It has been nearly a year since the Fool took a close look at networking products maker 3Com
"In 3Com's case, the company has NNWC equal to 60% of its current $1.7 billion market cap. That's close enough to put this company on my value-seeking radar. Before I buy, though, I want to see one of two things happen: either 3Com must fall in value by another 20-odd %. Or it must reverse its history of negative free cash flow. If either of those happens, that would make 3Com a deep value 'buy' for this Fool."
One year later, 3Com has reported its fiscal Q1 2006 results, so now seems like a good time to check back in on the company. Briefly, revenues rose year-over-year; gross margins expanded; but 3Com lost even more money in fiscal Q1 2006 than it did in fiscal Q1 2005. And over the past year, 3Com has seen its cash reserves fall from $1.26 billion to $782 million.
Most of that owes to 3Com spending $430 million to acquire network security company Tipping Point in a deal announced last December. The rest resulted from the company continuing to burn cash in its operations. While 3Com did not provide a cash flow statement with its earnings release, it did provide the most important numbers we look for in such statements: cash from operations of negative $56 million and capital expenditures of $4 million. Subtract the latter from the former, and 3Com continues to experience net cash outflows -- $60 million in fiscal Q1 2006, which is a continuation of last year's $157 million cash burn.
As for the stock price, one year ago, 3Com was selling from $4.26 a stub. Lop 20% off of that price, and 3Com came awfully close to hitting my "buy" target on Thursday, when the stock closed at $3.62. On Friday, it leapt 13%, and today trades at $4.09.
So did Friday's buyers get themselves a bargain? Did they manage to catch the stock at its liquidation value before 3Com rebounded? Unfortunately, no. Right now, 3Com's NNWC amounts to $544 million versus a market cap of $1.54 billion. Thanks in part to the company's continued cash burn, in part to the hefty cash outlay for Tipping Point, 3Com's NNWC now comprises less of its market cap than it did one year ago -- just 35.3%.
For more Foolish coverage of 3Com, read:
Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, 3Com.