School Speciality Inc. (OTCQB:SCOO)
Sells furniture, supplies and learning models to schools. This idea went on my watchlist on February 23, 2018, because Alluvial Capital discussed it in their Q4, 2017 letter.
School Specialty is as about close to an ideal Alluvial holding as a stock can be. The company is small, with a market capitalization of just under $120 million. Trading liquidity is minimal, with a handful of funds controlling the large majority of shares outstanding. And the company is boring, operating in the lowgrowth school supply industry. Scissors and glue, dodgeballs and desks. School Specialty went through bankruptcy and emerged in 2013. Since its emergence, the company has focused on maintaining sales, improving efficiency, and controlling costs as school district budgets remain constrained. The company has also focused on improving its working capital management, freeing up millions from inventory and net receivables.
The company has an operating margin of < 3%, long-term debt of $128 million, $7.9 million in cash and $105 million in equity. A low-margin business with high debt is not something I would like to dig into.
Cimpress N.V. (CMPR)
Cimpress does "mass-customized" printing (businesses), i.e., customized printing at mass-produced prices. The company claims to do this by "sophisticated software and carefully architected configuration options".
While reading on the business, I kept asking myself this one question: Will I know if the business became uncompetitive? I don't think so. Pass.
Carrols Restaurant Group (TAST)
The largest Burger King franchisee in the world. Owns and operates more than 800 locations under the Burger King brand.
The company has paper-thin margins. Looking at Q1-3 2018 results (9 months), the company had net income of $8.2 million on sales of $871 million. This is < 1%. The company seems to be taking on debt to acquire more and more Burger King shops. Its long-term debt went from $160 million in 2013 to $281 million in 2017.
Too much debt, thin margins and a debt-fueled expansion is not my idea of a good investment.
Coty Inc. (NYSE:COTY)
Coty has the entire gamut of personal care and beauty brands. It is the third-largest beauty brand in the world by sales.
Our three divisions - Luxury, Professional Beauty and Consumer Beauty - are home to iconic global brands and much loved regional brands. Luxury is focused on prestige fragrances and skincare; Professional Beauty is focused on servicing salon owners and professionals in both hair and nail; and Consumer Beauty is focused on mass color cosmetics, mass retail hair coloring and styling products, body care and mass fragrances.
The company has grown revenue at a healthy clip. It went from a revenue of $4 billion in 2011 to $9.3 billion in 2018. Long-term debt, on the other hand, has also grown from $2.5 billion in 2011 to $7.3 billion in 2018.
We anticipate that we will incur a total of approximately $1.3 billion of operating expenses and capital expenditures of approximately $500 million in connection with the acquisition of the P&G Beauty Business.
- Annual report, 2018
Coty merged with P&G beauty, and in the acquisition press release, things were quite a bit rosier.
Coty expects to achieve total cost savings of approximately $750, million or 16% of acquired revenues, through the transaction composed of: initial synergies, reflecting P&G costs that will not transfer, of approximately $350 million; and incremental cost synergies, to be recognized over four years, of approximately $400 million, achieved through a range of efficiency opportunities that the combination of the two businesses create.
It is questionable if being big helps you in selling more products or selling them at higher prices. Maybe there are some cost savings on the manufacturing and the supply side. You may also be able to squeeze some margin out of the outlets that sell your product. But none of this creates much value in the end. Is it a win-win for customers and the business? Probably not. I don't think the "synergies" are passed down to the consumers. Actually, cost savings in manufacturing may reduce quality. PASS.
Editor's Note: The summary bullets for this article were chosen by Seeking Alpha editors.