This one comes from Steve Lord with Trend Investor, and he wants you to sign up to receive your “free” report: “The Age of Terror: How One Company Is Changing the Face of Homeland Defense.”
The company he’s teasing about is a small cap homeland security play, though he spends most of his letter selling the idea of the “Rockefeller Crucible” — which is an odd way to say that this company is a growing conglomerate that may or may not be developing a government-tolerated monopoly.
The way Lord explains this concept, it basically seems to be any company that successfully grows through acquisitions. He gives examples including not just Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, but Cisco Systems, Sysco, Quest Diagnostics, and SBC.
To illustrate the point, here’s a quote from the ad about Quest: “Quest Diagnostics is a classic “Rockefeller Crucible.” Since its IPO in 1996, the company’s stock vaulted 1,324.3%. It rolled up Corning Clinical Labs, SmithKline Beecham Labs, American Medical Labs, Unilab Corp. and LabOne.”
So that’s what he means by the “Rockefeller Crucible,” I guess. A company that builds to prominence by rolling up lots of smaller providers in a particular business. The “Crucible” thing sounds sexier, I guess.
But back to the point: what company is he talking about?
This is a homeland security/defense company, and he offers a lot of clues (many of you may have probably figured this one out already — I know at least one reader emailed me that he figured it out quickly).
The company grew it’s backlog by acquisition: “the company’s business backlog surged to $500 million compared to $141 million in 2005.”
And probably the best hints are the specific business deals the company made in 2006:
Teamed with Northrup Grumman for identification technology, including “leading-edge solutions for finger, face, iris, palm and complete forensic recognition systems.”
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“Sold 100 criminal booking systems to the Texas Department of Public Safety.”
“Won a $22 million contract from the Florida Department of Financial Services that will automate fingerprinting of more than 70,000 insurance agents.”
And to make sure we get an exact confirmation, there are some good numbers in the hints, too: “Revenues for Q4 hit $76.3 million compared to $15.0 million for Q4 of 2005”
There’s more, but that’s more than enough to identify the company. The Stock Gumshoe threw all the available data into the Craniotronic Pensivometer and can now tell you that this company is …
L-1 Identity Solutions, Inc. (ID)
The business matches exactly — there are plenty of press released on deals with Florida and Texas, for example. And the numbers match — they did have $76.3 million in sales in the fourth quarter last year, so I’m convinced this is the correct answer.
Now … does the fact that this company is employing the “Rockefeller Crucible” and rolling up small competitors in the identification/security space mean it’s a good investment? You probably know by now that the Stock Gumshoe can’t answer that question for you. Here’s what I do know about L-1:
They were formed by Robert LaPenta (one of the “L’s” in L-3 Communications) when he invested $100 million into Viisage with the intent of using it as an acquisition vehicle — and grew significantly with the merger with Identix last summer. Both of those companies had been stock market darlings from time to time as homeland security stocks peaked. They’ve acquired many other small companies as well, and have a half-dozen operating units with different brand names. All of the companies are somehow involved with biometric security (iris scans, fingerprints, etc.).
They’re not yet profitable, but they certainly do announce new contract wins about as often as I sneeze. From a quick look at their margins in Google Finance, it looks like they’re just starting to be profitable — but with a company built on acquisitions it’s very hard to tell when or if they’re going to become profitable on a sustainable basis. Probably the vicissitudes of federal law and contracts relating to homeland security will do as much to move this stock as their profits in the near future, but it’s certainly an interesting company. If you see something there that tells you you need to own a piece of this business going forward, share it with the rest of us.