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Don't let changes at Stantec scare you off

Hello Lou,

I would very much appreciate your analysis and outlook for Stantec Inc., especially in light of the following. Firstly, both the CEO and CFO's sudden departure from the company earlier this year - both at a relatively young age. Secondly, and what may be related to the first, Goodwill and Intangible Assets on the Balance Sheet nearly equate to Total Shareholder Equity - and growing. At some stage, will this not have to be written down, and if so, appears that could go on for years to come.

Thank you, Lou. Your ongoing analysis of companies is very much appreciated.

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Don

Ottawa, ON

Hi Don,

Thanks for the assignment. I haven't looked at Stantec Inc. in a while, and with the infrastructure spending scheduled to wash through the engineering, design, construction industries in the next several years, it's a good time to look under the hood.

Let me first address your concerns about the departure of president and CEO Tony Franceschini at age 57. Tony had been with the company since 1978 and worked his way up the ranks over a 30-year stint. That looks more like a planned exit after a lifetime of accomplishment that a sudden bolt for the exit.

CFO Don Wilson is 52. Again, a long tenure and lots of accomplishments over an 18 year period. Franceschini and Wilson were part of a management team that grew the company from $100M in revenue to just over $1B. They also closed something like 65 acquisitions to get that growth and that's where the goodwill and intangible assets come into play.

When you acquire design, engineering, construction companies what you are buying is brain power, some number of drafting tables and computers. It's also part of the culture of these types of organizations that you have to make room for the young cadre of men and women who will take the organization into the future. When you buy shares in STN you are buying a team of capable people generating free cash flow that has been used to grow through acquisitions.

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The three year chart shows that the stock has met resistance at $29 and has not been able to breakthrough the barrier.

The chart also indicates support at $25.

The three-month chart illustrates the range bound pattern with the MACD flattening and looking like it is turning higher.

I think the best approach to STN is to trade it in the range and put a stop in below $25 to preserve capital.

Happy Capitalism.

Have your own question for Lou? Send it in to lschizas@globeandmail.com.

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About the Author
Lou Schizas

Lou Schizas is an equities analyst, investor, entrepreneur, professor and television and radio personality - and a true believer in the happiness-inspiring powers of capitalism. More

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