Last week, the world's largest auctioneer of used industrial equipment reported Q2 2016 revenues of $159 million, which was short of analysts' $161 million consensus. Profits missed the forecast $0.44 by $0.07, coming in at just $0.37 -- and Ritchie Bros. stock has fallen 14% since then.
But could it be time for a turnaround?
According to one analyst, Cleveland-based KeyBanc Capital Markets, that is exactly what we're looking at in Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers today -- an opportunity to buy the world's preeminent industrial auctioneer at a discount, and ahead of news of a turnaround. But is KeyBanc right about that?
Here are three things you need to know.
1. A chance at a 21% profit
Up until today, KeyBanc had maintained only a "sector weight" rating on Ritchie Bros. stock, which had been trading near its 52-week high. But with the stock now 14% cheaper than it cost just seven days ago, KeyBanc thinks the pullback offers investors an opportunity to profit.
Upgrading the shares to overweight, KeyBanc assigned Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers stock a $34 price target. That's not even as expensive as the stock's highest price in the past year -- but if it gets there, it could lift the stock 21% higher from today's price.
2. This, too, shall pass
Sales and earnings were both below forecast in Q2. But quoted on StreetInsider.com this morning, KeyBanc says the problems that Ritchie Bros. encountered last quarter are "transitory." Specifically, Ritchie Bros. CEO Ravi Saligram highlighted "a sudden decline in equipment pricing globally in June -- across various sectors -- that was driven by an imbalance between demand and supply, increasing competitive pressures."
Looking just a little ways into the future, KeyBanc spies "potential non-res construction cyclical weakness that seems imminent." If it's right about that, then investors could soon see even more equipment going on market, which would mean more business for Ritchie Bros.
3. And really, things aren't that bad already
That sounds like good news for Ritchie Bros. But honestly, while investors were disappointed by the twin sales and earnings misses last week, Ritchie Bros' business didn't do half bad in Q2. Sales, while light from analysts' perspective, were still up 2% year over year. And the company reported "record" gross auction proceeds for both Q2 and for the first half of the year, with $1.3 billion and $2.3 billion in equipment value, respectively, going under the hammer so far.
Given all this, KeyBanc feels that investors overreacted to the bad news, and argues that "the recent pullback [has created] an opportunistic entry point" to buy Ritchie Bros. stock, and calls the stock's valuation "attractive."
But is it, really?
The most important thing: Valuation
I must admit that I have my doubts. Valued on trailing earnings, Ritchie Bros. stock currently costs 21.9 times earnings, which, objectively speaking, doesn't look cheap on the surface. The stock pays a 2.2% dividend yield, and according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, most analysts believe Ritchie Bros. is capable of growing earnings at only about 11% annually over the next five years.
That all adds up to a total expected return on the stock (earnings growth, plus dividend yield) of 13.2%, for a stock trading at 21.9 times earnings -- a total return ratio of about 1.66, versus the sub-1.0 ratio value investors ordinarily seek.
And believe it or not, the story gets worse. Over the past 12 months, Ritchie Bros. generated only $101 million in positive cash from operations, which is far less than the $136 million in GAAP net income it reported. Once you subtract out capital expenditures, free cash flow at the company drops to an anemic $78 million, or barely $0.57 in real cash profit for every $1 in reported profits."\
Long story short, with a poor total return ratio, and a price-to-free-cash-flow ratio that I now estimate at north of 38 (again, on a growth rate of just 11%), Ritchie Bros. Auctioneer stock still looks dreadfully overpriced to me. Even after its 14% drop, I wouldn't touch it with a 100-foot crane.
Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. You can find him on Motley Fool CAPS, publicly pontificating under the handle TMFDitty, where he's currently ranked No. 301 out of more than 75,000 rated members.
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