First, the results were decent. Was it a blow out quarter? Absolutely not, but you’re not generally going to say “blow out” quarters by net-net stocks. Instead, the company continued to show solid profitability, good cash flow, signs of their revenue decline ending, and a strengthening balance sheet.
So let’s start talking about some of the interesting developments from the year. If you want an analysis of why I think they are so undervalued, please view my previous write ups.
First, the company is deploying cash in a very (in my opinion at least) efficient manner. The paid $550k for their new acquisition, AGC, this year. AGC turned around and did $1.2m in revenue in the 4th quarter. Assuming margins similar to the rest of the business, that’s ~$165k in EBITDA. Granted, AEY is running some of their old operations through AGC now, probably resulting in an revenue boost, but however you look at it this is probably a gangbusters acquisition. Granted, it’s small compared to the size of AEY, but still- great job.
As a follow on to the acquisition, AEY acquired a warehouse for $1.475m. The warehouses old tenants paid a monthly lease of $10,250 before AEY kicked them out to move AGC in. That means AEY paid a cap rate of 8.34% for the building. Now I haven’t been able to inspect the building and there’s not much more disclosure, but from a 10,000 foot viewpoint that seems to be a decent price for a piece of real estate. At worst, it’s tough to see them losing value on that deal. Again, small- but instructive.
Finally, I think there’s a looming catalyst coming. AEY currently has $10.9m in cash (up from $8.7m at the beginning of the year- and remember, they paid $2m for AGC plus the warehouse and paid down $1.8m in debt) versus ~$12.1m in net debt. The bulk of this debt, $10.2m, comes due in November of next year (plus another $200k or so in principal paydown on a term loan). Obviously, AEY has enough cash to pay all this debt down right now. When you figure they’ll probably generate at least $4m in cash in that time from earnings plus further draw down on inventory, AEY could be looking at a significant net cash position in the next year or so.
Here’s where the catalyst comes in- once AEY pays down that $10.2m note, they’ll be awash in cash, plus they’ll own several unmortgaged properties. In other words, they’ll be flush with liquidity. I think it’s likely that AEY’s management starts thinking about some form of share buyback or possibly taking the company private. If they offered to do a tender at, say, $2.50- it would come at a discount to net current asset value and the company could easily retire 10% of shares. Or maybe management uses the properties and huge inventory position to MBO the 50% of the company they don’t own.
I’m not sure which it is, but with the stock this cheap and tons of debt about to roll off the books- I wouldn’t be surprised to see a catalyst coming soon.