Vince Martin
Long/short equity, value, gambling

Beware Argan's Tempting Balance Sheet

It certainly jumped out at me. While running a standard screen for value stocks, I came across Argan, Inc. (NYSEMKT:AGX). Trading at $18.75 (as of this writing), the company had $14.06 per share in cash, and no debt. Meanwhile, trailing earnings per share were $1.44, forward earnings $1.40 per share, and its price-to-free cash flow ratio just 4.21, meaning the company had generated roughly its entire enterprise value in free cash over the past 12 months.

As it turned out, I wasn't the only one who was fooled, at least momentarily. I immediately noticed something curious, though: Argan's book value per share was $8.10, well below its cash balance. With no debt, how could this be?


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