ARABIAN AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT ARSD
March 11, 2013 - 5:33pm EST by
mitc567
2013 2014
Price: 7.89 EPS $0.46 $0.00
Shares Out. (in M): 24 P/E 15.8x 0.0x
Market Cap (in $M): 190 P/FCF 25.1x 0.0x
Net Debt (in $M): 13 EBIT 21 0
TEV ($): 203 TEV/EBIT 8.5x 0.0x

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  • Chemicals
  • Mining
 

Description

Arabian American Development Company (ARSD) is a manufacturer of various specialty chemical products and also owns a 35.3% interest in Al Masane Al Kobra Mining Company “AMAK”, which produces copper, zinc, silver and gold.  We have a target value for ARSD’s specialty chemical business of $11.56 per share based on projected 2014 financials and conservatively value AMAK based on a recent transaction that occurred at $6.27 per share in December 2012, which gives us a target price for ARSD of $17.83 per share.  This implies an upside of 120% over the current share price of $7.89 per share as of 3/11/2013.

ARSD’s petrochemical facility is located near Silsbee, Texas, approximately 90 miles east of Houston.  The plant, which was originally owned by another company, opened in 1955 and is located near the South Hampton oil fields.  The facility was located next to a gasoline plant which had issues selling its liquids.  The South Hampton plant purchased these liquids to make motor fuel.  After deregulation in 1982, which drove many independent refiners out of business, the plant cut its staff to 10 employees.  In 1985, the facility was adapted from a typical petrochemical facility to produce specialty high purity solvents, due to requests from customers of Phillips 66 (PSX) to create a viable competitor to PSX’s near monopoly for these high-purity solvents.  In 1987, ARSD acquired the South Hampton plant for $600,000, which was well below replacement cost.  In 2008, ARSD expanded the plant to double capacity.  Prior to the expansion ARSD had 49% market share of the North American C5 market and by the end of 2012 had grown it to 75%, according to management.

Most petrochemical companies supply highly commoditized products.  It is important to understand that while ARSD produces what are typically commodity petrochemical products, the company differentiates itself by the extremely high purity levels of its products.  Management claims that their purity is unmatched by any other company except PSX.  This high purity level has been found to be advantageous by ARSD’s customers for use in their own processes compared to products of lower purity.  Anecdotally, one of its customers searched the world looking to find a supplier that matched or exceeded ARSD’s purity levels and could not find any.  ARSD’s products are used as solvents, additives, blowing agents and cooling agents and make up a very small percentage (typically less than 1%) of its customers finished product costs.

ARSD’s products are generally used in the process of making poly-ethylene and poly-propylene which are the building blocks of plastics.  This industry tends to be cyclical as the demand is spurred by overall economic activity.  However, ARSD’s products have found a new application for use in preparing mined “oil sands” to be transported via pipeline, which will create a non-cyclical demand as the oil sands producers continue to increase production.  The quantity of product which can be sold to the oil sands industry has the potential to be greater than the total current production sold by the company today.  We will discuss one of the potential oil sands customers in detail a little later.

The dynamic between ARSD and PSX is similar to that of David and Goliath.  ARSD has an enterprise value of $203 million compared to $44 billion (over 200 times larger) for PSX. Up until a few years ago, PSX was pricing under cost for these chemicals.  Since they constituted a miniscule portion of PSX’s volume, PSX didn’t really pay attention to their profitability.  PSX has returned to rational pricing over the past few years and has recently consolidated its facilities and now produces these chemicals in two locations.  Between 2nd half of 2011 and the beginning of  2012, PSX was unable to produce these chemicals due to operating problems, which allowed ARSD to pick up volume and market share from PSX, some of which ARSD has been able to maintain even after PSX came back online. 

ARSD has a few meaningful competitive advantages over PSX.  The first is that ARSD uses natural gasoline as its feedstock instead of crude oil which is PSX’s feedstock. Natural gasoline enjoys a significant cost advantage over oil due to its plentiful supply resulting from the recent US shale gas finds.  We believe this advantage will continue well into the future as additional natural gas wells are brought on line. 

Secondly, ARSD’s employees are not unionized unlike those at PSX which are unionized.  Not only does this result in cost advantages to ARSD, but it also allows the Company more flexibility with its employees.  All ARSD employees take part in a profit-sharing program, which began in 1985.  This aligns the incentives of all employees with that of the company.  In 2005 when Hurricane Rita caused the plant to shut down, employees came back to the plant almost immediately to get the plant up and running again as soon as possible.

Finally, since the specialty chemicals are such a large part of ARSD’s business and such a small part of PSX, ARSD provides its customers with higher quality and personalized service. Being small allows ARSD to be nimble and react to customers’ specific requests compared to PSX where it is difficult to do so. 

Recently, ARSD completed major upgrades of the fire suppression and electrical systems at the plant.  Going forward, this should allow for lower maintenance capital expenditures.  In addition, ARSD usually has a week-long shutdown of the plant in November or December for maintenance work, however, this year there was a problem replacing one of their catalysts which caused the plant to be out of operation for an additional week, negatively impacting the 4th quarter 2012 results.  This catalyst was last replaced 7 years ago, thus making this extended shutdown unlikely to reoccur for the foreseeable future.

Formula Pricing:

ARSD charges its large volume customers using formula based pricing.  These customers include Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), The Dow Chemical Company (DOW), Chevron Corporation (CVX), 3M Company (MMM), Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co (GT), Imperial Oil (IMO), Baker Hughes Inc (BHI), Calumet (CLMT), Lyondell (LYB) and many more.  ARSD gets paid a service fee per gallon and passes on the volatile feed costs directly to its customers on a monthly basis.  This formula-based pricing accounts for over 50% of ARSD’s revenue.  For all other customers, ARSD can adjust the prices as long as it gives notice ranging from 14 to 30 days, depending on the customer.

