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Wednesday, 17 March 2004
March 17, 2004 VCA Antech, Inc. (WOOF)

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Probably should give you something green today....:). Anyhow, the market is up a bit today, seems like the recent sell-off is now giving way to an attempt to provide some support to the market...kind of a see-saw between the bulls and the bears you could say.

I came across this one this morning. I love the symbol WOOF! I mean this guy MUST have had some kind of a sense of humor don't you think? Anyhow, VCA Antech (WOOF) is currently, as I write, trading at $34.69, up $2.53 or 7.87% on the day. And guess what...according to the profile on USAToday.com, WOOF's "...principal activity is to operate veterinary diagnostic laboratoris and free-standing, full-service animal hospitals in the United States." Now who would have guessed?

If we look at their fourth quarter 2003 results, we see that revenue increased 14.0% for the quarter ended December 31, 2003, to $132.4 million. The fully diluted earnings per share for the quarter was $.23/share vs a loss of $(0.06)/share in the 2002 comparable quarter.

Longer-term, looking at "5-Yr Restated" financials on Morningstar.com, we can see that revenues have grown steadily from $281 million in 1998 to $488 million in the trailing twelve months. Earnings/share on Morningstar start in 2002 (? when they went public?), at $.56/share, increasing to $.77/share in the trailing twelve months.

How about free cash flow? Morningstar shows this improving steadily from $36 million in 2000, $43 million in 2001, $49 million in 2002 and $58 million in the trailing twelve months. This is a very nice picture!

Assets and liabilities are not quite as pretty but appear adequate, imho. They have $18.4 million in cash and $44.9 million in other current assets. This is plenty to cover the $52.1 million in current liabilities but does not touch the sizeable $342.3 million in long-term liabilities. With the growing free cash flow, I would anticipate this long-term liabilities picture to be improving....time will tell!

What about valuation? Checking "Key Statistics" on Yahoo.com, we can see that this is a nice sized company with a market cap of $1.43 Billion. The trailing p/e is moderate at 33.06, but the forward p/e drops considerably (for fye 31-Dec-04) to 21.65 and the PEG is reasonable at 1.17. Price/sales a little higher at 2.55.

There are 40.67 million shares outstanding with 30.20 million of them that float. Only 575,000 shares are out short as of 2/9/04, representing 2.638 trading days but only 1.90% of the float. No dividend is paid and no stock dividends are reported.

This stock has been trading very nicely. If we look at a Point and Figure chart on WOOF, we can see that the stock broke through resistance levels of about $14.50 in December, 2002 and has been trading higher since then.

Overall, I like this stock a lot. I mean it has such a CUTE symbol too....like WOOF! (I wonder if MEOW has been considered?)....there already is CAT :). OK seriously, the stock looks nice, the valuation is reasonable, the free cash flow is improving, the price is appreciating, the PEG isn't bad....but I will SIT ON MY HANDS....I promise. Waiting for a bit more confirmation in the market before adding a position.

Please be sure to do your own investigation of this and all stocks on this website before making any investment decisions. Be sure to use your financial advisors as well! If you have any questions, comments, or words of encouragement, please feel free to post them here or email me at bobsadviceforstocks@lycos.com

Regards!

Bob


Posted by bobsadviceforstocks at 10:06 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink

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