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For-Profit EDU: Has a New Legal Precedent Been Established For Institutions? A Recent CECO Case Warrants Closer...

June 19th, 2013

Earlier this week, the American Arbitration Association ruled on a dispute between a former student of CECO’s California School of Culinary Arts (since rebranded the Le Cordon Bleu College of...

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ESI: The Latest 90/10 Compliance Strategy/”Work Around” – Charter Schools and Free Associate’s Degrees

June 12th, 2013

In a move that received little fanfare this past February, ESI’s board of directors established a short term element to the company’s compensation policy for senior management that could be payable in...

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TRLA: All Listings Aggregators Are Not Created Equal, Time to Get Short

June 7th, 2013

It seems to happen all of the time in growth industries, particularly among small and mid-cap companies.  A leader in said growth industry goes public, creates a successful track record, which engenders investor enthusiasm about the company and...

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MCRS and OPEN: Thoughts From the NRA Show 2013 – Tablet POS Systems Continue to Come of Age as Competitive Headwinds...

May 21st, 2013

Yesterday we had the opportunity to tour the floor at the National Restaurant Association’s 2013 annual conference.  We wanted to pass along some key observations from our time in the exhibit...

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XOXO: Optionality Remains Compelling but Execution Still Needs to Improve, Raising Price Objective to $15

May 12th, 2013

For a long time we lamented the lack of “appreciation” among investors for the strength of XOXO’s key franchises, the company’s robust free cash flow prospects, and the tremendous growth potential of its...

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Z: With Few Catalysts on the Horizon, We’re Closing Out Our Long Z Idea With a 72% Gain

May 7th, 2013

Almost a year to the day from when we first introduced Z as a long idea, we’re closing it out with a 72% gain.  It’s been a wild ride to say the least.  Was it really only 6-months ago when the stock ticked $23.00 following...

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OPEN: As Sales Force Productivity Collapses a Few Critical Questions to Ponder; 10-Q Highlights and Observations

May 7th, 2013

Seriously, who wouldn’t love this business?  In 4Q12, OPEN’s growth in diners seated per restaurant collapsed, but the company had healthy net additions in restaurant clients, stability in NA cover...

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OPEN: Four Reasons Why OPEN’s Profitability Prospects in Europe Remain Grim

May 2nd, 2013

A few weeks ago we published a lengthy report which outlined some of the more troubling competitive developments for OPEN in North America. We maintain our view that the company is on the cusp of a major deceleration in many of its key...

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ESI: The Absurdity of Reported “Earnings” As FCF Collapses and Balance Sheet (Off and On) Obligations Loom Large

April 26th, 2013

How much are 400-600 ITT Tech students worth?  In a report in which we will outline some of the critical questions surrounding ESI, this is the question we have been pondering all day.  Afterall, it...

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MCRS: As the Company Runs out of “Arrows in the Quiver”, Bulls Are Left to Wonder What Catalysts Remain as Secular...

April 25th, 2013

When we initially introduced MCRS as a short idea roughly 8-months ago, here were the principal tenets of our thesis: The elimination of the hardware “tether” could result in rapid share gains...

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OPEN: As Competitive Undercurrents Take Hold in North America When Will Investors Start to Take Notice?

April 12th, 2013

It’s true, OPEN shares are up 55.6% over the past 12-months with the stock witnessing gains of nearly 22% in the past 3-months alone.  The short interest, which once represented close to 50% of the float has now...

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WWE: As More Meat Is Added to the Bone on the Network Front Positive Developments in the Core Remain Overlooked

March 5th, 2013

In the 18-months that we have been recommending going Long shares of WWE, we have been highly critical of management’s reluctance to provide investors with the company’s general operating and financial...

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ESI: 10-K Highlights – the SEC Subpoena Is Not the Sole Cause for Concern

February 25th, 2013

We have little doubt that among the kernels of information included in ESI’s 2012 10-K filing that the disclosure of the subpoena from the SEC will receive the greatest attention – as it should.  However, for anyone who has followed the...

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Z: 20% of the Traffic (and growing) and Less Than 1% of the Spend; Zillow’s TAM Story Gets Better and Better

February 14th, 2013

Didn’t we go through the same experience last quarter?  Zillow beat revenue and EPS for 4Q12, operating metrics were stellar, and management guided lower in large part due to increased expectations for...

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OPEN: Growth Is Grinding To a Halt…. And TopTable Isn’t Going to Save the Day

February 8th, 2013

Well at least they didn’t miss consensus revenue estimates again….  Seriously though, do you remember the “good old days” when supposed growth companies that reported a massive deceleration in operating metrics, low quality...

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WWE: Is the WWE About to Go “Over the Top” With its Potential Network?

February 5th, 2013

WWE shares have advanced 7.8% thus far this year compared to a 6.0% gain for the S&P 500.  Despite the solid stock price performance to start the year, we doubt that many WWE investors are taking “victory laps”.  After all, in the...

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COCO: With $200MM Left to Go, Things Could Be Coming to a Head

January 31st, 2013

Despite all of the levers the company has pulled (cohort default rate “management”, asset sales, off-loading student loan credit risk temporarily, sale lease backs) over the past two years, it finally appears that COCO is starting to run out of...

