Monday 18 September 2017

Hive Blockchain's Hot Debut Gives Hope To Fintech Select Investors

Hive Blockchain Technologies (HIVE) made its debut on the Venture today and is trading at $0.90, up 200% from the price of the financing that took place during the reverse takeover transition from Leeta Gold. I have not purchased this stock today as I have exhausted all cash resources, but it does look interesting.

I recommend reading the registration statement filed on SEDAR:

It's 134 pages and I have just skimmed through it quickly, but it appears to provide a detailed risk-reward profile of investing in blockchain and cryptocurrency. I think this is a valuable source for Fintech Select (FTEC), formerly Selectcore (SCG), investors such as myself.

HIVE has 226,584,760 shares outstanding, about 250 million fully diluted. So at $0.90 the fully diluted market cap is $225 million.

FTEC has 60.6 million shares outstanding and another 26.7 million in warrants. The fully diluted market cap at $0.20 is $17.5 million. Clearly there is large upside and investment demand for FTEC based on what I have seen with HIVE today if it can achieve some of the initiatives stated in the AGM several weeks ago. I am taking a wait and see approach for the remainder of 2017 to see what this company can do.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Talks Between Urban FT And Digiliti Continue: My Guess Is A Reverse Takeover

An 8-K filed by Digiliti (DGLT) last week showed that the company came to an official agreement with Urban FT's financing wing UFT Equities for a Secured Promissory Note. People have asked my opinion on it so here it is. Why have I decided to post this on my personal blog instead of Seeking Alpha? Seeking Alpha qualified my first write up on DGLT as an article. That means I get paid for it. My next two write ups didn't qualify for whatever reason and I had to post them as blogs. Seeking Alpha puts ads up on blog posts but doesn't pay out for them so I figure instead of giving the site content and traffic for free I might as well offer readers an ad free experience and expand the reach for my personal blog. Here are some of my recent Canadian small cap picks if interested:

Mission Ready Services Signs $400 Million Deal The Military
Seven Other Stocks I'm Watching Closely for the Rest of 2017

In addition to the 8-K, there was an attachment disclosing the details of the note. It's long and filled with legalese, but the main takeaway that shareholders will want to know from this is:

"If a definitive agreement with respect to the Proposed Merger is not entered into on or prior to September 30, 2017 or such later date as agreed upon by the parties in writing, the obligations of the Noteholder to make future advances pursuant to this Note shall terminate with immediate effect."

As in other words, if there is no deal made by the end of September, DGLT is in major trouble. But the hurt would be much larger for insiders and management who own a heap of shares compared to us retail investors who bought up shares the few days leading up to the halt. Urban FT has also gone on public record practically salivating over DGLT's client base and business (not so much the business model itself which is what has led DGLT down this path to destruction).  So I believe that both sides are working hard to get a deal done. Ideally September 30th would be a hard deadline, but it wouldn't surprise me if talks continued beyond that. Just by looking at Urban FT's news page on its website tells you all you need to know about the company's mindset.

So what do I think will happen? The language in the 8-K has me leaning to a reverse takeover as my best guess. It makes sense as Urban FT has been trying to increase its public profile recently. A reverse merger by definition means that Urban FT interests would come away with the bulk of the shares. My experience has been that reverse takeover deals result between 50% to 90% of the newly created float going to the new owner. That would mean DGLT would have a minimum of 20 million shares and up to 100 million shares outstanding post-merger. However, the float itself would remain unchanged as Urban FT would own all of the newly formed shares and there would presumably be a lock-up period or some kind of disincentive to immediately dumping millions of shares.

Another article about the deal released today has Urban FT CEO Richard Steggall reiterating that the closing price of DGLT's stock of $1.05 represents a "fair market value". So a reverse takeover would likely value Urban FT around $1.05 for hypothetical "UFT" stock. There isn't a lot of information surrounding Urban FT available, but the company did complete a $3 million seed round at an undisclosed valuation in 2012 as well as two follow up rounds of undisclosed amounts.

Urban FT acquired Wipit in 2015 and iParse in 2017. Wipit is a mobile payments solution provider for the underbanked. It has an active partnership with Sprint (see website, as well read the fine print at the bottom of the page referencing Urban FT as the operator of this program) and has signed a deal with H&R Block back in 2012, but I haven't seen anything that suggests it's particularly active or lucrative. The iParse acquisition seems to have been mostly for its technology, allowing Urban FT to white label its mobile banking solution to all banks and credit unions, regardless of size. The article I am referencing from mid-July made note that the plug-in made possible by the iParse acquisition would be deployed in 60 days - or right around now as the DGLT deal looks to get done.

