Cash Shortage in the Flim Flam Scam?
Shaunsnoll posed an interesting question in the comment section of the last Flim, Flam Scam article and I want to address it as its own post so I can include exhibits and charts. Shaun asked,
"Reggie, in your previous analysis you said this company has "38% or $22.4M of the total debt outstanding accure in less than one year" when i look through the financials though its not clear to me exactly when that debt will come due. it seems like with 26M$ in cash currently, this 22.4M$ debt coming due could really be what breaks this company, so would be good to know when exactly that is coming due.
PS: it just blows my mind everytime i see this stock rally....."
Well, Shaun, sharp rallies such as the one we just had are opportunities for the dispassionate fundamental investor. Price and value have significantly diverged in terms of this company and significant opportunity is at hand. Let me walk you through it a I see it.
The following table was derived from page 5 of my forensic analysis:
As you can see, the share buyback program is literally gutting the shareholder, thus far to the tune of nearly $33 million. Wealth destruction on a grand level, at least percentage wise. Wait, there's more...
|Insider Sales of Stock (US$)|
|2009 as of Feb 17||$6,714,000|
A large portion of PPD shares were held by the board of directors and the management of the company which, apparently, incentivized the management to continue to buyback shares at higher prices and negative rates of return, producing significant benefit to themselves. I really do mean significant benefit at the expense of shareholders. Management has netted over $68 million from the sale of the stock into the corporate buyback program. This is over 150% of the shareholder wealth destroyed by the share buyback program! PPD used the money collected as membership fees from those who lack the analytical skills to determine what was going on for the purpose of overpriced share buybacks. From 2004 onwards, PPD has utilized US$237.98 million for share repurchase, out of which a full 28.9% (nearly 1/3rd) has gone directly to the insiders while the shareholders are getting burned by overpaying for the privilege of enriching the management and the board. In addition, the rate of insider sales this year has eclipsed that of all previous years since 2004! It appears as if management has come to the same conclusion that Reggie has reached - basically, the "Jig is Up!". Securities regulators, where art thou???!!! The Flim Flam Scam! I have made this very simple for any regulator to follow through. This begs to be investigated. If you are a shareholder of this company and continue to hold those shares after reading my research (which I have made available for free as a public service, see my subscription rates), I believe you to be a fool and you know the saying, "A fool and his money are soon to be parted". If you are short the company, remember, save your money and do something charitable with the profits. The monies were made by shorting a company which literally fleeced others who didn't know any better. Give back! It's the right thing to do. If you are a regulator and you ignore what you have read here, you are doing a disservice to your country. These may be strong, or unpopular statements, but hey, its how I feel and its from the heart!
I have even more stuff to make you love this company, for I haven't even addressed Shaunsnoll's question yet. Now, Shaun, they ended 2008 (last quarter) with roughly $26.528 million in cash. Look on page 37 of their annual report (the debt due line is highlighted in yellow: PPD annual_report_2008 20/03/2009,02:51 749.07 Kb) and you will find contractual purchase obligations of $26.6 million due within one year. Of those obligations, $22.408 million is long term debt due. This would be a problem even if their business was humming along smoothly, which we all know it is not. So, you see, even without being a Ponzi scheme (which I feel they are) or a pyramid scheme (which I feel they are as well), they are probably going to implode for fundamental reasons. Of course, it would be sweet justice if they imploded for being a Flim Flam Scam, but hey, we should take whatever we can get.
More on my earlier takes on Prepaid Legal Services if you are new to this conversation:
My free summary on PPD: PrePaid Legal Services Actionable Intelligence Report - Pro 2009-03-14 06:51:32 675.65 Kb.
I have decided to make it free as a consumer service, thus to that end I will release the Professional Forensic Analysis as well (this one time). Enjoy: Prepaid Legal Services Forensic Analysis - Pro 2009-03-19 14:20:00 288.45 Kb. This latest report is from the perspectice of an investor or shareholder while the previous report was a summary intelligence note, suitable for a broader audience, ex. regulators, politicians, etc. I obviously believe this is a no-brainer short proposition, but there is risk entailed so reader beware. There has been a bit of research, or shall I say whistle blowing, in regards to this company. It would be a shame if it were to all be ignored. For your entertainment, here is additional commentary and research from:
- From Barry Minkow and the Fraud Detection Institute: A compilation of information linking PPD to being a Ponzi scheme. Mr. Minkow is the individual who brought the PPD "Ponzi" perspective to my attention. I believe this man is knowledgeable in terms of fraud and Ponzi schemes. As far as I am aware, the following reports are credible and objective.
- From Robert Fitzpatrick at FalseProfits.com: A report issued to the aforementioned, which seems to corroborate our indepentenly achieved conclusions.
- From Professor Benjamin Fine, PhD and director of the MS program in mathematics at Fairfield University: Explains the concept of market saturation. His numbers are very realistic and plausible, but nonetheless considerably more aggressive than the numbers plugged into our models and calculations. If we were to use numbers similar to the good professor's, we would probably see PPD end as a going concern.
A refresh of my recent REIT analysis should be about within 24 to 36 hours, with special addendums for Pro susbscribers.