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

*Repost* 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.

*Repost* Wendy’s: Great Fast Food, Bad Investment

*Repost* Wendy’s: Great Fast Food, Bad Investment

About a month and a half ago I wrote an article stating that I believe Jack In The Box to be overvalued despite the recent positive hype around the company.  Lately I have been researching Wendy’s $WEN because it has had JACK’s opposite problem; very negative recent press and wanted to see if this might turn out to be a potential contrarian value play or a value trap.

I will be referencing and comparing Wendy’s to Jack In The Box and the other fast food companies I wrote about in my $JACK article so if you would like to see how Wendy’s compares to other fast food companies please reference my JACK article that I link to above.

Wendy’s Overview

Wendy’s is an owner, operator, and franchiser of 6,543 fast food restaurants, 1,447 of the restaurants are owned directly by Wendy’s with the remaining amount owned by franchisees.  Wendy’s offers hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, wraps, fries, and the rest of the typical fast food restaurant offerings but at a higher quality profile than most of its other fast food competitors.  Higher quality also leads to higher prices for its individual product offerings and meals which greatly affected the company during the recession with customers generally looking for cheaper food.  In the past several years to combat the low cost offerings of its competitors, Wendy’s has brought out its own value and extra value menus with prices generally under $2 per item.

Since the recession Wendy’s has streamlined operations by selling off its Arby’s subsidiary, enacting cost cutting measures,  updating its menu to offer new products including breakfast at some locations, and has started reimaging some of its restaurants by starting its Image Activation Program.  The program has been put into place to update its restaurants making them look more modern, offering more amenities to get customers to stay longer at its restaurants, and making the food ordering and cooking process more efficient so customers can get their food faster.

Unlike JACK who has recently finished up its reimaging of its restaurants and who should see at least small margin growth due to lower capital expenditures, Wendy’s has only just started this process with only a few dozen restaurants having been updated thus far.  Wendy’s hopes that by 2015 about half of its company owned restaurants will be reimaged so this process is going to take a while.  As we saw with Jack In The Box that will lead to generally higher cap ex for the foreseeable future, most likely lower or stagnant margins, possibly more debt, and potential loss of sales due to having some of its restaurants closed for construction periods of as long as eight weeks currently.

Valuations

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

All numbers are in millions of US dollars, except per share information, unless otherwise noted. The following valuations were done using its 2011 10K, 3Q 2012 10Q, and its 3Q 2012 investor presentation slides.

Asset Reproduction Valuation

Assets: Book Value: Reproduction Value:
Current Assets
Cash And Cash Equivalents 454 454
Accounts Receivable (Net) 65 55
Inventories 12 8
Prepaid Expenses & Other Current Assets 32 16
Deferred Income Tax Benefit 95 48
Advertising Funds Restricted Assets 75 50
Total Current Assets 734 631
Properties 1241 745
Goodwill 877 439
Other Intangible Assets 1315 658
Investments 118 89
Deferred Costs & Other Assets 57 29
Total Assets 4340 2591

Number of shares are 390

Reproduction Value:

With goodwill and intangible assets:

  • 2591/390=$6.64 per share.

Without goodwill and intangible assets:

  • 1494/390=$3.83 per share.

EBIT and Net Cash Valuation

Cash and cash equivalents are 454

Short term investments are 0

Total current liabilities are 344

Number of shares are 390

Cash and cash equivalents + short-term investments – total current liabilities=454-344=110.

  • 110/390=$0.28 in net cash per share.

WEN has a trailing twelve month EBIT of 120.

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

  • 5X120=600+454=1054/390=$2.70 per share.
  • 8X120=960+454=1414/390=$3.63 per share.
  • 11X120=1320+454=1774/390=$4.55 per share.
  • 14X120=1680+454=2134/390=$5.47 per share.

TEV/EBIT and EV/EBIT Valuation

Total enterprise value is market cap+all debt equivalents (including the capitalized value of operating leases, unfunded pension liability, etc) -cash-long term investments-net deferred tax assets.

