Long-time readers should note some significant changes in how I communicate in the public domain. The primary purpose of this forum is now to attract new contacts with professional industry expertise to share research and receive feedback (confirmation / refutation) regarding my investment theses.
Accordingly, this document should not be construed as an endorsement or recommendation of the companies or securities discussed herein. I am not an investment advisor and this is not an investment thesis. It is merely one part of the story, which I present for debate in hopes of determining all risks and upside potential. The disclosure at the end of this piece is critical to understanding the content of this document. Further, I frequently trade my positions and may buy, sell, or short the securities mentioned herein at any time, regardless of the facts or perceived implications of this article.
This article may seem controversial to anyone who doesn’t attempt to read and understand it first. So, let me be up-front and clear about something:
This article is not meant to convince readers that SMSI should be valued at $20 today or tomorrow. In fact, I waited for the stock to settle down from its recent run before releasing this in order to avoid the appearance of trying to push it higher.
This article simply lays out facts (in the same manner that my research laid out HMNY’s facts). This provides a foundation for the collaborative research that gets done among our growing circle of investors at markgomesstocks.wordpress.com.
The fact-based data I have gathered from management and other sources suggests that SMSI has underutilized, underappreciated, and unlocked assets which gives the company the potential to generate $0.55 and $0.85 of SaaS-based EPS over the next two years, respectively (and more, if they sign additional large customers). A simple search shows that most any SaaS player with that level of expected earnings and growth can easily support a $20+ valuation.
However, we must acknowledge that potential is not reality until it is. Until then, any potential must be balanced against the company’s various risks, as well as the need for catalysts to unlock each of its “hidden assets”.
That being said, after reviewing all available data, I personally / honestly believe that there’s over $20 of potential unlocked value in SMSI. I will show this in the same manner that I always do (including how I did it with HMNY) — by quantifying the dynamics of the company’s business model.
FYI, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone who has followed SMSI over the past couple of decades (as I have). As I discussed in my first major piece on SMSI, the stock has exceeded $68 per share (on a split-adjusted basis) four times dating back to 1999. In each case, the stock was $20 or less prior to its run-up to $68.
SMSI’s 2006 high of $76.04 was accompanied by a near-doubling of net income to $9 million (split-adjusted EPS of $1.51 per share). Based on its enterprise value (EV), the resultant P/E was 41 (reasonable for that level of EPS and earnings growth, though pricey for a hit-driven stock).
Similarly, SMSI’s 2009 high of $51.48 preceded 2010 revenue of $130.5 million and 160% growth in net income to $12.3 million (split adjusted EPS of $1.44 per share) yielding a P/E ratio of 29, based on its $350 million enterprise value at the time.
So, 55-cent and 85-cents of EPS would not be unprecedented. The company has done it multiple times during multiple cycles. By comparison, my estimate for 2020 only represents a 10-year improvement of 15% over SMSI’s 2010 pre-tax income of $18.5 million (1.4% annualized).
As for the stock, it’s most extreme moves saw the stock run from 68-cents to nearly 85 dollars… and, on another occasion, from $2.52 to $128. SMSI has also fallen below $5 and then rebounded to above $10 no fewer than five times. Needless to say, SMSI has been a volatile stock over the years. That’s good news for investors who catch it near the bottom and ride it to the top.
I’ll explain how/why this happens… and why I believe the pendulum is already moving in favor of the bulls again.
Of course, past performance is no predictor of future results. I only point out these facts to help shed a bit of disbelief in the possibility of a big move happening.
In reality, the nature of SMSI’s business model lends itself to this extreme volatility. The company is either living big on equally big carrier contracts or bleeding to death with almost no revenue to speak of.
In other words, it’s the ultimate hit-driven stock. The company either hits a grand slam or strikes out.
At present, the stock is unquestionably cheap, irrespective of potential. At the same time, the company appears to be swinging at a home run pitch. Some investors are waiting to see how things will play out. Others are placing their bets, knowing that losing 50% on a $2 stock is worth the risk for a potential $20+ windfall.
That’s a 20:1 reward/risk ratio. The most disciplined professionals I know are happy when they find stocks exhibiting 3:1 reward/risk.
