Motley Fool’s “Brand Inside a Brand: The Next Intel”

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, October 31, 2007

OK, so I’m starting to think that Fyodor Dostoyevsky has been reincarnated as a Motley Fool copywriter — the amount of text they throw into their teaser emails, many of them ten pages long or longer, is a bit ridiculous … I’d say they lead the industry in that category.

But more to the point, they certainly sometimes come up with a great idea … so let’s sniff out their latest teaser, shall we?

This one comes in with a healthy dose of fearmongering — as most of the newsletter pitches do these days, in homage to our uncertain times and jittery markets. “Read this before the market crashes” is certainly an effective tagline, if the dozens of readers who have frantically forwarded the email to me is any indication.

So, what is it they’re selling? It’s a subscription to the Motley Fool Stock Advisor, the brother-versus-brother newsletter at the fool, which I think is their oldest and least expensive.

The pitch for their teaser stock is that it’s maybe the “next Intel” as a “brand inside a brand”

What does that mean? It’s essentially the branding of a component part or capability for a product, and when they refer to “next Intel” it’s a reference to that company’s spectacular move to build a brand in the 1990s — did anyone ever care what the brand name of their computer chip was before the dancing clean suits and the “Intel Inside” campaign?

So this is following in those footsteps in some way, though they do clarify that it’s a much smaller company — explosive growth out of the Intel behemoth, after all, may not be all that likely at this point, not with a near-$200 billion market cap.

In the Fool’s words, “Before Intel, nobody dreamed a market leader like Dell would feature another company’s logo front and center on its top-of-the-line computers. But you see how it worked for them!”

So who is this that’s following in Intel’s footsteps? They do give plenty of clues in their long, long, long essay …

“The brilliant idea behind it was conceived by a precocious physics Ph.D. from Stanford and Cambridge while meditating in India. (He still owns about $2 BILLION worth of stock!)”

Sales are going up 20% a year on 35% margins.

They have $500 million in cash and no debt.

They are in cinema sound and electronics, and in personal stereo electronics and are the “undisputed industry leader”

And there’s some growth on the horizon, in their words: “You see, the Multiplex is just for starters. Home theaters, iPods, PDAs, and satellite car stereos… that’s where the REAL money is. And this little company’s patented technology is so powerful it could one day be used in virtually all of these products.”

There are only a handful of analysts covering this company, which they refer to as possibly the next Apple or next Dell, in addition to the next Intel.

So, worn out yet? Did you read the whole email? There’s lots of stuff in there about bear market panics, and the need to be invested in the stock market and to ignore those who chirp about the next crash … being out of the market because of fear is generally a big mistake, is the impression I get from them (and I personally mostly agree on that point).

Oh, and if you want to subscribe they’ll also send you some special reports, yada yada yada — one of those reports is for the New American Super Brand, which I wrote up in this space about six months ago for you if you’re interested.

But if you just want another investing idea without subscribing to another newsletter, then your friendly neighborhood Gumshoe is here to lend a helping hand.

This “brand within a brand” stock from Tom Gardner is, according to the detailed musings of the Cognitationizer 1700 …

Dolby Laboratories (DLB)

A couple of the fearless Gumshoe readers sent in the correct guess on this one, so congratulations to them — for the rest of you, this is a brand that’s been around in the consumer space for probably as long as Intel, maybe longer. I certainly remember the little double D logo on cassette decks from my misspent youth, and the accompanying personal conviction that Dolby was awesome without having any idea why.

There has been a lot written about this stock in the last year, given their remarkable performance since becoming a separately traded company back in 2005 — I’d recommend an article from SmartMoney to start, but you’ll find no shortage of ammunition for building whatever argument you like for this firm.

Are you getting our free Daily Update
"reveal" emails? If not,
just click here...

Their big technology in sound processing is the noise reduction that cleans up sound, or at least that was the start of their journey — sounds like they’ve gone quite a bit further now in adding 3D sound for multiplexes and lots of other high end widgets for the audiophiles and professionals. I have no idea what their presence is like in the iPod space, so that would be worth checking out, but they have definitely introduced a slew of impressive sounding (no pun intended) products over the last month or so and folks seem to think that they’re going to be a brand that matters in the consumer space this Christmas.

The numbers do match up, and they are fairly impressive — more than $500 million in net cash, decent profit and operating margins as teased. The shares are up about 100% from last Fall, and they do trade at a significant premium to the market.

Right now, analysts (though as the Fool says, there aren’t many of them and perhaps they’re missing the story) are pegging the forward PE ratio at 34. That’s pretty high given the projected growth, but maybe they’re understating the growth — the earnings did go up by over 50% in the past year, so if there was any likelihood of them continuing that stellar success I’d certainly be willing to pay 34 times earnings for the shares.

Don’t know about that likelihood, however. Tom Gardner apparently believes that Dolby will be moving further and further into the ubiquitious consumer electronics that we all have in our homes and pockets, and if that’s the case and the “Dolby Inside” logo starts to get the same kind of traction as “Intel Inside” and the Dolby name helps these products to stand out and raise prices or increase sales the way the Intel name did, then there’s a good chance he’ll be right, in my opinion. If it remains where it is right now, as it appears to me on a cursory glance, as a brand that is cared about primarily by hard core audiophiles and theater owners, then the growth might be significantly more restrained.

So … there you have it, the next “Brand Inside a Brand” to get your juices flowing … might be a great one that you’ll see branding the outside of your car or your MP3 player in a few years, or it might be an expensive dinosaur that’s been bypassed by the iPod wave of consumer electronics. I don’t know the answer, but if you do I’d love to hear it … comment away.

And Happy Investing to all.



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
March 14, 2011 6:27 am