Oh no, it is worse… MTSL takes another $561 thousand torpedo

As it is the case for all postings in this blog, my standard disclaimers apply for this posting.  However, since this posting discusses investments, I urge you to review the disclaimers laid out in the About section with extra diligence. Moreover, even if you have already reviewed these disclaimers in the past, you need to review them again, as they are subject to change without notice.  Do it now, and remember that whatever I say in this blog posting is simply my opinion — it is not science, it is not advice, and it is not an attempt to make you act in any way whatsoever.

…. And, if you find yourself enjoying this posting, consider supporting the blog through a donation. For your convenience, PayPal links are provided to the right and at the end of the posting.

USS John Young

In a recent posting (here) I wrote about the fourth quarter and full fiscal 2013 year earnings announcement by MER Telemanagement Solutions, an Israel based company that I have followed for quite a while.

I noted that the company had announced (1) a new high in cash (and cash equivalents) on hand almost exclusively on the strength of a very profitable contract with Simple Mobile, a West-coast based MVNO whose managed services contract with MER Telemanagement Solutions had generated a guaranteed $300 thousand in revenues and cash every month throughout MER Telemanagement Solutions’ fiscal 2013 year; and (2) the end of this revenue and cash stream, effective as of December 31st, 2013.

The termination of the Simple Mobile contract in itself was a disaster, but, unfortunately, things were even worse, with overall revenues and operating profit down significantly year-over-year and net income down $1 million to $1.4 million year-over-year when accounting for a one time $1 million tax charge in the company’s fiscal year 2012.

In my posting I included a computation table, trying to assess the impact of the Simple Mobile contract loss on the 2014 results based on previous results, and – oh, boy! — it was not pretty (here is a direct link to the table,) projecting a revenue drop of $3.6 million (or 28.5%) in 2014 and a net income drop well into the red.

Today, the company filed its 20-F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and, unfortunately, things went from bad to worse. While I, in my table had estimated the Simple Mobile revenue contribution for 2013 to be 28.5%, it showed to be a staggering 33%.

As the company wrote in its very first qualitative statement in the 20-F filing:

If we do not replace the revenues generated by Simple Mobile LLC our operations and financial condition will be adversely affected.

Our principal customer during the three years ended December 31, 2013 was Simple Mobile LLC, a U.S.-based mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, for whom we provided hosted billing services. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, sales attributable to this MVNO accounted for approximately 16.4%, 22.8% and 33.3% of our revenues, respectively. During 2012, Simple Mobile was acquired by TracFone and in 2013 TracFone migrated our hosted billing services to its own platform and did not renew its agreement with us, which ended in December 2013. If we are unable to replace the revenues generated by Simple Mobile LLC, our operating results and financial condition will be adversely affected.

Not exactly encouraging stuff.

The difference of 4.5% or $561 thousand between our previous estimate and the new announced results is significant enough in itself, but, unfortunately, there is more.

First, this means that the revenue contribution that has to be backed out of the 2014 projections are higher…. arghhh!…. leading to even more loss, in fact an additional loss of $453 thousand for a projected worst-case loss of $1.8 million in 2014.

Second, the significant increase in the Simple Mobile revenue contribution means that MER Teleamangement Solutions’ revenues that were not attributable to Simple Mobile declined a full 17.5% in 2013… a disaster of the highest magnitude.

Here is the updated table:

(c) Per Jacobsen, 2013 and 2014. All rights reserved

(c) Per Jacobsen, 2013 and 2014. All rights reserved

Oh, by the way, this worst case scenario, may not, in fact, be the worst case, since it assumes that the non-Simple Mobile revenue will be stable in 2014. If, instead, the drop in revenues continues, then we need to clear the decks for a much worse worst case.

Now, I hasten to say that there were some good news in the 20-F filing, albeit not much.

First and foremost, the company has reduced its payroll, laying of a large part of its staff. This, of course, was something that I knew had to happen, but that the company for some reason saw fit to not tell its shareholders was happening (read more about this and the company’s puzzling and, in my opinion, warped communications with its shareholders in my previous MER Telemanagement Solutions postings… you can use the nifty XREFs section to get them.)

