I guess that's what was expected industry wide; gradual reduction in output due to lower prices. Noting that storage is up for the last month, is it possible that refineries simply can't handle the lighter crude of North Dakota so that most of the additions to storage is that type of crude? If so, we can predict the continued differentials between Brent and WTI prices. Or perhaps become even more pronounced.
I am hoping to see at least a bit of profit at WLL and Oasis with the price around $60 since I have shares in both. And if they are able to eke out a profit, Fidelity ought to be somewhere around breakeven also though their adventures in Utah are probably more costly than those of the other two companies.
The refinery is selling product presumably. I really think we should not be calling it a refinery except that it is refining part of a crude oil input. But it is a very limited and specialized type of refinery better described as a topping plant IMO. As far as I know, a real refinery will not become profitable unless it gets to 100,000 BPD minimum--that was true in 1965 and I'd expect the numbers to be higher now. Last I checked the 3 refineries in Billings were all up to about 75,000 BPD--isn't the one in Mandan about the same? They get by on local distribution I think, but really can't compete with the large gulf coast refineries or the Rosemont area refinery in Minnesota head to head.
I had one of my orders filled today, at 17.84 . Had another in my Roth account which was at $17.70 and that did not fill despite Yahoo reporting some sales at that price.
Today I placed a couple of limit orders. A few hundred shares at $17.80. When I looked back at my order status, someone had offered to buy 100 at $17.81. I wondered if that was a teaser or whether I was actually seeing a little bidding war going on. So I moved my bid up to $17.82 and, sure enough, a few minutes later there was a bid at $17.83. I'm tempted to try it one more time, but really I think the point is made.
No big computer driven program is going to be offering to buy 100 shares, and I doubt whether even a market maker would fool around with such an order--but maybe he would. So I suspect it's just another guy like me to whom a few dollars are important on any trade. Guess I'll let him go first and perhaps were can both get a fill. Interesting anyway and one of the reasons I really like owning stock in small companies.
That cut and paste did not work out very well.
I completely missed this announcement. Easy to do with such a small company, but it is a very significant announcement. This means the factory will be fully employed--actually stuffed--for several months this winter if all goes according to plan. There will be little room for other higher margin business, but the promotion is short enough that I suspect other deals could be signed but delivery not immediate. And the bed frame business should be able to grow significantly without much effect from this deal.
I'd expect a good EPS result ( $.50 in Q4), and even a much better EPS as enthusiasm grows, orders get pushed up, in the current quarter coming to completion in a week.
I was surprised to see the price below $18 today and have entered some orders down here as I think the better EPS will result in a price well over $20 by next spring. If not, the company remains stable and responsible, so I can afford to wait while holding shares--getting to be a fair sized part of my portfolio now.
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Span-America’s Consumer Bedding Products Selected for Major Retailer’s Seasonal Promotion
Business Wire Span-America Medical Systems, Inc.
June 9, 2015 4:15 PM
GREENVILLE, S.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
Span-America Medical Systems, Inc. (SPAN) announced that it was notified by a major retail customer that the Company has been selected as a supplier of consumer bedding products for the retailer’s seasonal promotion in the fall of 2015. The Company expects that the promotion will be comparable in size to the promotions in which Span-America participated during the fall seasons of fiscal years 2012 and 2013. Span-America did not participate in a seasonal promotion in fiscal year 2014.
“We are pleased that Span-America has been notified that we will likely be a supplier of consumer bedding products for one of our customer’s seasonal promotions,” stated Jim Ferguson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Span-America. “We expect to begin building inventory for the promotion in our fourth quarter of fiscal 2015 and to ship the promotional products in October and November of 2015, which will be in the first quarter of our 2016 fiscal year.
“We are encouraged that our consumer bedding products have been picked for this promotion and believe it will have a positive impact on our sales and earnings performance for the first quarter of fiscal 2016. As with prior sales promotions that we participated in with this customer, we do not have a written agreement at this time and cannot give complete assurance that we will be awarded the business, but we expect to receive a written purchase order by approximately September 2015 based on past experience,” concluded Mr. Ferguson.
I'm sorry I did not see this invitation till now. I'll go to that board to become familiar with the contest.
Thanks for the heads up. L.
Among the interesting facts I learned in speaking with my source is that most of the frac jobs use pressure of 10,000 pounds. This company has gone as high as 14,000 pounds apparently and when one sees those banks of trucks (20 or more) around a site completion, the more there are apparently the higher the pressure. Apparently drivers stay with their rigs and that is why there is so much overtime I suspect. It must be more expensive then, for each driver to go all the way back to a more remote home base like Miles City as well as going to the well from here. At least an extra 2 hours on both ends of a job.
