Bottom Line Up Front
Pace's share price has been hit hard by two mis-steps during the year. Concerns have also been expressed for the need for additional equity finance, the outcome of a forthcoming strategic review, and doubts about the future operational performance of Pace Europe. At a share price of 107.7p, it has an unleveraged earnings yield of 14.8%, and a return on tangible capital of 140%. It appears that the market has over-reacted to recent temporary setbacks, creating a buying opportunity.
Brief Description of Trading Activities
Pace makes satellite, cable and IPTV devices for PayTV operators. IPTV (Internet protocol Television) refers to TV content delivered over the internet instead of traditional methods like radio frequencies, satellite or cable . PayTV refers to subscription-based television services, like BSkyB.
Pace manufactures STB's (set-top boxes). These are electrical boxes that receive incoming signals (from satellite, cable, etc.) and decode them to produce output that televisions can use. A PVR (Personal Video Recorder), which records programs on a hard drive instead of video tape, is one example of an STB. There are many models of STBs, depending what they do: whether they receive signals from satellite or cable or internet, whether they can record programs for playback or not, and introduce new features like high definition improved compression technology, and ease-of-use.
Year to date
PIC's share price was around 183p at the start of the year, rising to 229p at around mid-February. On 08-Mar-2011, PIC announced its results for y/e Dec 2010, noting strong revenue growth, strong earnings growth, increased returns on sales, and three acquisitions . However, the share price plunged from 220p to 165p (25% down) over the course of a few days. This was due to an exceptional charge of £19m for acquisition costs and a delay in customer upgrade plans, both of which were unexpected by investors.
The share price then drifted downwards to 153p by 09-May-2011. On 10-May-2011, PIC issued an IMS (Interim Management Statement) , stating that the Japanese Tsunami had created supply chain problems, that the profitability in Pace Europe had been below expectations, and that Pace Networks has been closed as a standalone business unit due to insufficient demand. Consequently, the share price plummeted to about 93p on heavy volume. Since then, the share price has recovered to about 107p (51% down on its earlier peak).
I had elaborated on these issues in a blog post , noting that the increased debt of the company made it more risky than formerly, and that Altrium Securities challenged the credibility of the reasons contributing to the lowered margin expansion cited in the IMS.
On 31-May-2011, PIC announced that Mike McTighe retired as a director of the company, and proposed Allan Leighton as its new non-executive chairman . Mr. Leighton is a former CEO of Asda and non-executive director of the Royal Mail. He took up the PIC role on 21-Jun-2011. He will perform a strategic review of the business, and should improve the communication flow with the City.
On 21-Jul-2011, Numis downgrades PIC from hold to reduce. They are concerned with a possible painful transition following Mr. Leighton's business review, the possibility of needing to issue equity to refinance their debt, and uncertainties over the future performance of Pace Europe.
On 26-Jul-2011, PIC will announce its Interim 2011 Earnings Release.
Quantitatve/Technical reasons for purchase
PIC has suffered two significant gap downs on heavy volume during the year, dropping its share price to levels not seen since April 2009. Analyst forecasts expect an 11% decline of EPS for y/e Dec 2011. Clearly, there is a lot of negative sentiment and uncertainty surrounding the company.
Using a quantitative approach suggested by Joel Greenblatt , PIC has a high ROC (Return on Capital) and UEY (Unleveraged Earnings Yield). Greenblatt's formulation of ROC is based on EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes) over Tangible Capital Employed. UEY is based on EBIT over EV (Enterprise Value). Sharelock Holmes reports figures of ROC as 118% and UEY as 13.8%. According to my calculations, ROC is 140%, and UEY is 14.8% .
The FTSEALLSHARE stands at 3088.36. PIC is on an ask price of 107.70p
Long position, no intention of changing in next 72 hours.
 IPTV Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPTV
 Prelim results for y/e Dec 2010 http://bit.ly/mQQbir
 Intermin Management Statement issued 10-May-2011 http://bit.ly/oEJ0AY
 Pace - I got it wrong http://bit.ly/qdkscq
 Allan Leighton To Become New Chairman Of Pace plc http://bit.ly/oUMkwT
 The Little Book That Beats The Market http://amzn.to/njyzq3
 Spreadsheet calculations of ROC and UEY http://bit.ly/n737uY