The reduction is force is deep, but it does not make up for the loss off the Simple Mobile contract (to be fair to the company, almost nothing except a full scale roll-back of staffing in the very early part of 2013 could make up for the catastrophic loss of the Simple Mobile contract) and the extensive cost of winning and launching new managed service of cloud business. So, in spite of the lay-offs — a case of too little, too late — things are definitely looking bad.

Moreover, there were more somber language about the PFIC classification and its potentially adverse impact on United States based shareholders (read more about this here.) As I wrote I this earlier posting, the cash hoarded from the — now dead — contract with Simple Mobile may, in a ironic twist, become a poison pill for United States based holders of shares in MER Telemanagement Solutions.

Interestingly, today, on the tail-end of the filing of the 20-F, when investors (if they could — and cared to — read) should be heading for the hills, the company’s equity exploded. This could, of course, be caused by anything, including investor stupidity or leaking of information that the company is getting sold or having gained another customer, but it certainly does not mean that the company is doing well.

With respect to the potential for the gain of new customers to change the fundamental situation of the company, it may be worth thinking deeply about the depth of the problem to be plugged. As I wrote in an earlier posting (here) where I discussed an, in my opinion, less-than-reputable and poorly researched article by Mr. Sujan Lahiri, a self-confessed post-for-profit contributor to Seeking Alpha:

Mr. Lahiri’s rather simplistic view continues throughout his article. For instance, he writes:

For instance, if MTSL were to land one large customer, EPS could easily grow from current $0.27 to $0.40 per share in the near future. Apply the industry average of P/E 15, and you have a $6.00 share. Another customer could mean $0.50 or $0.60, that’s a $7.50 or $9.00 share. Any extra customers directly add to the profit without a substantial increase in costs. The upside potential is therefore very large.

Well, let’s look at this. The assumption here is that a new customer would add something like $0.13 in earnings in the near future. In real terms this means yearly earnings (not revenues!) of $585 thousand or so, or just about $50 thousand per month. Assuming a liberal 20% margin, this amounts to $250 thousand in revenues per month.

With the Simple Mobile pricing a benchmark for per subscriber revenues, pointing to something like a quarter of a dollar per subscriber per month in revenues, this would mean that the fictive customer would have a subscriber count of one million.

MVNOs or MVNEs with 1 million subscribers are relatively rare, and, importantly, they don’t just emerge in one go (read about subscriber count in the MVNO world in an earlier posting here,) so I think that Mr. Lahiri’s projection of the “near future” earnings is… well… laughable.

So, new customers are definitely not a valid reason for a surge in the per share price of MTSL.

We’ll soon see what gives, I guess.

Donations, please….

As usual, if you found this posting useful or entertaining — or if it saved you time, you can express your appreciation through donation via PayPal right now.   For this type of posting a one-off donation of $20 is suggested — however, any donation is, of course, appreciated.


PFIC… What was that again? — A double-edged sword

As it is the case for all postings in this blog, my standard disclaimers apply for this posting.  However, since this posting discusses investments, I urge you to review the disclaimers laid out in the About section with extra diligence. Moreover, even if you have already reviewed these disclaimers in the past, you need to review them again, as they are subject to change without notice.  Do it now, and remember that whatever I say in this blog posting is simply my opinion — it is not science, it is not advice, and it is not an attempt to make you act in any way whatsoever.

…. And, if you find yourself enjoying this posting, consider supporting the blog through a donation. For your convenience, PayPal links are provided to the right and at the end of the posting.

Conolly_SINKEX-300x272

My recent posting about MER Telemanagement Solutions, an Israel based technology company whose equity, MTSL, is traded on Nasdaq, resulted in some questions from readers of the blog.

In the posting (read it here,) which broadly speaking discussed MER Telemanagement Solutions’ quarterly earnings announcement in which the company announced (1) a new high in cash (and cash equivalents) on hand almost exclusively on the strength of a very profitable contract with Simple Mobile, a West-coast based MVNO whose managed services contract with MER Telemanagement Solutions had generated a guaranteed $300 thousand in revenues and cash every month throughout MER Telemanagement Solutions’ fiscal 2013 year; and (2) the end of this revenue and cash stream, effective as of December 31st, 2013.

