HRT Watch: Plan to Buy Back Stock Good News for Shareholders

Jan.14.09 | About: Arrhythmia Research (HRT)

Arrhythmia Research Technology Inc (NYSEMKT:HRT) is a tiny but profitable net net stock with a plan to buy back stock. At its $2.25 close yesterday the company has a market capitalization of just $6.1M. We estimate its pre-buy back liquidation value to be more than 100% higher at around $12.7M or $4.68 per share. If the buy back is completed at the current stock price, we estimate that the company will buy back around 10% of the outstanding stock, which will cause HRT’s per share liquidation value to increase to almost $5.00, around 120% higher than the present stock price.

About HRT

HRT is develops medical software that acquires data and analyzes electrical impulses of the heart to detect and aid in the treatment of potentially lethal arrhythmias. HRT’s wholly owned subsidiary, Micron Products, Inc. (Micron) is a manufacturer and distributor of silver plated and non-silver plated conductive resin sensors (sensors) used in the manufacture of disposable integrated electrodes constituting a part of electrocardiographic diagnostic and monitoring instruments. Micron also acts as a distributor of metal snap fasteners (snaps), another component used in the manufacture of disposable electrodes. The company’s investor relations website is here.

The value proposition

In a rarity for a net net stock, HRT is currently profitable. Although it didn’t pay a dividend in 2008, it has paid dividends in the past. In the 12 months ending December 31, 2007, the company earned $1.29M after tax and generated cash from operating activities of $1.47M. The balance sheet looks healthy enough (the “Carrying” column shows the assets as they are carried in the financial statements, and the “Liquidating” column shows our estimate of the value of the assets in a liquidation):

hrt-summary

HRT’s balance sheet value is predominantly in its property, plant and equipment, to the tune of $16.1M, which we’ve written down by half to $8M or $2.96 per share. The company also has receivables of $3.9M, which we’ve written down by 20% to $3.1M or $1.15 per share, and inventory of $3.7M, which we’ve discounted by a third to $2.5M or $0.91 per share. Deducting liabilities of $3.3M (including $0.7M in debt) from the written down asset value gives us a liquidation value for HRT of around $12.7M or $4.68 per share.

The catalyst

HRT has announced a stock buy back program, which authorizes it to buy back “up to $650,000 of the company’s common stock from time to time, subject to prevailing conditions and price levels.” No shares have been acquired to date, but we would like to see the company put the buy back into operation. Buy backs effected at deep discounts to intrinsic value, and particularly at deep discounts to liquidation value, create lots of value for remaining stockholders. They also demonstrate that management is alive to the plight of the shareholders in a company with a stock languishing at a discount to liquidation value. With the stock at these levels ($2.25), $650,000 buys back around 289,000 shares, which is a little over 10% of the 2.7M shares outstanding. The effect of such a buy back is demonstrated below:

hrt-summary-post-buy-backThe buy back reduces HRT’s total liquidating value from $12.7M to $12.0M, but increases the per share liquidating value from $4.68 to $4.97.

Conclusion

At $2.25, HRT is trading at a 48% discount to its liquidation value of $4.68. If the company undertakes and completes its buy back at the current stock price, HRT’s per share liquidating value will increase to $4.97, which is 120% higher than HRT’s close yesterday. We think HRT is worth a punt at these levels, and we’re adding it to the Greenbackd Portfolio.

Take care with these thinly traded stocks and always use limit orders to buy stock.

HRT closed yesterday at $2.25.

The S&P500 Index closed yesterday at 871.71.

Full Disclosure: We do not have a holding in HRT. This is neither a recommendation to buy or sell any securities. All information provided believed to be reliable and presented for information purposes only. Do your own research before investing in any security.