern, and other typical fast food restaurants.

The fast food service industry is very competitive in Brazil as it is here in the US with peoples income being sought after by a plethora of restaurants and fast food companies.  I think the major threat is of course McDonald’s as BOBS other local competitors are generally quite a bit smaller than it.  I think that due to the moat I see within BOBS, along with its growing size, and expansion into pizza, frozen yogurt, and chicken, that it can compete very well with the competition it has in Brazil, and continue to grow its store count profitably.

Pros

  • BOBS is cheap on an intrinsic value and relative value basis.
  • I think BOBS has a small and growing moat that should continue to grow as BOBS restaurant count gets bigger.
  • BOBS margins generally have been growing over the past five years.  In some cases by multiple percentage points.  Some of BOBS margins are even better than McDonald’s and quite a bit better than Arcos Dorados’ run McDonald’s restaurants in Latin America.
  • BOBS has signed exclusivity agreements with several companies including Coke, and also enjoys preferential agreements with its suppliers.
  • BOBS has $5.30 per share worth of NOL’s that are not even counted in any of my valuations.
  • BOBS has a low and sustainable amount of debt.
  • Its book value per share has been growing.
  • BOBS has almost eliminated its accumulated deficit, made its working capital positive after it being negative for most of the last decade, and substantially increased shareholders equity.
  • COGS and total restaurants costs and expenses as percentages of sales have been lowered by multiple percentage points in recent years.
  • The company is effectively controlled by four individuals who have thus far done a very good job of running the company.
  • BOBS has bought back some shares and has the authorization to buy back more shares.
  • BOBS can grow its restaurants through franchisees at minimal cap ex expenses.  Franchise operating margin has been in the mid 60% range recently.
  • Brazil has a growing middle class that should help grow sales further.

Cons

  • Although I think BOBS has a small and growing moat, it may not be a long term sustainable competitive advantage due to competition and possible loss of exclusivity and preferential trade partner agreements.
  • BOBS does not create consistent positive FCF.
  • BOBS FCF/Sales margin is below the average of the other fast food companies I have evaluated and it is also negative.
  • Franchise operating margin has dropped from over 80% to the mid 60% range in recent years.
  • Stiff competition including McDonald’s in Brazil.

Potential Catalysts

  • Confederations Cup in 2013, FIFA World Cup in 2014, and the Olympics in 2016, all of which are in Brazil, will bring millions of tourists to Brazil which should help grow BOBS revenues further in the short and medium term.
  • BOBS growing franchise store count will help grow BOBS moat as margins are very high and cap ex is very low when opening new franchised restaurants.
  • BOBS moat may not be sustainable over the long term due to competition and possible loss of exclusivity and preferential trade partner agreements which would most likely hurt the company.
  • Brazil’s growing middle class should also help grow sales.

Conclusion

Brazil Fast Food Company, BOBS, has turned out to be a very interesting company to me. From its near death experiences in the mid 90’s and early 2000’s, to now being the number two fast food chain in Brazil, its growing store count and margins, and the various other things I have talked about in this article I have come away very impressed with BOBS as a whole and its management.

I think that BOBS is very undervalued on an intrinsic value and relative value basis and I think that it should conservatively be valued somewhere between $11.50 and $16.00 per share, not including the $5.30 per share in NOL’s that it currently has.  Adding the NOL’s to my estimates of value would take its estimated value up to between $16.50-$22 per share which is the range that I think BOBS should be selling at, and what I think its private market value is.  Even leaving the NOL’s out of the equation, BOBS is selling currently at only $8 per share which is a 32% discount to the absolute minimum I think BOBS is worth at $11.50 per share.  I think that BOBS has a moat that could possibly grow over time, and that the company has catalysts in the short and medium term that could help unlock some of its value.

Warren Buffett always says that if you buy good companies that have some kind of moat at fair prices, that you will do very well investing over the years.  I think BOBS is a good company with a moat that is currently selling at a very cheap price and I think I will do very well holding it over the years as I have bought its shares in my personal account and the accounts I manage.

