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Posts Tagged ‘ARC Wireless Solutions (NASDAQ:ARCW)’

ARC Wireless Solutions (NASDAQ:ARCW) has filed its 10K for the year ended December 31, 2008. In a disappointing development, ARCW has entered into a “financial advisory engagement” with a Brean Murray Carret and Mr. Hassan Nemazee for “financial advisory and business consulting services, including restructuring services,” pursuant to which ARCW pays fees for services. Over the life of the agreement to 2013, ARCW will pay no less than $1.5M. The agreement means that Brean Murray Carret will earn more than other shareholders by running the business and has no incentive to create a catalytic event in ARCW. That means our investment thesis is gone and we’re exiting on that basis. We opened the ARCW position at $2.86 and it closed yesterday at $2.75, which means we’re down 3.85% on an absolute basis. The S&P500 Index was at 845.71 when we opened the position and closed yesterday at 843.88, which means we’re down 3.63% on a relative basis.

We started following ARCW on January 28, 2009 (see our post archive here) because it was a net cash stock with an activist investor, Brean Murray Carret, disclosing a 13.9% position on November 3 last year. ARCW closed yesterday at $2.75, giving it a market capitalization of just $8.5M. We initially estimated its liquidation value to be around $13.9M or $4.49 per share. After reviewing the 10K, we’ve now reduced our estimate of the liquidation value to $12.4M or $4.00 per share. The decrease is mostly attributable to cash used to fund operating losses in 2008. Brean Murray Carret’s original 13D filing disclosed its intention to tip out ARCW’s board and “nominate an alternative slate of directors for election to [ARCW’s]’s Board of Directors at the earliest possible opportunity.” Its subsequent 13D filing indicated that this occurred quickly, and Brean Murray Carret’s nominees were elected by the board of ARCW on November 12, 2008. Unfortunately for us, it seems Brean Murray Carret will run the business rather than realize the assets.

The value proposition updated

ARCW is a loss-making, generally cash-consuming company. The company’s balance sheet has, however, retained some value (the “Book Value” column shows the assets as they are carried in the financial statements, and the “Liquidating Value” column shows our estimate of the value of the assets in a liquidation):

arcw-summary-2008-12-31

Off-balance sheet arrangements and contractual obligations

According to the 10K, ARCW has no off-balance sheet arrangements and its contractual obligations are $0.9M in total.

The value remaining on ARCW’s balance sheet is as a result of its sale in 2006 of its wholly owned subsidiary Winncom for $17M. The company has since burned through some of that cash, but it does still have a net cash value of $11.0M or $3.56 per share.

The catalyst

We missed this in our initial analysis, but fortunately commenter Chad was awake. One disappointing development in ARCW since Brean Murray Carret got control of the board has been the company’s entry into a “financial advisory engagement” with Quadrant Management, Inc., which is under common control with Brean Murray Carret and Mr. Hassan Nemazee. Between them, they beneficially own 27.5% of ARCW. Pursuant to the “financial advisory engagement,” Quadrant provides to ARCW “financial advisory and business consulting services, including restructuring services.” ARCW pays the following: 1) an initial cash fee of $250,000; 2) an annual fee of the greater of (i) $250,000, or (ii) 20% of any increase in reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization after adjusting for one-time and non-recurring items for the current financial year over preceding year, or (iii) 20% of reported EBITDA for the current financial year, and; 3) all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses incurred by Quadrant in performing services under the engagement.

[Full Disclosure:  We do not have a holding in ARCW. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]

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Greenbackd Portfolio Q1 performance and update

March 1, 2009 marked the end of Greenbackd’s first quarter, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to update you on the performance of the Greenbackd Portfolio and the positions in the portfolio, discuss some changes in our valuation methodology since our first post and outline the future direction of Greenbackd.com.

First quarter performance of the Greenbackd Portfolio

We get many questions about the content and performance of the portfolio. We had originally planned to report on a six-monthly basis, but we have now decided to report on a quarterly basis so that we can address these questions on a more frequent basis. Although it is still too early to determine how Greenbackd’s strategy of investing in undervalued asset situations with a catalyst is performing, we’ve set out below a list of all the stocks we’ve included in the Greenbackd Portfolio and the absolute and relative performance of each at the close on the last trading day in our first quarter, Friday, February 28, 2009:

greenbackd-portfolio-performance-2009-q13The absolute total return across the current and former positions as at February 28, 2009 was -3.7%, which was +7.0% higher than the S&P500’s return over the same periods. A negative return for the first period is disappointing, but we are heartened by the fact that we outperformed the market by a small margin.

You may have noticed something odd about our presentation of performance. The S&P500 index declined by 18.0% in our first quarter (from 896.24 to 735.09). Our -3.7% performance might suggest an outperformance over the S&P500 index of +14.3%. We calculate our performance on a slightly different basis, recording the level of the S&P500 index on the day each stock is added to the portfolio and then comparing the performance of each stock against the index for the same holding period. The Total Relative performance, therefore, is the average performance of each stock against the performance of the S&P500 index for the same periods. As we discussed above, the holding period for Greenbackd’s positions has been too short to provide any meaningful information about the likely performance of the strategy over the long term (2 to 5 years), but we believe that the strategy should outperform the market by a small margin.

