Thursday, October 30, 2014

Seeking Alpha: Did Wright Medical Make The Right Move?

Four months ago, I fretted that Stryker's (NYSE:SYK) acquisition of SBi reduced the pool of eligible buyers to acquire Wright Medical Group (NASDAQ:WMGI) and/or Tornier (NASDAQ:TRNX). A lot of bullishness on these companies was based on their attractiveness as M&A targets for larger ortho companies, but the two companies have instead decided to come together to create a leading enterprise in the fast-growing extremities segment.

I have mixed feelings on this move as a Wright Medical Group shareholder. Wright Medical's somewhat disappointing third quarter sales result suggests that there's still more self-improvement to be done and Tornier has been working through sales restructuring efforts of its own. That said, Wright Medical CEO Bob Palmisano is a proven leader in the med-tech space and the prospects of a company with leading technology in both upper and lower extremities is appealing, not to mention the fact that the impending approval of Augment brings hundreds of millions of potential revenue into play.

Read more here:
Did Wright Medical Make The Right Move?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Seeking Alpha: Neenah Paper Continues To Execute

I've had my issues with the valuation at Neenah Paper (NYSE:NP), but this specialty paper company continues to execute at a high level and the market has continued to reward that performance. While the shares have been basically flat since my last update, that performance is still quite a bit better than those of comps like Glatfelter (NYSE:GLT), Wausau Paper (NYSE:WPP), and Ahlstrom.

Sluggish European markets should be a challenge for the company's Technical Products segment, but filtration and specialty products continue to drive market-beating volume growth, while the fine paper business remains a very profitable business. With the balance sheet flexibility to add more revenue through M&A, I'm not worried about the company's ability to continue generating value-added growth. I'm still not overly excited about the valuation, with a DCF-based and EV/EBITDA-based approach bracketing about (5%)-15% potential, but I'd keep an eye on this name in the event that the market pullback takes these shares back to a more interesting price.

Continue reading here:
Neenah Paper Continues To Execute

Update On The Fight

I've received a couple of notes asking how things were going with me and Christina (my partner), so I thought I'd write a quick update.

Christina had surgery nine days ago and the surgeon thought it went well (pretty much went as he expected). She is now healing/recovering and will be progressing on to radiation and chemo in due course.

She's still looking at a long, tough battle, but we have a great team of doctors and a network of friends who have been fantastic through this process.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Seeking Alpha: OM Group Hasn't Transformed Fast Enough

It wasn't supposed to be this way for OM Group (NYSE:OMG). Selling its cobalt and ultra-pure chemicals businesses and acquiring an advanced magnets business was supposed to transform this company from a cyclical commodity business to a growth-oriented specialty materials business. As it happens, though, the company has seen a much weaker recovery in Europe than hoped, not to mention lower demand in renewable energy, medical batteries, and electronics.

Management meaningfully lowered full-year EBITDA expectations after the second-quarter report, and more recently, laid out a medium-term growth outlook that calls for just 2%-3% annual revenue growth through 2017. The combination of relatively low expected growth and investors allocating away from specialty materials stocks has led to a one-third drop in OM Group's share price from the time of my last update in April.

Continue here:
OM Group Hasn't Transformed Fast Enough

Seeking Alpha: Sluggish European Demand May Be Opening A Window Into Innospec

I've liked specialty chemical company Innospec (NASDAQ:IOSP) as an operating entity for some time, but I've been less excited about the stock given its valuation. The shares are now down more than 20% from my initial write up and down a similar amount since my last write up, though, and that makes the risk-reward balance more interesting. While I do have some concerns that demand in Europe for the company's fuel additives will weaken further, I like the long-term outlook for the company's oilfield chemical and personal care performance chemical operations.

Click the link to continue:
Sluggish European Demand May Be Opening A Window Into Innospec

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seeking Alpha: The Frustrating Wait For Value Realization At PCTEL

It is not too hard to see how PCTEL (NASDAQ:PCTI) could parlay billions of dollars of end-market potential in markets like smart grids, process automation, enterprise WLAN, precision agriculture, train control, and fleet management into potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. "Potential" is always a tricky word when it comes to small cap companies, though, and PCTEL doesn't have the best track record when it comes to delivering on its potential at any given point in its past.

PCTEL doesn't trade at particularly ambitious multiples, but then why would it? The company has been free cash flow positive for some time, but doesn't have any real record of attractive margins or returns on capital. I do believe that investors need to focus on where a company is going more than where it has been ("skate to where the puck is going to be"), but I have questions about PCTEL's ability to truly differentiate itself as a component supplier. I ultimately come down favorably inclined toward PCTEL, but near-term headwinds in wireless infrastructure spending could stretch out what has already been an extended wait for market-beating performance.

Read the full article here:
The Frustrating Wait For Value Realization At PCTEL

Seeking Alpha: WESCO Still Waiting

WESCO (NYSE:WCC) hasn't exactly distinguished itself in the six months since I last wrote about the company. Admittedly, not many distributors have done well over that time, as HD Supply (NASDAQ:HDS), Grainger (NYSE:GWW), Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST) and several others are in the red, but it is nevertheless frustrating that WESCO has paired a frustratingly slow recovery in key markets with shortfalls in its reported margins.

Pushing out some of the expected improvements in financial performance does take some upside out of my price target, but with a fair value in the mid-$80s, I still believe WESCO is a worthwhile name to consider as a play on a non-residential construction recovery. Management needs to show that it can deliver real results from its "One WESCO" strategy, but I do see a path for the company to generate better margins and asset turnover as it continues to integrate acquisitions and leverage end-market recoveries.

Continue reading here:
WESCO Still Waiting

Friday, October 3, 2014

Seeking Alpha: Maxwell Down On Power, But Still Promising

Six months ago, I thought that the hoopla over Maxwell Technologies' (NASDAQ:MXWL) prospects of securing an ultracapacitor order from Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) (in addition to or along with other auto OEM orders) had taken the shares a little too far for my comfort, and that it was better to wait for a pullback. The shares proceeded to climb another 25% from that point, but have been cut down by more than half on a guidance reset following second-quarter numbers and the perception that management has backed away from its guidance for multiple automotive design wins in 2014.

All in all, while the this sharp decline from the late May highs has to be painful for Maxwell shareholders, the story has really changed all that much. The company's ultracapacitors continue to look like an interesting solution for a variety of applications in transport and energy, while the company's manufacturing approach should support attractive margins. Order timing is a major unknown, and these shares are vulnerable to the vagaries of the market's appetite for risky stories, but this seems like a good time for risk-tolerant investors to take a closer look.

Continue here:
Maxwell Down On Power, But Still Promising

Seeking Alpha: Cemig's Wild Ride Continues

Brazilian utility Cemig (NYSE:CIG) is a good case in point that emerging market utilities don't always offer that higher growth/lower volatility mix that investors often seem to expect. There are certainly a lot of company-specific challenges for Cemig, including an ongoing fight over retaining concessions to three sizable hydropower generating assets, aggressive cost reduction guidance, and worries that management is pursuing low-return investments. On top of those, Cemig faces hydrology risks, political uncertainty, and economic risks in Brazil.

Since my last piece on March 20, these shares have been pretty volatile - jumping almost 50% (for the local shares) before a nearly 25% sell-off. There would be further upside from here if Cemig's legal efforts to retain its hydropower concessions prevail and the company does have additional spot exposure to the Brazilian electricity market, but with the valuation close to a weighted average base case scenario I'm not thrilled about the risk-reward balance.

Read more here:
Cemig's Wild Ride Continues