Flexible Solutions - Micro Cap
BENJ GALLANDER, BEN STADELMANN, and PHILIP MACKELLAR
Incorporated in Nevada but with its head office in Victoria, US-listed Flexible Solutions International Inc. is making a difference in the water world. Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the company focuses on conserving water and making it environmentally safe, while also doing things such as manufacturing biodegradable polymers for the oil extraction business.
Much of the company’s work is in the oil-and-gas and agriculture sectors, and it is fair to say that neither of those areas is operating on all cylinders right now. That has affected revenue at Flexible Solutions, but it has managed to keep it flat at about $16 million (US), where it has rested since 2011. The bottom line over these years has been stuck at about break even, although last year it had a decent profit of $1.5 million, or 11 cents a share. Earnings per share should increase as 1.75 million shares were repurchased in one fell swoop in January, reducing the outstanding share count to 11.4 million. The company’s chief executive officer, Daniel O'Brien, owns about 40 percent, so he is extremely well vested beside other shareholders.
Staying lean during good times and bad has been one of the hallmarks of Flexible. Mr. O'Brien is also the president, principal financial and accounting officer, treasurer, secretary and director. That is a lot of mantles to wear. One gets the impression after conversations with him that he is also the chief bottle washer. That is a danger for shareholders, since with so much tied to this gent, the company could suffer dramatically if something happens to him.
Approaching his 60th birthday, he likely has a few good years left as his father worked at the company until he was in his 90s. Asked about succession should he die unexpectedly, the younger Mr. O'Brien humbly responded: “It would slow us down. But then things would likely get better without me.”
There are other employees in this smallish organization, eight in Canada and 19 in the United States. Their key work is with the NanoChem business, which produces protein-based polymers. This provides the company with more than 90 percent of its revenue, having grown from $3.4 million in 2004 to more than $15 million today.
The WaterSavr division is what Mr. O'Brien calls the “lottery ticket.” While apparently having lots of potential, it has not been able to garner traction, with sales currently under $1 million. The drought in the Southern United States is forcing cities and individuals with pools to find methods to conserve water. As Mother Nature and global warming extend their realms of havoc, more prospects should appear for this subsidiary.
Mr. O'Brien is a realist. He recognizes that some of Flexible’s current growing pains are because of difficulties in the sectors the company serves. Last month after results were reported, he stated, “We have programs in place to resume growth in 2016, but suggest that in this environment, we have less control than usual as to when, or if, new business will emerge.”
In 2015, Flexible Solution’s stock price crested as high as $2.62, far less than the watermark above $5 where it jumped years ago. Benj acquired it in January at an average price of 90 cents, around where it currently trades. The initial sell target is $2.74. While this objective can be deemed somewhat aggressive, Mr. O'Brien said that he is certainly open to the possibility of a takeover. Ultimately becoming part of a larger corporation could be the end game for this enterprise.