Category Archives: Company Analysis

Francesca’s Holding Corp (FRAN)


Francesca’s Holdings Corp (FRAN)

Key Statistics

Enterprise Value = $214.47 million

Operating Income = $43.18 million

EV/Operating Income = 4.96x

Earnings Yield = 11%

Price/Revenue = .48x

Debt/Equity = 0%

Debt/EBITDA = 0

The Company

Francesca’s is a Houston-based boutique retailer selling clothing, jewelry, and gifts for women.  You will typically find them in the kind of strip malls appealing to an upper-middle-class clientele (the one near me is in a strip mall with a Whole Foods and a Banana Republic). As a guy who buys my jeans at Wal-Mart, checking out the store was a bit off the beaten path for me.


Sentiment towards Francesca’s is in the realm of extreme hatred. Like Foot Locker and Gamestop, Francesca’s is getting hammered by the “Amazon will destroy physical retail narrative”.  It has also seen declines in same-store sales, which the market has reacted with zombie apocalypse level panic. As a small cap retailer, the ride down has been particularly brutal.  The stock is down 62% year to date and the hatred towards this stock is high.  The news has been moderately bad out of Francesca’s, but not bad enough to justify a 62% decline in the stock and the current valuation.

My take

Francesca’s is a stock at an attractive valuation with zero financial debt that is buying back shares.

55% of their locations are not in malls, they’re in strip malls.  Usually, these are high-end strip malls that have other attractions besides retail outlets.  The one close to me in Concord, Pennsylvania is in an active retail strip that includes other upper-middle-class destinations like Whole Foods.  This helps drive impulse spending without requiring a trip to the mall.

A major advantage that this company has is that they lease many of their locations and they have clauses in their leases that allow them to shut down stores if sales don’t hit targets.  This means that if an Amazon-driven “retailpocalypse” is real, they can quickly cut off the bleeding by shutting down unprofitable locations and won’t be stuck paying rent on money-losing stores.  They can refocus their efforts on their best and most profitable locations.

Francesca’s is also a location that will get a lot of discretionary spending this holiday season.  With the U-6 unemployment rate hitting lows not seen since 1998, real disposable income hitting all-time highs, and debt payments as a percent of disposable income remaining below 10% — I think the holiday season will likely be better than the doomed forecast reflected in the stock price.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided on this site is not financial advice and it is for informational and discussion purposes only. Do your own homework. Full disclosure: my current holdings.  Read the full disclaimer.

Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (HA)


Hawaiian Holdings (HA)

Enterprise Value = $2.008 billion

Operating Income = $513.76 million

EV/Operating Income = 3.91x

Earnings Yield = 9%

Price/Revenue = .82x

Debt/Equity = 60%

Debt/EBITDA = .81x

The Company

Hawaiian Holdings is an airline with a focus on . . . Hawaii. Airlines are an out of favor industry as discussed in my Alaska Airlines post. Hawaiian has a niche focus on air travel between the Hawaiian Islands and the United States/Australia/New Zealand/Asia. They also offer flights within the Hawaiian Islands.


Hawaiian Airline’s growth was celebrated by Wall Street from 2013 to 2016 when the stock advanced from $5.45 a share to a peak of $60 at the end of 2016. Since the peak, the stock has fallen apart and declined by 28%. The stock has been under pressure since Southwest announced that they going to compete and send flights to the Hawaiian Islands. The market is concerned that Southwest will eat into Hawaiian’s market share while also adding more price competition.

My take

With a $2 billion enterprise value and $513 million in operating income, Hawaiian Holdings is the smallest of American airlines. This is an extremely attractive feature. The airline industry is currently in a state of consolidation, as evidenced by Alaska’s purchase of Virgin Airlines. With Hawaiian’s small size and niche focus, this makes it an attractive candidate to be bought out by a bigger airline.

I don’t normally focus on growth, but Hawaiian has been growing at an attractive clip for a few years now. Top line revenues have increased by 13% since 2013 and operating income has increased by 68% over the same period.

On an EV/EBIT basis, Hawaiian is one of the cheapest stocks in the entire market. Even if it isn’t bought out, the value proposition is compelling.

