On Friday, Acme United (ACU) reported year-end results. While their customer markets are still soft, Acme was able to grow revenues by expanding their product lines and customer base. While many companies do this by slashing prices resulting in reduced margins and profitability, Acme has proven itself to be a superior company, maintaining strong profitability as it grows.
You wouldn't know it from looking at Acme's stock price, however. The company trades with a P/E of just 11, despite excellent returns on equity. To see the company's valuation in perspective, consider the P/E ratios of the following companies with similar returns on equity over the last five years:
Acme is not as recognizable as the rest of the names, but this is precisely why investors are offered this company at a discount. Many would argue that because the company is small, its riskiness is higher than the companies above. While that may be true to some extent (for example, three customers each exceed 10% of Acme's sales), the upside is also higher as the company has room to grow. Acme has an on-going goal of generating 30% of its sales from products developed in the last 3 years. This is something that the large companies listed above would have great difficulty achieving.
Saj Karsan founded an investment and research firm that is based on the principles of value investing. He has an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, and an undergraduate engineering degree from McGill University.
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