Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thrift Conversion Results

Background paper here.

Before 1988 thrift conversions were done in a single step, leading to the earlier mentioned Lynch scenario of the free envelopes of money. Post 1988, two-step conversions were being performed. First steps would involve issuance of a minority stake of equity to the public, with the majority being held by the mutual holding company (MHC). In the second steps, additional offerings would distribute the remaining MHC shares to the public, raising additional cash and dissolving the MHC.

The published ratios for these firms are generally calculated on total shares outstanding, even though the MHC shares are not public and represent an overhang of untapped shareholder value. Also, when dividends are issued by these firms, MHC's generally waive their rights to the dividends which is an additional plus.

In attempting an extremely rough-cut valuation of these firms, I wanted to look at the post second-step offering scenario. One recently completed conversion was Abington Bancorp, Inc. (ABBC). As this press release states, 14.0M new shares were issued at approximately $10, and 10.5M shares were issued to existing shareholders. As of now, the bank trades at approximately 1.0 P/B ratio, which is cheap for a financial institution, but which we will use as our conservative estimate.

We assume a post second-step P/B ratio of 1.0 and fixed number of public and MHC shares to solve for the final share price.

1.0 P/B = (?? Price * Total Shares) / [ Shareholders Equity + (MHC Shares * ?? Price) ]

The numerator is the second-step market cap, assuming all shares are floated. The denominator is the current equity plus the proceeds raised from issuing the MHC shares. Rearranging for the ?? Price, we get the following equation.

?? Price = (1.0 P/B * Shareholders Equity) / [ Total Shares - (1.0 P/B * MHC Shares) ]

Using this rough guage for value, I analyzed 40+ current thrifts and published the results here: Thrifts Simplified. (BTW, Google Docs includes tools to automatically pull in information such as stock price) As you can see, 40-60% discounts can be found although the larger discounts are more prevalent in the nanocap space. If I had more capital under management, I might be tempted to make a Buffett control play. As a caveat, this is extremely rudimentary and there are no provisions made for earnings quality or growth, etc. I would, however, pay attention to those companies performing stock buybacks or issuing dividends. Given my inexperience with this strategy, I have diversified the allocation for a normal position into 8 separate positions.


John9000 said...

When you say pay attention to the names that are doing a share buy back - do you mean they would be nearing a second step conversion - or they are destroying value? Curious - thanks

Dang Le said...

If the common stock is undervalued, buying back shares with cash would create shareholder value.

geether said...

Are you aware of any recent (last 12 months) MHC conversions to fully public status? Is the market dead for now?

Dang Le said...

I haven't kept up with the MHC market since we've had our hands full with other things. My gut would say that the appetite for any financials is pretty low at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Can you please post an update by chance?


Dang Le said...

I haven't actively kept up with thrift conversions, but it does seem like there is a lot of conversion activity going on lately. Have been busy managing a small partnership of my own, hence the lack of postings.

Dennis The Menance said...

Try this companies that are doing buybacks that have very low market cap compared to their annual sales. The lower the market cap campared to their sales the greater number of shares they can retire. That is if the company has the ability to buy back lots of their shares and they may be able to if they have enough cash and a line of credit available.