I am doing a lot of guessing in making these statements so don't treat them as gospel. Just clues as to what might determine how fast or how much activity might recover with higher prices. My guess today would be that MDU will be presenting a rather poor quarterly result as activity tightens up around their areas of operation. And that conclusion just came off the top of my head--so nothing to bank on. I'm still thinking our CEO is the right man for the job though. Not so sure about the board of directors.
I have learned that there used to be 5 Frac crews working out of Miles City's Sanjel office. They had dropped to three as of a few weeks ago, and sent a full complement of trucks down to Oklahoma a couple weeks ago bringing them down to 2 crews out of here.
Of course, Miles City is outside the active area of oil drilling, so there might well be a tendency to concentrate more on resources in the Buffalo, WY or Williston yards with drivers available there. So such a report really does not mean very much.
I also learned that at least two office administrators have been sent back to truck driving (from whence they came originally) here in Miles City. I'm told they still get their 100 hour weeks and another source tells me he was paid over $100,000 in each of the last 4 years (and I'd guess many get considerably more) for driving trucks for Sanjel, so they are still doing completions. But this office might shut down and already is specializing in cementing operations.
Bike ride across S. Dakota was good early in June with not a single well apparent from Spearfish to Millette. Drove to Faith on HWY 12 and back the same way, so in your neighborhood, Don. I expect to do the N. Dakota ride again in August and may ride my bike out there as well as on the organized tour so that I'd actually be riding around the outskirts of activity for a couple days. But little to compare with so not apt to be very productive regarding activity. Drilling rigs active from the N. Dakota site is probably the best indicator I have of current conditions.
Watching MDU crews working around here is like watching paint dry. They have hired good people IMO, but the guaranteed profitability of utility operations inevitably leads to featherbedding one way or another. I just cannot imagine how MDU can be a strong competitor in aggregate or construction with the utility division forming the backbone of the company.
And I do respect the small regional brokerage of Dougherty more than most of the more famous outfits--I think it possible that they would publish promising developments to authors from Barrons as quasi representatives of management. A dangerous practice but possible. I'm sure Dan would like to have a more comfortably upbeat year---finally.
Yet I don't expect to buy shares at the current elevated price even though there is room for them in my portfolio.
It is possible, I suppose, that Dan said something to Dougherty reps which would give a clue that Raven has turned a corner. Of course, such information is supposed to be distributed to all concurrently, but, no matter how careful, such information can be determined. In fact, one of the things I've done in driving past Raven's various plants would be like that--and I've reported it to you though theoretically the information is available to anyone who wishes to look at it.
If the price keeps going up for another couple of days, I might conclude that there really has been some sort of promising development of which I'm not aware.
I am regularly amazed by the temporary effect of such an article or a brokerage recommendation has on the stock price. I have virtually no confidence in those recommendations, so any stock effect seems to me to be silly but valuable for efficient buys or sales. Of course there is also the probability that some bodies will take advantage of those blips while also providing the promotional material. I doubt that is the case for Dougherty though.
That is really getting back to the core of Raven--initially formed to produce balloons in 1956. One of the 4 original Gen. Mills engineers who came to Sioux Falls from Mpls was at the annual meeting a few years ago. Raven withdrew from the hot air recreational balloon business a few years ago while offering to provide support for balloons still in service. Largely, I think, for liability reasons, but I suspect it was also a difficult market to service due to many individual buyers.
The Aerostar division holds some investment potential IMO, despite being old and usually unexciting. Loon could provide a bit more pzaaz to the business. Great story you posted about the launch cage you posted on IV, Steve. That picture of the single guy holding a little balloon in the wind looked almost like a joke--surely that cannot be an actual early LOON launch. Can it?
I have no authoritative information about his position today. I did see him at the first annual meeting after he had retired but would have assumed he would not dispose of all his stock in that first year anyway. He must have disposed of some since I believe he was required to inform the SEC of his over 5% holdings which he had upon retirement and he no longer reported them.
I did ask him where he was living and he said both Sioux Falls and Minneapolis areas. I always felt he was like a father figure to me and trusted him implicitly. But I never knew him well enough to get any special information--and I wonder if anyone really knew him much better. He just did his job professionally and consistently, IMO. One time I commented in passing that I was skiplarson98 who posted on yahoo, and his response was "interesting!". And into the board meeting he went.
