Summary: This is a follow-up to Bentley883's excellent writeup earlier this year, which I encourage you to revisit as it contains insights and historical data which I will not replicate. Conrad is a Jones Act shipbuilder with four facilities in Louisiana and Texas. Founded in 1948 and family-run, Conrad is conservative, boring, small and illiquid. It is also too cheap to ignore. Despite a 35%+ runup since Bentley's writeup, Conrad still trades almost 20% below tangible book ($12/share). I estimate 2010 earnings of around 1.50/share, putting the stock a bit over 6x eps. $5/share of net cash cushions your downside and pushes the multiple down to a ridiculous 3x eps on an ex-cash basis.
Conrad trades on the pink sheets and stopped filing with the SEC in 2005 to save money, but they release quarterly and audited annual reports (http://www.otcmarkets.com/stock/CNRD/financials) and their disclosure is quite good. If you need Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and round-the-clock liquidity, buy GM which traded half a billion shares (!!) yesterday.
Developments: Conrad's diversified customer base (oil/gas, government and commercial) has served it well during the recent recession. Although revenues and earnings are below 2007-2009 levels, the company has remained profitable each quarter. Due to a spate of orders backlog more than doubled in the 3rd quarter to 86m, higher even than 2006-2008 levels. That's not to say earnings will soon match 2008's 3.29/share, as management warns recent contracts do not afford the same margins as during the heyday. They also note backlog is not converting to revenue as quickly as before due to customers struggling with project finance in a tight credit environment. Nevertheless, the high backlog bodes well for future revenue stability and continued profitability. With a stock this cheap that's really quite sufficient.
Quarter Rev Backlog
2009Q1 49.6 34.1
2009Q2 30.6 40.4
2009Q3 33.7 56.1
2009Q4 30.2 38.3
2010Q1 28.6 48.9
2010Q2 37.1 41.0
2010Q3 33.7 86.1
In other news, Conrad announced a $5m buyback authorization in August. They actually repurchased 38k shares at $7 per share late in the quarter. I do not know if they continued purchases at higher prices during Q4, but a demonstrated willingness and ability to buy at $7 should provide significant downside support for the stock.
Deepwater Moratorium: Conrad has been relatively unaffected by the fallout from the BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster so far, but warns that the moratorium and continuing political uncertainty have caused some customers to delay projects and/or move assets outside the Gulf. I personally think low domestic natgas prices are a bigger long-term risk to Conrad's oil/NG segment than the moratorium.
Risks: Although Conrad typically bids fixed-price they negotiate steel price pass-thrus into their contracts. This largely insulates them from fluctuating steel prices but they must cover other cost overruns out of pocket. They recently added 0.7m to receivables reserves because of two customer bankruptcies, if this is the start of a trend earnings will suffer. They are exposed to the same legal and environmental risks as any shipbuilder, but a read through their reports does not turn up anything material.
Conclusion: This is a simple valuation play. Conrad's results will fluctuate year-to-year, but I expect it to earn its EV 2-3 times over during the the next decade. If I could say that about other stocks I follow I'd write them up instead of reminding you about this tiny, obscure and illiquid shipbuilder. But I just can't find other stable companies trading this cheaply.
I got nothing.
How about "continued stock repurchases"? Sounds good, even though I don't know if buybacks continued after the 35% runup over the past few months.
|Entry||11/19/2010 03:33 PM|
I definitely like this idea. I posted these questions on Bentley's idea but I don't think he follows it anymore.
It looks like Q3 profitability was lower due mainly to an estimate that one of the new construction jobs will be unprofitable. Do you think this is a one off event or something to be concerned about going forward as Conrad's revenues and backlog increasingly consist of the lower-margin and riskier (fixed-price) construction contracts?
It was nice to see the buyback announcement, but given the volume of the stock, unfortunetly it is difficult for the company to buyback a meaningful amount of shares. Have you talked to management about initiating a dividend? It seems like it would make a lot of sense from a capital allocation standpoint and would certainly increase the interest of retail investors.
|Entry||11/22/2010 12:43 PM|
RoboCop, it's true Q3 profitability had some one-time impact, but management is clear that today's deals offer margins well below 2005-2008 levels. That period was helped by post-Katrina/Rita rework and high natgas prices.
I haven't talked to management. My sense is they consider the biz too cyclical for a regular dividend. Buybacks are also more tax-efficient and these guys think like the owners they are. If they can't execute the buyback I'd expect something more like a tender or special div. Of course neither provides lasting support for the stock price, but c'est la vie.
|Subject||RE: question back to you....|
|Entry||01/01/2011 03:38 PM|
Sorry, didn't see your question. What happened to the cool feature which alerted you to any new messages posted to your idea threads every time you logged on? Anyway, I don't think the TOD buyout affects CNRD. I get the sense Jr. likes running the business his father started. He is 67 and Sr. is 94, so perhaps that time will come, but I'm not holding my breath.