Richard Steggall and Urban FT's President Kasey Kaplan are the two faces of the company. They disseminate and promote Urban FT's activity in the FinTech space as well as opine on various trends in the industry. Both have active social media profiles. They have made missteps yapping about the DGLT offer too early and often which greatly impacted the stock price before it was halted on 8/16, but seem to have learned their lessons from the mistake and have acted more responsibly since then. Both of these men would make pretty good stewards for a publicly traded company, able to disclose Urban FT's business in a functional but not overly promotional way. This would serve well in, for instance, analyst conference calls.

What I am trying to get to is that on the surface, Urban FT looks to be at an ideal time to go public. It has enough interesting deals going on like the one with Sprint and this new iParse offering in addition to whatever synergies it may pick up from merging with DGLT. The management team appears capable. The FinTech space is hot. So no matter what valuation this proposed reverse takeover may entail, the stock has a significant chance of going higher as the market may love this deal. 

Short interest as of 8/31 was 845,643 which is actually less than what I originally guessed, but is still a high enough amount on a stock with 10 million shares outstanding and is currently halted pending some kind of deal. This is ripe for a short squeeze if/when it opens.

While my patience has been wearing thin, what I can say as a long is that I am much more confident about my position once it opens than what those 800,000+ shares short should be. Today's article mentioned the following about the possible timing of DGLT re-opening for trading:

"Once DGLT appoints new auditors and they complete an audit review of 2016 and 2017 earnings to date, Steggall anticipates that the stock will resume trading. He expects a new firm will be appointed later this week."

So perhaps if the new firm is hired by the end of this week and is immediately deployed to review the books, could we see the halt lifted as well as news of the M&A deal by the end of this month?

Thursday 7 September 2017

Mission Ready Services: Bought Shares On $400 Million Deal With U.S. Military

Mission Ready Services (MRS) announced a distribution agreement to supply its products to a foreign military, with all signs pointing to that foreign military being the United States.

The Material Terms of the Agreement include:
  • Minimum Purchases (USD): Year 1 (2018), $50MM; Year 2 (2019), $50MM; Year 3 (2020), $100MM; Year 4 (2021), $100MM; Year 5 (2022), $100MM.
  • Advance Payments: Distributor agrees to pay Mission Ready (the “Manufacturer”) a down payment equal to forty percent (40%) of the purchase order amount within 10-days of submitting the purchase order.
  • Exclusivity: Manufacturer appoints Distributor, on an exclusive basis, as its sole distributor for the defined territory.
The total minimum guaranteed amount for this contract is $400 million over the next 5 years. The press release implies that the contract will start in 2018 but the material change report shows that the first $50 million could occur any time between now and the end of 2018. This is the largest deal I have ever seen relative to market cap in the Canadian junior world. While it's portrayed as something much more definite than an LOI, the caveat is that the anonymous distributor (possibly Federal Resources Supply Company, a distributor that MRS signed an agreement with in Q2 2017) isn't subject to a very strict punishment for not adhering to the minimum purchase volumes. Once the purchase order comes and the 40% down payment is sent to MRS, that's when we can be assured of the distributor's dedication to this deal.

With that being said, the risk-to-reward trade off from this deal is way out of whack. At 20 cents, the fully diluted market cap (~127M shares) is $25 million CAD. As soon as the stock opened yesterday at 11:30 I bought 200,000 shares with the intent to ride it for a short period of time since I thought it would take off. Instead the stock pulled back to 16 cents which allowed me to load up, really load up. That includes clearing out my U.S. account (well not DGLT) and using credit card debt. Not something that I wanted to do but when I was given this opportunity I took it. The pullback could be from profit takers as well as a significant amount of warrants at the 15 cent level. I get it. I was lambasted for selling a few hundred thousand of my six million shares/warrants of PKK when it hit 20 cents before buying that all back and then some as it seeped back down. So I won't fault others for taking huge profits. If you own a stock that is 10% of your portfolio and it suddenly triples, it has grown to become 25% of your portfolio. Selling parts of your holdings isn't being a weak hand, it's showing prudent portfolio management. The 30M+ volume on the sell side allowed me to become a participant in the 30M+ of the volume on the buy side relatively easily and at good prices. I thank the sellers.

I'd like to share a relevant link:

This is the U.S. Department of Defense contract announcement page. I have skimmed through the contract announcements over the past couple of days and haven't seen anything that could match the terms of the contract as announced by MRS. It's tricky though, as the contract name could be awarded to the anonymous distributor and it will likely be for more than $400M as that is only the cut to MRS as the role of manufacturer.  The announcement might still be to come. So investors should keep their eyes peeled and also have a look at the contract announcements over the past several days. The search function on the site is completely useless. So several more pairs of eyes might pick up something that I missed. It also means that I won't have to scour the website  - delegation of tasks to other shareholders with a large stake in this stock.

 I'm certainly not suggesting that the contract is bogus. I wouldn't load up if I thought it was, plus with the day long halt the Venture Exchange likely went through this deal quite carefully. The company has undertaken steps to put all its resources into fulfilling this deal, namely reneging on the Wild Things acquisition. But if this contract does show up on the DoD website that would be a huge boost to its credibility and basically assure us that the minimum threshold will be met. After all, if the distributor can sign a deal for $400 million plus markup with the U.S. Government, why wouldn't they fulfill their duty to MRS? That would be throwing away middle-man profits. MRS is the one sacked with the tough job of actually producing the goods.

