Phil Ordway presented his in-depth investment theses on Armstrong (NYSE: AWI) and USG (NYSE: USG) at Best Ideas 2016.

Opportunities in Building Products: Armstrong and USG operate within a profitable niche market for ceiling products, and both are interesting companies. They have ~50% and ~30% market share, respectively, in a very stable, high-ROIC business with exemplary pricing power and relatively little competition. Using AWI’s numbers, volumes are still well below their 2005/06 peak and their plants are running at ~70% utilization, but they’ve been able to raise prices consistently and revenues and margins are considerably higher compared to the prior cyclical peak. This cycle may be a little different — namely, it has been much slower to recover than many expected, and we may not attain those 2005/06 levels anytime soon — but therein lies the potential opportunity, as some investors may have lost patience. AWI is also undergoing a period of significant change. Its smaller, less profitable flooring segment is likely to be spun off in 2016, and the remaining ceilings business will then be under the full control of a new CEO (who is the current president of that division and has achieved good results).

About the instructor:

Philip Ordway is Principal and Portfolio Manager of Anabatic Fund, L.P. Previously, Philip was a partner at Chicago Fundamental Investment Partners (CFIP). At CFIP, which he joined in 2007, Philip was responsible for investments across the capital structure in various industries. Prior to joining Chicago Fundamental Investment Partners, Philip was an analyst in structured corporate finance with Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. from 2002 to 2005, where he was part of a team responsible for identifying financing solutions for companies initially in the global power and utilities group and ultimately in the global autos and industrials group. Philip earned his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in 2007 and his B.S. in Education & Social Policy and Economics from Northwestern University in 2002.

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