  • TEV/EBIT=3310/120=27.58
  • TEV/EBIT without accumulated deficit counted=2833/120=23.61
  • Regular EV/EBIT=2946/120=24.55

The average EV/EBIT in the fast food industry that I found when analyzing JACK was 15.68 and the only company to have a higher EV/EBIT than Wendy’s is Chipotle Mexican Grill $CMG which had an EV/EBIT of 26.53.

I usually like to buy companies that have an EV/EBIT multiple under 8 so the fast food industry as a whole appears to be massively overvalued to me.  Not only that but Wendy’s current EV/EBIT multiple is comparable to Chipotle’s which generally has very high margins, which is exactly the opposite of Wendy’s.  As we will see later Wendy’s margins do not even come close to Chipotle’s and are generally much worse than even the rest of the fast food companies margins, so its extraordinarily high EV/EBIT multiple is astounding and I will explain later why it is so high.

I also did my normal other valuations but they did not work because after you take out the company’s debt and or goodwill and intangibles from the other valuations you get negative estimates of intrinsic value for Wendy’s equity.

Margin comparison

Please reference my JACK article above to see my thoughts on each of the other company’s margins as I will only be commenting in this article about Wendy’s margins.  The below chart has been updated to include Wendy’s margins for comparison to the other fast food companies.  The industry averages are still only including the previous five companies I talked about.

All numbers in the table were put together using either Morningstar or Yahoo Finance.

Jack in the Box (JACK) Sonic Corp (SONC) McDonald’s (MCD) Yum Brands (YUM) Chipolte Mexican Grill (CMG) Company Averages Wendy’s (WEN)
Gross Margin 5 Year Average 16.28% 34.30% 37.94% 26.20% 24.28% 27.80% 25.70%
Gross Margin 10 Year Average 17.08% 43.38% 40.42% 35.59% 11.73% 29.04% 39.86%
Op Margin 5 Year Average 7.46% 16.24% 27.42% 14.22% 12.76% 15.62% -1.70%
Op Margin 10 Year Average 7.07% 18.05% 22.62% 13.50% 6.64% 13.57% 0.21%
ROE 5 Year Average 20.16% 66.33% 30.26% 131.56% 18.55% 53.37% -6%
ROE 10 Year Average 18.77% 43.71% 23.19% 105.85% 10.27% 40.36% -4.68%
ROIC 5 Year Average 11.17% 3.38% 17.38% 24.97% 18.49% 15.08% -3.77%
ROIC 10 Year Average 10.91% 8.97% 13.37% 23.54% 10.22% 13.40% -2.45%
FCF/Sales 5 Year Average -0.26% 6.48% 15.90% 7.70% 6.92% 7.35% 1.07%
FCF/Sales 10 Year Average 0.80% 7.10% 12.86% 6.70% 2.26% 5.94% -3.74%
Cash Conversion Cycle 5 Year Average 0.78 1.23 0.91 -36.35 -5.24 -7.92 -4.18
Cash Conversion Cycle 10 Year Average 0.27 1.14 -1.22 -49.02 -5.21 -10.81 -4.53
P/B Current 2.9 12.4 6.7 14.3 8.2 8.9 0.9
Insider Ownership Current 0.38% 6.12% 0.07% 0.50% 1.64% 1.74% 6.83%
EV/EBIT Current 14.25 9.65 12.16 15.81 26.53 15.68 24.55
Debt Comparisons:
Total Debt as a % of Balance Sheet 5 year Average 30.78% 80.91% 35.28% 45.24% 0 38.44% 34.03%
Total debt as a % of Balance Sheet 10 year Average 26.84% 50.77% 35.22% 40.72% 0.14% 30.74% 38.58%
Current Assets to Current Liabilities 1.02 1.38 1.24 0.97 4.13 1.75 2.13
Total Debt to Equity 1.03 9.69 0.97 1.6 0 2.66 0.81
Total Debt to Total Assets 30.50% 71.20% 41% 37.21% 0 35.98% 36.87%
Total Contractual Obligations and Commitments, Including Debt $2.6 Billion $1 Billion $27.20 Billion $11.42 Billion $2.20 Billion $8.88 Billion $1.9 Billion
Total Obligations and Debt/EBIT 21.67 8.85 3.15 5.4 5.82 8.98 13.33

As you can see from the above margin comparison, Wendy’s margins are almost all quite a bit worse or at best about even with industry averages in comparison to its fast food competitors.  Even if we were to exclude Wendy’s absolutely horrible 2008 from its numbers, its margins are still quite a bit lower than its competitors.