Strattec Security Corporation $STRT: Potential Double From Today’s Stock Price

Introduction, Overview of Operations, And Brief History

The company I will be focusing on in this article is Strattec Security Corporation (STRT).  Strattec is a nano cap with a current market cap around $75 million and it is in the very boring and shunned automotive parts industry.  The company has expanded to become a worldwide auto parts supplier through its various joint ventures and alliances.

The company makes and sells various automotive parts such as: Keys with radio frequency identification technology, bladeless electronic keys, ignition lock housings, trunk latches, lift gate latches, tailgate latches, hood latches, and side door latches.  With its acquisition of Delphi Corporation’s Power Products in 2009 it is now also supplying power access devices for sliding side doors, lift gates and trunk lids.

In 2001 Strattec formed an alliance with Witte-Velbert Gmbh.  The alliance allowed Strattec to sell Witte’s products in the US, and allowed Witte to sell Strattec’s products in Europe.  In 2006 the alliance expanded to include ADAC plastics and a joint venture with all three companies owning 33% was formed called VAST or Vehicle Access Systems Technology.  ADAC makes such products as door handles.  The VAST Alliance has helped Strattec become a worldwide auto parts supplier as the alliance allows all companies involved to market and sell each other’s products in various jurisdictions around the world including in the US, Europe, Brazil, China, Japan, and Korea.  The VAST Alliance should have its first profitable year as a company this year which would help Strattec’s bottom line.  Full complement of VAST’s products can be viewed here.

VastPlacemat

Picture taken from ADAC Plastics which shows how the VAST Alliance is structured.

ADAC and Strattec have formed a separate company, ADAC-Strattec de Mexico, ASdM,  whose operations are in Mexico due to cheaper labor prices, where the two companies separate expertise are combined to manufacture some of the above products for sale. In Strattec’s fiscal years ending 2012 and 2011, ASdM was profitable and represented $31.0 and $25.2 million, respectively of Strattec’s consolidated net sales.

With the help of VAST and its other joint ventures, Strattec’s export sales have risen to 37% of total sales which amounts to $107 million.  In 2001 exports only accounted for 14% of its sales which amounted to $29 million, which illustrates Strattec’s worldwide growth since then.

During the recession three of Strattec’s biggest buyers filed for bankruptcy protection, and the overall auto industry went to the brink of death before being saved by the US federal government.  Because Strattec’s major buyers were having so many problems, it also faced some very serious problems and had its only unprofitable year in 2009, lost more than $40 per share in value during the recession, about 2/3’s of its share price in total, and its share price has not recovered since.

Since that time Strattec restructured, improved its operations and expanded its product lines, signed various joint venture and alliance agreements which have allowed the company to become a worldwide auto parts supplier.  The restructuring, expanded product lines, and worldwide operations have helped Strattec become a more diversified auto parts manufacturer and has grown its sales and margins in the ensuing years.  With the help of VAST and its other joint ventures Strattec is a truly worldwide company with operations now in the US, Europe, Brazil, China, Japan, Korea, Canada and Mexico.

Strattec was spun off from Briggs & Stratton in 1995 as an independent company.  After Strattec was spun off from Briggs & Stratton, and through most of its entire history, it enjoyed massive market share of over 60% in the US and a 20% market share of the world’s vehicle lock and key operations.  With its huge hold of the market the company was able to dictate high prices to its buyers which enabled the company to enjoy a competitive advantage for a long period of time.

However, shortly after Strattec was spun off there were massive changes in the lock and key industry which deteriorated the company’s market share and competitive advantages. Due to Strattec’s managements excellent foresight and planning, it was well prepared for the change from basic locks and keys and the diminishing of the amount of locks and keys needed per vehicle, and has transitioned into the electronic key arena as well as expanding its operations into various fields though its partnerships with the VAST Alliance including: Door handles, power doors, trunk latches, lift gate latches, tailgate latches, hood latches, side door latches, ignition lock housings, sliding side doors, lift gates and trunk lids.  Since Strattec’s restructuring during the Great Recession, along with its VAST Alliance and other joint ventures, improved operations, and expanded product lines, Strattec’s sales and margins have both been growing and improving.  The trend of growing sales and margins should continue unless another recession hits.