One last thing — considering everything I’ve dealt with over the past few years, I was hesitant to release this report. However, the facts warrant examination and this is my forum for vetting ideas with my research partners (along with the general public). No matter how you feel about it, I want to remind folks that this report is not making any claims or recommendations. Further, all investments involve risk and should be sized with respect to its perceived risk. Please see my numerous disclosures for additional caveats. We’re all adults here.
OK. Let’s jump in…
Ever since Mr. Smith increased his ownership in SMSI from 12% to 29%, the company’s moves and rhetoric have been clearly geared toward maximizing shareholder value (vs. making long-term investments).
This should come as no surprise.
After years of heavy investment (which has contributed to losses and a depressed share price), Mr. Smith clearly saw an opportunity to scoop up a large chunk of shares.
And now that he owns 29% of the company, he’s flicking the switch from “invest for the future” to “boost profitability now”.
Some would call this sneaky or unfair. Others call it good old fashioned capitalism. Either way, it doesn’t matter, because it’s perfectly legal…
…and something from which investors can benefit!
The key word is benefit.
As I’ve been warning with HMNY, the CEO’s new bonus structure positioned him to benefit from an increase in the company’s market cap. Upon its announcement, professional investors quickly realized that Mr. Farnsworth could get a bigger bonus by acquiring companies and raising capital, even if it killed shareholders in the process…
…and it has.
This is a big part of the reason I became such a vocal bear on HMNY. I felt it was unfair for retail investors who didn’t understand what was the new bonus structure told us about Mr. Farnsworth’s intentions. I haven’t bought or shorted a share of the stock since launching this blog. I’m simply gratified by the thanks I receive from investors who heeded my analysis and got out the way.
In the case of SMSI, Mr. Smith wasn’t granted a misaligned bonus package. Instead, he accumulated a large number of common shares out of his own savings. In doing so, he positioned himself to benefit from a rise in the stock price.
The best/fastest way for Mr. Smith raise SMSI’s stock price is to monetize the company’s investments, intellectual property, and hidden assets. Call it what you want, but it’s music to the ears of anyone who wants to go along for the ride. In other words, his interests are aligned (not misaligned) with common shareholders.
It should be easy to understand why this is bullish (and why the HMNY situation has been bearish).
And there’s plenty for SMSI to monetize. In fact, I believe that SMSI has as much as $23+ per share in unlocked (“hidden”) assets.
The most prominent of these assets are:
1) its SafePath (a.k.a. Sprint’s Safe & Found product)
2) its intellectual property (i.e. R&D / patents), and
3) its tax assets (a.k.a. net operating loss carry forwards)
Let’s briefly look at each…
SafePath: Anyone who has read my research knows about this one. In short, SafePath was the creation of iMobileMagic, a software developer in Portugal which had little experience in selling to carriers.
In contrast, SMSI has decades of experience in doing business with carriers. They know what it takes to sign a deal and they know what it takes to make an application “carrier grade”. In SafePath, they saw an ideal solution for carriers. It simply needed augmentation to become carrier grade and an experienced sale force to sell it.
Because of their strengths (and iMobileMagic’s shortcomings), they were able to buy the company cheaply… and quickly parlay it into a massive deal with Sprint. Some investors have been skeptical of the Sprint deal because it seems hard to believe that SMSI could buy a product for a few million dollars and parlay it into something that is slated to generate millions in profit… per quarter.
That thinking is understandable, but things like this happen in the business world all the time.
In fact, I formed Pipeline Data by signing cheap contracts with research companies to assemble a service for which institutions paid upwards of 6-figures annually. In fact, the revenue from my largest customer more than covered 100% of Pipeline Data’s annual expenses.
Later, I expanded my services (and ARPU) via a deal that returned roughly 10x its cost.
It wasn’t “too good to be true”. It was just the art of deal making. Capitalism at work.
On a very small scale, what SMSI has done with SafePath is not much different than the story of how Microsoft first rose to prominence. Nowhere near as impactful, but still a coup for Smith Micro and its shareholders.
