Zoom, Zoom…Zamano!

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Zamano plc (ZMNO:ID, ZMNO:LN) is a leading Irish/UK provider of games, videos, music, apps & other digital content to mobile users (D2C, Direct-To-Consumer), and mobile messaging/marketing solutions for businesses (B2B, Business-To-Business). It’s also terribly misunderstood & neglected – the share price is down 25% in the past six months (vs. the ISEQ up 4%). So, loath as I am, we should first tackle some:

Risks & Misconceptions

i) ‘They just sell ringtones?!’:   No, they sell all kinds of digital content. Especially to Millennials, whose attention span’s as fleeting as Lee Evans between twitches – which means they’re a perfect target for the cheap impulse buys Zamano offers.

ii) ‘Oh, and porn!’:   No. No. No, they bloody well don’t…

iii) ‘What about smartphones?’:   Zamano primarily interacts with users via SMS (plus MMS, WAP, etc.), so smartphones must be killing them, right? Er no, as Portio Research points out: ‘SMS is not dead. SMS is still the king…’. For Zamano, smartphones represent more opportunity than threat:

- The SMS share of the pie may shrink, but the pie keeps growing. More & more people are forgetting their laptops & and are now living online 24/7 via phones (& tablets) – they’re all a potential target market for Zamano. And smartphones have allowed the company to upgrade & customize its D2C content, and to migrate its advertising online, thereby enabling more effective customer acquisition. Like so many tech companies, ZMNO’s really a sales & marketing company – so management’s ultimately agnostic, they’ll embrace whatever technology(s) deliver the best revenue/profit opportunities.

- If that’s via apps, that’s OK too… Because people have to get paid eventually, free/dollar apps won’t hack it, especially when it comes to regularly updated content. Maybe in-game/app purchases & advertising become the norm, but I suspect we’ll see an inevitable migration (back) to a subscription model – a far more stable/valuable revenue stream for companies. Just look at the evolution of online music: Downloading’s dead now, streaming’s where it’s at…maybe even Apple’s finally got the message!

- As for Zamano’s B2B business, SMS will be an attractive marketing tool for years to come. I mean, when did you last read your spam email? But we all still love that little dopamine fix when a new text message pings…we can’t help reading it! For companies, SMS is a simple, immediate & compelling medium for reaching out & marketing to customers. Combine it with geolocation and/or mobile payment technologies, and it offers intriguing new opportunities.

iv) ‘Don’t they have a crap reputation?’:   Sure…if you want to believe the trolls. Yes, how dare they charge for that sub. you forgot about? Why don’t you complain about the skinny jeans you bought last week too, or the hangover you spent good money on last night? I blame the chattering classes – they tut-tut over the hoi polloi buying such chavtastic tat. Then we have nanny regulators like Comreg, who act like they’re waging a holy war to atone for the sins of the Irish banking regulator… Yes, Zamano has to compete with some dodgy rivals, but it also has a fiduciary duty to its investors. Shady practices might appear tempting, but when you consider the risks for a listed company…it’s never worth it. And because ZMNO’s listed (& highly visible), the regulator inevitably targets them first. I’m confident we can rely on management to maintain standards & compliance accordingly.

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Donegal Investment Group (DCP:ID)

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Time flies… I published my Donegal Creameries – Low Fat Diet write-up just over a year ago. Quite obviously, it’s been a successful call :-) :

Donegal Chart

In my original post, I referenced the closing DCP:ID share price (on Fri, May-3rd, 2013) of EUR 3.63. The following Tuesday (the Monday was May Day), the stock rallied 28%, before closing up 18.5% at EUR 4.30. [Another endorsement: My very first suggestion was a name change...which occurred just 2 months later!] A subsequent march higher, at periodic intervals, culminated in the stock doubling after 10 months (i.e. in Mar-2014). Since then, we’ve suffered a 17% retracement – so today’s EUR 6.00 share price seems like a bargain, eh?!

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2014 – The Great Irish Share Valuation Project (Part IX)

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Continued from here:

[NB: Worth revisiting Part I if you're a new reader, or you'd like a refresher on TGISVP & my approach to the whole project.]

