December 29, 2014 Comments

On Monday, the S&P 500 was up 0.1% and Toronto was up 0.4% despite another decline in the price of oil.

Most of the stocks on my list were up. Liquors Stores N.A. was up 3.3% to $15.46. Maybe some of their stores are doing well. But in my area they have too many stores and the industry has FAR too many stores. One of their small competitors, Solo Liquor is trouncing them in my area. Then there is Super Store Liquor Stores and Costco to compete against. As far as I can see the earnings don’t justify the price. They recently issued stock. I suppose that keeps the dividend safe for a while. But unless earnings increase I don’t see how the dividend can be maintained longer term. And perhaps the earnings will increase but I am just not seeing any sign of it.

Melcor was down 1.9% to $19.51. This is a thinly traded stock which has very little analyst coverage. The market has pushed it down due to lower oil prices. It could certainly fall further and its earnings could certainly be hit hard by low oil prices. But it seem to me that there is a margin of safety here in its assets. Very few profitable companies trade at less than book value. But Melcor’s stock trades at 75% of book value. And that book value consists mostly of raw land, developed land and commercial rental buildings. Those seem like solid assets. Of course land values could plummet if there is a very deep recession in Alberta. And the value of commercial rental buildings would also decline. But it seems to me that it would take a deep and relatively permanent recession in Alberta to justify Melcor trading at 75% of book value. I feel good about holding Melcor but only time will tell how the economy in Alberta unfolds.

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