Excellent Management

Due to the excellent leadership of Harold Stratton II, former CEO and current chairman, current CEO and board member Frank Karecji, and the other members of Strattec’s management team and board of directors, it has been able to adjust its original lock and key operations and changed massively to become a truly worldwide auto parts supplier with the products listed above.

Normally I do not talk much about management in my articles because I usually deem management to be either average or subpar, and as Charlie Munger says I want the business to be simple enough to be able to be run by the proverbial “idiot nephew” so management is generally not a factor in my analysis unless they are doing things that bother me quite a bit.

In this case I wanted to point out that I believe Strattec’s management to be excellent and I think that will continue now that Mr. Stratton has transitioned out of the day to day operations and handed the handling of those over to Mr. Karecji.  For the full view of why I believe Strattec’s management to be excellent I recommend reading its annual reports from 1999 to the present to get the true view of why I think its management has been fantastic, and to get a glimpse of the obstacles management has helped the company overcome to become an even stronger company.  Here is a profile of Mr. Karecji, Strattec’s new CEO from 2010 right after he joined the company.

For those who do not want to read all that information I will list a few pluses from management in recent years that I have not already talked about.

  • Strattec has bought back and reduced its shares outstanding by 3.66 million, or more than 50% of its original shares outstanding after being spun off, at a cost of approximately $136 million.
  • Most purchases have been at what I think are good prices to do buy backs.  I think now would be an even better time to buy back more shares (Strattec management has authorization to buy back more shares) because of Strattec’s current undervaluation which I will get to later, but I understand that it wants to put money into expanding its operations and product lines.
  • Another reason Strattec has not bought any shares back in the past couple years as it has been concentrating on reinstating its dividend and expanding its VAST Alliance operations. The company currently only has 3.3 million shares left that are outstanding.
  • Management compensation is fair and straight forward in my opinion which is another plus for management.

Insider and Fund Ownership

  • GAMCO Investors-Collectively Mario Gabelli’s Funds-Own 18.6% of Strattec.
  • T. Rowe Price and Associates through its Small Cap and Small Value funds own-15.5% of Strattec.
  • FMR-Fidelity Management and Research Company own-12.2% of Strattec.
  • Vanguard Horizon Funds own-6.2% of Strattec.
  • Dimensional Fund Advisors, a Small Cap Value Fund, owns-5.8% of Strattec.
  • Insiders Own-7.82% according to Reuters.
  • The above insiders and funds own a combined 66.12% of Strattec which partially explains why there is a very low average daily trading volume of around 2,000 shares per day in the stock.

Like I have said in my various other articles I love to see high insider and value oriented fund ownership of the companies I invest in so this is another plus for me.  Another possibility that might arise in the future is that due Strattec only having 3.3 million shares outstanding, its small overall size as a company, and some of the other factors I will mention or have mentioned in the article, I think that Strattec could be taken private or become a potential buy out target for one of the bigger automotive supply companies.

Competitors

The company faces stiff competition from the following three companies.

  • Magna International (MGA)-I talked about Magna a bit in my Core Molding Technologies (CMT) article and how I did not think that Magna was a major threat to CMT’s area of operations.  The story as it pertains to Strattec’s operations is different however.  Magna competes with Strattec in several of its product lines including the power access area and Magna appears to be a major player in those areas.  In 2009 Strattec bought the Power Access portion of Delphi’s business segment after it went bankrupt and renamed the unit Strattec Power Access.  For fiscal years ending 2012 and 2011, Strattec Power Access was profitable and represented $62.7 and $62.8 million, respectively of Strattec’s consolidated net sales.  Just for comparison Magna did $1.2 billion in sales just in its closure systems (power access) business in 2011.  Magna could present a problem for future growth of Strattec’s product lines as it will have to compete vigorously on price and quality for contracts.  It could also present a potential opportunity as with CMT, I could see Magna possibly buying out Strattec to expand its operations into more product fields.  This makes further sense since Strattec is such a small company in comparison to Magna and it being an $11+ billion market cap company.
  • Huf huelsbeck & fuerst-Huf and its various subsidiaries including Huf North America is a privately held company with operations worldwide and whose product lines compete directly with Strattec’s on almost every product around the world.  This company presents the same problem as Magna does to Strattec, but the same potential buy out opportunity exists as well.
  • Tokai Rika-This is a Japanese publically traded company who competes directly with Strattec on several products and who also has operations around the world.  Tokai Rika, like the two companies mentioned before, also dwarfs Strattec in size which could present problems to Strattec’s growth.