In my posting, I pointed out that the straightforward economic loss of the Simple Mobile contract coupled with tremendous expenses related to capturing and launching new customers to replace the loss of the contract could hit MER Telemanagement Solutions and MTSL in ways that had the potential for simply bleeding MER Telemanagement Solutions out:

Also, with the loss of the contract revenue and its high margin there is now, I believe, a substantial risk that the company will be considered a PFIC by the IRS of the United States with serious tax implications for common shareholders in the United States. As the company wrote in its 20-F filing for its 2012 fiscal year:

We may in the future be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, which will subject our U.S. investors to adverse tax rules.

This comment caused a couple of comments and questions to arise, intensifying as the per share price of MTSL inexplicably started rising when it should, in fact, decrease, reflecting the potential for loss in the first quarter.

Sidenote: I say inexplicably, but that is not really so. In fact, the price was rising, I believe, as part of a deliberate pattern of stimulating buys intended to pull a number of loss positions out of the fire (due to a series of speculative run-ups and subsequent implosions in the per share price of MTSL over the last year the majority, if not all, of the true free float of MTSL is seriously under water.) However, we will let this lie for now as it has only a tangential connection with the issue of PFIC, which is the point of this posting.

Let me attempt to address these question here (spoiler alert: A PFIC classification of MER Telemanagement Solutions may be really bad news for current United States based holders of MTSL shares and may adversely and seriously impact the per share price of MTSL.)

PFIC is shorthand for Passive Foreign Investment Company, an oddity in the United States tax code that was introduced because the United States Congress was concerned that persons investing in passive assets indirectly — through a foreign investment company — could gain a tax advantages relative to persons investing in the same assets directly.

The resulting law attempts to eliminate this problem, but, unfortunately, also have the potential to impact genuine foreign operating companies, for instance companies that are earning substantial passive income (such as a company that has a large war-chest, generating income.)

The way the law is written it attempts to identify a PFIC by way of two criteria. Either 75% of its gross income is passive income or more than 50% of its assets generate passive income.

I am grossly simplifying here, but if you read my previous postings, I am sure that you can see that there is a real possibility of MER Telemanagement Solutions being categorized as PFIC given its cash position (the result of cash gushing out of Simple Mobile for three years) and its off-the-cliff drop in revenues and income.

For MER Telemanagement Solutions itself the classification as a PFIC will really have very limited direct implications, but for United States based shareholders in MER Telemanagement Solutions it gets complicated and dirty very quickly.

First, any gain recognized by the shareholders becomes subject to ordinary income rates, rather than capital gains rates (a vast difference) and — hold on to your pants here — the gain is subject to a non-deductible interest charge over the holding period for the shares.

And it doesn’t end there. In special cases the income tax rate assessed will not be the United States based shareholder’s “normal” tax rate, but, rather, the highest marginal income tax rate in the United States.

It may be worth saying this again: Rather than paying between 15% and 20% in gain tax, United States based shareholders will be paying between 30% and 40% and they will be paying interest on the gain (deemed interest, in fact!)

Second, there is a paper burden here that is well beyond the casual investors, traders, and speculators (I, unfortunately, do not believe that casual investors, traders, and speculators are plagued by detailed knowledge of the environment that they are operating in, which, of course is why they a-l-w-a-y-s lose money in the market.) Essentially, he or she must make a baffling election between mark-to-market or qualified electing fund treatment, both of which are just as confusing as they sound and require certain detailed disclosures by the PFIC (good luck in getting a company to provide disclosure beyond what it has provided in its filings with the SEC.)

How bad is PFIC classification for a United States based shareholder? Well, I think it is very bad. In fact, I think the acronym PFIC was chosen by some fiendish soul in United States Congress with a twisted sense of humor because it also is the acronym for Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis, a very nasty liver disease, to signify precisely how bad it is.

I said before that for MER Telemanagement Solutions itself the classification as a PFIC will have very limited direct implications. Likewise, the classification will not have any direct implications for MTSL shareholders that are not based in the United States. However, the operative word here is direct.

