Only Titanium Minerals has been a losing recent investment for him. He started buying in late 2010 when shares were trading above $17. He bought hundreds of thousands more shares at that price last spring, when shares were stuck in the $17 range. By the time shares fell below $17 last June, he was still buying. And he's been buying ever since, even though shares are now around $14.50.
Why is Simmons so keen to own millions of shares of Titanium Metals? Because he knows the commodity plays a key role in the generation of fuel-efficient airplanes. And though global titanium production is fairly constant, demand is set to rise. "Aircraft build rates provide visibility on a likely titanium market tightening in . Investors may be wary of titanium stocks following multi-year 787 and A380 delays, but accelerating deliveries of these planes should be a catalyst for specialty metals stocks," note analysts at Citigroup.
They add that because the company mills raw titanium and then modifies it into key shapes for customers, it can maintain low costs and high profit spreads. That's why "TIE has significant leverage to anticipated demand growth and the highest projected EBITDA margins of the group," (that also includes RTI International Metals (RTI), Carpenter Technology (CRS) and Allegheny Technologies (ATI).
Citigroup's analysts have a current $17 price target but note further upside if the global economy and titanium demand get stronger. This stock, currently trading around $14.50, hit $35 back in 2007 when industry conditions were aligned. Harold Simmons is well aware of that as he continues to but this stock at ever-lower levels.
3. Pizza Inn Holdings (PZZI)This Texas-based restaurant chain has been a sleepy operator of eponymously-named pizzerias. During the past year, management has been seeking to boost results by trying out a new style of eatery called Pie Five Pizza. The twist: this chain offers a range of toppings and crusts and will have your food in front of you in five minutes. The half-dozen Pie Five stores have delivered fairly solid early returns in terms of sales and profits, though they still constitute just a fraction of the total store base. More importantly, insiders jumped the gun. They bought more than $80,000 worth of stock during the winter at an average price of around $5 a share. Shares have dropped 30% since then, pushing the stock even deeper into micro-cap territory. It's unclear if the Pie Five concept will succeed, but at least investors are now paying a lot less to find out.
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