We calculated the average service fee that ARSD receives from its customers by backing into the number using its public financial statements.  Looking at ARSD’s petrochemical revenues and taking out the cost of materials, we developed a proxy that determines the spread that ARSD charges its customers.  Dividing this amount by the number of gallons processed gives us ARSD’s processing charge per gallon.  Looking at ARSD’s processing charge per gallon compared to the monthly price of natural gas liquids shows us that ARSD’s spread is independent of the price of natural gas liquids and averages out to approximately $1.02 per gallon since January 2011.  Our financial model utilizes this spread and gallons sold to arrive at gross margin dollars earned.  This is important as revenue changes are not a meaningful proxy for earnings momentum due to the constant fluctuations in the price of feedstock. 

Here is a link to our chart:

ARSD Spread & NGL Price Comparison 

US Natural Gas Liquid Composite Price for NGL Prices

Source: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/ngm_epg0_plc_nus_dmmbtum.htm

 

Canadian Oil Sands Customer Relationship:

In the second half of 2011 and first half of 2012 ARSD began shipping chemicals to an unnamed oil sands customer to fill tanks in advance of an expected second half of 2012 startup for a new plant.  The plant’s start was delayed due to the difficulty in shipping and receiving the required capital equipment on a timely basis.  It is now expected that this plant will go online early in the second quarter of 2013.  In the Q3 conference call on October 30th, 2012, CEO Nicholas Carter mentioned that the volumes should grow late in the 4th quarter due to a large oil sands customer coming back online. In the Q&A portion of the call, Carter gave more color on the volume of the customer, saying that ARSD will need to increase throughput by 15% to 20% to meet the needs of the oil sands customer.  This fits with comments from the second quarter conference call in which the CEO said that when the contract comes back later in the year, it should increase production by 1,000 to 1,200 barrels per day.  

When converting barrels per day to gallons per quarter, the potential increase of 1,000 barrels per day is equivalent to 3.6 million gallons per quarter.  Using the service fee of $1 per gallon that ARSD makes from its formula pricing, this customer coming back online should thus generate an additional $3.6 million in gross profit per quarter for ARSD, while not adding much in additional operating expenses as the capacity to handle the larger volume is already in place.  All ARSD needs to do is have the control room increase the plants throughput, as simple as turning some knobs and pressing some buttons – even Homer Simpson could do this in his sleep.

In the latest press release, ARSD states: “our customer’s delay in production at the Canadian tar sands project carried through in fourth quarter 2012.  Going forward, it is our understanding that the tar sands’ orders are coming back online in the second quarter.”  Then on the March 7th, 2013 earnings call, ARSD’s CEO mentioned that this customer has placed orders for March and April delivery.  According to Wikipedia, there are two oil sand mines under development (Jackpine and Kearl). Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_sands.
Both of these projects were expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and both have had delays.  ARSD’s customer is likely one of these two mines.  The Jackpine mine has been having environmental issues with lawsuits holding back its development, while the Kearl mine has had delays due to problems transporting equipment to the mine followed by extremely cold weather which caused delays in the final stages of construction.  Now, the Kearl mine is set to commission this quarter. Source: http://www.ogj.com/articles/2013/02/imperial-commissioning-kearl-oil-sands-mine.html

Below are our projections for ARSD for 2013 and 2014.  We kept 1Q 2013 projections flat then added half the additional volume due to the oil sands customer coming back online in 2Q 2013, with it fully ramping in 3Q 2013.  Due to some of ARSD’s chemicals use as a cooling agent by some customers, there is typically an increase in demand for these products during warmer months which we accounted for in our projections. We expect average plant utilization in 2013 of 76%, up from 70% in 2012, with utilization growing to 91% in 2014.

Link: ARSD Projections

In 2014, the growth in revenue will come from additional demand as oil sands mining ramps up and ARSD benefits from a full year from its current customer.  There currently is not enough infrastructure to transfer crude outside of Canada, however in late 2013 there should be some relief as some pipeline reversals should be complete which will allow flow out of the US central corridor to the gulf coast where the refineries are located.  Currently oil prices at the oil sands mines are significantly lower than at the gulf coast due to the lack of pipeline infrastructure and resultant higher transport costs. A potential driver of future oil sands production is the Keystone pipeline which is currently waiting for approval by the Obama Administration.

ARSD’s chemicals are very valuable to the oil sands customers as it cleans up the oil by removing the tar, resulting in a lighter liquid that can be transported more easily without needing to be upgraded.  Only ARSD and PSX supply these necessary chemicals in North America.

Chemicals Business Valuation:

One of our preferred valuation metrics is to compare the valuations of similar public companies, called comparables or comps.  Unfortunately, there are no true comps for ARSD as the only other direct competitor in North America is PSX and the portion of PSX’s business that competes with ARSD is extremely small relative to the rest of PSX. PSX currently trades at an EV to EBITDA multiple (trailing twelve months) of 7.63 as of 2/28/13.  Instead, to find a fair multiple for ARSD we used comparison companies who are in the commodity and specialty chemical business.  The table below shows a comparable company table with EV to EBITDA multiples and their respective market capitalizations. 

Link:  Comp Table

Although the average and median are higher on a trailing basis, we decided to use a reduced EV/EBITDA multiple of 7.5 to be conservative since we are using at a forward number.  Our projected 2014 EBITDA of approximately $40 million in 2014 along with the 7.5 times EBITDA multiple gives us a target share price of $11.56 for ARSD’s chemical business.

