NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As a value investor, I have long been enamored by companies that own real assets, land in particular. Small agriculture plays are particularly interesting, although you must be very patient with these; they can be volatile and take years to play out.I believe that farmland itself is an asset class, and despite the run-up in land prices over the past several years, it is still a desirable asset that they aren't making any more of. Publicly traded agriculture companies are few and far between, but worth a look.
With an enterprise value (or "EV", which is calculated by adding a company's debt and market cap, and subtracting cash) of about $330 million, and 130,800 acres of land, Alico trades at $2,519 on an EV to acres basis, a homegrown calculation I sometimes use when evaluating companies that own substantial amounts of land. This calculation assumes that only the company's land has value, and doesn't consider the value of any other company assets, besides cash. Interestingly, Alico carries the land on its balance sheet at $81.8 million, or just $625 per acre, perhaps very low. ALCO Enterprise Value data by YCharts
For perspective, the company has engaged in some land transactions in the past year or so , purchasing 396 acres in Alachua County in Florida in June for $1.2 million, or $2,967 per acre. In September 2012, the Alico sold a conservation easement on 11,600 acres in Hendry County, Florida to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $20.7 million, or $1,784 per acre. Alico, however, retained mineral and water rights on the property.