The search for value will take you into some bizarre nooks and crannies of the investing world. I've invested in companies that make plastic landfill liners, mine cobalt, and run farms in Argentina, and I've made money from all of them.
IDT doesn't do anything especially bizarre, but it's a peculiar conglomeration of seemingly unrelated businesses. Glue together a telecom business that focuses on calling cards and long-distance service, an entertainment business focused on low-budget films and TV-to-DVD titles, and a VoIP play, and you essentially have IDT.
Results for the company's third quarter were a bit sluggish. Total revenue climbed about 7%, while the net loss for the quarter came in at just over $14 million, an improvement from the second quarter.
The telecom side of the business was largely unimpressive. Higher expenses and lower sales drove down operating income in the retail telephony business compared with the previous quarter. On the VoIP front, the company reported a greater loss from its stake in Net2Phone
Entertainment was a bright spot, though. The business posted a double-digit sales increase and a nearly 30% improvement in operating income. IDT Entertainment delivered two genre films to the Sci-Fi Channel, with the first (The Fallen Ones) doing pretty well on its premiere. Looking ahead, the second film (All Souls Day) will debut this weekend, and the company has a variety of promising TV-to-DVD titles (such as Roseanne and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood) coming to market.
Admittedly, this company is still losing money on both an earnings and a cash flow basis, and the shares outstanding number nearly 100 million. What's more, when you hear the company plan new ventures like a retail energy business, you might question some of its ambitions.
All the same, I see the potential for some value here. The retail telephony business should be a stable cash cow in the future, and the entertainment segment has an excellent opportunity to fill a profitable niche of low-budget genre entertainment. Although Net2Phone is losing money now, the VoIP market is only in its infancy and could yet prove to be profitable and worthwhile.
Better yet, IDT has about $8.50 a share in net cash on the balance sheet. While some of that cash will likely be used on new ventures (and possibly on share repurchases), that's a pretty strong balance sheet.
IDT is a little too weird for me, but investors looking for a value turnaround situation might want to look deeper. IDT's healthy balance sheet should buy the company the time it needs to piece together profitability.
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).