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MCRS: Not Much to See Here…. For Now

January 25th, 2013

MCRS reported a quarter that was as uneventful as it was uninspiring. Ultimately there were operating metrics that improved somewhat and those that could be construed as confirmation of our short thesis.  Below we discuss the key positives and negatives from the quarter.

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ESI: And So It Begins…. What Do You Believe?

January 25th, 2013

Who said volatility is dead?  In a day that will go down in infamy for ESI investors, the stock traded in an astounding 40%+ range today.  After gaping down in excess of 20% in early trading ESI shares rebounded over the course of the day to close up 17.7% - efficient...

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Proprietary Restaurant Checks Suggest Challenges Could Mount for OPEN and MCRS in 2013; Other Key Observations

January 22nd, 2013

Over the past month, PAA Research conducted a survey of approximately 80-85 restaurant operators a significant percentage of which are clients of OPEN and MCRS. The general purpose of the survey was to gain...

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MCRS: Thoughts from the National Retail Federation “Big Show”

January 15th, 2013

Yesterday we had the opportunity to tour the floor at the National Retail Federation’s “Big Show 2013”.  We wanted to pass along some key observations from our time in the exhibit hall.  As you might imagine given our outstanding short call on...

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ESI: The True Nature of ESI’s Educational Outcomes Finally Coming to Light, Liquidity Position Looks Tenuous, Taking...

January 6th, 2013

If you were to distill our short thesis on ESI into its central elements (which we’ve now had in place for almost four years now) it can be succinctly summarized in two points: 1. The company’s...

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2012 Performance Update: Do Our Investment Ideas Generate Alpha? Other Ways We Measure our Performance

December 31st, 2012

First and foremost we wanted to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year and thank you for your continued interest in our research.  While there was plenty to be pleased about from a performance...

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MCRS: Analyst Day Fails to Address Our Concerns

December 13th, 2012

Coming into MCRS’s first “Investor Day” in over 13 years, we thought the burden of proof very much was on management to articulate why the proliferation of mobile POS solutions, mobile ordering, and cloud based iOS systems would not negatively impact the company’s...

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MCRS: How MCRS Really Makes Money and Why It Should Alarm Investors in the New Age of mPOS and iOS POS Solutions

December 12th, 2012

It’s been nearly four months since we first introduced MCRS as a short idea.  Since that time the stock has declined (-13%) compared to a 1% gain for the S&P 500 over the same period.  As so often is...

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WWE: Evaluating Positive Developments from the “Core” and Potential Network Economics

November 15th, 2012

It seems like only 5-6 months ago we were lamenting a similar dynamic surrounding WWE shares.  Here we are again, with WWE shares plumbing decade lows even though there are ample signs that the company’s core product continues...

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XOXO: After Another Quarter of EPS Upside and Strong FCF Generation, We Have to Ask: Where is the Love (from Investors)?

November 9th, 2012

Heading into XOXO’s 3Q12 earnings release we thought we knew the following: The Knot and the Bump franchises remained incredibly strong from a consumer engagement perspective Investors had...

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THQI: They Just Couldn’t Thread the Needle

November 6th, 2012

At no point over the past 3-years have we felt that we were in denial about the issues that THQI faced in trying to turn the company’s earnings prospects around.  We were intimately aware of the company’s disproportionate exposures to the very segments of the video game...

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Z: Sometimes It’s Important to Remember These Guys are “Empire Builders”…

November 6th, 2012

If you told us heading into the earnings print that Zillow would have added more than 4,000 premier agent subscribers in the third quarter, we almost certainly would have expected Zillow shares to trade higher.  Obviously that has not...

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OPEN: After Another Ho-Hum Quarter, the Six Lingering Questions We’re Thinking About

November 2nd, 2012

Heading into the company’s 3Q12 earnings release, OPEN shares had rallied 31.8% over the past 3-months compared to a meager 3.4% gain for the Nasdaq.  Clearly investor enthusiasm for OPEN shares continued to increase over the past...

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Current Ideas

CTC

SHORT

$101

ATGE

SHORT

$15

AYI

SHORT

$108

HCG.TO

SHORT

$0

RON.TO

SHORT

$9

BIG

SHORT

$28

ESI

SHORT

$0

BGG

PAIR - LONG BGG/SHORT TTC

25%

TTC

PAIR - LONG BGG/SHORT TTC

25%

Z

SHORT

$14.00

NA.TO

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$22

ING.PA

SHORT

$35

ZU

SHORT

$15

TRLA

SHORT

$20

MCRS

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$31

APOL

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$35

OPEN

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$30

BCO

LONG

$35

WWE

LONG

$25

KNL

PAIR - LONG KNL/SHORT MLHR

25%

XOXO

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$20

CSGP

SHORT

$100

GCA

LONG

$8

IPSU

LONG

$20

MLHR

SHORT

$22

ARC

LONG

$12.50

LOOP

PAIR - LONG CSGP/SHORT LOOP

40%

THQI

LONG

$35

WPO

SHORT

$275

COCO

SHORT

$0

HNI

SIG

RGR