We started following ACLS on January 8 this year (see our post archive here) because it is an undervalued asset play with an activist investor, Sterling Capital Management, holding 10.7% of its outstanding stock. ACLS has completed the sale of its 50% interest in SEN Corporation, its joint venture with Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. (SHI) to SHI for proceeds of $122.3 million. ACLS received around $35.9M in cash after applying $86.4M of the proceeds to meet obligations to the holders of the company’s 4.25% Convertible Senior Subordinated Notes, upon which ACLS defaulted in January. We last estimated ACLS’s liquidation value at around $117.8M or $1.14 per share. Following our review of the 10Q, we’ve reduced our estimate to $113.6M or $1.10, which is around 80% higher than its $0.60 close yesterday. Cash burn is a significant issue for ACLS. At the current rate of cash burn, we estimate the company has around six months before its liquidation value meets its current price, and around a year before it’s worthless.
The value proposition updated
During the three months ended June 30, 2009, ACLS continued to burn cash in its operations, which it attributes to the depressed semiconductor equipment market and the resultant decline in revenues. Cash and cash equivalents at June 30, 2009 were $56.8M, compared to $71.2M at March 31, 2009. The company attributes the $21.4M decrease in cash and cash equivalents to the cash used in operations and payments of fees and other costs associated with the sale of the investment in SEN. The company anticipates net cash outflows from operations in the remainder of 2009.
Set out below is our adjusted balance sheet for ACLS (the “Book Value” column shows the assets as they are carried in the financial statements, and the “Liquidating Value” column shows our estimate of the value of the assets in a liquidation):
We’ve been quite kind to ACLS by assuming only $50M of cash burn over the next twelve months. On its current form, $80M would have been closer to the mark. We’re assuming management takes some action to staunch the flow, but an assumptions like that might make us look like fools.
ACLS has made substantial operating losses over the last two years, and it is likely to be continue to do so. While its liquidation value of around $113.6M or $1.10 per share is more than 80% higher than its close yesterday of $0.60, it is likely to deteriorate while it continues its operating losses. ACLS continues to be our problem child, and we don’t think there is any good news on the horizon near-term, but we find it difficult to exit the position while it’s trading at a such a large discount to its (albeit deteriorating) liquidation value. Accordingly, we’re going to hold on for the moment, and see how the position plays out. If we get an opportunity to exit at close to value, however, we’ll take it. If the position hasn’t improved by the next Q, we’re likely sellers.
Full Disclosure: We have a holding in ACLS. 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.