For an in-depth look at Solitron take a look at the three part series I did last summer (part 1, part 2, part 3).
Solitron is an electronics manufacturer in Palm Beach Florida. They make small components like diodes and capacitors, things you used to be able to buy at Radio Shack. Solitron's devices are found in satellites, rockets, and aeronautics in general, the government is a large customer, along with other defense companies.
The company has been consistently profitable since their emergence from bankruptcy in 1993. Their profits aren't always steady or consistent, but they've been consistently lumpy profitable. What makes Solitron attractive is they have consistent profits in addition to a share price that is below NCAV and discounted NCAV. I have included a picture of the NCAV worksheet below.
- Solitron trades at $2.80 against a NCAV of $4.13 and discounted NCAV of $3.39.
- The company earned $.30/sh in 2012, and $.5/sh in 2011
- The company has a $6.8m market cap, and $7.59m in cash on their balance sheet.
- Cash flow of $.38/sh with an ongoing capex requirement of $.06 per share.
- Free cash flow of $.32/sh, all free cash is invested into Treasury bonds growing the cash horde.
- USEPA environmental obligations which restrict the payment of dividends have been settled as of the filing of the 10-k.
Here is the NCAV worksheet:
Solitron looks like the golden boy of net-net investments, what could be so wrong? There have been the usual concerns in the past, like government spending, and the bankruptcy restrictions. The bankruptcy restriction has been lifted, and the government spending concerns are ongoing. The issues I highlight are a bit bigger, and serious roadblocks to intrinsic value being realized in a timely manner.
The biggest hurdle to value realization in my mind is management's actions. A fund or partnership the Laurison Group purchased a 15% stake in Solitron this past year. In response a new paragraph appeared in the 10-K, here's the beginning of it:
It seems strange the company would adopt a rights agreement when liquidity is ample. Further down there are details of the rights offering. The rights only come into effect if a given investor increases their position to over 20% of the outstanding shares, so in other words the company adopted a poison pill. Specific details of the rights offering can be found here.
I hate seeing management entrench, especially when they haven't done much of anything to increase shareholder value. The CEO only owns 28% of the stock, yet is running the company like his own private business.
With the rights offering in place the company has taken a merger off the table as a possible value realization outcome.
Another curious line appeared:
Why is Solitron worried about increasing liquidity? Their cash flow funds working capital needs easily. They actually can't find reinvestment opportunities for all of their excess cash so they invest in Treasury bills.
I think the last thing Solitron needs to worry about is liquidity, they can take the company private at todays price with cash on hand, and would have enough cash left over to fund next years cash needs.
The third problem is a corporate governance problem, why are there only three directors, and why has the company let their terms expire without new director nominations?
The director situation smacks of a good 'ol boy club mentality. My guess is Mr Saraf knows Mr Davis and Mr Schlig very well outside of Solitron.
I would really like to see new directors nominated, and a few independent directors tossed into the mix. A fresh set of eyes on the board could do wonders for unlocking shareholder value.
The company hasn't held an annual meeting in years, or filed a proxy either, neither good signs. How are shareholders supposed to elect directors to manage their company?
So where do we go from here?
The troubling aspects of Solitron are indeed bad and with some other companies I'd pass on the investment due to these factors alone. I haven't passed on Solitron because the company is selling at such a discount that these factors and a whole lot more are being compensated for in the current share price. With that said I don't think they're insurmountable hurdles either. If Solitron elected new directors, paid out a significant dividend, and maybe even bought back shares I think investors would be rewarded. In short management needs to look out for the true owners of the company, shareholders instead of looking out for themselves by implementing poison pill amendments.
If you are a holder of Solitron and would like to see some of my suggested changes above implemented please drop me an email or leave a comment, it can be anonymous. I'm looking to see how much shareholder support exists for some of these ideas.
If any readers are part of the Laurison Group, or are affiliated with Alexander Toppan or John Stayduhar please email me at the "Talk to Nate" link below.
I'm not sure where this investment is going to go next, but it might be time for shareholders to spur management to action.
Talk to Nate
Disclosure: Long Solitron, opportunistically adding to my position below $3