Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Dhandho Investor Buys Into ZINC!

Back in early November I  wrote a post on Horsehead Holdings Corp.(ZINC) .  Horsehead is  the largest zinc producer in the United States and the leading manufacturer of value-added zinc products including zinc oxide and zinc powder. Zinc has many uses such as a protective coating to various fabricated products, it is found in  tire and rubber products, chemicals, ceramics, plastics, paints, lubricating oils, and pharmaceuticals it is also used in brake linings for automobiles.
      Since my last post on Horsehead, I noticed that Mohnish Pabrai alias The Dhandho Investor has taken a stake in ZINC.  Pabrai has made a name for himself over the last few years returning Warren Buffett SIZE returns. Pabrai by the way is a former IT guy turned money manager. Pabrai usually has 10 to 15 stocks at a time in the portfolio. I thought it was interesting that Pabrai bought into one of the stocks I followed, usually its me following the Gurus. However I'm sure Pabrai saw the same things that I did in this company. First off the company has $80mil in cash which equates to $2.28 a share. They have virtually no debt with a debt-to-equity ratio of "0". Their also trading at nearly 50% book value, which is currently at $7.93 a share. It also looks like 125,000 plus investors over at the Motley Fool have picked up on this one as well.  The company  looks as if its staying ahead of the economic downturn by running a rather tight ship. In December Horsehead  announced that it is taking aggressive steps to reduce operating costs including idling its recycling facilities for the last week of 2008 , reducing its salaried workforce, and revising the construction strategy for its new South Carolina facility. Horsehead expects that these reductions will result in annualized savings of approximately $2 million. A few more points I would like to mention that this is a cyclical stock, and with the current economic conditions it could stay depressed for a while. Also forward looking earnings (2009) are projected at an average loss of 62 cents a share. So while the short term outlook does not look rosy valueinvestors and pabrai himself are looking for the low-risk, high-uncertainty businesses.

  "Low risk and high uncertainty is a wonderful combination. It leads to severely depressed prices for businesses - especially in the pari-mutuel system- based stock market. Dhandho entrepreneurs first focus on minimizing downside risk. Low-risk situations, by definition, have low downsides. The high uncertainty can be dealt with by conservatively handicapping the range of possible outcomes. You end with the classic Dhandho tag line: Heads, I win tails, I don't loose much!"   -Mohnish Pabrai.  

 The 52 week week high was $18.31 and the 52 week low was $2.26, which as I mentioned earlier is the cash it has on hand. Currently ZINC is trading at $4.25 with a NCAV of $4.45.
*Author is neither long nor short.  

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  1. Sorry to say but the Dhando technique didn't work in 2008 and Pabrai was down 60%.

  2. I would be careful with this.

    That $80m in cash could disappear very quickly (I've seen it happen before).

    The primary use for zinc is in galvanizing steel. The outlook for the steel market is terrible.

    Also, I would say that it is normally not a good idea to buy into companies that you know are going to be making a loss.

    Just my opinions, others will have different views.

  3. Hello Stock Scribe

    Thanks for your comment and I hope you will venture back to STOCKMANMARC. The Post along with my blog is intended to point out what Pabrai & other Value/Guru Investors look for and what they are buying. However you raise some interesting thoughts.

    thanks again