Strattec faces much stiffer competition from multiple much bigger competitors, sometimes directly on the same products than CMT did, who I thought carved out a bit of a niche in its industry.

Strattec’s Margins

Gross Margin TTM 18.50%
Gross Margin 5 Year Average 15.32%
Gross Margin 10 Year Average 18.25%
Op Margin TTM 6.20%
Op Margin 5 Year Average 0.44%
Op Margin 10 Year Average 5.18%
ROE TTM 12.11%
ROE 5 Year Average 3.59%
ROE 10 Year Average 9.91%
ROIC TTM 11.90%
ROIC 5 Year Average 3.49%
ROIC 10 Year Average 9.85%
My ROIC Calculation With Goodwill 25.90%
My ROIC Calculation With Goodwill If EBIT% Reverts to 3 Yr Avg 15.41%
My ROIC Calculation Without Goodwill 25.82%
My ROIC Calculation Without Goodwill If EBIT% Reverts to 3 Yr Avg 15.37%
FCF/Sales TTM 2.25%
FCF/Sales 5 Year Average -3.49%
FCF/Sales 10 Year Average 1.71%
Cash Conversion Cycle TTM 54.43 days
Cash Conversion Cycle 5 Year Average 48.97 days
Cash Conversion Cycle 10 Year Average 42.42 days
P/B Current 0.9
Insider Ownership Current 7.82%
My EV/EBIT If EBIT% Reverts to 3 Yr Avg 5.77
My EV/EBIT Current Unadjusted 3.43
My TEV/EBIT If EBIT% Reverts to 3 Yr Avg 8.09
My TEV/EBIT Current Unadjusted 4.81
Working Capital TTM $46 million
Working Capital 5 Yr Avg $48.6 million
Working Capital 10 Yr Avg $60 million
Book Value Per Share Current $25.25
Book Value Per Share 5 Yr Avg $24.54
Book Value Per Share 10 Yr Avg $24.78
Float Score Current 0.53
Float Intensity 0.77
Debt Comparisons:
Total Debt as a % of Balance Sheet TTM 0.88%
Total Debt as a % of Balance Sheet 5 year Average 0.66%
Total debt as a % of Balance Sheet 10 year Average 0.33%
Current Assets to Current Liabilities 1.79
Total Debt to Equity 45%
Total Debt to Total Assets 22%
Total Obligations and Debt/EBIT 2.1
Total Obligations and Debt/EBIT If EBIT Reverts To 3 Yr Avg 3.53

All numbers were taken from Morningstar or Yahoo Finance unless otherwise noted.  Final four debt calculations are including total debt and obligations.