Link: EBITDA Multiple Sensitivity Table

Another valuation metric we utilize when valuing companies is evaluating what a potential buyer would pay for ARSD.  To do this we took a look at comparable merger and acquisition transactions in the specialty chemical industry.  Below is a chart showing these transactions:

LinK:  Historical Transactions

We didn’t include the Millennium Chemicals transaction in the average or median calculations, because the trailing EV/EBITDA multiple seemed abnormally high.  However, when we looked at the forward EV/EBITDA multiple at the time of the announcement, it was at a 7.8x forward multiple which falls in line with the other transactions.  We apply the same median 7.5x multiple that we used in the comparable company analysis to get the same $11.56 share price for ARSD’s chemical business as above.

Potential Expansion in Chemicals Business:

Capacity at ARSD’s plant is currently 6,700 barrels per day (bpd).  Management previously mentioned that they expect to reach the plant’s capacity by the end of 2013.  In our projections, we had ARSD more conservatively reaching capacity in the 2nd quarter of 2014.  ARSD has brought in a new Executive Vice President with extensive petrochemical industry experience to evaluate opportunities to grow the company as the plant approaches capacity in the near future. In the near term, he will implement a de-bottlenecking program that is expected to add about 5% to existing capacity. However, a longer term solution will also be needed.

One idea which ARSD has discussed is to open a new facility overseas in Saudi Arabia.  They would consider doing a JV with a local partner and could provide its overseas customers with lower transportation costs and shorter lead times.  Since Saudi Arabia also has inexpensive natural gasoline to use as feedstock, this makes it a viable option. 

Another idea is to acquire an existing plant and potentially expand into other specialty chemicals to diversify ARSD’s product offerings.  We are not very excited about this idea as we believe that it can distract ARSD from its core chemicals business where it has a nice and profitable duopoly as well as creating unnecessary integration risks. 

A third option for ARSD is to expand capacity at the current location. In 2008, ARSD took 9 months and spent $18 million to add approximately 3,000 bpd in capacity to the plant.  ARSD still has vacant land at its current facility where it could do a similar expansion, which today could cost approximately $25 million according to the company.  An additional 3,000 bpd is equivalent to over 45 million gallons per year, which at full capacity would add $45 million to ARSD’s gross profit based off of the $1 per gallon service fee.  To facilitate this growth ARSD can put storage tanks up in Canada to store additional chemicals to better its serve customers up in the oil sands.  We feel that this is the best avenue for ARSD to pursue and are confident that management will make the right decision.

AMAK Mine:

It’s easy to overlook that ARSD also has ownership in a mine that has just started delivering its first shipments of metal concentrates.  The Al Masane Al Kobra Mining Company “AMAK” in Saudi Arabia is a mine that has Zinc, Copper, Silver and Gold in proven reserves.  It is predominantly a Zinc and Copper mine.

One way to value the AMAK asset to ARSD is to base it off of what a sophisticated buyer was willing to pay for recently issued shares.  There have been two recent transactions for shares of AMAK. In July of 2011, Arab Mining Company “ARMICO” purchased 5 million shares of AMAK for $37.3 million.  This values the mine at $7.46/AMAK share.  Since ARSD owns 18.5 million shares of AMAK, this valued ARSD’s equity ownership of AMAK at just over $138 million in July 2011.  Dividing by the 24.8 million shares of ARSD outstanding, we get a value for AMAK of $5.56 per share of ARSD at that time.  More recently, AMAK raised additional capital on December 9th, 2012.  ARSD and other shareholders purchased newly issued shares which now values the mine at $6.27 per share of ARSD.

Another way to value the mine is to project its cash flows to ARSD.  Using information from AMAK’s website: http://www.arabianamericandev.net/AMAK/company_info.html
and the following assumptions for metal prices:

$0.89 Zinc/LB
$3.48 Copper/LB
$1,580.95 Gold/Oz
$29.04 Silver/Oz 

Link:  Metal Price Assumptions

We project the mine to produce annual net revenue of $108.3 million with operating costs of $22.5 million, thus giving AMAK an annual operating profit of $94 million.  The mine pays a 20% tax as well as a 5% withholding tax.  Operating profit after taxes will approximate $64.4 million.  Using free cash flow to pay off debt of $88 million from the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, it could take about 1.5 years to pay off.  Since the mine’s life is anticipated to be 11.5 years, there  could still remain a solid 10 years of mining left after the debt had been paid off. 

If AMAK gave dividends to its shareholders, ARSD would receive an 80% “Dividends Received Deduction” on its portion of dividends received.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dividends_received_deduction

ARSD should get its 35.3% share from the mine which comes out to $22.7 million per year.  After all taxes and deductions, ARSD could receive $20.9 million in free cash flow annually assuming a 40% tax rate at the ARSD entity beginning in the middle of 2014 for 10 years.

Link:  AMAK FCF Projection

On the 3Q call, CEO Nick Carter mentioned that ASRD is planning to account for AMAK on the equity method of accounting beginning on the next 10k filed.  The reason for the change is that ARSD has taken a more active position on the board and also controls the marketing of the products.  The switch from the cost-method of accounting to equity will cause ARSD to restate three previous years of financials to show income statement gains and losses from AMAK over that time. This will reflect increased asset value on the balance sheet for the mine when compared to its cost under the previous accounting methodology.  AMAK will show operating losses in 2011 and muted gains in 2012 and 2013 as the mine is still in its startup phase as it is still mining developmental ore bodies, but should show normalized profits and pay dividends from 2014 onwards. 

Once AMAK is profitable for 2 years, it must issue 25% of the company to the public on the Saudi stock exchange, according to Saudi law. 