Company:   First Derivatives

Prior Post(s):   2012 & 2013

Ticker:  FDP:LN

Price:   GBP 1,070p

It’s been a wild ride for investors in the past year:  A year ago, FDP looked fairly valued to me – and for much of 2013, I wasn’t far wrong, with the shares clocking modest gains. But FDP took off abruptly in November…by January, the shares had almost doubled within 2 months & tripled within 6 months. With profits down in the interim results, I suspect this rally was more of a delayed response to FDP’s Aug-Nov news flow (with new contracts reported with Republic Wireless, the NYSE & ASIC). These all highlighted the capability & flexibility of the company’s Delta products/platform to deal with Big Data, both financial and non-financial. That’s a sexy pitch right now for investors & they responded accordingly… As usual, the mugs were the last to be sucked in – it’s no great surprise to see they’ve lost a third of their investment since January, with no particular reprieve in sight.

Even at these less elevated levels, I suspect the shares remain over-valued. While FDP continues to rack up attractive revenue growth, the rest of its accounts don’t paint such a pretty picture. Operating margins continue to compress (now between 11-12%), earnings growth is non-existent & the outstanding share count is mounting steadily. More troubling is the lack of operating free cash flow (cash generated from operations, less PPE & intangibles). However, this has been offset by residential property sales in the past couple of years – unfortunately, this source of cash should dry up fairly soon. Perhaps more troubling is the continued reliance on consulting (almost 75% of revenue), rather than software sales. This is in response to the industry’s need for further cost-cutting, consolidation & compliance, rather than renewed secular growth. But it’s 5 years now since the end of the financial crisis. Perhaps there’s more of the same work to come, but I worry it’ll dry up & the company will suddenly have a death valley to cross…before we see a genuine return to growth in the finance industry.

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2014 – The Great Irish Share Valuation Project (Part VIII)

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Continued from here:

[NB: Worth revisiting Part I if you're a new reader, or you'd like a refresher on TGISVP & my approach to the whole project.]

Company:   Fyffes

Prior Post(s):   2012 & 2013

Ticker:  FFY:ID

Price:   EUR 1.27

Seems like I picked the wrong horse, choosing Total Produce (TOT:ID) instead of Fyffes…but I can live with that, you can’t pick ‘em all & TOT’s been good to me. But maybe not good enough – because FFY popped 46% in early March, on the news of a definitive merger with Chiquita Brands International (CQB:US). [CQB also closed 11% higher on the day - since then, on average, each stock's held onto its gains]. I think we can comfortably assume the deal will go ahead (unscathed):  Shareholders love it, the DoJ doesn’t give a damn what happens in Europe, and the Irish Competition Authority is presumably asleep at the wheel, as per usual. [A study confirmed the ICA has a rejection rate of just 0.7%!] Anyway, what deal dissenter would relish the possibility of mercenaries dropping in for tea & a little chat..?! ;-) At this point, let’s just rely on the merger terms for our valuation:

USD 12.25 CQB Share Price * 0.1567 CQB Share (per 1 FFY Share) / 1.3841 EUR/USD = EUR 1.39

Fyffes is marginally undervalued – it offers an attractive arbitrage for the big boys, or a cheap entry price if you’re interested in going long the new ChiquitaFyffes.

Price Target:   EUR 1.39

Upside/(Downside):   9%

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2014 – The Great Irish Share Valuation Project (Part VII)

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Continued from here:

[NB: Worth revisiting Part I if you're a new reader, or you'd like a refresher on TGISVP & my approach to the whole project.]

Company:   Tullow Oil

Prior Post(s):   2012 & 2013

Ticker:  TLW:LN

Price:   GBP 800p

Well, I’ve definitely offended TLW shareholders in the past two years – particularly in 2012, when I predicted a 339p price target (vs. a share price of 1543p at the time). WTF..?! But I must admit, their response was far more dignified than that of the junior resource hoi polloi – clearly a better class of people. [The other day, I was amused to read about a US small-cap CEO lamenting his shareholder base used to 'include those nice guys at Fidelity', but now it was 'just guys in muscle tees from Jersey!'] Hmmm, maybe they just weren’t taking me too seriously? But at this point, I bet they’re taking their bloody losses seriously. ;-) Ouch, down nearly 50% in the past two years (after bouncing from a recent 736p low).