Especially of note are the horrible in comparison to its competitor’s margins: ROIC, ROE, FCF/Sales, EV/EBIT, and Total obligations and debt/EBIT ratios, which are all a lot worse than its competitor’s ratios.  Wendy’s EV/EBIT is especially inflated due to its high amount of debt in comparison to its profitability which is why it has a comparable EV/EBIT to the much higher margin Chipotle.  My calculations of ROIC are a bit different than Morningstar’s numbers and help out Wendy’s a bit, but even at 5.4% without goodwill and 3.85% with goodwill those numbers are still generally quite inferior to its competitors.

About the only thing that Wendy’s has in favor for itself out of the entire above table is that its P/B ratio of 0.9 is a lot lower than its competitors.  A P/B ratio that low generally means that the company could be undervalued. That P/B ratio in this case is a bit of a farce because goodwill and other intangible assets make up the vast majority of current book value as just those two combine for an estimated $2.2 billion in value.  After subtracting goodwill and intangible assets tangible book value is actually negative.  The $2.2 billion is actually more than the current market cap so I think that it is fair to say that those values are probably massively overstated and may soon have to be restated or written down to a more reasonable level, thus eliminating some further perceived value and bringing the P/B value up closer to its competitors.

I also think that Wendy’s debt levels and costs are too high in comparison to its profitability as 83% of operating profit (EBIT) goes to interest expenses.  Costs and other expenses, not including interest expense and loss on extinguishment of debt, take up 95% of total sales.  Other expenses include general and administrative, depreciation and amortization, etc.  If you include interest expenses and loss on extinguishment of debt that takes total costs and expenses over 100% of sales, which is why Wendy’s recent earnings have been negative.

Pros

  • Pays a dividend and recently upped it 100%.
  • After a lot of the stores are reimaged margins should improve due to lower cap ex and higher same store sales.  Of the stores that have thus far been reimaged Wendy’s says they have seen 25% increases in sales.
  • Has positive net cash.
  • Has a good amount of cash on hand.
  • Same store sales have risen for 6 straight quarters and a total of 2.3% in the past 9 months.
  • Wendy’s has recently paid off some of its 10% coupon debt by taking out lower interest debt, which should lead to lower interest expenses going forward.
  • Wendy’s recently overtook Burger King as the second biggest fast food burger chain.
  • Owns a lot of its restaurants and the property underneath the buildings so Wendy’s does hold some valuable assets in case it has some problems.
  • Just fewer than 80% of its restaurants are owned by franchisees that pay a 4% royalty to Wendy’s.  Collecting franchise royalty fees is a very high margin business.
  • The company produces positive FCF excluding cap ex.

Cons

  • Wendy’s is overvalued by every one of my valuations, sometimes in extreme cases, except when including the massive amount of goodwill and intangible assets.
  • Wendy’s margins overall are generally a lot worse than its fast food competitors.
  • Book value is only positive because of goodwill and other intangible assets.
  • The company has had recent negative earnings.
  • 83% of operating profit went to interest expense.
  • The company’s equity has negative value after subtracting goodwill and intangible assets on various valuations.
  • The company has been buying back a lot of stock at what I think are overvalued prices.
  • The company’s debt levels and costs are too high in my opinion in comparison to its profitability levels.
  • Wendy’s will have higher cap ex for the foreseeable future due to the reimagining of its stores.
  • The reimaging of Wendy’s stores could be going on for at least a decade if not more as it hopes to have around 750 stores reimaged by 2015 leaving around 5,750 stores to be reimaged after that, not including new stores that are opened by Wendy’s itself or its franchisees.
  • Cap ex this year has been around $225 million and will likely stay close to that elevated level for many years due to the reimagining of its stores and which should either lead to lowering or stagnating margins for the foreseeable future.
  • The company has negative FCF when including cap ex.
  • This year the company spent $126 million in cash on cap ex with the remaining $99 million coming from other sources.  To me that means Wendy’s will have to either increase its margins and FCF to pay the remaining cap ex costs, or more likely it will continue to have to issue debt to fund the reimaging of its stores.
  • While sales have been rising within Wendy’s, costs have also been rising at about the same amount which is why margins have not been increasing much as sales have improved.
  • The company has quite a few, what seem to me questionable related party transactions within the company, including with Mr. Peltz (former Wendy’s executive and current chairman) and Trian Partners the investment fund Mr. Peltz has formed with a couple Wendy’s other board members.
  • Just one example of the questionable transactions is that Wendy’s paid just under $640,000 in security costs for Mr. Peltz who is a billionaire and could easily pay these costs himself.
  • Trian Partners currently owns just under 25% of Wendy’s and has three members on Wendy’s board of directors so Trian could exert a lot of pressure on Wendy’s if it saw fit to do so.
  • Due to some of the what seem to me to be questionable transactions; I do not trust management to do what is right for shareholders and to increase shareholder value.