With a debt/equity ratio of 60%, Hawaiian also has little financial debt. This is true for many of the players in the airline industry, which is a welcome change from the history of the industry.

The competition against Southwest is a major concern, but Hawaiian never had a monopoly on flights to Hawaii from the United States. Competition isn’t anything new for the airline. At an enterprise multiple of 3.91, I also have an adequate margin of safety if competition does become brutal.

Like Alaska Airlines, this position also complements my international indexes that would benefit from higher oil prices. If oil were to decline, airlines should benefit.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided on this site is not financial advice and it is for informational and discussion purposes only. Do your own homework. Full disclosure: my current holdings.  Read the full disclaimer.

Alaska Airlines (ALK)


Alaska Airlines (ALK)

 Key Statistics

Enterprise Value = $9.566 billion

Operating Income = $1.508 billion

EV/Operating Income = 6.34x

Earnings Yield = 9%

Price/Revenue = 1.16x

Debt/Equity = 77%

Debt/EBITDA = 1.79x

The Company

 Alaksa Airlines is a holding company that owns a portfolio of Airlines: Alaska, Virgin America (purchased in December 2016) and Horizon Air. They are the 5th largest airline in the United States. They fly to 118 destinations and are the industry leader for on-time performance. Their focus is on low fares and timely service. A bulk of their business (34%) supports West Coast travelers.


Year to date the stock is down 21%. In general, airlines are considered to be a terrible business. The business is brutally competitive. Most airline passengers look primarily at the bottom line and view the product as a commodity. There is very little commitment to one brand over another. Airlines are also sensitive to swings in oil prices, which can be severe. For Alaska in particular, this year they ran into trouble with their Horizon Air unit. A number of pilots quit (likely for pay increases at competing airlines) and this resulted in the cancellation of flights and a dip in revenue. The recent merger with Virgin has also consumed much of the airline’s attention. Crude oil prices also appear to be on the upswing, which could pose trouble for the company.

My take

Airlines are historically a brutal business, but this appears to be changing. Warren Buffett famously hated the airline industry, but recently he has changed his tune and Berkshire bought a basket of airlines. Berkshire did this after Ted Wechsler researched the business after seeing a presentation from American Airlines. Doug Parker, the CEO of American, argued that increased consolidation is ending the brutal price competition that used to plague airlines. In other words: the airline business is turning into an oligopoly. This is bad news for airline passengers, but good news for shareholders in airlines.

In the past, airlines historically took on dangerously high levels of leverage. That is changing and the debt profile of the airline industry is not risky. There are many airlines today sporting low debt/equity and low debt/EBITDA ratios and Alaska Airlines is one of them.

As a business, airlines grow with the economy. Total air revenue passenger miles recently hit an all-time high in July 2017. For Alaska Airlines, in particular, growth has been robust. Revenues grew from $5.1 billion in 2013 to $5.931 billion in 2016. They also boast an impressive return on invested capital at 21%.

Oil is a problem, but due to the positions that I haven in international indexes that will benefit from rising oil prices, I think the two positions complement each other nicely.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided on this site is not financial advice and it is for informational and discussion purposes only. Do your own homework. Full disclosure: my current holdings.  Read the full disclaimer.

Pendrell Corp (PCO)

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Key Statistics

Market Capitalization = $170.34 million

Cash & Equivalents = $187.22 million

Current Assets = $208.63 million

Total Liabilities = $8.5 million

Net Current Asset Value = $200.13 million

Z-Score = 2.19


Pendrell owns a portfolio of patents. They acquired most of their patents through acquisitions. In 2013, they purchased a number of patents (mostly dealing with memory storage) from Nokia. They have another group of patents purchased from ContentGuard, which prevent electronic content from being pirated. They also own patents related to digital cinema and wireless technology.

Pendrell makes most of their money through licensing the patents that they own, selling their portfolio of patents and through litigation to combat patent violations.

This is a business model which leads to wildly divergent operating results. In 2015, for instance, the company posted an operating loss of $121 million, while in 2016 the company had an operating income of $15.22 million.


I would classify sentiment against Pendrell as extreme hatred. Since 2006, the stock has lost 89% of its value. The current market capitalization is not only below net current asset value, it is below net cash value. If Pendrell simply took its cash on hand and paid all of its debts, it would pay for the company’s market capitalization. The market thinks that Pendrell is worth more dead than alive.

