Dorman Products Inc.

Dorman Products (Nasdaq: DORM) is an aftermarket auto parts distributor stuck between a rock and a hard place as it sells both through Amazon, which is seeking to grow further into online auto parts distribution, and through the biggest brick and mortar retailers (Adv. Auto Parts / O’Reilly / AutoZone), which account for a majority of its sales, and are struggling with slower growth and margin pressure.  Spruce Point has conducted a deep fundamental and forensic accounting review of DORM and believe its opaque disclosures, aggressive accounting, and precarious industry positioning do not warrant its significant share price outperformance and premium valuation relative to peers. As a result, we see above average risk of continued earnings disappointment and meaningful share price correction.

Revenue growth has slowed from a 13% CAGR (2009 to 2015) to less then 6% in 2016 (adjusted for extra week).  Furthermore, if you look under the hood, DORM’s net revenues are an estimate and therefore subject to significant manipulation.  Our adjusted gross sales estimate (we define as total product places on the shelves of customers) slowed to an abysmal 1.5% in 2016. Analysts expect DORM to continue growing top-line sales at 7% which we believe to be difficult given its largest customers are growing low single digits.

We believe DORM’s earnings leverage is waning. Revenue and gross profit from active accounts slowed to low single digits in 2016. The weakening of the Chinese Yuan has been a hidden tailwind to gross margins in the last three years since DORM sources products heavily from China/Taiwan.  We estimate that DORM’s gross margins benefited by ~350bps cumulatively from 2014-2016. DORM doesn’t discuss any of these FX benefits in its MD&A, and now the Yuan is on a strengthening cycle.  DORM also embarked on an ERP implementation which was 163% over budget, and allowed it to capitalize $38m of costs from 2011-14. DORM has not amortized any of these costs, thereby inflating its earnings per share by $0.07c by our estimate

DORM portrays itself as debt-free, but is heavily dependent on factoring receivables, which we believe should be evaluated as debt. The % of revenues that are factored annually has risen from 21% in 2009 to 65% in 2016 and exposes DORM to the increasing interest rate env’t.  DORM’s working capital to sales ratio is at a multi-year high, while operating cash flow in 2016 abnormally increased from inventory declining – suggesting it liquidated or deferred new purchases to generate cash. DORM is also shifting its business strategy to invest in many undisclosed JV/minority investments, while opaque related-party purchases are increasing

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