Margin Conclusion Thoughts

  • The very first thing that popped out to me from the above margins is that across the board Strattec has improved its margins, sometimes by multiple percentage points, in comparison to its 5 year and 10 year averages.  Looks like the restructuring that took place during the recession, the various joint ventures including the VAST Alliance, and branching out to new product lines has helped the company immensely.  Improvements in operating margin, ROE, and ROIC have all been especially impressive
  • My ROIC calculations make the company look even better as even if Strattec were to revert to its 3 year average EBIT, which I don’t think it will unless another recession happens, I am estimating it to have an ROIC of 15.37% without goodwill.  If Strattec is able to keep up its EBIT margin to current levels I estimate that without goodwill its ROIC is 25.82%, an astounding ROIC margin.
  • Also positive as it pertains to ROIC is that in Strattec’s case it is not being artificially inflated by high amounts of debt.
  • The cash conversion cycle has gotten worse over the years, meaning less efficiency in the company, which I generally do not like.  That is to be expected in a company that has expanded operations overseas though so no red flag there.
  • Its P/B ratio at 0.9 is less than half that of its industry P/B at 2 which means that at least on a relative basis Strattec is undervalued in comparison to its industry.
  • My current unadjusted EV/EBIT ratio estimate for Strattec is 3.43.  Unadjusted TEV/EBIT estimate is 4.81.  Generally I like to buy companies selling at an EV/EBIT ratio of 8 or less so again Strattec appears to be undervalued.
  • Even if Strattec’s EBIT margin were to revert back to its three year average, which as above I do not think it will do unless there is another recession, its EV/EBIT ratio is 5.77 and TEV/EBIT is 8.09, again undervalued or about fairly valued at worst.
  • Book value per share has grown slightly over time, and should grow further with its improved operations.
  • The company has minimal debt and even if we include its total contractual obligations and debt its total obligations/EBIT ratio is a paltry 2.1.  Much improved from some of the other companies I have evaluated and its current total debt and obligations should be nothing to worry about going forward.

Below numbers in graphs are taken from Morningstar.

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As you can see in the above graphs Strattec’s share price has not improved as its operations and sales have.  The last year Strattec had comparable margins to what it had this year is 2006, when Strattec was selling for between $33 and $50 a share. As I found after doing my valuations, which I will show below, I think Strattec should be selling somewhere in that range now.  Sales are actually almost $100 million more than they were in 2006, and margins should continue to improve as Strattec’s now worldwide operations and expanded product lines become more efficient.

Valuations

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 2012 10K and 2013 first quarter 10Q.  All numbers are in millions of US dollars, except per share information, unless otherwise noted.

Low Estimate Of Intrinsic Value

Numbers:
Revenue:

284

Multiplied By:
Average 3 year EBIT %:

3.77%

Equals:
Estimated EBIT of:

10.71

Multiplied By:
Assumed Fair Value Multiple of EBIT: 8X
Equals:
Estimated Fair Enterprise Value of STRT:

85.68

Plus:
Cash, Cash Equivalents, and Short Term Investments:

12.94

Minus:
Total Debt:

1.5

Equals:
Estimated Fair Value of Common Equity:

97.12

Divided By:
Number of Shares:

3.3

Equals: $29.43 per share

Base Estimate Of Intrinsic Value

Assets:                  Book Value:                    Reproduction Value:
Current Assets
Cash And Cash Equivalents

16.3

12.94

Accounts Receivable (Net)

45.1

38.34

Inventories

25.5

15.3

Other Current Assets

17.1

8.6

Total Current Assets

104

75.18

Deferred Income Taxes

9.7

4.9

Investments In Joint Ventures

8.4

4.2

Other Long Term Assets

0.5

0

PP&E Net

47.6

28.6

Total Assets

170.6

112.88

Number of shares are 3.3

Reproduction Value

  • 112.88/3.3=$34.21 per share.

High Estimate Of Intrinsic Value

Cash and cash equivalents are 12.94

Short term investments are 0

Total current liabilities are 57.8

Number of shares are 3.3

Cash and cash equivalents + short-term investments – total current liabilities=12.94-57.8=-44.86

  • -44.86/3.3=-$13.59 in net cash per share.

Strattec has a trailing twelve month EBIT of 18.

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

  • 5X18=90+12.94=102.94/3.3=$31.19 per share.
  • 8X18=144+12.94=156.94/3.3=$47.56 per share.
  • 11X18=198+12.94=210.94/3.3=$63.92 per share.
  • 14X18=252+12.94=264.94/3.3=$80.29 per share.

From this valuation I would use the 8X EBIT+cash estimate of intrinsic value of $47.56 per share.

I discounted the cash a bit in the above valuations because about 55% of Strattec’s cash is in Mexico so if Strattec wanted to bring the funds to the US it would have to pay taxes on that portion of cash.

