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Bacou is one of 3 or 4 big names in industrial safety. They tend to buy companies that are not fixer-uppers, rather companies that are well established in their markets, ie. Howard Leight, Biosystems, Survivair. As they buy more companies in the safety market, their name becomes that much bigger, but at what cost? Although their total debt to equity is not that of your ideally healthy company, the assumed debt is, in my opinion, looking at the industry as a whole, smart debt assuming that the individual companies purchased retain or increase their market shares.
The industrial safety market tends to be static product-wise. There are very few earth-shattering technologies or inventions that change the face of the market. The size of the US market is growing at a pace that makes any gain in market share a near equal loss for the competition. The slowness to change in the industry puts Bacou in a strong position until competition wakes up to strategies that will increase market share, namely aggressive push and pull marketing strategies, managerial flexibility, decentralized and fast decision making processes, just to name a few. In the absence of these strategies, strength of name alone would keep Bacou at or near the top. In my opinion, 13/share is very undervalued.
As I have expressed before, management in Bacou is far from satisfactory. However, strength of name and core products will keep Bacou at the top providing someone else does not decide to make a real go at winning market share. Fortunately for those at the top, the whole market is plagued with owners and top managers too conservative to take action that would make them stand out. Companies making millions routinely shy away from $2,000 publicity stunts or from ads that break the market mold. It was, in part, such actions that allowed a pre-Bacou Howard Leight Industries to eat EAR's lunch in a slow growth market.
Now, your real question. Should you put your money here? I will only speak for myself. At 13/share, heck yes! A couple of weeks ago? Yes, if it's a long term investment, not if I wanted to make real money within a year. Unless something really crazy happens, Bacou will remain at the top. If sales increase (as they should if management takes a step back, looks at the big picture and allows to take place what has historically made great companies in the market), there is every reason to expect the price to recover and pass previous prices in a relatively short time.
Bacou owns a goldmine. If they play their cards right, they will be very succesful.
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