Emmis Communications logoFrank Voisin is the author of the popular value focused website Frankly Speaking, found at http://www.FrankVoisin.com

Below is a reader submitted investment idea for Emmis Communications (NASDAQ:EMMS), drawing attention to important events that have occurred subsequent to the end of the most recent financial statements.

Submit your investment ideas here and please leave your thoughts about this idea in the comments below.

Disclosure: No position (Frank)

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OVERVIEW

On an LTM basis, Emmis Communications Corp. (“EMMS”) appears to be an overvalued, overlevered company.  However, after the quarter ended, the company closed (or is in the process of closing) several transactions that are significantly accretive and massively deleveraging.  Pro forma for these transactions (and an unannounced but inevitable refinancing of debt, including 12.25% and 23.0% debt), EMMS is trading at only 5.9x equity cap/LTM free cash flow.  The valuation drops to 4.8x equity cap/free cash flow if EMMS wins a lawsuit regarding its outstanding preferred stock.   This is a complicated (and somewhat illiquid) situation that for a variety of reasons has not appeared on many investors’ radar screens.  However, insiders believe the stock is undervalued and instituted a 10b5 plan to buy up to 1million shares at prices up to $2.00 per share (up 33% from current levels).  In an unusual situation, the 10b5 was abruptly terminated after only two days due to an error by the broker, and could not be reinstated due to blackout issues.  We believe that had this termination not occurred, EMMS’ stock price would be significantly higher today.

Emms operates the 8th largest publicly traded radio portfolio in the United States based on total listeners. Emmis owns 18 FM and two AM radio stations in New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Austin, Indianapolis and Terre Haute, IN.

DEBT AS OF LATEST 10-Q

At Feb. 29, 2012, the company had the following debt ($mm):

OPCO:

Revolver                      $6.0

                        Term @ L+4:              $87.9

                        Term @ 12.25%:         $110.0

                        Total OPCO debt:       $203.8

Holdco:

                        Notes @ 23.0%:          $33.9

            Consolidated:

                        Total Debt                   $237.7

For the LTM ended Feb. 29, 2012, EMMS generated reported EBITDA of $26.3 mm (or $23.4mm as per Bloomberg and Yahoo), which implies a Debt to Ebitda of 9.0x.  However, this reported EBITDA figure includes certain non-recurring items and, as illustrated by the company’s analysis (http://www.emmis.com/investors/quarterly-earnings.aspx then under Quarter 4 click  Non-GAAP Leverage Disclosure, 2.29.12 ), a more appropriate LTM EBITDA is $30.8 mm, which implies a still high leverage ratio of 7.7x.  However, this ratio comes down significantly when the below asset sales are considered.

ASSET SALES

After the quarter ended, EMMS closed or will soon close 3 transactions that combined should generate $169 million of after tax and fees proceeds that will be used to repay debt.

1)      ESPN transaction which has already closed and generated $75 million of cash proceeds.

2)      KISS transaction which should generate $10 million of cash proceeds when it closes this summer.

3)      Grupo Radio Centro Put/call which should generate $84 million of cash proceeds when it closes this summer.

For more details on these sales, see the earnings call transcript and SEC filings.

REFINANCING OPPORTUNITY

After closing the above asset sales, the company will be much less levered, so the company can refi its debt at significantly lower rates.  All of the company’s debt is prepayable with the following caveats.  The 12.25% debt is subject to a 6% prepayment fee and due to a make whole provision, its not economically feasible to repay the 23% debt until next May, although we imagine the company could negotiate a prepayment.

A refinancing post-closing of all the asset sales might look like:

Sources:

            Asset Sale Proceeds                169.0

New Debt at 6.5%                    88.3

            Total Sources                          257.3

Uses:

            Repay Revolver                         6.0

            Repay Term                             87.9

Prepayment fee on 12.25%        6.6

            Repay 12.25% Term               110.0

            Repay 23% Holdco                   41.6 (assumes 1 year of accretion from current balance)

            Other Fees                                  5.0

Total Uses                               257.3

Note: on May 30 the company refinanced over $70 million of its debt with a new 4.1% facility, but this isn’t reflected in our analysis.

VALUATION

Pro forma this refinancing, EMMS would have Debt/EBITDA of 3.7x (down significantly from the current levels).   Importantly, the company has large NOLs, so it pays no cash taxes and thus delevers more quickly than the debt/ebitda ratio may suggest.

We are assuming the new debt can be obtained at 6.5%.

So, pro forma the refinancing the company will have LTM free cash flow of:

23.8                 – Adjusted EBITDA (as per May 10 eps call)

(5.7)                 -6.5% interest on new debt

(0.0)                 -Cash taxes (~100mm NOL)

(5.4)                 – Capex

(2.9)                 – Preferred dividends

 9.7                  Free cash flow

Stock Price                                            $1.50

Shares outstanding                              38.2

Equity cap                                               57.3

Equity Cap/Free cash flow               5.9x

But it may be even cheaper than that. 

 

PREFERRED STOCK

On its balance sheet, EMMS has 6.5% preferred stock with a liquidation value of $47 million. In a complicated and controversial transaction, the company repurchased (for ~ $17 per preferred share compared to its $50 per share liquidation value) significant amounts of preferred and is now attempting to strip the remaining preferred stock of its dividends and essentially force each preferred to convert into 2.4 shares of common.  There is currently a lawsuit regarding this matter and the next court date is later this summer.  We believe EMMS has a good chance of prevailing.  However, in order to be conservative, our analysis assumes EMMS loses this issue.  However, if EMMS wins, and the preferred convert into 2.3 million common shares and there will be no more dividend payments, the pro forma equity cap would be increase to $60.7 million, pro forma  free cash flow would be $12.7 mm (9.7+2.9) and the equity cap/fcf multiple would be 4.8x.  The preferred are publicly listed (EMMSP) and last traded at $15 (much less than the $50 liquidation value), but on very light volume.

 

INSIDER BUYING / 10B5-1

When the window was briefly open after the last earnings release, insiders bought stock.  Perhaps most interesting was the activity by Herb Simon (of Simon Property Group).  After some earlier purchases at lower prices, on May 16 he bought 98k shares at $1.50.  The following day he formed a “partnership” with EMMS’ Chairman/CEO and that entity entered into a 10b5-1 plan that would enable it to buy up to 1.0 million shares at no more than $2.00 per share.  On May

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