The market at large doesn't get what Access Integrated Technologies (NASDAQ:AIXD) does. Either that, or every market maker sees a scarier risk profile in this company than I do.
How so? Well, after another quarterly report that looked wholly adequate to me, including important milestones in the long-term plan, the stock took a 17% one-day hit in the gut. Year to date, the shares have lost 64% of its value.
Let me explain how this Fool sees Access Integrated, and then you can decide whether the risks outweigh the opportunity. Point-click-download-show digital processes stand to save cinema operators untold millions of dollars and gray hairs, compared to dealing with five or six 20-lb. film reels per movie, which need ads and previews spliced in by hand. AccessIT wants to help. The company provides systems and software for every step in the digital distribution and projection of theatrical content.
This is a first-mover in a booming sector. AccessIT does have some competition, such as Thomson SA's (NYSE:TMS) unit, Technicolor, in the distribution and digital delivery phase -- you see their satellite dishes on the roof of the theater. National CineMedia (NASDAQ:NCMI) chimes in when it comes to selling ad space and getting special events piped in to properly equipped theaters.
But in media management and projection systems, the only real competition comes from the theater chains themselves. Regal Entertainment (NYSE:RGC) has an in-house digital system, for example. AccessIT has installed about 4,000 screens to date, using Texas Instruments' (NYSE:TXN) digital light processing projectors, which can handle screens as large as 82 feet. That's only six feet smaller than a standard IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX) screen, at a lower resolution. And phase 2 of the rollout just began; AccessIT plans to have 10,000 screens nationwide by 2010, including new contracts with large chains.
Speaking of IMAX, the large-format expert already uses an AccessIT platform to distribute content to its own digital installations, showing the deep market reach the digital expert gains from working with industry standards, defined by the major studios.
If you saw Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Meet the Robinsons or The Nightmare Before Christmas in digital 3-D, chances are that AccessIT was involved somehow. Your local theater may have one of its projection systems, and if not, Disney probably shipped the content using AccessIT software. The ads and previews before the movie very likely were touched by the company's invisible hand, too.
The company has $52 million in cash equivalents on hand, up from $22 million one year ago. The capital structure is highly leveraged, but that smart strategy enables AccessIT to ride a very tall wave in this digital sea change to its fullest. This company is growing like a weed, even as its market cap is shrinking.
That looks like a serious misunderstanding, and when it gets corrected, you don't want to be left on the sidelines. AccessIT is looking at a few years of heady growth, starting right now, and then a long, long time of collecting service and support revenue (plus per-move distribution charges) for little new cost to the company.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Do your own homework and see whether you agree. Then share your findings with the rest of us over in Motley Fool CAPS, where 80% of the 45 players who've listed an opinion on the stock give it a thumbs-up. Yes, I'm one of them.
Further digital Foolishness:
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Disney. He keeps writing about AccessIT, when he should just shut up and buy already. He holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure will always be there for you.