Well, I often take up the following exercise in my class. You may find it interesting too..
Say there are 2 companies A Ltd and B Ltd. Both are textile companies of the exact same size, having same margin, same products, financials and similar quality of management.
Now say that A Ltd has just bought a new machine, which increases their productivity and thereby, their margins by 5%.
Given a choice, which company's shares will you buy?
Usually, people say A Ltd, which might be your answer too. What if I tell you that there are 3 choices. (No, 50-50 in A and B Ltd is not the third choice).
Well, an interesting answer (I wont call it the right answer) is; You should buy neither A Ltd nor B Ltd shares. Given a choice, you should buy the shares of the company which manufactures those machines!!!
The funda is very simple. What stops B Ltd from purchasing the same machine tomorrow? When their margins increase too, they might start a price war to gain market share. In the process, none of the textile companies will benefit. Only 2 parties will benefit; the end consumer and the machinery manufacturer!
When any sector goes through a boom phase, if one can go up the chain and identify the capital equipment manufacturer, that can become a better investment than the players in that sector! Well, if you would have identified this in the textile sector, in the context of the TUF scheme, you would have invested in Lakshmi Machine Works and your investment would have been up more than 10 times in about 10 years. Not bad!
Without drifting further, I should come straight to the topic of the post - CMI FPE Ltd. As mentioned in the title, it is still WIP for me. I think I need to do a lot more study on the company.
CMI FPE was earlier known as Flat Products Equipment India Ltd and was set up by Late Dr. T.R.Mehta, who was basically a technocrat. He sold the company to the Belgian group CMI in 2008 since he did not have a successor to run the company. CMI also bought a Pvt Ltd company of the promoter, which is now named as CMI Industry Automation Pvt Ltd. CMI currently holds 75% stake in CMI FPE and 100% stake in CMI Industry Automation.
The company is basically a provider of capital equipment required by the steel sector. The company manufactures products like Cold Rolling Mill Complexes, Galvanising Lines, etc. The group is one of the largest and the lowest cost manufacturers of this equipment in the world.
Its but obvious that the fortunes of the company are pegged to the fortunes of the steel sector, which is not exactly going through a rosy period right now. But after all, steel is a cyclical sector and when it turns around, CMI FPE could benefit bigtime, like in the example above.
Market Cap: Rs.330 cr (CMP Rs.670) (One may note that in FY11, the company recorded sales of Rs.437 cr and PAT of Rs.47 cr. There was Rs.25 cr other income)
By and large debt free. Works on customer advances. PE ratio etc would look ridiculously high, since the last few quarters have been quite bad. Dividend payout at 20ish % has been ok.
Excellent cashflow generation till FY11. FY12 has been bad for the company on all parameters.
- The company works in a very niche sector, with best-in-class technology having huge entry barriers.
- The company is supported by a very strong parent, having global presence.
- From what I could find out, CMI FPE is now the only manufacturing outfit of the entire group globally in this business line. Outsourcing opportunities could be huge.
- Slowly, the company is also expanding into new products like PLTCM and providing ancillary services to its clients.
- The company has a strong order book position. (estimated to be more than Rs.800 cr)
- The cashflows are strong, since the company works on advances from customers.
- I really liked the management's approach. Currently, the company is going through a tough time. During this period, instead of taking a step back, the management has chosen to modernise and expand the company's facilities. Please go through this and this very carefully. Basically, the management has chosen to bear short term pain and keep themselves ready to take advantage of the time when the cycle turns. Also, expanding capacity during a slowdown is usually cheaper. Such contrarian thinking is something which I honestly like.
- Of course, the biggest negative currently is that their customer sector is going through a tough time. Capex is being differed all over the world by steel companies. Consequently, inspite of having decent order book, execution of the same is being differed by customers of CMI. The pain is very much visible in the recent quarter numbers. (Actually this is why I started looking at it in the first place.)
- I am unable to get a proper hang of the steel cycle. So, will the wait for the cycle to turn be a short one or a super long one? Thats something I do not know.
- If one looks on the traditional 'value' parameters such as PE, dividend yield etc, this stock will look insanely expensive and wont appeal to many. But I think just looking at the company in number terms is not right. Business and products is what is also important.
- CMI FPE has doubled its capacity, even though its existing capacity may not be fully utilised. This will surely lead to increase in the overall fixed cost of the company. As a result, till business conditions improve, the results of the company will look even worse.
- Things are a bit opaque on levy of royalty/technical fees etc by the parent on the Indian company. I am not still clear on that front.
- There has been recent announcement that the parent would be merging its own 100% subsidiary into the listed company. The details of the merger and the valuation etc has not yet been announced. But it could lead to a corporate governance issue. I am sure everyone remembers the Akzo Nobel incident. Corporate governance issue = derating and further drop in stock price. Howeverrrr, there is one more angle of looking at this event. Hint: Current promoter holding is 75%. The merger would result into the promoter holding going beyond 75%. An MNC subsidiary which could have 75% plus promoter holding, where stock price has been massively hit due to unfavourable business cycle..hmmm.. I will not say more because the D-word is a taboo currently!! :-)
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