Additional value in the mine:

In addition to the current mine lease which covers 44 square kilometers, AMAK has applied for four new land leases which total an additional 294 square kilometers nearby the current location.  Three of them are adjacent and the fourth is 30 kilometers to the east of the current site.  The geology of the land in the additional leases is similar to the current lease and thus adds additional upside to the value of the mine once the reserves are proven.  The resource study is expected to be completed by the end of 2014 and will show the proven reserves of the leases.  Assuming that the leases have a similar composition, the leases can produce over six times the amount of the current mine. We estimate the additional infrastructure needed to be 200 kilometers of roads which would cost approximately $25 million to build.  Assuming that the current plant is used to process the ore from the additional leases, the mine could remain in operation for an extra 50 years. A quick net present value calculation of this stream of cash flows (net of capex) implies an incremental value to ARSD of $248.5 million in today’s dollars, or $10.02 per share, which is not included in our valuation assumption.  

WHAT THIS ALL MEANS:

Adding the values of the petro-chemical business and the mine together, we get a target share price for ASRD of $17.83 per share.  It is clear that the market is paying little attention to this company’s quarterly calls and also does not give value to the AMAK mine.  In our valuation, we do not take into account any new potential petro chemical customers although ARSD says it has received several test orders.  Management has stated that they expect capacity at the current petro-chemical facility to be reached by the end of 2013, which would create results well above those that we have projected and push the value of the petro-chemical company even higher and thus ARSD’s stock price.

I do not hold a position of employment, directorship, or consultancy with the issuer.
I and/or others I advise hold a material investment in the issuer's securities.

Catalyst

Oil Sands Customer Returning
Full Operation of Mine
Potential Purchase by Larger Specialty Chemicals Company
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    Description

    Arabian American Development Company (ARSD) is a manufacturer of various specialty chemical products and also owns a 35.3% interest in Al Masane Al Kobra Mining Company “AMAK”, which produces copper, zinc, silver and gold.  We have a target value for ARSD’s specialty chemical business of $11.56 per share based on projected 2014 financials and conservatively value AMAK based on a recent transaction that occurred at $6.27 per share in December 2012, which gives us a target price for ARSD of $17.83 per share.  This implies an upside of 120% over the current share price of $7.89 per share as of 3/11/2013.

    ARSD’s petrochemical facility is located near Silsbee, Texas, approximately 90 miles east of Houston.  The plant, which was originally owned by another company, opened in 1955 and is located near the South Hampton oil fields.  The facility was located next to a gasoline plant which had issues selling its liquids.  The South Hampton plant purchased these liquids to make motor fuel.  After deregulation in 1982, which drove many independent refiners out of business, the plant cut its staff to 10 employees.  In 1985, the facility was adapted from a typical petrochemical facility to produce specialty high purity solvents, due to requests from customers of Phillips 66 (PSX) to create a viable competitor to PSX’s near monopoly for these high-purity solvents.  In 1987, ARSD acquired the South Hampton plant for $600,000, which was well below replacement cost.  In 2008, ARSD expanded the plant to double capacity.  Prior to the expansion ARSD had 49% market share of the North American C5 market and by the end of 2012 had grown it to 75%, according to management.

    Most petrochemical companies supply highly commoditized products.  It is important to understand that while ARSD produces what are typically commodity petrochemical products, the company differentiates itself by the extremely high purity levels of its products.  Management claims that their purity is unmatched by any other company except PSX.  This high purity level has been found to be advantageous by ARSD’s customers for use in their own processes compared to products of lower purity.  Anecdotally, one of its customers searched the world looking to find a supplier that matched or exceeded ARSD’s purity levels and could not find any.  ARSD’s products are used as solvents, additives, blowing agents and cooling agents and make up a very small percentage (typically less than 1%) of its customers finished product costs.

    ARSD’s products are generally used in the process of making poly-ethylene and poly-propylene which are the building blocks of plastics.  This industry tends to be cyclical as the demand is spurred by overall economic activity.  However, ARSD’s products have found a new application for use in preparing mined “oil sands” to be transported via pipeline, which will create a non-cyclical demand as the oil sands producers continue to increase production.  The quantity of product which can be sold to the oil sands industry has the potential to be greater than the total current production sold by the company today.  We will discuss one of the potential oil sands customers in detail a little later.

    The dynamic between ARSD and PSX is similar to that of David and Goliath.  ARSD has an enterprise value of $203 million compared to $44 billion (over 200 times larger) for PSX. Up until a few years ago, PSX was pricing under cost for these chemicals.  Since they constituted a miniscule portion of PSX’s volume, PSX didn’t really pay attention to their profitability.  PSX has returned to rational pricing over the past few years and has recently consolidated its facilities and now produces these chemicals in two locations.  Between 2nd half of 2011 and the beginning of  2012, PSX was unable to produce these chemicals due to operating problems, which allowed ARSD to pick up volume and market share from PSX, some of which ARSD has been able to maintain even after PSX came back online. 

    ARSD has a few meaningful competitive advantages over PSX.  The first is that ARSD uses natural gasoline as its feedstock instead of crude oil which is PSX’s feedstock. Natural gasoline enjoys a significant cost advantage over oil due to its plentiful supply resulting from the recent US shale gas finds.  We believe this advantage will continue well into the future as additional natural gas wells are brought on line. 

    Secondly, ARSD’s employees are not unionized unlike those at PSX which are unionized.  Not only does this result in cost advantages to ARSD, but it also allows the Company more flexibility with its employees.  All ARSD employees take part in a profit-sharing program, which began in 1985.  This aligns the incentives of all employees with that of the company.  In 2005 when Hurricane Rita caused the plant to shut down, employees came back to the plant almost immediately to get the plant up and running again as soon as possible.

