Keeping an extra $5 million on hand in case a small acquisition or business expansion opportunity emerges makes sense. What doesn't make sense is stockpiling $26+ million (and growing) to make a large acquisition. Same with leaving $26 million stuck in a money market earning next-to-nothing for shareholders.
With tight focus and disciplined execution BSquare can continue generating profitability, positive cash flow and shareholder value. If DataV begins generating traction and MobileV continues to ramp, then the outlook gets even brighter.
"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Over the past ten years BSquare's Board of Directors burned $30+ million in shareholder cash pursuing failed new initiatives and acquisitions... all of which were confidently touted as brilliant business ideas that would ramp revenues, margins and profitability. The list includes:
Acquiring TestQuest (oops)
Pivoting to the TestQuest Handset Certification Program (oops)
Opening the China office (oops)
Opening the Korea office (oops)
The MCP Data acquisition (oops)
Expanding MSFT 3rd party software sales to Europe (oops)
The OLAP agreement with Texas Instruments (oops)
These initiatives all incinerated shareholder cash but even worse, diverted the staff and leadership team's focus from BSQR's core business, including the Ford program (oops), Coke (oops), Engineering Services revenues (oops) and Engineering Services margins (oops).
BSQR's staff and investors paid a heavy price for these strategic mistakes.
Jerry Chase has done exactly what he said he would do. Focus on BSquare's core business lines and returning them to profitability. He also said he could fund new product development (MobileV, DataV) while maintaining profitability. He has done that successfully.
The idea BSquare executives should now go out shopping for a $10 to $15 million acquisition is nuts. Focus is a huge competitive edge. Don't repeat past mistakes.
If MobileV and DataV have tremendous potential, and I believe they do, Chase & team can develop that software in-house... and without burning $15+ million in cash.
And without a $15 million acquisition, a solid shareholder dividend makes far more sense than earning shareholders 1/4 of 1%. In 15+ years as a publicly traded company BSquare has never returned a dime to shareholders. Its time for that to change.
While no longer an LTRX shareholder, I still follow the company and root for a successful turnaround.
The long wait for LTRX revenue growth and GAAP profitability is understandably frustrating. That said, if any large shareholder starts thinking about a CEO change, they risk repeating the error that put Lantronix into this deep hole.
Jerry Chase and Kurt Busch are not genius level CEO's. Any business executive who is would be at Google... not Lantronix. Both are smart, experienced and competent business leaders. Chase took the helm of a floundering LTRX and stabilized it... just before the global economy and electronics industry imploded in 2008 - 2009.
Kurt took the smoldering pile of ashes that remained after Bernhard's $5+ million internal investigation and began rebuilding. In staff, products and confidence he's made impressive progress. The expected revenue growth and GAAP profitability have not emerged... yet.
Was Chase a good leader? He was appointed CEO at a floundering BSquare in September of 2013, immediately right sized the staff, rebuilt the leadership team, returned the company to positive cash flow and since posted 3+ consecutive quarters of GAP profits and revenue growth. The share price is up an impressive 70%.
I am not suggesting Jerry is a better leader than Kurt. I am suggesting changing CEO's won't solve the the core LTRX problem. It has been the same for a decade. Lantronix is too small to be a publicly traded company.
In that decade the company burned $20+ million in publicly traded company expenses. The "distraction" cost likely higher. with leaders and staff under the wilting Wall Street microscope every 90 days. How much equity has this business model generated for LTRX shareholders?
From my view out in the left field bleachers, the best option is to find the right acquirer and wrap the LTRX team under a larger, financially stronger umbrella. The staff will get stability. Shareholders get cash. Done.
In Q4 and 2014 as a whole Jerry Chase's team delivered impressive step-by-step progress in a long awaited BSQR turnaround. Three consecutive quarters of GAAP profitability. Google emerging as a major customer. $1+ million in MobileV revenues recognized in Q4. The 3rd party software team generating a successful new product. An effective executive leadership team working in sync. $5+ million in cash generated in 2014. And a share price up 50%+ since Chase took the helm.
Jerry Chase's quiet, "under-promise and over-deliver" style on the conference call is also refreshing. His remarks are thoughtful, direct and concise.
Shareholder thanks and congratulations to the BSQR team. You have a lot to be proud of.