You may have forgotten about Iomega ( IOM), but that doesn't mean the PC hard-drive maker has gone away. In fact, now might be a good time to zip through the numbers and see why this stock looks like a solid value. Of course, reduced expectations have a hand in this story. In the mid '90s the sudden rise of the Zip drive had some analysts claiming Iomega would eventually rival IBM ( IBM). They were wrong, but with the company cutting costs and investors content to leave the past behind them, there could be an Iomega revival ahead. Just take a look at what the company has done in the face of waning disk/drive sales. Iomega has cut its staff by 40% in three years, driving costs down some 24% over that period. It has also managed to increase its gross margin by 15 points over last year to 37.8% of sales. Iomega has done this by negotiating better terms with vendors, outsourcing more of its manufacturing and introducing higher-margin products -- the most notable being a line of portable hard disk drives compatible with essentially all Microsoft and Macintosh operating systems and a new line of high-speed CD-RW drives and CD-burning software aimed at the retail customer. Another standout is its balance sheet. As of June 30, Iomega had more than $372 million, or $7.24 per diluted share, in cash and only a little over $2 million in debt. Cash flow has shown a dramatic improvement as well: Iomega generated almost $54 million in operational cash flow in the second quarter, compared to a $3.4 million loss in the same period last year. That's a big improvement.
So how confident is management in this turnaround story? Very, it seems. The company has a standing stock-buyback program, and officers and directors owned 9.8% of the stock as of March 27. That's pretty hefty. Insider ownership is no guarantee of success, but a stock buyback plan and solid insider ownership certainly can't hurt. As things stand now, Iomega is on pace to earn from 80 to 90 cents a share this year. But I think earnings could easily climb north of $1 a share in 2003, given the company's strong gains in recent months. With the stock trading at $12, there could be room to the upside.