From Value to momentum – MRO TEK

December 24, 2007

I generally select and buy stocks where the general enthusiam from them is very low. None of my picks shoot up after I have bought them and so  when a few did in the last few months, it was a new experience for me.

One such pick was MRO-TEK. I started looking at the Company a few weeks back when the stock was at around 52 per share. My analysis was as follows

About

The company is primarily into end-to-end solutions and hardware/products-provider in data communications, data access and networking fields, offering a wide range of sophisticated LAN/WAN products.

The company has a JV with RAD corporation and a few other technical collaborations. The company had a split of 30-70 of manufacturing v/s trading a few years back. In the recent years, the split has reversed to around 70-30 in terms of revenue

Performance

The company has had very erratic performance. The projections which the company made at the time of the IPO in 2000, were never met (by a huge margin). Since then the performance has been one step forward and one step back. The ROE has fluctuated between 5 and 15 %. Topline has also fluctuated and has grown by 9% per annum and the Net profit has also grown by roughly the same amount.

The margins have held steady at 9-10% and the asset turns have improved from 1.2 to 2.6

Positives

The company has maintained its margins and improved its efficiency ratios. Wcap ratio has improved from 1.5 to 6 due to improvement in inventory and recievable turns. The company has freed up cash and as a result has no debt and almost 40 Crs of cash on the balance sheet.

The company recently completed a buyback program using the surplus cash. The promoters have also been increasing their holding % in the last few years. The company has been paying a decent dividend with a DPS/EPS of around 30-40%.

Negatives

Although the management appears rational, pro-shareholder and is trying to create value, their performance has not been up to the mark. Reading the annual report reminds me of kids in school, who study hard and have the right work ethic, but still manage to flunk one or two subjects each year.

The company operates in a very competitive field with competition from likes of CISCO and LUCENT etc. This industry involves a lot of new technology, high R&D expenditure and high rates of obsolescence. MRO has only recently started investing in R&D and till recent past was mainly a distributor of networking products.

Conclusion

My personal estimate of intrinsic value was around Rs 90/ share. At 52 / share, the company was not a screaming buy, but worth creating an initial position.

I am not too optimistic on the long term economics of the company as this is a very small company in a fast paced and competitive industry. As a result it is diffcult for the company to operate at the top end of the product range and make good margins. Due to my lack of confidence on sustained good performance I conservatively estimated the intrinsic value at around 90 /share

Post script

Once I complete the analysis, I write a single page note detailing my investment thesis. This is more to record my thoughts at the time of the decision. It is useful to keep such notes as I can check them again later and check if my assumptions were true or not.

Well in this case, it never came to that. Almost from the next day the stock suddenly caught the fancy of the market. Somehow everyone has a very different opinion and as a result the stock is up almost 50-60% since then. In my case after creating an initial position, I stop buying it. Personally I buy at 40-50% of my estimate of intrinsic value and if the stock sells above that I don’t do anything. You may think I am leaving money on the table, but I prefer to follow a discplined approach. In my case I am not comfortable with trading and momentum plays and prefer to leave it to other who are better at it.

Valuation logic – 2008 EPS around 6-7 / share

PE ( will explain logic for this in a different post ) = 9-10

Cash / share = 40 Rs/ share

Total = 94 – 110 Rs/share

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