Small Bank Investors React to the Bank of Utica Annual Report $BKUT $BKUTK

We posted the Bank of Utica annual report for 2019 yesterday. Here are some investors' reactions:

Bank of Utica - 2019 Annual Report

Most Oddball investors will know about Bank of Utica. We've talked about it before on the blog and in the Newsletter.

We just received their 2019 annual report in the mail, included below. More detailed analysis and commentary will be in the March Issue of the Oddball Stocks Newsletter.

PICO Holdings, Inc.

In Issue 14 of the Oddball Stocks Newsletter, we had a writeup by Nick Bodnar about an Oddball company called PICO Holdings. There was an activist campaign, a special dividend, and the board of directors of the company is now in much stronger hands - and it is in liquidation mode.

In the past, we have described PICO as a "rare Oddball that combines a sum-of-the-parts cheapness, a catalyst, appropriate management incentivization (bonus formula of a time value of money charge against invested capital), and even ongoing share repurchases." As they have disclosed,
Any significant additional monetization proceeds [are] anticipated to be returned to shareholders through tender offer, and/or open market repurchases, and/or special dividends depending on facts and circumstances existing at the time of monetization
The executives of the company are incentivized to wind down the company with a bonus formula that provides for a time value of money charge against invested capital. Yesterday (January 31st), PICO put out a press release with an update on its share repurchase program:
PICO Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq: PICO) announced today that its Board of Directors has approved the repurchase of up to an aggregate of $100 million of its common stock which would be made from time to time on the open market at prevailing market prices or in negotiated transactions off the market, as capital becomes available.

The Company's Board of Directors had previously authorized in November 2015 an aggregate of $50 million for its stock repurchase program and to date the Company has repurchased 3,494,443 shares for approximately $38.9 million.
We also saw an interesting (provocative) comment on this announcement on the Corner of Berkshire and Fairfax message board:
Lost amongst the pandemonium Friday after the close PICO announced and expansion of its share repurchase program. PICO is a bad investment and basically a slow liquidation play at best, but they've been remarkably consistent repurchasing their shares at prices averaging mid 10s and even 11s. With firepower authorization equal to basically half of the current market cap and ~$60M remaining plus a lot of bag holders with no interest selling shares around here, buying at/around/under $10 seems like a pretty reasonable and safe trade, even if its only for a few percent back to this mid 10s. This has no correlation to all the current hysteria either, and really only relies on the continuance of the status quo in Vidlers core markets.
We do not know what makes this particular commenter believe that PICO is a bad investment, although there are certainly risk factors. The biggest concern with PICO would seem to be that its investment in the 35 mile long water pipeline from Fish Springs Ranch to Reno, Nevada needs new home development there in order to be monetized, and as they say: "To date, we have sold only a small amount of the water credits, and we cannot provide any assurance that the sales prices we may obtain in the future will provide an adequate economic return, if at all."

In Oddball Stocks Newsletter Issue 24, we published an extensive piece on PICO Holdings, and have written other updates subsequently. If you are curious about PICO Holdings and you are not already an Oddball Stocks Newsletter subscriber, a back issue of Issue 24 would be a research starting point. (Don't miss our most recent Issue 28 and other back Issues, either!)

Oddball Stocks Newsletter Excerpt: The Coal Creek Company

Here is another sample piece from the Oddball Stocks Newsletter. This is an excerpt from Issue 25, published in June 2019, about The Coal Creek Company (CCRK).

Coal Creek shares have declined and are currently trading at the same level they were in the summer of 2006.
You can subscribe here to the Oddball Stocks Newsletter, and we also have some a la carte samples of back issues available.

Just Published: Issue 28 of the Oddball Stocks Newsletter

Happy New Year to all Oddballs! We just published Issue 28 of the Newsletter. If you are a subscriber, it should be in your inbox right now. If not, you can sign up right here.

Remember that we have some back Issues of the Newsletter available à la carte, so you can try before you sign up for a subscription: Issues 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26.

Some comments from happy subscribers:
  • "You need to raise the price!"
  • "I think you guys are selling yourself short on your company visits. Saying that you are visiting or reporting from a company in your marketing, doesn’t give justice to the insight and analysis you are providing."
  • "The quality of the writing (even including your new contributors) is really top-drawer."
  • "Great newsletter! - you guys are either providing too much info or not charging enough..."
We have also posted some excerpts over the past year to give a taste of the Oddball writing and coverage style - but just remember that the most interesting content is for subscribers only.

The excerpts were on Tower Properties, Bank of Utica, small banks, Avalon Holdings, Boston Sand and Gravel, Conrad Industries, and Sitestar / Enterprise Diversified.

There were two Oddball blog posts in December which you may have missed: one about the Verified Complaint to Compel Inspection of Books and Records of Hauppauge Digital Inc. ($HAUP) and one about Wynnefield Capital, Inc. v. Tile Shop Holdings, Inc.

Wynnefield Capital, Inc. v. Tile Shop Holdings, Inc.

This is a developing situation. Tile Shop (TTS) was trading for around $3 until the company announced plans to de-register with the SEC, suspend its dividend, and cancel its share buybacks. The share price crashed by 2/3rds as a result.

They have been sued by a shareholder who claims that this was a deliberate scheme to take over the company at a fire sale price:
The board of directors of a Delaware corporation has a fundamental duty and obligation to “protect the corporation enterprise,” and to defend stockholders “from harm reasonably perceived, irrespective of its source.” This case involves a board that is purposely letting half of its members – including the known repeat fraudster who founded the company – buy a controlling stake in the company through open market purchases at depressed prices, without paying a fair price, much less a control premium. Instead of adopting a poison pill or taking other defensive measures to protect public stockholders in the face of a change of control transaction executed in the open market, this board helped turn a slowly developing creeping takeover into a modern street sweep.
The company is temporarily enjoined from deregistering, and some think that the stock is interesting at the current price. The complaint filed in Delaware court is posted below.