A classification as an PFIC is adverse and will make any sensible investor think twice before he or she invests in MER Telemanagement Solutions by way of MTSL, and, so, we have an indirect effect on both MER Telemanagement Solutions and its non-United States based shareholders in that the price per share of MTSL will drop — perhaps a lot!

The irony should not escape us here. The successful looting of Simple Mobile and accumulation of loads of cash may very well be a textbook case of a Pyrrhic victory.

Yes, that’s also a beaut of a double-whammy. First, a drop because of the changes in the fundamentals and, second, a further drop because of a perverted tax treatment.

Now, over time, the PFIC issue will, of course, go away, since, in all probability, MER Telemanagement Solutions will start bleeding, rapidly eating away of the cash (and cash equivalent) asset that is the underlying problem. But, as a solution there is not much comfort to be had here, I think.

Perhaps this is why the company was talking about M&A alternatives in its earnings report? Well, this is certainly going to be interesting!

Donations, please….

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Breaking, pre-open news — MER Telemanagement in near extremis

As it is the case for all postings in this blog, my standard disclaimers apply for this posting.  However, since this posting discusses investments, I urge you to review the disclaimers laid out in the About section with extra diligence. Moreover, even if you have already reviewed these disclaimers in the past, you need to review them again, as they are subject to change without notice.  Do it now, and remember that whatever I say in this blog posting is simply my opinion — it is not science, it is not advice, and it is not an attempt to make you act in any way whatsoever.

…. And, if you find yourself enjoying this posting, consider supporting the blog through a donation. For your convenience, PayPal links are provided to the right and at the end of the posting.

??????????????????Breaking pre-open news

Yesterday, after the close of the market, MER Telemanagment Solutions, an Israel based technology company whose equity is traded on Nasdaq, reported its fourth quarter and full year results for the company’s fiscal year 2013, and, frankly, in my opinion it is not looking good.

As the reader of this blog will know I have followed MER Telemanagement Solutions and its equity MTSL, for a while now, noting since the outset that the loss of the Simple Mobile contract constitutes a clear and present danger to the company and its shareholders. If you are new to this issue, you can start reading here and go backwards or you can use the nifty XREFs section to here.

Revenues and operating profit are down significantly year-over-year and net income was down $1 million to $1.4 year-over-year when accounting for a one time $1 million tax charge in the company’s fiscal year 2012.

The $1 million one-time charge in fiscal year 2012, which somewhat masks the enormous drop in net income in fiscal year 2013, was described in the company’s 20-F filing for the 2012 fiscal year:

Taxes on Income.

We recorded taxes on income of $736,000 for the year ended December 31, 2012, compared to taxes on income of $10,000 for the year ended December 31, 2011. Our taxes on income for the year ended December 31, 2012 are primarily attributable to a $1,050,000 charge related to the tax assessment from the Israeli tax authorities relating to an Israeli court’s decision with respect to our 1997 to 1999 tax years, net of a deferred tax asset recognition of $371,000 based on an estimate of future taxable profits and losses in the tax jurisdictions in which we operate, which is expected to be utilize in the foreseeable future. Our low level of taxes on income for the year ended December 31, 2011 is primarily attributable to the utilization of deferred tax assets by our subsidiary in Hong Kong and the state income taxes in the U.S.

Moreover, in the current earnings release the company confirmed that the fourth quarter marked the end of the revenue contribution from the all-important Simple Mobile contract, so, going forward, each fiscal quarter will have $900 thousand, or so, less in revenue and perhaps $450 thousand less in net income, which most probably will result in a loss in each quarter.

Also, with the loss of the contract revenue and its high margin there is now, I believe, a substantial risk that the company will be considered a PFIC by the IRS of the United States with serious tax implications for common shareholders in the United States. As the company wrote in its 20-F filing for its 2012 fiscal year:

We may in the future be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, which will subject our U.S. investors to adverse tax rules.