    Finally, since the specialty chemicals are such a large part of ARSD’s business and such a small part of PSX, ARSD provides its customers with higher quality and personalized service. Being small allows ARSD to be nimble and react to customers’ specific requests compared to PSX where it is difficult to do so. 

    Recently, ARSD completed major upgrades of the fire suppression and electrical systems at the plant.  Going forward, this should allow for lower maintenance capital expenditures.  In addition, ARSD usually has a week-long shutdown of the plant in November or December for maintenance work, however, this year there was a problem replacing one of their catalysts which caused the plant to be out of operation for an additional week, negatively impacting the 4th quarter 2012 results.  This catalyst was last replaced 7 years ago, thus making this extended shutdown unlikely to reoccur for the foreseeable future.

    Formula Pricing:

    ARSD charges its large volume customers using formula based pricing.  These customers include Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM), The Dow Chemical Company (DOW), Chevron Corporation (CVX), 3M Company (MMM), Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co (GT), Imperial Oil (IMO), Baker Hughes Inc (BHI), Calumet (CLMT), Lyondell (LYB) and many more.  ARSD gets paid a service fee per gallon and passes on the volatile feed costs directly to its customers on a monthly basis.  This formula-based pricing accounts for over 50% of ARSD’s revenue.  For all other customers, ARSD can adjust the prices as long as it gives notice ranging from 14 to 30 days, depending on the customer.

    We calculated the average service fee that ARSD receives from its customers by backing into the number using its public financial statements.  Looking at ARSD’s petrochemical revenues and taking out the cost of materials, we developed a proxy that determines the spread that ARSD charges its customers.  Dividing this amount by the number of gallons processed gives us ARSD’s processing charge per gallon.  Looking at ARSD’s processing charge per gallon compared to the monthly price of natural gas liquids shows us that ARSD’s spread is independent of the price of natural gas liquids and averages out to approximately $1.02 per gallon since January 2011.  Our financial model utilizes this spread and gallons sold to arrive at gross margin dollars earned.  This is important as revenue changes are not a meaningful proxy for earnings momentum due to the constant fluctuations in the price of feedstock. 

    Here is a link to our chart:

    ARSD Spread & NGL Price Comparison 

    US Natural Gas Liquid Composite Price for NGL Prices

    Source: http://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/hist/ngm_epg0_plc_nus_dmmbtum.htm

     

    Canadian Oil Sands Customer Relationship:

    In the second half of 2011 and first half of 2012 ARSD began shipping chemicals to an unnamed oil sands customer to fill tanks in advance of an expected second half of 2012 startup for a new plant.  The plant’s start was delayed due to the difficulty in shipping and receiving the required capital equipment on a timely basis.  It is now expected that this plant will go online early in the second quarter of 2013.  In the Q3 conference call on October 30th, 2012, CEO Nicholas Carter mentioned that the volumes should grow late in the 4th quarter due to a large oil sands customer coming back online. In the Q&A portion of the call, Carter gave more color on the volume of the customer, saying that ARSD will need to increase throughput by 15% to 20% to meet the needs of the oil sands customer.  This fits with comments from the second quarter conference call in which the CEO said that when the contract comes back later in the year, it should increase production by 1,000 to 1,200 barrels per day.  

    When converting barrels per day to gallons per quarter, the potential increase of 1,000 barrels per day is equivalent to 3.6 million gallons per quarter.  Using the service fee of $1 per gallon that ARSD makes from its formula pricing, this customer coming back online should thus generate an additional $3.6 million in gross profit per quarter for ARSD, while not adding much in additional operating expenses as the capacity to handle the larger volume is already in place.  All ARSD needs to do is have the control room increase the plants throughput, as simple as turning some knobs and pressing some buttons – even Homer Simpson could do this in his sleep.

    In the latest press release, ARSD states: “our customer’s delay in production at the Canadian tar sands project carried through in fourth quarter 2012.  Going forward, it is our understanding that the tar sands’ orders are coming back online in the second quarter.”  Then on the March 7th, 2013 earnings call, ARSD’s CEO mentioned that this customer has placed orders for March and April delivery.  According to Wikipedia, there are two oil sand mines under development (Jackpine and Kearl). Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar_sands.
    Both of these projects were expected to be completed by the end of 2012 and both have had delays.  ARSD’s customer is likely one of these two mines.  The Jackpine mine has been having environmental issues with lawsuits holding back its development, while the Kearl mine has had delays due to problems transporting equipment to the mine followed by extremely cold weather which caused delays in the final stages of construction.  Now, the Kearl mine is set to commission this quarter. Source: http://www.ogj.com/articles/2013/02/imperial-commissioning-kearl-oil-sands-mine.html

    Below are our projections for ARSD for 2013 and 2014.  We kept 1Q 2013 projections flat then added half the additional volume due to the oil sands customer coming back online in 2Q 2013, with it fully ramping in 3Q 2013.  Due to some of ARSD’s chemicals use as a cooling agent by some customers, there is typically an increase in demand for these products during warmer months which we accounted for in our projections. We expect average plant utilization in 2013 of 76%, up from 70% in 2012, with utilization growing to 91% in 2014.

    Link: ARSD Projections

    In 2014, the growth in revenue will come from additional demand as oil sands mining ramps up and ARSD benefits from a full year from its current customer.  There currently is not enough infrastructure to transfer crude outside of Canada, however in late 2013 there should be some relief as some pipeline reversals should be complete which will allow flow out of the US central corridor to the gulf coast where the refineries are located.  Currently oil prices at the oil sands mines are significantly lower than at the gulf coast due to the lack of pipeline infrastructure and resultant higher transport costs. A potential driver of future oil sands production is the Keystone pipeline which is currently waiting for approval by the Obama Administration.

