I have never cared for the valuation metrics of Insulet Corp., the Billerica-based maker of the Omnipod insulin pump.

At just over $42 per share, the company sells for six and a half times sales. And it’s has never been profitable, although it trimmed its net loss from $48.7 million in 2015 to $10.7 million last year.     

Furthermore, holding the stock can get on your nerves, as its beta of 2.04 (according to Yahoo Finance) suggests that it has been twice as volatile as the typical security.

Yet, for the most part, I’ve been wrong to stay away, at least so far. Shares of Insulet have advanced nearly 12 percent so far this year, outpacing the market. It wasn’t all that long ago they traded in single digits.

And then there’s this interesting tidbit, initially announced in February and fleshed out today by the Boston Business Journal: Insulet has acquired a new facility in Acton’s Nagog Park and plans to move its manufacturing operations out of China (where it uses a contractor) and into the U.S.

The Omnipod is a tubeless insulin pump used to treat Type 1 diabetes.

A spokeswoman told the Journal that the company may even move its headquarters south on I-495, even though it’s only three years removed from its most recent move from Bedford to Billerica.  At 195,000 square feet, the Acton facility is nearly twice as large as the Billerica headquarters, and apparently contains suitable office space for corporate personnel.

Furthermore, the Journal reported that Acton voters recently voted to approve zoning changes that would allow Insulet, which currently employs about 640 people, to increase its space to as much as 300,000 to 350,000 square feet.

Clearly, the company is growing. It has said that it plans to add “hundreds” to its workforce (presumably, moving manufacturing in-house would seem to make that compulsory) and its 2016 revenue total of $367 million marked a 39 percent increase from the year before.  

Will the next step be profits?

Production in Acton is expected to begin in 2019.

Raytheon’s Tomahawk still a favorite after 25 years


As if we haven’t blabbed enough about what a great investment Raytheon has been, what with dividends going up 10 percent a year, new contracts being won far and wide, et al., last Thursday’s missile attack on a Syrian airfield is evidence that the momentum continues, at least in the short run.

Loren Thompson, a defense analyst at the Lexington Institute in Washington, D.C., told the Boston Herald’s Jordan Graham that the Trump administration’s decision to use long-range Tomahawk missiles against Syria sends the message that Raytheon remains a favorite of the U.S. military.

“The Tomahawk has three big advantages: It can fly a long distance, it is extremely precise and it doesn’t put U.S. pilots at risk,” Thompson told the Herald. “He (President Trump) wanted to send a signal to (Syrian President Bashar) Assad but he didn’t want to get too deeply involved in the country’s civil war.”

Citing Raytheon, Graham wrote that the Tomahawk can be “fired from a ship more than 1,000 miles away from its target, cruising not far above the ground and changing altitude based on the terrain until it hits its GPS-programmed target.”

The missile was first used more than 25 years ago, during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991. It’s been updated several times since, and costs a reported $800,000 apiece. The U.S. reportedly fired 59 of them, so… roughly a $47 million expenditure.

Raytheon shares closed Friday at $152.96, up $2.21. They’ve already risen 7.7 percent so far this year.

Lowell’s TRC agrees to $554M buyout


Quick, name all the public companies that are headquartered in Lowell…

Well, let’s see, there’s Enterprise Bank and M/A-Com Technology Solutions. Those are the biggies. Then you’ve got CSP Inc., a maker of clustered computer software, which snuck over to the Wannalancit Mills from Billerica a couple years ago. And Softech, a tiny (30 employees or so) provider of lifecycle software, is also in the Wannalancit.

And then there’s that engineering and construction management firm, TRC Cos… Wait, nope. Not for long, anyway.

On Friday, TRC accepted a buyout offer from a private equity firm, New Mountain Partners IV, for $17.55 per share, or about $554.6 million, according to Marketwatch. The report says shareholder will be paid in cash — not bad, considering the offer represents a 47 percent premium from Thursday’s closing price of $11.95. Shares bolted up $5.50 to close Friday at $17.45 (more than triple the stock’s 52-week low), an apparent sign of confidence that the deal will happen in fairly short order.

“This transaction will deliver immediate value to our shareholders while enabling TRC to continue to pursue its long-term growth strategy,” said TRC Chief Executive Chris Vincze, in a statement.

In other words, we no longer need the hassle of satisfying the investment community by hitting some artificial number every 90 days.

TRC posted revenues of $481 million in its most recent fiscal year, which ended last June. The two analysts who submitted forecasts are looking at revenues of $521 million for the current fiscal year (which ends this June 30) and $560 million for Fiscal 2018. So the offer values TRC at just a little more than one times sales. Is that good enough? At least one New York law firm, Harwood Feffer, LLP, is taking a closer look. That’s not unusual in these types of affairs.  

Should the deal close at the agreed-upon price, TRC shareholders will see a 65 percent gain since Jan. 1 alone. I doubt many will complain.