Speaking of tough jobs, one of the prime causes for the stock not immediately spiking over 50 cents is likely the market's worry that MRS is going to have to finance through equity to garner some cash to fulfill its end of the deal. I don't share this view, particularly by reading this paragraph in the release:

"MediaTech Capital Partner’s Porter Bibb, who recently partnered with Mission Ready (see Company’s news release dated August 2, 2017), states, “Mission Ready’s impressive new management team has delivered on its promise to put Mission Ready on a fast track to rapid growth and significant profitability as a market leader in the burgeoning military and public safety tactical equipment sector.” MediaTech will assist the Company with obtaining bridge loan capital for raw materials, as required, and will help to facilitate the rapid expansion of the Company’s manufacturing and sales divisions."

It explicitly states that MediaTech and MRS will seek to obtain bridge loan financing. It makes sense to go with PO financing rather than equity with the new stage the company is about to enter as a major manufacturer. If equity financing is needed at a large scale (small financing for working capital requirements is acceptable) then the company and its capital partner completely dropped the ball on this one. Military spending is about as safe of an industry as you can be in with the current political climate in the Unites States. Interest rates are still very low in historical terms and the stock market is high. There should be firms lining up to finance this deal, seeking some alpha return on an investment that should result in an 8-12% coupon for a bridge loan.


How much is MRS worth right now?  Not the easiest question to answer at this early stage but I think most people will answer "far higher than a $25 million market cap". The company hasn't given any EBITDA guidance on this deal yet so I think the most straightforward method to use is a revenue multiplier. Axon Enterprise, Inc. (AAXN), formerly Taser, is the first company that I can think of that manufacturers equipment for the law enforcement and defense industry. It has a Price/Sales ratio of 3.7x.

If we were to apply that 3.7x revenue multiple to the $50 million in revenue guaranteed by that contract in 2018, that would be a $185 million valuation or about $1.45 per fully diluted share US, which translates to to about $1.80 CAD. Now obviously there are a couple of issues with comparing AAXN's already existing revenue to MRS' supposed future revenue stream:
  • AAXN's revenue is multiple is based on past, audited results. The MRS contract is not yet 100% guaranteed.
  • AAXN is profitable at its current level of revenue. We don't know the gross margins on the MRS contract nor if this will be enough to get the company to profitability.
  • AAXN has an existing manufacturing process that can handle large volumes. MRS has yet to prove that it can do this (though it looks like the company brought in new CEO Jeff Schwartz specifically to tackle this issue).
There are also a couple of advantages:
  • We know that the revenue stream on this deal will double by 2021. AAXN will be challenged to double revenue by then.
  • This is just one contract and the $50 million is referred to as a minimum commitment. The revenue stream from this contract will be added to the existing marginal revenue stream as well as any other contracts signed in the near future. Revenue could be substantially higher than $50 million in 2018.
Rather than saying that MRS is definitely worth X price, I'll look at it from the perspective of how big of a discount the market is valuing MRS relative to AAXN and where I think it should be. If $1.80 is the price MRS is assuming all goes well with the contract, the manufacturing and the financial audit between now and 18 months from now, $0.20 means that the market is giving an 89% discount. That means it is giving MRS an 11% chance of success (or say, a 22% chance of getting half way there). I personally think that's way too low.

What's a reasonable target price in my opinion? Well, $0.50 is a nice round number that has a realistic shot based on MRS' current breakout and that would imply about a 28% chance of success. I think if everyone looks at it from this perspective, they'll figure out a comfortable level in which to take profits. That doesn't mean I would dump all my shares at exactly 50 cents nor would I recommend anyone else do that.

Offloading small lots from 25 to 75 cents would result in the same 50 cent average sell price and provide an opportunity to trade spikes and dips. You can never accurately predict when to sell or what will happen. Just look at DGLT as an example. Had I not starting selling in lots between $0.75 and $1.00 I'd be stuck with 100% of my money in a stock that has been halted for three weeks, even if I am technically up over 300%. At least in that case I recovered my original investment and then some and whatever ends up happening to that stock is gravy.

Final Note

Not only do I think MRS will move up, I think for the health of the Venture Exchange, it HAS to move up. If we can't make money trading a $25 million CAD market cap stock that has just signed a $400 million US contract to provide protective gear to the U.S. military, what chance do we have to make money on PKK, FGD, PEEK or any other stock not being chased by weed dreamers? This contract is the Holy Grail for junior investors. There are stocks on the NASDAQ with 5 to 10 times the market cap that would double if they announced a $400 million contract with the United States military. MRS should make all of us good money. If it doesn't, this market is completely broken.