My Take

I placed 2% of my portfolio in Pendrell yesterday. Pendrell is a classic Ben Graham net-net or what Buffett would call a “cigar butt”. The nice thing about Pendrell is that nearly all of the net current asset value (NCAV) is pure cash, meaning that in a liquidation very little of the net current asset value would be lost. In contrast, many NCAV situations have most of the value tied up in inventory, which usually can only be liquidated at fire-sale prices. The true value of Pendrell’s stock is likely much higher, as the net current asset value assigns very little value to Pendrell’s portfolio of patents.

Obviously, bargains like this don’t come along without a reason. The reason for Pendrell’s undervaluation is its history of operational losses. Over the last 4 years, the company lost $3.32 per share.

I bought the stock purely for the balance sheet value. That’s why my “key statistics” section is different from those of companies I purchase for revenues & earnings. Pendrell could be liquidated, its portfolio of patents could be sold, and this could result in a positive outcome for shareholders. If the company isn’t liquidated, the slightest glimmer of hope could send the stock soaring. A major patent sale or a favorable outcome to ongoing litigation are possible events that could turn the stock around. Meanwhile, the NCAV value provides a floor for losses.

The main challenge with a net-net is simple: determining if the company will stay alive and not squander its net current asset value. I see little evidence of cash burn with Pendrell, as its cash on hand has remained consistent in the range of $138-$174 million over the last few years. Cash & equivalents are actually higher than they were a year ago: $187 million today vs. $176.31 million a year ago. The net current asset value should remain intact. Additionally, Pendrell has an Altman Z Score of 2.19, placing it outside of the zone of financial distress which would indicate that a bankruptcy is imminent.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided on this site is not financial advice and it is for informational and discussion purposes only. Do your own homework. Full disclosure: my current holdings.  Read the full disclaimer.



Cooper Tire & Rubber (CTB)

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Cooper Tire & Rubber (CTB)

Key Statistics

Enterprise Value = $1.900 billion

Operating Income = $330 million

EV/Operating Income = 5.7x

Price/Revenue = .62x

Debt/Equity = 28%

Earnings Yield = 11%

Debt/EBITDA = .7x

The Company

Cooper Tire and Rubber’s business is extremely complicated: they make tires. Their main competitors are Goodyear and Bridgestone. They manufacture and sell tires throughout the world. They operate in a highly competitive market with a commoditized product. Their business model is also impacted by the secular trend of the decline in domestic car driving (increasing use of things like ride sharing and Uber). The company could also be impacted by political headwinds. The Trump administration’s protectionist stance could impact tires that the company produces overseas and sell in the United States. At the same time, Trump’s desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act could help the company. It’s a mixed bag and it isn’t a particularly exciting business.


Year to date the stock is down 12.61% and it trades at an earnings yield of 11%. It is an unexciting company is a competitive, commoditized business and hasn’t participated in the bull run for stocks in the last year. The market doesn’t hate it, but it is indifferent to it.

My take

Despite the business pressures, the stock is cheap and the company is aggressively returning capital to shareholders.  In the last five years, the number of common shares has been reduced by 18%. The balance sheet is clean with a low debt/equity and low debt/EBITDA. The clean balance sheet combined with the attractive valuation means that shares will continuously be repurchased at an attractive valuation.

Despite the competitive nature of the business, the company consistently generates stable free cash flow. This will give it the cash necessary to sustain the share buybacks.  Return on equity and assets is low, but this isn’t a bad thing because no one in corporate America is saying: “Hey guys, let’s enter the tire business!”

Additionally, I think the sentiment about the secular decline of driving is overblown.  While the growth rate has flattened since the Great Recession, the number of miles driven by Americans is not in decline. The total miles driven by Americans recently hit an all-time high of 3,193,010 in 2017. That’s a lot of driving and a lot of tires getting worn out and in need of replacement.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided on this site is not financial advice and it is for informational and discussion purposes only. Do your own homework. Full disclosure: my current holdings.  Read the full disclaimer.