    ARSD’s chemicals are very valuable to the oil sands customers as it cleans up the oil by removing the tar, resulting in a lighter liquid that can be transported more easily without needing to be upgraded.  Only ARSD and PSX supply these necessary chemicals in North America.

    Chemicals Business Valuation:

    One of our preferred valuation metrics is to compare the valuations of similar public companies, called comparables or comps.  Unfortunately, there are no true comps for ARSD as the only other direct competitor in North America is PSX and the portion of PSX’s business that competes with ARSD is extremely small relative to the rest of PSX. PSX currently trades at an EV to EBITDA multiple (trailing twelve months) of 7.63 as of 2/28/13.  Instead, to find a fair multiple for ARSD we used comparison companies who are in the commodity and specialty chemical business.  The table below shows a comparable company table with EV to EBITDA multiples and their respective market capitalizations. 

    Link:  Comp Table

    Although the average and median are higher on a trailing basis, we decided to use a reduced EV/EBITDA multiple of 7.5 to be conservative since we are using at a forward number.  Our projected 2014 EBITDA of approximately $40 million in 2014 along with the 7.5 times EBITDA multiple gives us a target share price of $11.56 for ARSD’s chemical business.

    Link: EBITDA Multiple Sensitivity Table

    Another valuation metric we utilize when valuing companies is evaluating what a potential buyer would pay for ARSD.  To do this we took a look at comparable merger and acquisition transactions in the specialty chemical industry.  Below is a chart showing these transactions:

    LinK:  Historical Transactions

    We didn’t include the Millennium Chemicals transaction in the average or median calculations, because the trailing EV/EBITDA multiple seemed abnormally high.  However, when we looked at the forward EV/EBITDA multiple at the time of the announcement, it was at a 7.8x forward multiple which falls in line with the other transactions.  We apply the same median 7.5x multiple that we used in the comparable company analysis to get the same $11.56 share price for ARSD’s chemical business as above.

    Potential Expansion in Chemicals Business:

    Capacity at ARSD’s plant is currently 6,700 barrels per day (bpd).  Management previously mentioned that they expect to reach the plant’s capacity by the end of 2013.  In our projections, we had ARSD more conservatively reaching capacity in the 2nd quarter of 2014.  ARSD has brought in a new Executive Vice President with extensive petrochemical industry experience to evaluate opportunities to grow the company as the plant approaches capacity in the near future. In the near term, he will implement a de-bottlenecking program that is expected to add about 5% to existing capacity. However, a longer term solution will also be needed.

    One idea which ARSD has discussed is to open a new facility overseas in Saudi Arabia.  They would consider doing a JV with a local partner and could provide its overseas customers with lower transportation costs and shorter lead times.  Since Saudi Arabia also has inexpensive natural gasoline to use as feedstock, this makes it a viable option. 

    Another idea is to acquire an existing plant and potentially expand into other specialty chemicals to diversify ARSD’s product offerings.  We are not very excited about this idea as we believe that it can distract ARSD from its core chemicals business where it has a nice and profitable duopoly as well as creating unnecessary integration risks. 

    A third option for ARSD is to expand capacity at the current location. In 2008, ARSD took 9 months and spent $18 million to add approximately 3,000 bpd in capacity to the plant.  ARSD still has vacant land at its current facility where it could do a similar expansion, which today could cost approximately $25 million according to the company.  An additional 3,000 bpd is equivalent to over 45 million gallons per year, which at full capacity would add $45 million to ARSD’s gross profit based off of the $1 per gallon service fee.  To facilitate this growth ARSD can put storage tanks up in Canada to store additional chemicals to better its serve customers up in the oil sands.  We feel that this is the best avenue for ARSD to pursue and are confident that management will make the right decision.

    AMAK Mine:

    It’s easy to overlook that ARSD also has ownership in a mine that has just started delivering its first shipments of metal concentrates.  The Al Masane Al Kobra Mining Company “AMAK” in Saudi Arabia is a mine that has Zinc, Copper, Silver and Gold in proven reserves.  It is predominantly a Zinc and Copper mine.

    One way to value the AMAK asset to ARSD is to base it off of what a sophisticated buyer was willing to pay for recently issued shares.  There have been two recent transactions for shares of AMAK. In July of 2011, Arab Mining Company “ARMICO” purchased 5 million shares of AMAK for $37.3 million.  This values the mine at $7.46/AMAK share.  Since ARSD owns 18.5 million shares of AMAK, this valued ARSD’s equity ownership of AMAK at just over $138 million in July 2011.  Dividing by the 24.8 million shares of ARSD outstanding, we get a value for AMAK of $5.56 per share of ARSD at that time.  More recently, AMAK raised additional capital on December 9th, 2012.  ARSD and other shareholders purchased newly issued shares which now values the mine at $6.27 per share of ARSD.

    Another way to value the mine is to project its cash flows to ARSD.  Using information from AMAK’s website: http://www.arabianamericandev.net/AMAK/company_info.html
    and the following assumptions for metal prices:

    $0.89 Zinc/LB
    $3.48 Copper/LB
    $1,580.95 Gold/Oz
    $29.04 Silver/Oz 

    Link:  Metal Price Assumptions

    We project the mine to produce annual net revenue of $108.3 million with operating costs of $22.5 million, thus giving AMAK an annual operating profit of $94 million.  The mine pays a 20% tax as well as a 5% withholding tax.  Operating profit after taxes will approximate $64.4 million.  Using free cash flow to pay off debt of $88 million from the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, it could take about 1.5 years to pay off.  Since the mine’s life is anticipated to be 11.5 years, there  could still remain a solid 10 years of mining left after the debt had been paid off. 

