The following stock may appear in a future issue of The Avid Hog.
Catering International & Services trades in Paris under the ticker “CTRG”. The company was founded in Marseilles, France in 1992. Two families control 71% of the shares. The founder, Regis Arnoux, controls the majority of the company’s shares. He still runs the company. Catering International provides remote site services (mainly catering) in extreme conditions. Revenue is about evenly divided between serving mining customers (51%) and oil & gas customers (47%). Operating profit – but not revenue (more on that later) – is about evenly divided between Asia/Pacific (54%) and Africa (46%). So, we’re basically talking about a company that caters for mines and oil fields in Asia and Africa.
Let’s start with how I found the company.
I ran a screen at Stockopedia looking for E.U. stocks sorted by their gross profits relative to net tangible assets. I then eliminated companies that either had lost money in one of the last few years or that now traded above 8 times EBITDA. I also eliminated companies where the business description suggested they were far from all 3 rings of my circle of competence: 1) consumer habits, 2) business support services, and 3) industry standards. This left a little over 40 stocks. I then looked for English language information on all 40 stocks. About 14 of these stocks had multiple annual reports in English. Catering International was one of them.
A few things appealed to me immediately about Catering International. The business sounded both mundane (catering) and niche (extreme conditions). It’s a business support services provider. Gross profitability was adequate.
A few things also concerned me right away. Catering International serves mining and oil & gas customers. That means the commodities these companies are extracting – their reasons for being at these sites – are at bubble levels. I’m not saying they are in a bubble. The supply of oil and gas is finite. So you can argue that bubble prices relative to the past could be justified throughout the future. But there is no long-term history of prices being this high. Therefore, we don’t have a relevant record of consumer or producer behavior to go on. We don’t know how marginal – high cost and high risk – some of these sites are. Catering International has been a very fast growing company. Some of that growth was driven by customer interest in more extreme conditions which high prices for commodities like oil and gold have to encourage.
The good news is that you don’t have to expect a lot of future growth to invest in Catering International. Using the most aggressive estimates of EBIT and enterprise value you get a price of 6.5 times EBIT for the company. Using the most conservative estimates of EV and EBIT you get a ratio of 8.2 times. Any price less than 10 times EBIT seems quite fair for a company like this – even without a lot of growth.
I need …Read more