Foot Locker (FL) Summary

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Foot Locker (FL)

Key Statistics

Enterprise Value = $4.587 billion

Operating Income = $836 million

EV/Operating Income = 5.48x

Earnings Yield = 10%

Price/Revenue = .69x

Debt/Equity = .05%

Debt/EBITDA = .126x

The Company

Foot Locker is known to everyone that has ever been in a mall. They are a physical retailer and operate primarily in malls selling sneakers. They also sell footwear directly to customers.


Market sentiment against the stock is extremely negative. Year to date the stock is down 42.42%. This is even after a monstrous 28% gain on November 17th after delivering an earnings surprise. The extreme sentiment against the stock is due to the fact that it is a retailer and most of its locations are in malls. The sharp change in sentiment has been rapid. As recently as May 2017, the stock was hitting all-time highs.

My take

The sentiment against mall retail has been extreme and the popular perception is that Amazon is going to dominate everything. Overall, I think this is overblown. 90% of all retail sales still occur in a store. E-sales have been increasing at a steady pace of about 1% a year since the year 2000. The trend hasn’t changed. This means that in 10 years, 80% of all retail sales will still occur in a store. The popular sentiment has driven retail stocks down to depths not seen since the Great Recession and the ridiculous multiples given to Amazon shows that the market sentiment is now at extreme levels.

Not only will people continue to shop in stores for the customer experience, they will continue to shop in apparel stores like Foot Locker because they want to try the apparel on.  Sneakers from different manufacturers aren’t consistent and most people want to try the shoe on in the store.

The company consistently produces ample free cash flow each year and they have been using the proceeds to grow the business and return capital to shareholders. Common shares have declined by 9% in the last five years as the company consistently repurchases shares. Additionally, the dividend yield is 3.04%. The company’s balance sheet is also extremely strong, with extremely low debt levels.

Foot Locker also possesses an important strategic relationship with Nike, which remains the leader in sneaker brands. This is a situation where bad sentiment has caused investors to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided on this site is not financial advice and it is for informational and discussion purposes only. Do your own homework. Full disclosure: my current holdings.  Read the full disclaimer.

Gamestop (GME) Summary

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Key Statistics

Enterprise Value: $2.206 Billion

Operating Income: $522.80 Million

EV/Op Income = 4.22x

Earnings Yield = 20%

Debt/Equity = 35%

Price/Revenue = .25x

Debt/EBITDA: 1.19x

The Company

Gamestop is a video game retailer. They sell video games and the hardware associated with it. They’re the largest retailer of pre-owned video game products in the world and carry a broad selection of all generations of video game consoles. They have a variety of loyalty programs in an attempt to connect with and keep customers.


With the growth of online gaming and video games increasingly delivered in digital form, sentiment against Gamestop is extremely negative. The perception is that due to Gamestop’s reliance on pre-owned video games and sales of new video games being delivered digitally, it is a diminishing market that is in a state of decline. Year to date the stock is down 35% and the current price of $16.31 is close to its 52-week low of $15.85.

My take

Despite the challenges, Gamestop has continued to deliver strong operating results. While top-line revenues have declined, the company has been able to improve gross profits. They have also been using their revenues from their dying (but highly profitable) business to return capital to shareholders in the form of a large dividend yield and stock buyback. The new video game console (the Nintendo Switch) should help deliver better results this holiday season.

With a P/E of 4.91, the sentiment is extremely negative against Gamestop. This is due to the fears that physical retail of gaming is a business that is destined for death. The low valuation is also due to a double whammy of hatred: they have physical retail stores and they have lots of locations in malls.

Gamestop is fighting the decline by adopting a subscription-based video game rental service for $60/month. Gamers can borrow as many games as they want from the physical store. They’re also using the cash flow from their declining (but highly profitable) used games business to return capital to shareholders. Gamestop is returning capital to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks. Common shares have declined by 2.59% in the last year and the dividend yield is currently 9.32%. Gamestop’s low debt/equity and low debt/EBITDA give it the balance sheet strength to pursue a turnaround strategy and continue the large return of capital to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks.

PLEASE NOTE: The information provided on this site is not financial advice and it is for informational and discussion purposes only. Do your own homework. Full disclosure: my current holdings.  Read the full disclaimer.