Three Things to Like About Technical Communications


I am reluctant to write about Technical Communications Corp. (TCCO.OB), a microcap manufacturer of encrypted communications devices. It took me weeks to even accumulate a small position at the prices I wanted to pay. The stock is damn difficult to buy, at least near the bid.

But it’s worth it. There are three reasons why I think that Technical Communications Corp. is a stock worth owning:

1. Low float could make any move explosive. The float is only 1.35 million shares, and the total share count only 1.45 million. Another plus: unlike many microcaps, this one won’t dilute you into oblivion. The share count barely nudged over the past year.

2. Very low enterprise value-to-sales ratio. TCCO has a market cap of 6.23M and posted sales last year of over 7M. But TCCO.OB also has 3.97M, or $2.73/share, in cash and equivalents. Back that out and the EV/S ratio is only 0.33 (all figures courtesy of Yahoo Finance).

3. Technical Communications made $0.19/share last quarter ($0.17 fully diluted). Even without backing out the cash, that annualizes out to a forward P/E under 7. Back out the cash and the forward P/E drops under 4. Now I’m not sure that TCCO can earn as much over the next 3 quarters as it did the last quarter, but it seems to me there is what Seth Klarman might call a Margin of Safety here.

A few caveats. As mentioned, the stock is very thinly traded. Sales are concentrated — 2 customers account for 78% of revenues. One of the big customers is Uncle Sam. Also, the earnings were boosted in part because tax loss carryforwards allowed the company to dramatically cut its tax liability and avoid paying taxes. There are still over $3 million in carryforwards, so I don’t anticipate a big jump in the tax burden this year. However, if TCCO remains profitable, understand that at some point the carryforwards will be utilized and TCCO will have to pay taxes just like you and me.

(TCCO closed today at $4.04)