Holders of our ordinary shares who are United States residents face income tax risks. There is a substantial risk that we may become a PFIC. Our treatment as a PFIC could result in a reduction in the after-tax return to the holders of our ordinary shares and would likely cause a reduction in the value of such shares. For U.S. Federal income tax purposes, we will be classified as a PFIC for any taxable year in which either (i) 75% or more of our gross income is passive income, or (ii) at least 50% of the average value of all of our assets for the taxable year produce or are held for the production of passive income. For this purpose, cash is considered to be an asset which produces passive income. As a result of our relatively substantial cash position at the time, we believe that we were a PFIC in certain periods over the last few years under a literal application of the asset test described above, which looks solely to the market value of our assets. We do not believe that we were a PFIC in 2012. If we are classified in the future as a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes, highly complex rules would apply to U.S. Holders owning ordinary shares. Accordingly, you are urged to consult your tax advisors regarding the application of such rules.

The company’s earnings release contained no indications of cost-control measures or new deals, relying rather on the tired we-see-opportunities approach that we have seen from previous quarterly announcements and that I commented on in an earlier posting (here):

In fact, ever since the termination of the Simple Mobile contract was announced it has been clear that the company … is heading directly for exsanguination.

To avoid death, immediate action is needed on two simultaneous fronts: New sales and cost control.

The instinct in a tech company is to overcome a revenue crisis by bringing in new revenues. However, given the sales cycle time for enterprise software sales and the trailing revenue curves for managed services sales, the company’s areas of expertise, the pursuit of additional revenues alone is not going to solve the problem. Rather, the company has to immediately reduce its expenses while, at the same time, building up its sales effort.

Instead of addressing the situation heads-on in its first quarter earnings announcement, the company engaged in some sort of combined danse macabre and tap dance, which I certainly did not find reassuring.

It is hard to give the casual reader a sense of just how catastrophic the loss of the Simple Mobile contract coupled with the company refusal to reduce cost and it hell-bent pursuit of new business at great expense and risk is (read here about how bad it can get when you engage in what I consider to be reckless pursuit of new deals instead of buckling down down and controlling expenses,) but perhaps this table — greatly simplified and making sweeping assumptions where information is not available — can provide some insight:

(c) Per Jacobsen, 2013 and 2014. All rights reserved

(c) Per Jacobsen, 2013 and 2014. All rights reserved

As you can see, the Simple Mobile contract’s revenue and margin contribution was integral to the company’s performance and without it, the company will be hemorrhaging.

Acknowledging this imminent distress, which is now so obvious that no amount of voodoo or fancy leg-work will make it go away, the company closed its earnings announcement by stating that it is considering M&A options at this point, which I interpret to mean that either a fire-sale or a last-ditch clutching on to another company for buoyancy may be imminent. Either way, focusing on M&A — which, as we, know is associated with huge transaction costs and enormous risks — is bad news for the shareholders, I think.

The company did not offer any details about an upcoming earnings call in its earnings release.

Given the excessive — and completely unsubstantiated — speculative run-ups that have taken place over the last year (read more about this by starting here,) there is absolutely no way to predict what will happen to the per share price of MTSL in the very short run, but I am fairly certain that in the near and medium term, once whatever silly movement the market will make today and over the next week has completed its cycle, we will see another substantial drop in the per share price.

I would be remiss if I did not issue an early warning as well. Based on historic developments, I am fully expecting another SeekingAlpha article to arrive soon with unpredictable results (read about the previously published MTSL-centric SeekingAlpha article by Mr. Sujan Lahiri (here) — in my opinion, a prime example of bad research, wrong conclusions, and biased research aimed at generating a short-term run-up in the per share price of an equity.)

It appears that it is time to fire those emergency flares.

Donations, please….

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A couple of reminders

Without any embellishments…

Copyright

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XREFs

The XREFs section is expanding by leaps and bounds. Below you will find a snapshot of the status as of today. To access the updated XREFs section go here.

