Friedman Industries Incorporated (NYSEMKT:FRD) has been covered by various authors in Seeking Alpha who have pointed out that the company is cheap and may have considerable upside to the improving economy of the US. Friedman Industry is engaged in steel processing, pipe manufacturing and pipe distribution. It is particularly leveraged to the oil industry and the construction industry. Of course, steel is a highly commoditized business and FRD is essentially a price taker.
The steel industry on the whole is very cyclical and in 2013-14 FRD has experienced high volatility in the market. FRD is currently constructing a new pipe construction plant to supply the oil industry in Lone Star, Texas.
FRD has no debt and is cash flow positive. As shown in the chart below, remarkably for a cyclical company, FRD has always shown positive earnings since 1995. FRD's cash return has fluctuated widely over the period and is currently in a down cycle.
FRD is NOT a buy and hold stock. The time to pick up FRD is in a down cycle in the steel market and sell in the up cycle. Book value is good valuation metric for a company like FRD. Looking over its history FRD has traded between P/B ratio of 0.5 to P/B of 3.4. Currently FRD is trading at a P/B of 0.94 indicating that it's a decent time to buy FRD with a view to sell it when P/B approaches 2 which should happen in the next 2 to 5 years. Meanwhile FRD has a history of returning excess cash to investors through special dividends.
The following chart show FRD's valuation bands based on book value.
This is the time to buy FRD with as its selling below book value with a view to selling it when exceeds book value of 1.5. Risk of permanent loss of capital is low as the company has no debt. The company is highly leveraged to the improving economy. The company is about to complete a new facility for its tubular products which should come on line next year. This may provide a catalyst to the stock in 2015 - 2017 when P/B ratios expand.
Disclosure: The author is long FRD. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
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