Tuesday, February 10, 2015

four grilled-cheese trucks valued at $100 million...,


bloomberg |   Signs of excess and froth in the equity markets.

Exhibit 1: Grilled Cheese Truck Inc., which began trading on the pink sheets last week after receiving OTCQB certification.

 Let's look at the fundamentals of the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida-based company. Based on the 18 million shares outstanding and a recent stock price of $6 the company has a market value of about $108 million. No matter how much you like grilled cheese -- and I like a good GAC BAC TOM as much as the next guy -- I can't see this as a reasonable valuation.

If you go to the company’s website, you will learn that “The company currently operates and licenses grilled cheese food trucks in the Los Angeles, CA area and Phoenix, AZ and is expanding into additional markets with the goal of becoming the largest operator in the gourmet grilled cheese space.”  You can see an interview with the founder here. The company employs military veterans, and it even lists retired General Wesley Clark as vice chairman.

However, according to the company’s financial statements, it has about $1 million of assets and almost $3 million in liabilities. In the third quarter of 2014, it had sales of almost $1 million, on which it had a net loss of more than  $900,000.  The story is much the same for the first nine months of the year: $2.6 million in sales and a loss of $4.4 million.

But forget the losses for a moment, and make the generous assumption that it will have sales of $4 million this year. This means its shares trade for more than 25 times sales, a very rich valuation.
Which brings me back to my original comments regarding looking for contrary indicators to my bullish posture. I can't think of a more interesting sign of the old irrational exuberance in equity markets than a publicly traded grilled cheese truck (four in this case) business trading at a $100-million-plus valuation. That sort of thing doesn't happen unless there is significant excess in the markets.