Tag Archives: JCTCF

Wrote three articles: about FRMO, JCTCF and HWDY/NFBK

I have been busy the past few days writing a total of three articles for Seeking Alpha. Two are about well known names in value circles: FRMO Corp. (FRMO) and Jewett-Cameron Trading Company (JCTCF). FRMO is an interesting business with a stake in Horizon Kinetics, but I think it is way too expensive. Jewett-Cameron’s business is less exciting, but they are interesting because they are super aggressive with repurchasing shares. Unfortunately, I think the stock is roughly fairly valued. It’s not a bad deal, but I’m not expecting great returns either.

The article that I think is the most interesting is the one about the merger of Hopewell Valley (HWDY) with Northfield Bancorp (NFBK). I think it’s a very low-risk deal that should be completed soon that offers an attractive spread. These are the kind of small opportunities that can make a difference at the end of the year.

I usually don’t mention it on my blog when I write something for Seeking Alpha, so if you don’t want to miss anything I suggest you follow me on their site. Alternatively, you can also follow me on Twitter, because I do usually tweet a link.


Author is long HWDY, short NFBK

Jewett-Cameron’s segment revenue in two graphs

After my short post on Jewett-Cameron Trading I received some comments that by basing my valuation on net operating profit I was missing what was going on within the various segments, and this was certainly true to some extent. The graph below shows how Jewett-Cameron’s revenue mix has evolved the past ten years, and as visible it is fair to say that the company is now in a completely different business than a decade ago:

Jewett-Cameron revenue mix

Note that the column labeled 2014 is in reality the TTM and includes one quarter of 2013, but that’s something I’m unable to fix in Google drive. While the lawn, garden and pet segment has grown to be a very large part of Jewett-Cameron’s business the absolute growth of the segment hasn’t been that stellar. Revenue increased from $24.8 million in 2009 to $33.4 million today, representing a 6.5% compounded annual growth rate. If we don’t pick the lows of 2009 as starting point but the previous high of 2008 the compounded annual growth rate drops to 3.2%: not bad, but not great either.

Jewett-Cameron lawn, garden & pet segment revenue and profitability

The reported segment earnings before taxes also show few signs of operating leverage. Earnings before taxes grew at a 4.0% rate if we start measuring from 2009 and just 1.7% if we start at 2008. With those kind of growth rates just taking the average operating earnings of the past five years or so seems a pretty reasonable approach to me. You need a little bit of nominal growth to keep-up with inflation anyways.

I do agree that there might be some positive optionality if the industrial wood segment recovers. I don’t want to call this a free option since the segment has shown declining sales for five years in a row and is a bit below break even. They also do have some excess real estate that they will be able to monetize at some point in the future. But don’t think this is enough to revise my previous conclusion that the company is currently fairly valued.

What’s basically the case is that the lawn, garden and pet has been such a big part of Jewett-Cameron’s business for an extended period of time that drilling deeper doesn’t add a whole lot of value. What’s happening in the other segments is almost irrelevant now.


No position in Jewett-Cameron Trading

Jewett-Cameron Trading: a cannibal at fair value?

Jewett-Cameron Trading (JCTCF) ended on my research list after I noticed that they repurchased more than 10% of their outstanding shares in the latest quarter. This wasn’t the first time either that the company bought back stock: in the past five years the number of outstanding shares has dropped with more than 40%. Companies that aggressively repurchase their shares are in my opinion very interesting. It usually says something positive about the capital allocation and shareholder friendliness of the management team, and if it’s done below intrinsic value the share repurchases can create a lot of value. Before trying to figure out if this is also the case for Jewett-Cameron some numbers:

Last price (Jul 17, 2014): 9.29
Shares outstanding: 2,749,678
Market Cap: $25.5 million
Net cash: $4.2 million
P/B (mrq): 1.40
P/E (ttm): 10.88
EV/EBIT (ttm): 5.65


Jewett-Cameron is a pretty straightforward business to understand. They operate four segments: industrial wood products; lawn, garden, pet and other; seed processing and sales, and industrial tools and clamps. The lawn, garden and pet segment is by far the biggest and accounts for almost 80% of revenue. The company writes in their latest 10-K that this segment is less sensitive to downturns in the US economy than the market for new home construction. While that might be true the company’s revenue dropped significantly in 2009 and has never really recovered since. But thanks to lower expenses operating profit is back to roughly the same levels as before. See the table below for some historical financials:

Historical financials Jewett-Cameron

The favorable impact of the shrinking share count is clearly visible when we look at earnings per share. Despite little progress in the business itself earnings per share have almost doubled compared to 2008. When we look at the development of the revenue numbers it’s also clear why the stock has been a poor performer for the past three quarters. Revenue is almost back to the 2009 level, and it now appears doubtful that this company can grow at a meaningful rate in the future.

Because of that I think the most appropriate valuation is to simply take the average operating profit from the past 5 years, apply the average tax rate, throw a 10x multiple on it and adjust for the cash held by the company. This generates the following picture:

Jewett-Cameron valuation

As is visible this valuation indicates that the company is trading at roughly fair value, and the implication is of course that the share repurchases aren’t generating an above average return on capital. It’s in my opinion still an excellent use of cash. Buying your own stock at a 10x multiple basically means that you are generating a 10% return on your money. That’s a lot better than having it linger in a bank account like so many other companies are doing.


Jewett-Cameron is a very interesting company, but unfortunately not very cheap and that significantly reduces the value that is created by buying back shares. Buying back fairly valued shares is in theory a neutral transaction, except that it is usually better than a lot of alternatives (hoarding cash, growth acquisitions and dividends depending on tax situation).

Luckily Jewett-Cameron is not expensive either, and at the current prices it will probably generate a fair return for shareholders. Perhaps that it could be a great idea when you have some specific opinion on how the housing market in the US will develop, and how that will impact Jewett-Cameron. But that’s not a prediction I want to make or can make, and since there is not much of a margin of safety at current prices I’m staying at the sidelines.


No position in Jewett-Cameron Trading at the time of writing.