    If AMAK gave dividends to its shareholders, ARSD would receive an 80% “Dividends Received Deduction” on its portion of dividends received.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dividends_received_deduction

    ARSD should get its 35.3% share from the mine which comes out to $22.7 million per year.  After all taxes and deductions, ARSD could receive $20.9 million in free cash flow annually assuming a 40% tax rate at the ARSD entity beginning in the middle of 2014 for 10 years.

    Link:  AMAK FCF Projection

    On the 3Q call, CEO Nick Carter mentioned that ASRD is planning to account for AMAK on the equity method of accounting beginning on the next 10k filed.  The reason for the change is that ARSD has taken a more active position on the board and also controls the marketing of the products.  The switch from the cost-method of accounting to equity will cause ARSD to restate three previous years of financials to show income statement gains and losses from AMAK over that time. This will reflect increased asset value on the balance sheet for the mine when compared to its cost under the previous accounting methodology.  AMAK will show operating losses in 2011 and muted gains in 2012 and 2013 as the mine is still in its startup phase as it is still mining developmental ore bodies, but should show normalized profits and pay dividends from 2014 onwards. 

    Once AMAK is profitable for 2 years, it must issue 25% of the company to the public on the Saudi stock exchange, according to Saudi law. 

    Additional value in the mine:

    In addition to the current mine lease which covers 44 square kilometers, AMAK has applied for four new land leases which total an additional 294 square kilometers nearby the current location.  Three of them are adjacent and the fourth is 30 kilometers to the east of the current site.  The geology of the land in the additional leases is similar to the current lease and thus adds additional upside to the value of the mine once the reserves are proven.  The resource study is expected to be completed by the end of 2014 and will show the proven reserves of the leases.  Assuming that the leases have a similar composition, the leases can produce over six times the amount of the current mine. We estimate the additional infrastructure needed to be 200 kilometers of roads which would cost approximately $25 million to build.  Assuming that the current plant is used to process the ore from the additional leases, the mine could remain in operation for an extra 50 years. A quick net present value calculation of this stream of cash flows (net of capex) implies an incremental value to ARSD of $248.5 million in today’s dollars, or $10.02 per share, which is not included in our valuation assumption.  

    WHAT THIS ALL MEANS:

    Adding the values of the petro-chemical business and the mine together, we get a target share price for ASRD of $17.83 per share.  It is clear that the market is paying little attention to this company’s quarterly calls and also does not give value to the AMAK mine.  In our valuation, we do not take into account any new potential petro chemical customers although ARSD says it has received several test orders.  Management has stated that they expect capacity at the current petro-chemical facility to be reached by the end of 2013, which would create results well above those that we have projected and push the value of the petro-chemical company even higher and thus ARSD’s stock price.

    I do not hold a position of employment, directorship, or consultancy with the issuer.
    I and/or others I advise hold a material investment in the issuer's securities.

    Catalyst

    Oil Sands Customer Returning
    Full Operation of Mine
    Potential Purchase by Larger Specialty Chemicals Company

    Messages


    SubjectRE: question
    Entry03/12/2013 10:27 AM
    Membermitc567
    The costs we deducted from Petrochemcial Product Sales were "Cost of Materials" or "Cost of Sales", but since this included the "Total Operating Expense", we added that back to get an estimate of the Service Fee.

    SubjectRE: chemical detail
    Entry03/12/2013 05:02 PM
    Membermitc567
    My sense is that the price difference isn't great between purities.  ARSD's customers need the high purity products, the customers processes cannot use the lower purities as a substitute.  However, if they raise prices too much, others can enter.  From my understanding there are a few additional steps that need to be done to convert from low purity levels to higher purities, depending on the impurities in the chemicals.
     
    The international market for these products seems to be growing and is where ARSD sees growth.   Other than the oil sands, there are a lot of announced poly-ethylene  plants internationally that will be coming online that specifically require chemicals that ARSD produces and whom they can export to.  They currently do export to overseas customers.
     
    The oil sands customer they mention demands about 1,000 bpd according to management calls.  I think that this can potentially get up to 10,000 bpd if more oil sands projects come online, as ARSD's chemcal is used in a specific SAGD mining process.  The projects are being held up though due to the weak pricing that Canada is getting for their oil due to lack of infrastructure to get them out to refineries.
     
    From my conversations with management, they are not aware of anyone else internationally that produces these high-purity chemicals other than PSX.  PSX is the only company that they deal with in the marketplace.
     
    In terms of AMAK, I believe that it is done in terms of needing funding.  I think it has began generating positive cash flow which it can use for additional funding going forward after this last funding round.
     
    Hope I answered your questions clearly :)

    SubjectRE: Questions
    Entry03/12/2013 05:54 PM
    Membermitc567
    Q&A:
     
    1) Why does the company own the mine? How did the ownership come about and what is the plan for the asset? I can definitely see the market giving a strange microcap conglomerate like this a healthy discount.
     
    The company owns the mine because originally ARSD was the mine.  ARSD purchased the mine in 1967.  Then ARSD (the mining company) purchased the chemical plant in the 80's.  Over time the petro-chemical side of the business grew to become the dominant portion of ARSD.  Then in early 2000's, ARSD put the joint assets of the mine into a new entity, AMAK.
     
    The plan is to have the mine distribute dividends once it can.  After 2 years of profitability, they have to IPO at least 25% in Saudi.  There are many different routes ARSD can take in terms of the mine, but I don't see them doing anything until the IPO which is about 2 years away.  The plan is to get the mine to generating steady-state cash flow. 
     
