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Boston Omaha's Earnings Show a Strong Rebound From 2020

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Aug 22, 2021 at 6:33AM

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The early stage conglomerate posted encouraging second-quarter numbers.

Boston Omaha (BOC -1.25%), the young conglomerate that is often compared to an early stage Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A -1.25%) (BRK.B -1.31%), recently reported its second-quarter results. The company's business segments rebounded nicely from a tough year in 2020, and Boston Omaha's book value is significantly higher than it was at the start of the year. In this Fool Live video clip, recorded on August 16, contributor Matt Frankel, CFP, and Industry Focus host Jason Moser take a closer look at the numbers investors need to know. 

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Jason Moser: Boston Omaha. Boston Omaha, obviously a business we talked about on the show before, one that a lot of listeners are interested in. Matt, I love looking down on this earnings report because you see billboard rentals, broadband services, insurance commissions. It's a fun answer when someone asks you what this company does. How did the quarter look to you?

Matt Frankel: Well, in a lot of ways. There's a lot of the same issues we have in evaluating Berkshire Hathaway's earnings. Remember we did that last week. Because they're secretive about a lot of it, just like Berkshire is. They release their earnings on random times, you never know when their earnings are going to come out. We don't know what's in their stock portfolio, which is a lot of their business. They are small enough, unlike Berkshire that they don't have to tell us at all what's in it. Berkshire has to report every quarter what their holdings are, which we'll actually get later today. But having said that, what we do know looks pretty good. You mentioned billboard revenue was up. Billboard's by far the biggest operating business they have, it's roughly 56% of the total revenue they make. It's important to pay attention to that number because that's the big chunk of it.

Moser: Sure.

Frankel: Broadband service more than tripled year over year. But take that with a grain of salt because it includes an acquisition they closed in December. One of their two major broadband operations wasn't in their company last year at this time. But that's a business they're planning on building out, excellent margins, 85% gross margin in the broadband services. Excellent business they'll be building out, and I'm curious to see where that goes in the quarters ahead . Bottom line earnings have doubled year over year. But take that also with a grain of salt because it includes unrealized investment gains like Berkshire's, the fluctuations in the stock portfolio. But book value, which is a measurement that they actually pride themselves on. The CEO's bonus structure is actually based on their ability to grow book value. Book value grew by 28%. Not year over year, but from December 31st. In the past six months, the book value per share is up 28%.

Moser: Wow.

Frankel: Pretty impressive growth. This was before they announced Yellowstone's (YSAC.U) SPAC deal that we talked about. Remember that was announced in early August. That has absolutely nothing to do with these numbers. Great numbers all around, they have a lot of cash to put to work. We saw that they have about $57 million in cash, another $132 million in Treasuries that they can use to invest, buy other companies, things like that. Stock portfolio has gone up tremendously. A lot of that is the Dream Finders Homes (DFH -3.55%) IPO that took place earlier this year. Cash flow, their operating cash flow is up from $1.3 million a year ago to $5.3 million now. About quadrupled in their cash flow. Pretty impressive quarter all around. I guess there's a lot that we don't know about their business. To be fair, I think the fact that they don't have to disclose their stock holdings at all gives them a nice competitive advantage.

Moser: Yeah.

Frankel: But they're a mysterious conglomerate in the same sense as the Berkshire Hathaway is, that they really tell us only what they have to. No earnings call like we talked about with Berkshire. No earnings call, no shareholder letter, none of that. Just here's your 10-Q and have a nice day.

Matthew Frankel, CFP owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), Boston Omaha Corporation, Dream Finders Homes, Inc., and Yellowstone Acquisition Company. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) and Boston Omaha Corporation. The Motley Fool recommends Dream Finders Homes, Inc. and recommends the following options: long January 2023 $200 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), short January 2023 $200 puts on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and short January 2023 $265 calls on Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Boston Omaha Corporation Stock Quote
Boston Omaha Corporation
$27.67 (-1.25%) $0.35
Berkshire Hathaway (A shares) Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway (A shares)
$472,712.01 (-1.25%) $-5,963.54
Berkshire Hathaway (B shares) Stock Quote
Berkshire Hathaway (B shares)
$313.27 (-1.31%) $-4.16
Yellowstone Acquisition Company Stock Quote
Yellowstone Acquisition Company
Dream Finders Homes, Inc. Stock Quote
Dream Finders Homes, Inc.
$9.52 (-3.55%) $0.35

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