By Nicole Strandlund Business Edge
Act I: Dancing with the stars
* The player: Constellation Software Inc. (TSX:CSU)
* Action: Up 17 per cent or $4.01 in a month (from $23.98 June 13)
* Recent Price: $27.99
* 52-week high/low: $27.99/19.50 A constellation's star count may grow as astronomers make new discoveries in the sky, but Toronto's Constellation Software may be setting a record for growth-by-absorption.
At the end of May, the vertical market software company completed (through a subsidiary) its fifth acquisition in 2007, and the 11th since Constellation went public in May 2006. Granted, some of those acquisitions have been small - but not all stars are the same size.
The purchase in May involved the business assets of AEK Computers, a small Illinois-based software firm focused on the recreation industry and government agencies. In mid-June, Constellation shelled out again, this time making a US$4-million investment in Atlanta-based VCG Inc., a supplier of staffing and recruiting software.
But why stop at 12? Constellation acquired lucky 13 in July, buying Maryland-based Mainstreet Software Corp.
As a result, shareholders must be thanking their lucky stars - the stock is up 17 per cent in the last month, and 53 per cent since going public (from $18.30 on May 19, 2006).
Act II: Limping Laser
* The player: Royal Laser Corp. (TSX:RLC)
* Action: Down 16 per cent or $0.11 in a month (from $0.67 June 13)
* Recent Price: $0.56
* 52-week high/low: $1.39/0.56 "Challenging" rarely means positive news in a financial release. But how else could Royal Laser describe its past fiscal year?
During the twelve months ending March 31, the Toronto-based custom metal and wood products manufacturer acquired Venture Steel Inc., which brought increased revenue (pushing the 12-month result to $240 million), but was affected by a weak North American auto industry, resulting in lower-than-anticipated sales. The company posted a net loss of $3.9 million for the fiscal year.
In March 2007, Royal Laser also chose to turf plans to acquire the creditor-protected assets of Hamilton Specialty Bar Corp., as a result of failed negotiations with its labour union, United Steelworkers Local 4752.
Royal Laser's stock recently hit a new 52-week low at $0.56. Getting back up? That's the real challenge.
Act III: Bright future
* The player: Intermap Technologies (TSX:IMP)
* Action: Up six per cent or $0.37 in a month (from $6.23 June 13)
* Recent Price: $6.60
* 52-week high/low: $6.50/4.20 Remember the days when you had to turn your driving lights on manually? Or, heaven forbid, the really olden days when you stepped on a floor switch to turn your brights on? Times have changed. And they're changing still.
Denver-based Intermap Technologies, which has offices in Calgary and Ottawa, has been humming along building a database of digital geometric maps that include elevation data. And a few days ago, the company announced a deal to supply 3D elevation data and geometries for the entire country of Germany to Visteon Corp., an international automotive technology developer.
No, this won't turn into another dash-mounted route planner. Instead, the initial focus of the joint project is for predictive adaptive front-lighting systems. That's right - the car of the future will anticipate the road ahead and direct its headlights to afford the driver better visibility, even before heading into a curve. Technology like that can make for a sweet ride; especially for shareholders, who must be loving the stock's new 52-week highs.
Act IV: Trouble for Teknion
* The player: Teknion Corp. (TSX:TKN)
* Action: Down 24 per cent or $0.70 in a month (from $2.90 June 13)
* Recent Price: $2.20
* 52-week high/low: $4.80/2.20 Weakening industry growth and the negative effect of exchange rates resulted in an ugly quarterly financial release for Toronto's Teknion Corp., an office systems and related office furniture company.
For the quarter ending May 31, 2007, sales were $166 million, fairly close to the $164 million in the same quarter in 2006. But the net earnings tell the story; $150,000 for the 2007 quarter, compared to $5.8 million in the same quarter the previous year.
As if that wasn't enough trouble for Teknion, the company also announced a financial restatement. An inventory valuation error in Teknion's Malaysian subsidiary resulted in a $6.1-million inventory overstatement at Nov. 30, 2006, and overstated net earnings of $260,000 for Q2 2006 and $239,000 for the six months ending May 31, 2006. (2006 sales and net earnings numbers above are as restated.)
The stock is down 24 per cent in a month, and has lost more than half its value in less than four months (from $4.55 March 21, 2007).
NOTE: The above is not intended as investment advice to buy or sell any mentioned securities. Investors should do due diligence before investing. Quotes are based on results through July 16, 2007.
(Nicole Strandlund can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)