  1. Strattec is undervalued by 23% using my low estimate of value, which assumes that Strattec will revert back to its 3 year average EBIT margin, which as I stated above, I do not think will happen unless there is another recession.  This is the absolute minimum I think Strattec should be selling for.
  2. Strattec is undervalued by 33% using my base estimate of intrinsic value on a pure asset reproduction basis.
  3. Strattec is undervalued by 52% using my high estimate of intrinsic value with EBIT and cash at current levels.  Now that Strattec has restructured itself and made itself a worldwide company with expanded product lines and improved operations I actually think that EBIT should rise over time meaning Strattec’s intrinsic value could continue to grow and it would become even more undervalued.

Pros

  • Strattec has excellent management.
  • The company is undervalued by every one of my estimates of intrinsic value above and relative valuation estimates such as P/B, EV/EBIT, and TEV/EBIT.
  • Strattec restructured before and during the recession to cut costs, expand product lines, and became more efficient and less dependent on one single product line.
  • Strattec signed joint ventures, and created the VAST Alliance with two other companies that now allow Strattec to compete on a global scale.
  • Strattec’s margins have improved across the board in comparison to its 5 and 10 year averages and margins should continue to improve.
  • Sales have also been improving along with margins.
  • Strattec has almost zero debt.
  • Strattec management owns just fewer than 8% of the company.
  • Most importantly as it pertains to management is that I trust that they have shareholders best interests in mind.
  • Various value and small cap oriented funds own more than 50% of the company, including Mario Gabelli’s funds.
  • The VAST Alliance as a company should have its first profitable year this year which should help Strattec’s profitability even more.
  • My personal estimates of ROIC show that Strattec is even more profitable than I originally thought while looking at Morningstar’s numbers.
  • Strattec has a $25 million revolving credit facility if it wants to do any acquisitions, which the new CEO has said he will look into, or the $25 million could be used in an emergency situation if one arises.
  • Margins are not artificially inflated by debt so margins show a true picture of how Strattec is running.
  • Strattec has drastically reduced its share count in the past decade at what I think were good prices to be buying at.
  • Strattec is currently authorized to buy back more shares if it chooses to.
  • Strattec recently reinstated its quarterly dividend.

Cons

  • Strattec is highly dependent on only a few customers for its orders as General Motors, Ford, and The Chrysler Group combine for 68% of sales.
  • Strattec is highly dependent on how well the automotive industry and the overall economy as a whole are doing which can be seen in the above graphs.
  • Due to the cyclical nature of Strattec, if there is another recession or major problems in the auto industry again, its sales and profitability will be highly affected.
  • The company has some very stiff and much bigger competition.  The competition could possibly mean further price cuts on products in Strattec’s product lines if some kind of price war starts.
  • Due to competition and the overall cost reduction plans put into place by the big automotive companies, Strattec has had to drop prices on its products in recent years.
  • At this point I do not see any kind of long term sustainable competitive advantages within Strattec.

Catalysts

  • Since Strattec is very small in comparison to its competitors it could become a potential buy out candidate.
  • Strattec’s margins should continue to grow which could lead to the unlocking of value.
  • The new CEO Frank Karecji has said that he would like to do some kind of acquisition in the short term.
  • Strattec is authorized to buy back more shares.

Conclusion

With all of the above taken into account, I think that the absolute minimum Strattec should be selling for is $29.43 per share which assumes that Strattec’s EBIT margin will revert to its 3 year average.  I think that Strattec’s true intrinsic value is somewhere between $35 and $45 per share.  None of that is even taking into account that its sales and margins should continue to grow which would also grow the company’s intrinsic value.

The company does face some headwinds to future growth as I outline above, the biggest ones in my opinion is that Strattec has to compete with various bigger companies and I do not see any kind of long term sustainable competitive advantages within the company.

Normally I would want some kind of sustainable competitive advantage within a company that I am buying as a long term value hold, but at current valuations, with Strattec’s good and rising margins and other factors listed throughout the article, I think the risk/reward is in my favor by a substantial margin and I have already bought shares for my personal account and the accounts I manage making this only the fourth company I have bought into this year.