But forget about Microsoft and Pipeline Data. We’re talking about Smith Micro.
To see if SMSI is the latest in a long line of companies to make a highly-accretive acquisition, we just need to take an objective look at the facts:
Fact #1 – Sprint Safe & Found has been downloaded an estimated 200,000+ times across Android + iOS platforms. I estimate that 1,000,000 total downloads will represent a complete switch-over from Location Labs to SMSI’s product. At that point, SMSI should be recognizing the $3M+ per quarter Management has told us all about.
This will surely flip the company back into profitability, something that always attracts a new cohort of investors.
In the meantime, with 20% of my estimated “goal downloads” completed, it should be clear that SMSI is already recognizing revenue on this deal. Based on the information I have gathered, I expect the Locations Labs product to be officially shut off during this quarter… and for all remaining customers to be moved over to Safe & Found.
Fact #2 – Some investors have let the negative reviews scare them, but I view them as bullish. How is that possible?? Easy… the negative reviews only represent 0.21% of the total downloads — that’s just 1 out of 476 people.
Further, what most people don’t realize is that Safe & Found’s rating have been on the rise over the past several weeks. I know this because I’ve built a Safe & Found rating tracker with the help of a couple people (including data from diogenese19348 on the Yahoo chat boards — yes, there is occasionally something of value there).
Looking at the 215 reviews posted from 3/29 through 4/23, I estimate that the one-star reviews have declined from an already-minuscule 0.21% of downloads to an even-more microscopic 0.14% of estimated downloads. I’ll also remind readers that I tested the product and was impressed with how good it was for a first-generation product (and I’ve heard that version 2.0 is due within the next several weeks).
Also looking at the 215 reviews posted from 3/29 through 4/23, you can calculate that the product was sitting at 2.14 stars on 3/28, but has reviewed an average review of 2.81 since then.
I’m not saying that 2.81 is cause for a big celebration, but that’s a big improvement in less than four weeks. Based on that, we can begin to envision the level of improvements and rating their next version will bring.
FYI, this is not just a coincidence. The improved ratings coincided with the release of its latest version, which improved its location tracking, geofencing, and password issues — all of which dominated the poor reviews that plagued the product until this latest release.
In other words, investors who have turned off by the negative reviews have 1) been focusing on something that has only represented 0.2% of Safe & Found downloads and 2) not focused on the reviews related the newest release. In one case, the data is statistically irrelevant and in the other case, it pertains to a product that doesn’t even exist anymore (version 1.0.6).
As a reminder, a colleague and I tested the product in late-February (before the latest release) and were not among those who would have given the product one star. We only had a little trouble getting it installed, but after that, everything worked great.
I’m working on testing the latest version and plan to visit the company after its upcoming earnings call.
Fact #3 – I have been in contact with one of the key players in charge of the Sprint relationship (on multiple occasions). They have provided information that makes it clear that 1) no product makes everyone happy, 2) they are happy with the product, 3) they are sticking with the product, and 4) enhancements are coming.
This fact is arguably more important than the current download number, because it has longer-term implications for Smith Micro and its stock.
Potential Current Value: My SMSI Income Statement forecast assumes little in the way of taxes, due to SMSI’s NOL balance. However, I count the NOLs as a separate asset. Adjusting for that and assuming my model plays out, the SafePath business alone could still justify 20x my 2020 untaxed EPS estimate ($0.85) or $17 per share.
Intellectual Property / R&D: Over the past 5-years, SMSI has invested over $75 million into R&D (plus, the millions it has spent for its acquisitions of Birdstep and iMobileMagic). Yet, the stock trades at a total valuation of just $35 million.
If SMSI can just break even on its investments, shareholders will reap a 100%+ return on the stock. That’s an admittedly simplistic assessment. However, empirically-speaking, I’ve had tremendous success with investments trading at less than 3-years worth of R&D spend.
The caveat is that the results have been much better for profitable companies. SMSI is not profitable. However, with the news that Sprint is moving forward, it appears that SMSI is in position to fit the bill.
Potential Current Value: Of course, R&D depreciates over time, but it should also have more value than what it cost. Assuming SMSI can recoup 1x their past 5-years of investment, this asset has a potential value of about $4 per share.