Master Index

By the Meta-topicBy the CompanyBy the Person

By the Meta-topic ↓
War and Business →
Violence and overwhelming rapid force — Heinz Guderian
Pursuit to the Point of Failure — Catastrophic turning points in war and busines
A Lesson from the Cuba Crisis — If you keep a big, scary dog around, it will eventually bite you
Adlertag — Meritocracy be damned
No Comment→
No Comment: What speculation looks like — MTSL/MER Telemanagement
No Comment: JOEZ is rocking again
No Comment: What’s the difference — Joe’s Jeans
No Comment: What is the question? — Joe’s Jeans
No Comment — November 21, 2013 — Unitek is swimming in volume
No comment – September 6, 2013
No comment – September 4, 2013
Dollars and Cents in Investments and Trading→
A paradigm for programmatic investment — 388% gain with Mind CTI
Is a gain of $14,478.90 enough?
How I made $39,790.93 in thirty days without breaking a sweat
Earth from an alien’s perspective→
Lights out
CEOs and the RiffRaff — A casual observation of a world with two realities
By the Company ↓
ClickSoftware Technologies →
When things are not what they appear to be
Being a Crappy Investor
Sales Metrics…
Keep this in mind….
ClickSoftware gets it… somewhat
Head in the clouds — feet in the dirt
Power of the Pen — ClickSoftware
When two threads meet
Let them eat cake…
Being a Crappy Investor
Pushing that button… — The bigger picture of the 2013 ClickSoftware proxy
Formula Systems →
Genius — Formula Systems pulls a Berkshire Hathaway
FORTY — per share price in a choppy sea
2 + 2 = 3.2 — Formula Systems just can’t catch up with itself
A $350,000 house for a nickel down — FORTY does it again
Formula does not compute
Crazy strobe lights in the disco
When 2 plus 2 does not add up to 4
Liquidity — part deux
Liquidity — Would you like to buy an M1 Abrams tank for $18,500?
Joe’s Jeans →
No Comment: JOEZ is rocking again
No Comment: What’s the difference — Joe’s Jeans
No Comment: What is the question? — Joe’s Jeans
Joe Versus the Volcano — Joe’s Jeans erupts
Mind CTI →
The futility of selling early — Mind CTI again
Please, sir, I want some more — Mind CTI redux
Mind CTI is prepared for 2014
A paradigm for programmatic investment — 388% gain with Mind CTI
MNDO dividend speculation — a bad neighborhood
Action!
Mind CTI steaming ahead
I wonder what is on their mind
Mind CTI wants to mind someone else’s business
Mind CTI results for fiscal year 2012
Keep this in mind…
Keeping Tab on MIND CTI
The Remarkable Story of Mind CTI – Fundamentals insanity and dividend speculation
MER Telemanagement Solutions →
No Comment: What speculation looks like — MTSL/MER Telemanagement
Chicken coming home to roost
Action!
Grundsaudaag — It is happening again
The sting of the scorpion – MER Telemanagement Solutions proves me right… again
Easy come — Easy go… Easy come?
Final chance?
Discipline — Chewing up MTSL
MER Telemanagement does it again
MTSL comes crashing to the ground
Rocket science in finance
Off track or…
And so it happened — the world shifted
MER Telemanagement Solutions’ worth in a post-apocalyptic world
MER Telemanagement Solutions — Back into the trenches
Stand Fast — The near-final chapter of the saga of MER Telemanagement Solutions
Recognizing Speculation in Equities – MER Telemanagement Solutions redux
Dangerzone Ahead — Crowd trading in MTSL in the face of potentially bad news for MER Telemanagement Solutions
Unitek Global Services →
No Comment — November 21, 2013 — Unitek is swimming in volume
Analysts are on Unitek’s case
Splashdown — Unitek has landed
Taking off from that Godforsaken rock — Unitek gets an upgrade
The predictable derivations from unpredictability — Unitek Global Services seesawing
Unitek Global Services — Interfering with my newfound power of the pen
By the Person ↓
Adolph Hitler →
Pursuit to the Point of Failure — Catastrophic turning points in war and busines
Adlertag — Meritocracy be damned
Bonaparte Napoleon →
Pursuit to the Point of Failure — Catastrophic turning points in war and busines
Heinz Guderian →
Violence and overwhelming rapid force — Heinz Guderian
John F. Kennedy →
A Lesson from the Cuba Crisis — If you keep a big, scary dog around, it will eventually bite you
Joseph Schmid →
Adlertag — Meritocracy be damned


The futility of selling early — Mind CTI again

As it is the case for all postings in this blog, my standard disclaimers apply for this posting.  However, since this posting discusses investments, I urge you to review the disclaimers laid out in the About section with extra diligence. Moreover, even if you have already reviewed these disclaimers in the past, you need to review them again, as they are subject to change without notice.  Do it now, and remember that whatever I say in this blog posting is simply my opinion — it is not science, it is not advice, and it is not an attempt to make you act in any way whatsoever.

