Why I Like Where Food Comes From (Forbes.com Interview)

“What about Where Food Comes From initially caught your attention as a value investor?

Where Food Comes From checks several of my favorite investment boxes: small, founder-led, high insider ownership, zero debt, profitable, and growing. I love industries that have long runways of growth ahead of them. Where Food Comes From benefits from several major trends in food—organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, animal welfare, and more generally, consumers demanding transparency in the food chain and wanting to know where the food they eat comes from. I like large industry tailwinds because it makes business much easier. In a fast growing market, competitors are less likely to engage in price wars or other detrimental practices. This is because most participants are growing revenue, even if they’re losing market share. Growth is harder to come by in mature markets so there’s more likely to be competitive practices that are harmful to all participants.”

The above is an excerpt from an interview I did recently about Where Food Comes From. The rest of the interview can be seen at The Business (And Stock) Behind Where Food Comes From.

As of this writing, Wiedower Capital owns shares in WFCF. This is subject to change.

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Why Trupanion Could Be A Long-Term Compounder

I published a write-up on Seeking Alpha yesterday about Trupanion (TRUP). The summary is:

  • Trupanion is building a durable competitive advantage in an industry that is set to grow 10x+ over the coming decades.
  • The company is still run by their passionate founder who has the vast majority of his net worth in Trupanion stock.
  • The current valuation looks very expensive, but starts to look reasonable the farther out you look.

Read the full write-up here: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4090526-trupanion-long-term-compounder

As of this writing, Wiedower Capital does not own shares in TRUP. This is subject to change.

Franklin Covey Nearing An Inflection Point

I published my first write-up on Seeking Alpha today. The summary of my thesis is:

  • Franklin Covey (FC) is going through a SaaS transition that is temporarily harming its financials.
  • The new, improved business model should become more obvious to the market in the coming quarters.
  • There is upside of 40-80% over the next 18 months with potential for more longer term.

To read the entire write-up, head over to https://seekingalpha.com/article/4084174-franklin-covey-nearing-inflection-point

As of this writing, Wiedower Capital owns shares in FC. This is subject to change.

 

Calloway’s Nursery: Undervalued with Aligned Ownership

Calloway’s Nursery is undervalued on an earnings basis, owns valuable property in addition to that, and is run by a very successful investor. Calloway’s runs 19 nurseries and garden centers mostly in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area (with one in Houston). These nurseries are more specialized, have more variety, and are more expensive than the garden centers at Lowe’s or Home Depot.

I’ve followed Calloway’s (CLWY, $4.00) for years, but what pushed me to take a closer look last year was Peter Kamin taking control. Kamin co-founded ValueAct in 2000 with Jeffrey Ubben. ValueAct was immensely successfully while Kamin was there, but he stepped away and started 3K LP in 2012. 3K has no outside investors and they focus on micro-cap companies, both public and private. Kamin seems to be following a similar script at Calloway’s that he’s done at other public companies. That script includes: gradually build a position over several years, eventually take control, repurchase shares, pay down debt, and decrease public company expenses (by down-listing or de-listing). In the case of Abatix Corp (formerly ABIX), Kamin went through the aforementioned steps and eventually took them private at a 39% premium to the market price. Knowing Kamin has taken a controlled company private at a reasonably fair price gives me comfort in him being a majority shareholder at Calloway’s.

At Calloway’s, the game plan looks similar to the above.  3K started buying shares in 2012 and Kamin got a board seat in 2013 after a proxy fight. From 2013 to 2015 Calloway’s paid back roughly half their debt. In February 2016, 3K bought out two major shareholders (including the founder/former CEO). In the year since Kamin took over, operating margin increased from 6.5% in 2015 to 9.6% in 2016. Calloway’s also decreased shares outstanding by almost 25% in 2016. Finally, public company expenses have been decreased as they are now listed on the Pink Limited OTC marketplace and their quarterly releases consists of the three financial statements and nothing else.
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Pro-Dex Should Have Another Good Year

Pro-Dex (PDEX) appreciated 93% in 2016 and I think they’ll have another good year in 2017 (though not as good as 2016). In February 2016, Nate Tobik published a PDEX write-up of mine in his Oddball Stocks Newsletter. While the stock has advanced faster than expected, the thesis hasn’t really changed so I’ve copied the entire write-up below. There are a few notable updates from the past ten months:

  1. Their new #1 customer (referred to as project #1 in my write-up) signed a $24 million purchase order to be split between 2017 and 2018. Quite significant for a company that did $13.4 million in sales in 2015. This will be the catalyst for quarterly sales to ramp from the current run-rate of ~$5.3M up to $7M+ in 3Q17 (which ends March 31, 2017).
  2. Their acquisitions haven’t gone as smooth as they hoped so they stopped M&A for the time being. With that being said, each segment is trending in the right direction. In the most recent quarter, the three small segments (ESD, Fineline Molds, OMS) made money for the first time. These had previously been dragging company results down. Margins in the core Pro-Dex business have also been trending up as they continue to work through some manufacturing inefficiencies discussed below.
  3. Their production facility is only at 40-50% capacity so there’s a long runway for growth before major capex expansion is needed.
  4. There are a couple potential new projects in various stages. As you can see below in my write-up, management is pretty tight-lipped on how large the projects they’re working on could be. This means estimating future revenue requires a lot of educated guessing. Suffice to say, there should be one or two new product launches in 2017 and I expect them each to be worth a couple million per year in revenue.
  5. They’ve continued to repurchase shares.

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Fogo de Chao Is Looking Tasty

A quick housekeeping note first. I recently moved from Cincinnati to Austin, TX which explains my blackout period of blogging. I was busy moving and getting settled in, but I’m finally back to a normal life. Blog posts will be more frequent now. If you happen to live in Austin, shoot me an email! Would love to meet some local investors.

Onto more important stuff. Fogo de Chao (FOGO, $10.52) is a Brazilian steakhouse with 31 locations in the US and 10 in Brazil (plus 1 junior venture in Mexico). I bet some of you are already turned off just because Fogo is a restaurant. I was too. Restaurant concepts come and go and they’re dependent on consumer tastes which can quickly change. Lots of good restaurants open, have a few years of success, and then slowly die as the initial luster wears off and people move on to the hot new concept down the street. I don’t think I’ve ever invested in a public restaurant group before, so hopefully the fact that I like Fogo so much says something (probably that I’m about to learn why restaurants are best avoided).
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Armanino Foods (AMNF)

Armanino Foods (AMNF, $2.17) sells frozen pestos, sauces, stuffed pasta and cooked meat products. The current CEO, Edmond Pera, took over in February 2009. Since then, revenue has nearly doubled, share count has decreased 8%, and gross margins, operating margins and returns on capital have all expanded. All this fueled a stock price that has compounded at a rate of 31% per year since 2009. Not surprisingly, the small cap investment community took notice to these impressive results. Over the past few years, Armanino has been written up on Value Investor’s Club, otcadventures, multiple times on Seeking Alpha, and it has its own thread on Corner of Berkshire and Fairfax. Because these extensive write-ups already exist, I’m going to give a quick business and industry overview and then focus on why I like AMNF as an investment right now. This isn’t a lengthy write-up, but that’s because the thesis is pretty simple. Armanino is probably my favorite idea in terms of risk/reward that I’ve discovered this year.
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