Well, Tullow obviously needs to pick up its game on the exploration front, results were decidedly mixed in 2013. [It's interesting to see how exploration drilling success (or failure) is still such a primary share price driver for a company the size of Tullow]. At this point, continued exploration success in Kenya has become increasingly important for the company, with estimated gross recoverable resources of 600 million boe (potentially a billion boe plus) to tap. I suspect we’ll also see a continuing secondary focus on Atlantic Margins exploration, but other non-core exploration (& mature production) assets will be likely disposal targets. Which explains the latest annual report cover: Africa’s Leading Independent Oil Company - current production in West Africa, future potential in East Africa.

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2014 – The Great Irish Share Valuation Project (Part VI)

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Continued from here:

[NB: Worth revisiting Part I if you're a new reader, or you'd like a refresher on TGISVP & my approach to the whole project.]

Company:   Green REIT

Prior Post(s):   2013

Ticker:  GRN:ID

Price:   EUR 1.20

Since I first wrote about Green in August, not a lot’s changed fundamentally. But boy, it’s been a fun ride! The share price actually traded up to a EUR 1.479 high since then, an astonishing 53% premium to NAV. In fact, I’m bemused to see GRN’s all-time closing high (of EUR 1.442) was set on December 31st. [And has suffered a steady decline since. Same for Hibernia REIT (HBRN:ID)]. It’s so obvious, it’s laughable… Hmmm, if you already owned a decent slug of shares, wouldn’t it be sooo tempting to spend just a little more driving the price higher? Sure, it would raise your average entry price marginally, but also do wonders for your year-end mark-to-market! ;-) Unfortunately (or fortunately!), the Irish market’s a good venue for this type of fun & games – prices can sometimes be pushed around with surprising ease. It’s not like anybody expects the Irish exchange will ever bother doing anything about it…

Then there’s the problem of over-enthusiastic & naive investors. God forbid I compare property & junior resource stock investors, but sometimes I wonder… When it comes to real assets, too many investors seem to think something magical happens when they’re acquired by listed companies. A resource CEO throws together a rag-bag of exploration licences (acquired for a few million), IPOs the company, and minutes later the same assets are worth 50 million plus! As for property, there’s the old joke: ‘Yeah, they just bought it for X million. Wow, that’s an amazing property, you won’t see another like it…I wonder how much it’s worth?!’ Yes, I actually get emails like this: ‘The Green REIT portfolio’s on a tasty 8.7% yield – what do you think it’s worth?’ Er, pretty much what they fucking paid for it three months ago, I would think!

[I'm really not trying to mock Irish/UK investors here. The real lunatics are in the US, of course - where investors are willingly sucked into that other great blood funnel, the REIT/MLP machine. All too often, valuations bear little relationship to actual asset values, but nobody cares... Kennedy-Wilson Holdings (KW:US) is a great example - now a much-vaunted name on the European side of the pond, but how many investors have actually checked out the parent company listing? It trades on an astonishing 2.3 times book!]

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2014 – The Great Irish Share Valuation Project (Part V)

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Continued from here:

[NB: Worth revisiting Part I if you're a new reader, or you'd like a refresher on TGISVP & my approach to the whole project.]

Company:   Trinity Biotech

Prior Post(s):   2012 & 2013

Ticker:   TRIB:US

Price:   USD 26.55

First up, I should remind readers TRIB used to be a large holding for me. And I bloody well hung on for as long as I could – bailing out of my final tranche of shares last August, with a near 700% gain on my average net entry price & almost an 1,100% gain on my initial purchase price. Of course, I ended up leaving money on the table – it’s rallied another 30% since then! But I’m not sure I understand the investor who’s buying at today’s price… I much prefer being the investor who bought TRIB at a tenth of the price, when it was truly despised & neglected! But let’s keep an open mind – what’s a sensible valuation for the company today?

In reality, Trinity’s transformed itself (& its investor base) from value to growth in the past couple of years. Most of its cash pile has now been spent on acquisitions. [But it remains in rude financial health - generating healthy cash flow, with $22.3 million of cash & zero debt]. The Fiomi Diagnostics acquisition is coming to fruition – the company’s now ramping up sales & marketing for the actual/expected European & US approvals (in 2014/15) of its Troponin I & BNP cardiac tests. In 2013, they added a UK-based blood bank screening business & Immco Diagnostics, a US (autoimmune) diagnostics company. These are complementary businesses, they add another $16.5 M of revenue, and Immco’s business/pipeline can be quickly leveraged up (using TRIB’s existing resources) to a 20% pa growth trajectory.