Greenbackd’s valuation methodology

We started Greenbackd in an effort to extend our understanding of asset-based valuation described by Benjamin Graham in the 1934 Edition of Security Analysis. Through some great discussion with our readers, many of whom work in the fund management industry as experienced analysts or even managing members of hedge funds, we have had the opportunity to refine our process. We believe that what started out as a pretty unsophisticated application of Graham’s liquidation value methodology has evolved into a more realistic analysis of the balance sheet and the relationship of certain disclosures in the financial statements to asset value. We’re not yet ready to send it into space, but we believe our analyses are now qualitatively more robust than when we started and that has manifest itself quantitatively in better performance (more on this below).

The two main differences between our early analyses and our more recent ones are as follows (these are truly cringe-worthy, but that’s why we undertook the exercise):

  1. We didn’t take account of the effect of off-balance sheet arrangements and contractual obligations. This caused us to enter into several positions we should have avoided, including BGP and VVTV.
  2. We were using overly optimistic estimates for the recovery rates of assets in liquidation. For example, we started using 50% of Gross PP&E. We now use 20% of Net PP&E. We now apply Graham’s formula as the base case and deviate only when we believe that Graham’s formulation doesn’t reflect reality.

The effect of these two broad errors in analysis was to create several “false positives,” which is to say that we added stocks to the portfolio that wouldn’t have passed our current, more rigorous standards. The performance of those “false positive” stocks has been almost uniformly negative, and dragged down the performance of the portfolio. As an exercise, we went back through all the positions we have opened since we started the site and applied our current criteria, which are more stringent and dour than our earlier standards. We found that we would not have opened positions in the following eight stocks:

  • BRN (-13.1% on an absolute basis and +4.9% on a relative basis)
  • BGP (-10.8% on an absolute basis and -21.6% on a relative basis)
  • COBR (-17.1% on an absolute basis and +3.6% on a relative basis)
  • HRT (-25.3% on an absolute basis and -9.7% on a relative basis)
  • KONA (+87.8% on an absolute basis and +81.9% on a relative basis)
  • MGAM (-24.2% on an absolute basis and -5.0% on a relative basis)
  • VVTV (-25.0% on an absolute basis and -23.1% on a relative basis)
  • ZLC (-72.0% on an absolute basis and -61.1% on a relative basis)

It seems we got lucky with KONA, but the performance of the balance of the stocks was wholly negative. The performance across all stocks listed above was -12.5% on an absolute basis and -3.9% on a relative basis. Excluding these eight stocks from our portfolio (i.e. treating the portfolio as if we had not entered into these positions) would have resulted in a slightly positive absolute return of +0.7% and a relative performance over the S&P500 of +12.5%. This is a compelling reason to apply the more dour and rigorous standards.

We like to think we’ve now learned out lesson and the more dour and rigorous standards are here to stay. Set out below is an example balance sheet summary (for Chicago Rivet & Machine Co. (AMEX:CVR)) showing our present base case discounts from book value (circled in red):

example-summary-2

Readers will note that these are the same base case discounts from book value suggested by Benjamin Graham in the 1934 Edition of Security Analysis, more fully described in our Valuing long-term and fixed assets post under the heading “Graham’s approach to valuing long-term and fixed assets.” Why we ever deviated from these standards in the first place is beyond us.

Update on the holdings in the Greenbackd Portfolio

Leading on from our discussion above, four of the stocks we picked using the initial, overly optimistic criteria no longer meet our more stringent standards but haven’t yet been removed from the portfolio. We’re going to take our medicine now and do just that. To make it clear, these stocks aren’t being removed because the value has deteriorated, but because we made a mistake adding them to the portfolio in the first place. As much as we’d like to treat these positions as void ab initio (“invalid from the beginning”), we’re not going to do that. We’ve made a full accounting of the impact they’ve had on the portfolio in the First quarter performance of the Greenbackd Portfolio section above, but we don’t want them affecting our future performance. The stocks to be removed from the Greenbackd Portfolio and their absolute and relative returns are as follows:

  • BRN (-13.1% on an absolute basis and +4.9% on a relative basis)
  • HRT (-25.3% on an absolute basis and -9.7% on a relative basis)
  • MGAM (-24.2% on an absolute basis and -5.0% on a relative basis)
  • COBR (-17.1% on an absolute basis and +3.6% on a relative basis)

We’ll provide a more full discussion of where we went wrong with these stocks at a later date, but suffice it to say for present purposes that all were errors from the second bullet point in the Greenbackd’s valuation methodology section above (i.e. overly optimistic estimates for the recovery rates of assets in liquidation).

There are fifteen stocks remaining in the Greenbackd Portfolio:

Eight of these positions (ABTL, ACLS, ARCW, CAPS, CRC, CRGN, NSTR, and VOXX) are trading at or below our nominal purchase price and initial valuations. The remaining seven positions (AVGN, DITC, IKAN, MATH, NENG, NTII, and SOAP) are trading above our intial purchase price but are still at varying discounts to our valuations. We’ll provide a more full update on these positions over the course of this week.

