Yes, I would opine that Nick transformed the company. The basis for this position is based on my long tenure as a AIRT shareholder.
Prior to Nick's intervention, the company was "run" by Walter Clark. Walter's approach to growth was non-existent. The vast amount of deicer/equipment contracts were only marginally profitable. For example, the tow motor contract with the Air Force was a disaster. Although I owned 5% of the stock and had a larger stake then his, he refused to allow me to raise issues to be presented at the annual meeting. His Board of
Directors was a joke. He had no game plan.
Nick had a plan, although it is now being questioned. He cut compensation of the officers (including himself), sold off unnecessary assets (the King Air) and invested in a company he felt had potential (ISIG). He also made a prudent decision to buy back Walters stock at $11/share. You may not agree with Nick, but the fact is the stock is still trading at a level far above anything that Walter could have produced.
I agree with your comments. I believe that I was very fortunate that SB has a giant ego - see my posts in December ("manna from heaven"). Although I am still very loyal to AIRT, I was perplexed why the institutional holders were not selling when it was trading in the $21-$26 range.
I will not consider buying back some AIRT stock until (1) the next quarters results are announced and (2) the smoke clears on SB intentions relative to his AIRT stake. As to BH, he has kept me guessing since he has neither bought or sold and stock recently. I would not put it past him just to dump his AIRT stake in the open market just to try to embarrass Nick. On the other hand he can hold the stock forever so not to draw any further attention.
Given Nick's modus operendi, I would not be surprised to see a proxy battle over control of ISIG. I must admit that I don't really see the opportunities for growth for ISIG given the last couple of unimpressive quarters. Nick's focuses primarily on the balance sheet and then comes up with a plan to transform the company. ISIG is a low tech company in a high tech market. So far, it hasn't performed.
Although I was a very long term investor in AIRT and was extremely appreciative of Nick's fine efforts to transform the company, keep in mind that AIRT has a very small float and jumped from $15 to $26 probably only as a result of SB's stock purchases. If SB is a long term investor the AIRT stock has decent prospects. If SB gets bored and wants to take his lumps quickly then I suspect that he will have to sell the stock back to AIRT, who would be the only buyer for that much stock, at a deep discount. Maybe that was part of Nick's grand plan as he just tripled AIRT's line of credit. If Nick is able to buy-back 400,000 shares on the cheap, he will have reduced the float to about 1.7 million shares and he will control the voting. That will give him tremendous latitude to do what he wants, without interference.
As to ISIG, I really do not understand the dynamics of the company that would give rise to optimism that it could sustain growth. It is just a boring little company with a decent balance sheet. After watching a couple of quarters of unimpressive earnings, I sold all of my ISIG shares and have no intention of getting back in.
I believe that SB called all investors "schmucks". As a matter of principle, I will take his advice and stay away from any company that he is affiliated with.
I was the big seller of AIRT when SB bought ($21- $25) in mid December. It now appears that his motivation in buying AIRT (and ISIG) was nothing more then a knee jerk reaction to Swenson's proxy battle.
Now what? The AIRT (and ISIG) stake is illiquid and he either holds for the long term or dumps the stock at a big loss.
I would not buy BH stock based on recent events. As an operating entity it is unimpressive. Its corporate governance is a joke. But for its stake in Cracker Barrel, I doubt it could survive.
The earnings release was a positive event but it really does not mater at this stage since the value of the company is primarily tied to the outcome of the appeal.
It is reassuring that BDX has a terrible track record in defending litigation claims. They come accross as arrogant.
I will be a buyer if the stock dips below $3.75. Otherwise, i am going to wait this one out .