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Value Line, Inc. Message Board

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  • alexalekhine alexalekhine Feb 17, 2010 1:10 PM Flag

    Motley Fool on the Hill

    First a few clarifications:

    I believe the idiot quote is attributable to Warren Buffet, isn't it.

    Also, Dick Fuld was the CEO of Lehman Brothers not Bear Stearns (not Sterns).

    And some thoughts:
    Although Value Line's prospects seem dim, the company maintains a strong financial position and is debt free. Cash and investments of about $105 million (more than $10 per share) handily exceeds the amount of unearned subscription revenue carried on the balance sheet as a liability (typical of accounting in the publishing industry). What's more, Annual Cash from Operations ranged from $14.3 million (FY April 09) on the low end to $25.2 million (FY April 07) over the past four full fiscal years, and totaled an outsized $36.6 million five years ago (FY April 2005). By comparison, the company spends almost nothing on capital spending, leaving virtually all of CFO as FCF available for investment in product development or for payment as dividends.

    As the writer mentioned, the Value Line BRAND is not destroyed. Certainly it has been considerably diminished by the recent revelations, but it has not been destroyed. Certainly it has been diminished by the reign of the real Queen of Mean (not Leona Helmsley). Finally, a considerable portion of the subscription base probably consists of libraries that are unlikely to cancel their subscriptions over the short term so there is potential for the business to remain viable for quite some time.

    Certainly, Morningstar has eaten Value Line's lunch, but the company's name has value and good management may be capable of turning the company around through reinvestment in the business, improvement of existing products (the electronic version of the survey appears to be a disaster), development of new products, and the general application of good business practices.

    Practitioners of Porter Analysis would readily classify the company as a "cash cow" not as a "dog." Value could even be created through the classic Porter strategy of using the cash flow of the existing business to invest in completely new businesses through diversification. Heck, you could buy quite a few car washes per year with $15 million. Even Lenny Dykstra was able to do that, and he didn't even have $15 million a year to invest in them.

    The big questions remain: How will JBB dispose of her ownership interest? Who will be the buyer of that ownership interest? How quickly will they sweep the C-suite clean of people like the current CEO who is a long-time crony of JBB.

    Inquiring minds want to know.


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