Company updates and portfolio activity: LVB, NROM, SHFK, EVI

In this post, I will briefly mention SHFK and EVI, two of my favorite current holdings. I will then update NROM which had a very strong Q3 and discuss LVB which had a slightly disappointing Q3 announcement.

SHFK:

I continue to really like this stock. While it basically does not move and it took me awhile to establish a position, it’s hard to imagine how you lose here. Trading at half of book value and 2.2X mid-cycle earnings and a flexible cost structure, this is a slam-dunk IMO. The fact that management bought back 57% of shares last year is incredibly beneficial to shareholders and shows what management thinks of the stock. They only file once/year, but I am expecting a very solid report out of SHFK around year-end.

EVI:

I found this idea originally from Shaun Noll who has been in the stock for a long time and knows it extremely well. I may do a full write-up on it later but here is the quick pitch from my perspective. The cheap valuation, simple business, and the fact that the company is paying a $0.60 special dividend on a ~$2.00 stock by the end of the year caught my attention.

It’s a $15 mm stock that has over $10 mm in cash. The company is a distributor of laundry equipment to individual stores/ franchisees. It’s an extremely simple business that has had very stable financial results—even during the Financial Crisis. I estimate the company’s worst-case scenario run-rate net income (which in this case approximates FCF… insignificant capex/depreciation) at $500 K. Since the company is 60% insider owned and seems intent to return cash to shareholders (and themselves), I think valuing the company on an EV basis is appropriate (as market cap should move towards EV as mgt. returns cash). Therefore, even using worst-case earnings, the company trades at a better than 10% EV/FCF yield.

Now, I wouldn’t buy the stock if I thought it would give me only 10% returns. I am just highlighting that even in a worst-case scenario, that’s a pretty solid yield for a stable, simple business and it gets me comfortable with the downside. The company had a record backlog last quarter and could make as much as $1.5 mm in net income in 2013. Under this scenario, the company could easily trade to ~4.00. I love heads I win big, tails I make 10% on a simple, stable business. I think the company is likely to post a big 2013 and management will attempt to buy out the whole company.

NROM

NROM is a micro-cap company that I continue to really like at this depressed price. They released very strong Q3 results. Here are my key takeaways:

  • Operating margins came in pretty high at 39.3%. I have conservatively modeled in 35% margins in my valuation scenarios so this was nice to see
  • Upfront franchisee fees and commissions were $311,022 compared to $185,491.
    • This is important because it indicates that the non-traditional segment is still healthy, which is currently their most valuable business segment.
  • Overall revenue increased 2.3% compared to last year. This number is actually artificially low because their new grocery store sign-ups take time to start being implemented. As I noted in my original write-up, this is the key growth driver and an important thing to watch…
  • 2012 YTD, they have already signed 411 additional grocery store take-n-bake locations.
  • The first stand-alone take-n-bake location opened in Greenwood, IN, a suburb of Indianapolis, on October 29, 2012; six more are already under agreement and in various stages of development, several of which are expected to open soon

Conclusion: NROM is very much on track. Note that in my “Bull” scenario valuation of $1.67/share, that factors in about 400 grocery store signings/year and 35% margins. With a full quarter left in 2012, they are already at 411 stores signed and have higher operating margins. They also are showing progress on the stand-alone take-n-bake stores, which I decided to leave out of my model as pure upside (difficult to say predict how it will take-off). Management seems to be optimistic—and I have heard reports suggesting their new opening is going well. NROM is very much a developing story and the thesis is on track. I continue to patiently hold shares and think the next 12-18 months will be good ones for NROM shareholders.

LVB:

Back in September, I highlighted the Sum of the Parts value of Steinway Musical Instruments (LVB). I laid out my high and low estimates for fair value for all of their assets and deemed prices fairly valued to 87% undervalued. The company previously said they would announce the results of strategic alternatives by the end of Q3 (September). Well, on the latest conference call, there was mixed news.

Good news: They announced an agreement to sell their West 57th Street property—monetizing a non core asset and showing the first tangible progress of the strategic review.

Bad news: An unanticipated chunk of the value is going to the landowners, rather than Steinway (the building owner). Furthermore, the rest of the strategic process is taking longer than expected—leaving shareholders in the dark during an expensive process.

From their conference call:  As a reminder, Steinway owns the building on 57th Street subject to a long-term land lease. “The proposed transaction will be with us and the landowner as sellers. The total purchase price for the combined property is $195 million, with $56 million coming to Steinway. $20 million of the $56 million will be held in escrow until we vacate the space we currently occupy in the building. The letter of intent stipulates that 12-month advanced notice be given by either party with respect to vacating our space.

We expect to complete negotiations of a purchase and sale agreement within the next 15 days. Of course, no

assurance can be made that a definitive agreement will be ultimately signed, or that it will be signed in the time frame we anticipate. We currently expect the closing to take place before the end of 2012”

While I knew LVB did not own the land, to have only 28% of the value go to them was definitely not what I expected. Other analysts seemed pretty surprised as well. From conference call:

It’s Rick D’Auteuil, Columbia Management. The information disclosed on the purchase price or the sale price of the 57th Street property in total and then your allocation — can you talk about is — was there a fixed formula, or was that negotiated on how the split was? Because the total amount is consistent with some of the prior numbers I’ve heard about the valuation there. The split surprises me, so what’s the justification for that?”

How does this affect the investment?

I originally valued LVB’s stake in the West 57th property at $50-$100 mm, so the $56 mm is near the low end of my valuation. This lowers the high valuation from $47 to $43, not a huge move. More concerning though is the delay in the strategic review process. At this point, management has overpromised and under-delivered—and it is clear investors are growing frustrated. With little transparency in such an important process and the West 57th street sale coming in near the low range, I am less bullish than I was before. While I still think the risk/reward is favorable, it is no longer as large of a position for me.

Disclaimer: The content contained in this blog represents only the opinions of its author(s). I may hold long or short positions in securities mentioned in the blog. In no way should anything on this website be considered investment advice and should never be relied on in making an investment decision. This blog is not a solicitation of business– the content herein is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader and the author.