Tax Assets: As of the end of 2017, SMSI had federal and state net operating loss carryforwards (NOLs) of approximately $151.0 million and $147.8 million. These are “valued” at $52.5 million, but a valuation allowance of $52.9 million writes it all down to $575,000 per SMSI’s 10-K.
This due to a lack of usability. However, if the company turns profitable, that value will start to become unlocked. To me, it doesn’t matter if/when the company had to reverse the valuation allowance (that’s dictated by accounting rules). What matters is that SMSI’s profitability instantly unlocks this value.
Potential Current Value: About $2 per share.
This was a fairly simple, but still a sound analysis. Add it up and we get $23 per share.
As stated above, I’m not suggesting the stock should immediately shoot up to those levels. As anyone can see, the stock has entered an uptrend, but still digesting its last big move:
No stock goes straight up (especially when a story is not fully known or understood). However, I do see significant upside potential for the shares… and we’ve all had to wait for multi-baggers to take off before.
Beyond that, we all know the sting of having missed out on a multi-bagger due to losing patience. The key to avoiding that is to know the story, how it’s progressing, and why the shares aren’t responding as you’d expect. Over the past few weeks, that’s exactly what I’ve provided to readers. From there, all we can do is wait and hope that the company’s recent momentum continues.
We should have some updates coming via SMSI’s Q1 earnings call (surely coming with the next 1-2 weeks) and the upcoming LD Micro Conference (where they will either present or I will look to visit their headquarters).
In conclusion, let’s not let the big projections spark skepticism. Instead, aim to determine if those numbers have merit. If they do, it makes no sense to treat them with disbelief. Let’s all use this article as the foundation to begin a dialog (in the comments section below) about the strengths and/or weaknesses of this analysis.
Indeed, by doing research as a group, we can all figure out the truth… and all make money!
- Sprint FINALLY Ramping Up SMSI’s Product!
- Videocast: AEHR 10-Q, MoviePass Update
- AEHR Grows 175% — Beats On The Top & Bottom Line (Buying More)
- GAIA vs. MoviePass: CAC Shows Which One Is A True Mini-NFLX
- Major Update on SMSI
- SMSI’s Safe & Found App: 100,000 Downloads & Counting
- MoviePass Projected To Burn $600M In 2018
- SMSI: Riding A New Trend & Making Its Latest Comeback
- Mark Gomes Research
To get my posts in real-time, just follow/subscribe to this free blog.
If you only want to receive my most critical reports, simply sign up for my MailChimp mailing list instead. If you’re on that list, you will only get key articles and occasional recaps of all the work I’ve recently done.
Disclosures / Disclaimers: I am long SMSI. However, this is not a solicitation to buy, sell, or otherwise transact any stock or its derivatives. Nor should it be construed as an endorsement of any particular investment or opinion of the stock’s current or future price. To be clear, I do not encourage or recommend for anyone to follow my lead on this or any other stocks, since I may enter, exit, or reverse a position at any time without notice, regardless of the facts or perceived implications of this article.
I am not a financial advisor. Nor am I providing any recommendations, price targets, or opinions about valuation regarding the companies discussed herein. Any disclosures regarding my holdings are true as of the time this article is written, but subject change without notice. I frequently trade my positions, often on an intraday basis. Thus, it is possible that I might be buying and/or selling the securities mentioned herein and/or its derivative at any time, regardless of (and possibly contrary to) the content of this article.
I undertake no responsibility to update my disclosures and they may therefore be inaccurate thereafter. Likewise, any opinions are as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice and may not be updated. I believe that the sources of information I use are accurate but there can be no assurance that they are. All investments carry the risk of loss and the securities mentioned herein may entail a high level of risk. Investors considering an investment should perform their own research and consult with a qualified investment professional.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am receiving no compensation for it, nor do I have a business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be regarded as investment advice or as a recommendation regarding any particular security or course of action.
The primary purpose of this blog/forum is to attract new contacts with professional industry expertise to share research and receive feedback (confirmation / refutation) regarding my investment theses.