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Cheap & Interesting!

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There’s one category of email I receive ’bout every second day. A typical example will thank me for the blog (yes, always good to hear!), stress they’re a regular reader, often cite a share we own in common, but then we reach the real meat – usually a somewhat impassioned plea:

Please tell me…where & how exactly do you come up with your ideas?!

All appear to be from genuine readers & investors – I certainly don’t think anybody expects some kind of get-rich-quick answer. [Though it gives a taste of how such a desire is so regularly exploited by the unethical & downright criminal]. I suspect this plea reflects a pretty common frustration for investors – where & how do I find new ideas…and how do I know if they’re actually bloody good ideas? Of course, I’ve no magic short-cut to offer here. My definitive answer’s still:

Read, read, read & then read some more…

I covered this ground in ‘Why I Read…’ (Parts I, II, & III - probably my most popular blog series ever). ['Why I Write...' may be a useful companion piece]. Looking back, I think these lines (from my final post) nicely sum up the challenge & benefits of reading:

‘I’m talking about territory where the greatest opportunities, and the greatest investors & traders, reside….For them, you can probably chalk it up to pure innate talent. For the rest of us, I think huge swathes of reading is the inevitable toll you pay to get there – however you go about it:

But reading annual reports will give you the figures. Reading non-fiction gives you the facts (& the right context). And most importantly, reading fiction allows you to recognize the fear & greed in yourself (& others), and enables you to see & imagine the world very differently.

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2014 – The Great Irish Share Valuation Project (Part IV)

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Continued from here:

Company:   Grafton Group

Prior Post(s):   2012 & 2013

Ticker:   GFTU:LN

Price:   GBP 665p

Revisiting last year’s post, I see this prediction: ‘don’t be surprised to see Grafton suggesting a GBP re-denomination later this year…they might just go the full hog & dump their Irish listing in favour of the UK.’ Six months later, that’s exactly what they announced! Which makes sense really – over 75% of Grafton’s revenue now comes from the UK. On the other hand, you’d think the bloody Celtic Tiger was back, considering how the share price has behaved – a triple in just 18 months!? I was pretty bullish originally on Grafton, but my valuation estimate’s certainly been marking time ever since…

In the latest trading update, FY-2013 revenue reached GBP 1.90 billion & like-for-like sales were up nicely across the board. Recent reports suggest the 4.2% operating free cash flow (cash generated from operations, less net capex) margin’s still running well ahead of underlying operating profit – let’s assume that’s still the case on a FY basis. And I continue to believe Grafton will, in time, revert to its prior 7.0% peak operating FCF margin. For valuation purposes, averaging the two seems fair – a margin of 5.6% still deserves a 0.5 Price/Sales multiple, in my opinion. With net interest hovering ’round 15% of operating profit, no further debt/cash adjustments are necessary. [At this point, I don't believe a P/E multiple's a practical (or effective) valuation alternative to also incorporate here]. Which gives us:

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2014 – The Great Irish Share Valuation Project (Part III)

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Continued from here:

Company:   Kerry Group

Prior Post(s):   2012 & 2013

Ticker:   KYG:ID

Price:   EUR 51.60

So, here I am again – eyeballing Kerry’s valuation, and searching for supporting evidence in its accounts. But it’s nowhere to be found… Now I think about it, maybe all the big Irish food/agri companies will end up looking wildly over-valued to my jaundiced eye? This investor homage perplexes me – surely someone recalls how little respect these companies commanded in the past?! Well, perhaps they were different beasts then – but I don’t believe they’ve (fully) delivered on what they promised, when they embarked on this multi-year process of portfolio rationalization & re-configuration. And I certainly don’t believe they’ve grown into their current valuations either.

Then again, maybe I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth! Now Donegal Investment Group (DCP:ID) has ditched its dairy business, and is looking to shed non-core assets & move up the value chain, surely it’s on the verge of a similar multiple? Hmmm, so what’s a 20 P/E worth to DCP?! :-)

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