The future of Greenbackd.com

We are going to trial some small changes to the layout of the site over the next few weeks. We’ve already made the first change: the newest comments now appear at the top of the list. We’ll also be amalgamating some pages and adding some new ones, including a page dedicated to tracking the portfolio with links to the analyses. We’re also considering some options for generating income from the site. At the moment, Greenbackd is a labor of love. We try to create new content every week day, and to get the stock analyses up just after midnight Eastern Standard Time, so that they’re available before the markets open the following day. More than 80% of the stocks that are currently trading at a premium to the price at which we originally identified them (NTII, SOAP, IKAN, DITC, NENG, MATH and AVGN) traded for a period at a discount to the price at which we identified them. This means that there are plenty of opportunities to trade on our ideas (not that we suggest you do that). If you find the ideas here compelling and you get some value from them, you can support our efforts by making a donation via PayPal.

We look forward to bringing you the best undervalued asset situations we can dig up in the next quarter.

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ARC Wireless Solutions (NASDAQ:ARCW) is a net cash stock with an activist investor, Brean Murray Carret, disclosing a 13.9% position on November 3 last year. ARCW closed yesterday at $2.86, giving it a market capitalization of just $8.8M. We estimate its liquidation value to be 57% higher at $13.9M. Brean Murray Carret’s original 13D filing disclosed its intention to tip out ARCW’s board and “nominate an alternative slate of directors for election to [ARCW’s]’s Board of Directors at the earliest possible opportunity.” Its subsequent 13D filing indicated that this occurred quickly, and Brean Murray Carret’s nominees were elected by the board of ARCW on November 12, 2008. This bodes well for the company chances of taking a new, shareholder-friendly direction.

About ARCW

ARCW is a provider of wireless network components. The company designs and manufactures antennas and related wireless communication systems, including cellular base station, mobile, cellular, conformal and flat panel antennas. ARCW also designs and distributes cable in the United States through original equipment manufacturers, retailers and the Internet. The company’s investor relations website is here.

The value proposition

ARCW’s most recent 10Q shows a loss-making, generally cash-consuming company. The company’s balance sheet has, however, retained some value (the “Book Value” column shows the assets as they are carried in the financial statements, and the “Liquidating Value” column shows our estimate of the value of the assets in a liquidation):

arcw-summary

The value on ARCW’s balance sheet is as a result of its sale in 2006 of its wholly owned subsidiary Winncom for $17M. The company has since burned through some of that cash, but it does still have a net cash value of $12.5M or $4.04 per share. We estimate its liquidation value to be slightly higher at $13.9M or $4.49 per share.

The catalyst

Brean Murray Carret filed its original 13D notice in November last year, disclosing a 13.9% position in ARCW and calling for the removal of the board:

[Brean Murray Carret] intend to nominate an alternative slate of directors for election to [ARCW]’s Board of Directors at the earliest possible opportunity.

Brean Murray Carret amended its 13D filing later in November, by which time it had secured the board:

The annual meeting of shareholders of [ARCW], which was scheduled to occur on November 5, 2008, was adjourned until November 19, 2008. On November 17, 2008, [ARCW] announced that on November 19, 2008, the annual meeting of shareholders will be adjourned until a later date for which [ARCW]’s shareholders will be sent a written notice along with updated proxy materials for the meeting.

Effective November 12, 2008, Sigmund A. Balaban, Donald A. Huebner, Randall P. Marx and Robert E. Wade have resigned as members of [ARCW]’s Board of Directors. Messrs. Balaban, Huebner and Wade also resigned as members of the Board’s Audit Committee and Compensation Committee and Mr. Marx resigned as Chairman of the Board. In connection with their previously disclosed intention, [Brean Murray Carret]’s proposed Viktor Nemeth and Marco Vega to fill the vacancies thereby created on [ARCW]’s Board of Directors. [Brean Murray Carret]’s nominees were elected by the Board of Directors on November 12, 2008. [Brean Murray Carret]  expect that their nominees, and Jason Young, a current director, will be nominated for election to [ARCW]’s Board of Directors at the annual shareholders meeting as adjourned.

Effective November 12, 2008, Jason Young was appointed to serve as Chairman of the Board. Effective November 18, 2008, Randall P. Marx resigned as Chief Executive Officer and Secretary of [ARCW] and Jason Young was elected to serve as interim Chief Executive Officer.

Conclusion

ARCW is undervalued at $2.86 with a net cash value of $12.5M or $4.04 per share and a liquidation value of $13.9M or $4.49 per share. Whether it continues to be so will depend on the steps taken by the Brean Murray Carret. The value that remains on the balance sheet derives from the sale in 2006 of ARCW’s wholly owned subsidiary, Winncom, for $17M. Given ARCW’s marginal business prospects, with any luck Brean Murray Carret plans to pay out the cash received from the sale of Winncomm and then do what it can with the business.

ARCW closed yesterday at $2.86.

The S&P500 Index closed yesterday at 845.71.

[Full Disclosure:  We do not have a holding in ARCW. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.]

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