I guess it is our company since I still have a significant proportion of my net worth invested in it. And I don't expect that to change. Many companies lose their way and then recover spectacularly. I may not be around for that recovery, but cheer for it none the less. The cycles are slow at Raven because of their long term commitments to managements--but that is no longer true since virtually all of the second level managers have moved on, leaving Mr Rikhus only. I don't know the fellow at EF--perhaps he was a long term employee also who finally got promoted to replace Jim Groninger--that was a relatively clean handoff in my estimation. And the board has been stable--but inactive as far as I can tell. That was to my advantage when they backed Moquist--now, they maybe should take a more active oversight role.
Oil and gas will go up in price, but there will never be another boom like we've been in around N. Dakota. Because the technology and leasing have been delineated, we will now see a steady drilling regimen at reasonable prices--there will be enough polyethylene fabric from many sources and competitively priced. I don't see the Integra purchase as a very smart move--just more real estate serving the same markets we already serviced. As I told you recently, Mr Moquist once spoke of EF being constrained by geographic reach.
I do not expect any relief in that market. Ag will bounce back, but is Raven building competitive products? I hope so. But engineered films could have some decent times servicing ag.
Aerostar I see as the division with some growth potential though I share the concern that LOON is just a smart, big company milking a vulnerable small company. Government contracts would be the best way out, but only as a manufacturing specialist such as Raven used to be. Now they are trying to define themselves as a high creativity technology company--they've lost or moved the people who had developed the expertise to win at manufacturing efficiently and hired people who ....well, never mind. I just think Mr Rykhus has painted his company into a corner.
But maybe I'm just down today. Sure amazes me that the price dropped early and nearly recovered the whole loss late in the day. I did not hear anything which made me enthusiastic, but apparently others did. So I'm probably all wet.
My opinion is that the boom has come and gone in the Williston Basin. We would never see the kind of activity and excitement of the last few years even if the price of oil were to rise to $150 tomorrow.
Why do I say that? Well, the infrastructure for nearly a million BPD is mostly in place, the rooms are built to house workers for a routinized production, the restaurants and oil field services have prepared for continued growth which will not happen. Everything can settle down now and uneconomic assets can be disposed of.
And there MDU sits with people all across N. Dakota, Montana, plenty of capital and asset base, ability to build pipelines, and power structures, and roads, etc. A decent reputation with regulators. And people who are used to working productively and consistently for a moderate return--at least the part in this part of the country. They bought hot shots, but if they could get rid of them, I should think MDU would be able to do all the things required to be long term profitable in oil patch up here--not in Utah, where they have no special expertise or assets, and probably not in much of Wyoming either.
In other words, I'd suggest their timing and strategic thinking has been badly mistimed. I think
The Burlington Northern is moving much faster this year with few construction sites seen so far though I've only ridden the 40 miles E. on a regular basis so far. But more mixed and grain trains with coal less predominate I'd say. Lots of oil cars stacked up in Miles City wating for refurbishment I suppose--most look pretty new. That surcharge the railroad puts on older tank cars is probably having an effect and I'm guessing there is a bit less pressure to get oil out of the Bakken as new pipelines gradually fill in to supplement existing. I have never noticed any dedicated oil trains going through here--usually a few cars mixed in with many other types on what are called locals--might be empties or cars moving for upgrades or repairs. I don't know if there are more dedicated oil trains going west on the old Great Northern route across the Northern part of Montana--I did not see many last year on my AmTrak ride to Minot. With 3 refineries in Billings to the West, they are each at about 70,000 BPD as far as I know or about a trainload per day. But they have pipelines in place for most of their input and output. Though two cases of breaks under the Yellowstone over the last several years. I heard of the second one east of here near Glendive while I was in Texas in January. Big deal to the MDU guy I heard it from, but little talk about it around town now 5 months later.
Though you did not ask me, I'll tell you that there are a few signs of slowing 150 miles SW of the oil fields. Sanjel and Optiblend seem to be well occupied with completions so I'm thinking most CDL jobs are still available though I've heard some rumors of much shorter hours. The small motels turned to apartment units have begun to open up. And I've noticed about 5 home for sale signs over the last week between Miles City and Terry. Mostly people who meant to sell and move elsewhere while prices were high and did not get ready soon enough. Or estates I'd guess.
We are lucky to be further away in that we don't get as dramatic booms and declines as those towns that are the closest possible place to find any kind of lodging. I hear there's a new casino coming so I guess we still have some free money floating around.
Oh yeah--and Bucking Horse Sale weekend coming up. Many small businesses hoping to get well during that 4 day event. And maybe close the next week. Our downtown has effectively closed many years later than most small cities. Just banks, bars/casinos and a few small businesses now. Great bike riding downtown. WalMart shut down midnight to 0600 due to lack of help I heard, but I really think it was more a dearth of business. For some reason this store is more dour than any of the others I frequent around the country. Willing and happy workers were not available and the mood of the misfits hired has spread some.