Let's look at what we’re getting for the current selling price of $17.05.
BDMS has tangible assets per share of $5.93. The median ROC (I use CFO/tangible assets) over the last 10 years is 61%. Median ROC over the last three years is 57.6%.
Both figures are acceptable.
So for around $17.00, we’re getting almost $6.00 in tangible assets, which the company has consistently generated around a 60% return on.
In the spirit of conservatism, I’m going to assume they’ll be able to earn a 50% return on tangible assets going forward. A 50% return on $6.00 in tangible assets results in $3.00 of cash flow from operations per share.
Prior to the latest 10-K, filed March 2012, BDMS gave investors maintenance capex. Although they stopped doing this, we have the information needed to calculate it. Historically, maintenance capex has been about 1.25% of revenues. Using 1.5% on average revenues (three-year average) of $33.58 per share we get maintenance capex of $0.50 per share.
Three dollars in CFO minus maintenance capex of $0.50 gives us $2.50 in FCF.
To sum it up so far, we’re paying $17.00 for $6.00 of tangible assets that generate $3.00 in CFO, and $2.50 in FCF. That’s a FCF yield of almost 15%.
What companies do with the FCF generated is probably more important than the amount they generate in the first place. Think of how many companies generate substantial amounts of FCF and waste it on dumb acquisitions or reinvest it at lousy rates of return (HPQ is a great example of what not to do with FCF).
Over the last 15 years, BDMS has generated $44.3 million in FCF. Of the $44.3 million, 95% of it ($42.3 million) has gone to buying back shares and dividends. The remaining 5% ($2.1 million) has been retained.
They’ve managed median year-over-year growth of just under 5% over the last decade. This results in a return on retained FCF of just over 100%.
Obviously, this is very acceptable.
At this point we know BDMS generates FCF, is a good business in terms of ROC, and is shareholder friendly when it comes to allocating FCF.
At $17.00 per share, BDMS doesn’t have to grow for investors to achieve double-digit returns.
Having said that, I think it’s likely they’ll do reasonably well in the future.
I think they’ll do well for a few reasons.
The dental practice management model is designed to be more effective the bigger the business gets. The main advantages of the model over a single practice are advertising and purchasing power. They can spend more on advertising in absolute terms, but as a percentage of revenue per office it decreases. This is also true when purchasing supplies. When buying for more than 60 offices, they’re able to get better pricing than buying for a single office. You often hear of companies touting synergies and the ability to reduce some expenses in percentage terms due to scaling. Fortunately, advertising and purchasing power actually scale.
Management has proven over the last 10 or more years that they won’t do foolish things with capital. They’ve decreased shares outstanding from 6.4 million to 1.9 million from 1998 to 2012 and they’ve paid out a bit over $9 million in dividends.
In my opinion, the only other major consideration is growth and I think it directly relates to capital allocation.
From emailing a few other investors about BDMS, the main concern I’ve heard is what’s going on with the growth. Revenues have been flat the last few years.
I don’t see this as a big issue and I feel it relates to their prudent capital allocation. I think they’re looking for new offices to roll under their Perfect Teeth brand every year. I think it’s as simple as not finding any for what they’d be comfortable paying. This is the fastest way to increase revenues because when they buy an existing office it comes with patients.
They’ve also been developing offices internally. This is another option but one where the benefit isn’t seen until a few years out. If they aren’t finding any suitable acquisitions they then compare their remaining choices. I’d imagine the order being: looking for existing offices at acceptable prices, then opening new offices themselves, and finally repurchasing shares and paying a dividend.
Because they’ve been disciplined allocating capital over a lengthy period of time, I feel very comfortable thinking that in the future there will be years when they buy existing offices and years they don’t. Years they open new offices internally and years they don’t and the the dividends and buybacks will be a function of what they see in the other two categories.
To put it all together, I ask myself, where will BDMS be in three to five years?
This is obviously the point of researching a company. I feel like a lot of discussion relates to the attractiveness of company as it currently stands but doesn’t really address where it’ll be in the future.
I think BDMS will probably grow 1% to 5% per year over the next three to five years. There may be years where they take a step back, but over a three or five year period I think the CAGR will be between 1% and 5%.
Starting with a FCF yield of 15% today and growth of 1% to 5%, I don’t think it’s crazy to think 15% to 17% returns going forward. I am confident that management will continue to allocate capital the way they have.
This leaves investors in a nice position.
It’s currently priced where we don’t need growth to achieve acceptable rates of return, but as I’ve explained, I think they will grow.
Whatever the growth ends up being, at $17.00 per share investors will do okay, and while holding BDMS we’re able to take comfort in the fact that management won’t squander capital.
EDIT: I used the wrong figures when computing the return on retained cash. Return on returned cash is around 15% not 100%