    2) Management: Are they good, and why do they own so little stock? What is the history behind the company's connections to wealthy Saudis?
     
    I like management.  I think they have done a great job staying disciplined in terms of expanding capacity or making acquisitions.  Nick, the CEO, has done a great job of hiring good people around him.  Simon Upfill-Brown is a great addition.  I think the COO and plant manager are smart and dedicated to the company as well.
     
    Nick, the CEO, owns over $4m worth of shares.  The CFO, Connie, owns about $200k worth.  She was hired as CFO in Jan 2011 and has moved up within the ranks of the company.  I think she was supposed to be CFO temporarily until they found a permanent CFO, but it seems like Connie has assumed the permanent position.
     
    ARSD was originally the Saudi mine, and they ended up buying the petro-chemical plant in the 80's.  These wealthy Saudi's have been shareholders for a long time and have even passed them down to new generations.
     
    3) What do you think of the related party transactions?
     
    I don't see any issues with them. The one I thought was most important was the purchase of the transportation assets from Nick.  It seems to make sense why they did it though and based on the amounts that was being paid to the transportation company, the amount that they paid for the transaction seems reasonable.
     
    4) Any idea whether PSX would be interested in the chemical business, and whether such a transaction would be allowed by regulators?
     
    I don't think PSX would be interested.  Based on my knowledge, it is such a small portion of PSX's business that they don't pay much attention to itl.  If a transaction happened, I don't think regulators would be a problem, because the customers themselves would give orders to fund a new entrant in the market so that they would not be dependent on just one supplier.  This is how ARSD's petro-chemical plant was formed in the first place.
     
    Thanks again for bringing this interesting company to light.
     
    No problem.  If I wasn't clear or if I missed anything, let me know.  I appreciate the questions.

    SubjectAny update here?
    Entry05/24/2013 09:50 AM
    Membermip14
    Especially with commodity prices changing very rapidly?

    SubjectRE: Any update here?
    Entry05/24/2013 11:06 AM
    Membermitc567
    On the natural gasoline front margin dollars are largely fixed, so no impact.  With respect to zinc and copper, no impact as the recent equity raise at AMAK is still below what we believe is the intrinsic value of the mine.  We believe the AMAK financials should come out in the near future.

    SubjectOil Sands ramping
    Entry09/13/2013 01:32 PM
    Membermitc567
    Here is the info about the ramp.  This should be good for ARSD.
     

    Current production rates at Imperial Oil Ltd's Kearl oil sands project in northern Alberta are in excess of 80,000 barrel per day, Chief Executive Rich Kruger told a conference on Friday.

    Kruger said production had been about 43,000 barrels per day in August, but rising rates meant Kearl was on track to reach full capacity of 110,000 bpd in 2013.

     

    Link: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/13/imperial-kearl-production-idUSL2N0H90JB20130913

     


    SubjectRE: Oil Sands ramping
    Entry01/03/2014 01:50 PM
    MemberLincott
    Curious if you guys are still in this. I love this business--there's a great argument for sustained above-average ROI--but this business seems like it's getting to be fairly valued to me. Would love to hear disagreement because I'm thinking of selling our (small) position.

    SubjectCheap here, catalysts coming
    Entry06/16/2014 01:08 PM
    Membercuyler1903
    Have bought some ARSD today for 4 reasons:
     
    - Stock is cheap with hidden asset, a mine that that is likely coming public either late 2014 or early 2015 of which ARSD owns 35%.  The mine could be worth half to all of the company's EV.
     
    - Name change is coming in 2 days, which should be big positive - doubt many people want to own a company with its current name.  The company at its annual meeting approved a name change from Arabian American Development Company (which is an utter misnomer) - this is a chemicals company in Texas.  The new name will be Trecora Resources.  New symbol will be TREC.
     
    - Significant insider buying buy the company's #2 executive.
     
    - Core business is doing great.
     
    Not sure why it's down today but was happy to see it as I've been watching for awhile.  Take a look.
     
    Cuyler

    SubjectRE: Cheap here, catalysts coming
    Entry06/16/2014 01:34 PM
    Membercuyler1903
    Company presentation here:  http://arabianamericandev.com/images/uploads/investor/ARSD_ASM_2014.pdf 
     
    Name change here:  http://www.theocc.com/webapps/infomemos;jsessionid=60A77A77203D673A330F58BD16D39B0F.occ-ppube70l?number=34764&date=201406&lastModifiedDate=06%2F11%2F2014+11%3A53%3A36 

    SubjectRE: Cheap here, catalysts coming
    Entry06/19/2014 11:08 AM
    Membercuyler1903
    And there you go...  Stock +23% in < 3 days since my comment here regarding the upcoming name change catalyst.
     
    I really believe that the name change was a big deal - managers, brokers and retail investors alike are probably far more likely to be willing to own a company called "Trecora Resources" than "Arabian American Development Company."
     
    Too bad this name choice makes the company sound like an E&P firm and not the chemicals manufacturer that it actually is.
     
    Quite the case study.  Pretty unique.  
     
    Cuyler

    SubjectPositive Zinc article in WSJ
    Entry09/09/2014 08:46 AM
    Membermitc567
    Trecora (the old ARSD) should benefit from tight zinc pricing as there is a shortage of zinc being mined.  At worstk it should help support the value of the mine when it goes public in 2015.

    SubjectRe: Whacked Again
    Entry12/02/2014 08:33 AM
    Membermitc567

    Hi,

    No ill timed hedges.  The Oil Sands has a $30 per barrel cost to mine and refine, so price of oil isn't an issue.  I don't see any valid reason for the stock to be declining this way.  There has been a maintenance shut down on part of the oil sands, but that is old news and should be over in a week or so.  

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