…. And, if you find yourself enjoying this posting, consider supporting the blog through a donation. For your convenience, PayPal links are provided to the right and at the end of the posting.

446822940_bf49440a9c_b (1)Having read my earlier postings about a programmatic approach to investment by way of MNDO (start here,) the equity of Mind CTI, and my earlier postings about the potential folly of dividend speculation (start here,) a reader of this blog suggested to me that selling ones position of MNDO immediately before the ex-dividend date would be an appropriate strategy, capitalizing on the — and I quote — “stupidity” of the dividend speculators.

Although the notion of capitalizing on the greed and ignorance of dividend speculators does appeal to me, I do not believe the reader’s approach to be long-term viable.

The issue is one of tax, liquidity, transaction expenses, and timing.

Assuming a cyclic behavior consisting of sell-before-ex-dividend-date followed by buy-after-price-drop, which, of course, implies a holding period of less than 12 months, the investor would be subject to taxation on a short term basis, which for me, for instance, effectively would result in a Federal income tax hit climbing towards 40%, supplemented by a state and local tax bordering on 10%, for a total tax bordering on 50%.

Had I, for instance, acquired $100 thousand worth of shares in 2013 at an average price per share of $1.75, amounting to approximately 55 thousand shares, and sold these at today’s rate ($2.30 per share,) my pre-tax yield would be $125 thousand, or so (accounting for transaction expenses and supply/demand pricing issues,) for a net pre-tax gain of $25,000 and a post-tax gain of $12,500.

Naturally, this approach raises demand for liquidity and is impacted by transaction issues and expenses — and, importantly, it is characterized by a per share price risk and the broad assumption that the price will not go up immediately after the ex-dividend date adjustment. Moreover, the ugly pairing of requirement for superb timing (the cause of death of many a trader) and risk comes into play — in particular since it is ultimately impossible to know, for sure that: (1) an initial position can be secured, (2) that the initial position can be sold at a the required premium, (3) that a later position can be secured, and (4) that a dividend will actually occur.

A 12.5% gain on a six to nine months investment is, of course, not shabby when compared to the average 0% interest that your local bank savings account carries, but it does not in any way perform substantially better in the long run than does the pure dividend play, which with more than 55,000 shares, no transaction costs, and, critically, no per share price risk, handily and consistently delivers more than $12,000 after taxes, assuming a dividend taxation of 15%, and produces more shares — and thus more dividends — year after year.

Now, it would, of course, be possible to argue that applying this strategy for a position held in an tax-advantageous retirement vehicle such as an IRA might work (it would certainly negate some of the tax issues,) but, generally, tax-advantageous retirement vehicle are best suited for long term hold strategies and the use of these vehicles for other investment strategies is something that should be thought through very carefully.

Donations, please….

As usual, if you found this posting useful or entertaining — or if it saved you time, you can express your appreciation through donation via PayPal right now.   For this type of posting a one-off donation of $10 is suggested — however, any donation is, of course, appreciated.


Please, sir, I want some more — Mind CTI redux

As it is the case for all postings in this blog, my standard disclaimers apply for this posting.  However, since this posting discusses investments, I urge you to review the disclaimers laid out in the About section with extra diligence. Moreover, even if you have already reviewed these disclaimers in the past, you need to review them again, as they are subject to change without notice.  Do it now, and remember that whatever I say in this blog posting is simply my opinion — it is not science, it is not advice, and it is not an attempt to make you act in any way whatsoever.

…. And, if you find yourself enjoying this posting, consider supporting the blog through a donation. For your convenience, PayPal links are provided to the right and at the end of the posting.

