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Noble Roman’s Inc ($NROM) is a company that sells pizza. That’s a simple explanation, so let me go into more detail. $NROM has been around since 1972, and recently has shifted its focus into the Take -N-Bake Pizza industry. Prior to the past year, Noble Roman’s had two main lines of business: selling through non-traditional locations and through franchising restaurants. They were not successful in the franchising business with traditional pizza restaurants, and just closed out some pending lawsuits which the company won. The non-traditional business is now the main source of revenue and profits (grocery stores, convenience stores, etc…) but the real opportunity arises around franchising their Take-N-Bake pizza program. Going forward, I see Noble Roman’s focusing on selling Take-N-Bake standalone franchise licenses and growing their Take-N-Bake sales to grocery stores.
Noble Roman’s is in the business of selling franchises and licenses to their pizza and subs products. I don’t view the sub/sandwich business as being a focus for the future of the company. All food items are handled by third party companies, so when a franchisee or licensee needs to place an order, that order is sent to third party manufacturers who will fill the orders placed. Therefore, $NROM collects fees and royalties and focuses on marketing their brand and product offering. This is a high margin business as evidenced by their 35% operating margins.
The Non-Traditional business is roughly flat, or in slight decline over the past 3 years, and contributes around $4-$4.2M of revenue per year. Non-Traditional licensees have been growing in number over the past three years, but revenue per licensee has declined from ~$4k per licensee to ~$2.3k per licensee during the past 3 years.
The Take-N-Bake (TNB) Grocery business has been a growth engine for Noble Roman’s and the company has grown the number of grocery stores from 87 in 2009 to 1350 in 2012. There is a lag from when a grocery store signs an agreement with $NROM to the point that they are selling product. $NROM receives $1.16 per pizza sold by a grocery TNB grocery location and $NROM states that they expect to receive between $2k and $2.2k in revenue per grocery store per year. To date, I calculate that $NROM has not achieved this revenue target, and it is closer to $1500 per active grocery store, and $1000 per store for the total signed locations. Remember, there is a lag between a signed grocery location and when the location starts to create sales. Noble Roman’s has been able to add 300-400 new grocery locations per year, and they have a long runway to add many more grocery stores. Read some of the below links to get a better understanding how the grocery business works through aggregators, distributors and individual grocery stores.
The newest line of business is the standalone Take-N-Bake franchise opportunity. The brand of the new business is P’za. The company opened up two locations in 2012, and has signed an additional 6 franchise licenses. All locations are in the state of Indiana, and have been sold to existing $NROM franchisees. These were traditional franchises that had an existing relationship with Noble Roman’s and have bought into the new Take-N-Bake opportunity. Clearly the company is focusing on growing this business, and expects $48-$72k per franchise location per year in fees and royalties.
- Debt restructure – Libor + 4% (4.25%) which is much lower than the previous interest rate of 7-8%. No prepayment penalty with a 48 month term. The company will be able to save money each month due to the lower interest payment.
- The on-going litigation has come to a conclusion, and Noble Roman’s was awarded damages. The ongoing trial has been a drag on management and costs as they fought the lawsuits. This has now come to a conclusion in favor of the company.
- New Take-N-Bake Franchise Opportunity – Papa Murphy’s is the largest player in this market, and has seen excellent growth throughout the U.S.
- Take-N-Bake Franchise Opportunity is new – It is hard to forecast this line of business because it is a brand new business that the company is creating. They had experience with traditional pizza restaurants, however, the business underperformed. Can $NROM launch a new franchise business and make it successful this time?
- All Franchise locations have been in Indiana and to existing franchise owners. There is high risk to recruit new franchise owners outside of the company’s existing relationships. Can $NROM market their new concept to gain new franchisees and compete against Papa Murphy’s?
- $NROM has a market cap of ~$20M which puts the company at a disadvantage due to the lack of financial power to grow a franchise business. I think this is somewhat minimized since Noble Roman’s has other lines of business bringing in revenue and cash flow. In addition, the company has the backend process and support infrastructure in place to grow the business. The investments have been made, so Noble Roman’s does not need to build this process from scratch.
The company does not carry and goodwill or intangibles on the books and carries a very large NOL. Currently $NROM’s stock price is at $1.03 with 20M shares outstanding. Book value is at 0.64 amounting to a P/B of 1.6, however, the business is asset light and doesn’t require heavy CapEx to run and scale the business.
I calculated the net reproduction cost of the business at $0.75. The company’s stock price has run up in the past couple of months. If the company’s stock price was still under the reproduction cost, it would be a good buy.
I calculated the EPV of the business at $0.94, which takes into consideration current earnings without any growth component. It is very hard to forecast forward earnings with high accuracy, so I like to use the Greenwald EPV model.
In addition, I used the latest EBIT value and add a 5x-8x multiple, then added Cash, NOL and subtracted total debt to estimate a value between $0.88-$1.28 per share.
At the current price of $1.03, I believe the company is fairly valued, but would be interested in the stock if the price were to drop back down to the $0.75 range.
Disclosure: No Position
January 2013 Company Presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/iancassel/microcapclub-invitational-noble-romans-nrom
August 2012 Company Presentation: http://www.nobleromans.com/pdfs/2012%20Presentation%20PDF.pdf
The Variant View Blog: http://thevariantview.com/tag/noble-roman/
The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Ray Bonneau and RayBonneau.com. Ray Bonneau or persons posting on RayBonneau.com may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog. The commentary in this blog in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. Readers should do their own homework and research when making investment decisions. The blog is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.
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