Potential Catalysts

  • The reimaging of its stores will most likely eventually lead to margin and sales growth.
  • If Wendy’s can get its costs under control, which it is trying to do now, it could achieve some margin growth.
  • In my opinion Wendy’s has overstated its goodwill and other intangible assets and may have to restate or write down some of the value of each.  Wendy’s warns it may have to do this in its most recent annual report, which would lead to less perceived value in the company, and would probably drop the price of the stock further.

Conclusion

Wendy’s has recently overtaken the number two spot for hamburger fast food chains in the United States from Burger King.  Growth in this case appears to be bad for shareholders as its costs have been rising about in line with sales which are why margins have not seen much growth as Wendy’s sales have been growing.  Wendy’s margins are also generally quite a bit worse than its other fast food competitors, in my opinion its debt levels and costs are too high, and I do not trust its management to do what is right for shareholders.

Wendy’s appears to be destroying shareholder value with its high costs and debt levels, buying back its stock at overvalued prices, and continuing to grow its restaurant count and sales but not improving its margins.  Because Wendy’s margins have not improved as sales have been rising, it looks like Wendy’s is growing at less than its cost of capital which in my opinion has led to value destruction for shareholders.  The destruction of shareholder value will not reverse unless Wendy’s can cut its costs and debt levels and or improve profitability which probably will not happen for a while due to some of the reasons stated above.  Unless something drastic happens, in my opinion shareholders of Wendy’s stock can only look forward to further value destruction of their shares into the future.

Having stated all of the above I would estimate Wendy’s intrinsic value to be my 5X EBIT and cash valuation of $2.70 per share.  Due to all of what I stated in the above article I do not think that Wendy’s is even worth its reproduction value and I would not even be a buyer of the company at my $2.70 per share estimate of value.

Even if Wendy’s margins and sales do rise after reimaging of its stores, which should happen, that will not take place for many years as Wendy’s has only recently started to reimage its restaurants.

I hope I am wrong about Wendy’s because food wise it is by far my favorite fast food restaurant.  I hope it can fix its problems, and hope that it starts to thrive as a company.  However, as an investment I think Wendy’s is the proverbial value trap and I plan to keep my investment funds far away from the company.

How Do You Value And Evaluate Insurance Companies?

How Do You Value And Evaluate Insurance Companies?

Someone asked on LinkedIn: How Do You Value And Evaluate Insurance Companies? My answer is below

First off there is no such thing as determining a perfect value for any company, let alone companies as complex as insurance companies.

Second there are huge differences in valuing life and P&C insurance companies. The main difference comes in the long-range – and possible huge underpricing in long-term life insurance policies – that can have negative effects for years.

But the following links are some of the best things I’ve learned from on how to get a range of values and help you evaluate insurance companies.

Let me know if you have further questions.

How To Value Float, A Book Recommendation, And Other Thoughts

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

Notes From Phone Conversation With the CFO of Unico American Corp

The Float Of The Companies I Own

Some Questions For You About Insurance Companies

Evaluating insurance companies is a lot different from evaluating most companies.  And the info above will help you learn how to evaluate them.

Did I miss anything?  And do you have any other questions about insurance companies?  If so, let me know in the comments below.

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. Operates In A Profitable Small Niche That It’s Dominated For Years

Paradise Inc. Operates In A Profitable Small Niche That It’s 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.