2163042781_29c776780e_oEarlier, I wrote about a programmatic approach to investment related to Mind CTI Ltd and its equity MNDO, laying out a simple formula that would have yielded an estimated 388% gain over a five year period:

(1) settle in for a long run, (2) pony up $100,000, (3) every year re-invest the entire dividend payout (less a mandatory 25% (or so.. the amount varies from year to year) dividend tax withholding) by buying additional shares exactly 90 days after the previous dividend was paid out, and (4) — and this is the really important step — ignore any and all temptation to trade the equity, game the system, or cash in on short term gains in the per share price.

My posting (read it here) generated quite a lot of traffic and follow-up questions, in particular after Mind CTI announced is fourth quarter and full year results for its fiscal year 2013 (read more about this here,) and — again — announced a REIT like dividend.

So without further ado, I provide more information related to my rudimentary modeling.

First, here is the previously published results table, updated with information about an element that I had not commented on: A U.S. tax credit available on top of the discussed position gains, amounting to almost $22 thousand over the period in question:

(c) Per Jacobsen, 2013 and 2014. All rights reserved

(c) Per Jacobsen, 2013 and 2014. All rights reserved

Please note that these computations are really rudimentary, making very simple assumptions about the tax rates and trade viability across the periods.

Ok, now that we got the disclaimer, let’s look at the evolution in position value, not including the $22 thousand tax credit:

(c) Per Jacobsen, 2013 and 2014. All rights reserved

(c) Per Jacobsen, 2013 and 2014. All rights reserved

We note a couple of interesting things…

First, the position value was at its peak ($518 thousand) in april of 2011, immediately prior to the exit of a very large institutional holder, whose position liquidation caused a drastic drop in the per share price.

Second, the position value was at its low ($59 thousand) in March of 2009, reflecting the overall market conditions.

Third, the appreciation since the low (from a low of $59 thousand to a high of $518 thousand) has been enormous, and to deviate from the programmatic approach when the position value dropped in conjunction with the market would have been a blunder of the highest magnitude.

When reflecting on the third point it is important to remember that a proper analysis of Mind CTI would have uncovered a very healthy, debt-free, cash-flow positive, and consistently dividend-paying business, and, so, it should have been clear that the market gyrations were — fundamentally — irrelevant.

So, in the immortal words of Mr. Bumble:

“Come, Oliver! Wipe your eyes with the cuffs of your jacket, and don’t cry into your gruel; that’s a very foolish action, Oliver.”

That’s it. Have a nice day.

Donations, please….

As usual, if you found this posting useful or entertaining — or if it saved you time, you can express your appreciation through donation via PayPal right now.   For this type of posting a one-off donation of $25 is suggested — however, any donation is, of course, appreciated.


Mind CTI is prepared for 2014

As it is the case for all postings in this blog, my standard disclaimers apply for this posting.  However, since this posting discusses investments, I urge you to review the disclaimers laid out in the About section with extra diligence. Moreover, even if you have already reviewed these disclaimers in the past, you need to review them again, as they are subject to change without notice.  Do it now, and remember that whatever I say in this blog posting is simply my opinion — it is not science, it is not advice, and it is not an attempt to make you act in any way whatsoever.

…. And, if you find yourself enjoying this posting, consider supporting the blog through a donation. For your convenience, PayPal links are provided to the right and at the end of the posting.

2178452403_a7ddd24205_o

Onwards and up

Mind CTI Ltd. released its financial results for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2014 and full fiscal year 2014 on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014.

As usual, I have summarized these results and my commentary on these in a dynamic posting that you can find here. The dynamic posting also provides summaries of previous quarters’ results and associated commentaries.

After several quarters of re-gearing, with added expenses and headcount and lowered operating income, the company ended its fiscal year with a bang, turning in a fourth quarter that was way better than expected, establishing a significant foothold for the 2014 fiscal year, and paying its patient shareholders a significant dividend.

On the back-end of significant wins in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2013, the company appears very optimistic about fiscal year 2014 and it backed this confidence up with a $0.24 dividend, payable in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, and constituting a 10% yield or better (read more about the very special dividend situation for Mind CTI here.)

For more information, please refer to the dynamic posting (here.)

Donations, please….

As usual, if you found this posting useful or entertaining — or if it saved you time, you can express your appreciation through donation via PayPal right now.   For this type of posting a one-off donation of $10 is suggested — however, any donation is, of course, appreciated.


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