Guy Gottfried's Long The Brick Presentation from Value Investing Congress ~ market folly

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guy Gottfried's Long The Brick Presentation from Value Investing Congress

At the Value Investing Congress today, Guy Gottfried of Rational Investment Group talked about his long position in The Brick (TSE:BRK) in a presentation entitled "Prospecting for Value in the Great White North".

Be sure to check out all of our notes from the Value Investing Congress.

Guy Gottfried (Rational Investment Group): Long The Brick (TSE:BRK)

Embedded below is his full slideshow presentation:

Gottfried started by talking about Canada's general economic situation: 11 years of budget surpluses price to recession, lowest debt-to-GDP and fastest growth in G7, world’s strongest banking system for 4 straight years, no bank required bailout during financial crisis. Less sophisticated stock market than US, value investing not practiced, investors obsessed with resource stocks, yet miners are actually only 1/3 of the stocks on the TSX.

His long idea was The Brick (TSE:BRK) and Brick Warrants (BRK.WT). It's a specialty retailer of furniture, appliances, mattresses, etc. $2.45 price, 140m shares. It has 3 segments: corporate retail. 177 stores in Canada, financial services: extended warranties sold at stores, credit insurance on proprietary credit card, $22m FCF franchising: 58 stores, franchise fee and ongoing royalty of 2.5% of sales, $4m FCF (smallest, but fastest growing segment).

It trades at 6.2x FCF, market valuing core retail chain at below zero. Strong balance sheet, good business, insiders buying shares on open market. Mismanagement and financial distress in the past, paid too much of cash flow in dividends, and was in distress when recapitalized in 2009. Issued 12% debentures, and 100M warrants, now has $100M in cash, has turnaround specialist CEO. Operations have recovered, but stock has not.

Why so cheap? Investors burned by near-death experience, illiquid due to heavy insider ownership, no institutional following.

Very recognized brand in Canada, economies of scale in furniture and appliances. Financial services is durable business, even in 2009 sales held up. Good lead shareholder- Prem Watsa of Fairfax, the “Warren Buffett of Canada”. Bill Gregson CEO has a history of successful retail turnarounds- focus on costs, not growth. Cut its shares outstanding by 20% through “cashless exercise offer” for warrants. 13 senior execs and directors have bought shares on open market. Company now has $100M in cash, will end year with no net debt; overcapitalized, could buy back 20% of its shares, even with $50M still in the bank, boosts FCF by 27%. Valuation: 6.2x P/FCF. With operational improvements and repurchases, you get company at 4.2x P/FCF.

Q&A Session:

1. Why is it a good business? He says they've improved logistics

2. Aren't Toronto and Vancouver housing markets still very strong? Answer is even if business slows down, you're getting the retail business for free anyways.

3. T2 Partners' Whitney Tilson pressed him on the housing bubble in Canada - Gottfried admitted that real estate is overvalued, but it doesn't pose the same risk as the US did, due to less crazy mortgages.

About Guy Gottfried: He founded Rational Investment Group and focuses on a risk-averse, research-intensive strategy. He is a value manager and prior to founding his firm was an analyst at Bruce Berkowitz's Fairholme Capital.

You can view our notes from the Value Investing Congress for the rest of the hedge fund manager presentations.

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