Worry About Valuation, Not Politics With the Silverbox Engaged/Black Rifle Deal

Stock Market

The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) bubble has come and gone. But investors are still keeping an eye on high-profile blank-check company mergers. One, in particular, that’s been getting attention is the proposed deal between SilverBox Engaged Merger (NASDAQ:SBEA) and Black Rifle Coffee. On the day of the announcement, SBEA stock briefly skyrocketed in price from just under $10 per share to as high as $15.75.

A 3D illustration of the word SPACs on a stock board full of numbers and up and down arrows.

Source: iQoncept/ShutterStock.com

Admittedly, the price surge may not have been as much about investor bullishness over the proposed transaction as it was about investors trying to jump into the next Digital World Acquisition (NASDAQ:DWAC). Earlier this month, DWAC stock went “to the moon” when it announced plans to merge with former President Donald Trump’s social media startup, Trump Media & Technology Group.

Given Black Rifle’s connections to the Trump political movement, this makes some sense. Unfortunately, the euphoria didn’t last long. SBEA stock is now back near its SPAC offering price of $10 per share, and DWAC is tanking as well. I wouldn’t hold much hope for a “to the moon” move in SBEA’s future.

With the meme potential is waning, what about the merits of a SilverBox/Black Rifle Coffee merger as a long-term play? Those are questionable as well, and not because of politics. Rather, it’s due to something much more pertinent to the game of investing.

The Story Behind the Silverbox/Black Rifle SPAC Deal

Even if you take the middle road in today’s divisive political climate, chances are you’ve heard of this coffee purveyor. It mainly aligns itself with the military veteran community, but also in the past hitched its wagon to the Trump political movement.

Of course, it’s the latter that has tied SBEA stock with DWAC stock. However, Black Rifle’s relationship with Trumpian politics is complicated to say the least. On one hand, it’s capitalized on it, selling itself as a right-leaning alternative to Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). On the other hand, the brand has distanced itself from the more controversial aspects of the political right.

Has this “middle of the right” position helped Black Rifle out? Check out the comments section of any article about Black Rifle, and you’ll know right away the political left’s take on this company remains highly negative. But while some on the right have accused Black Rifle of appeasement, it’s likely neither helped nor harmed the company’s prospects.

Yet, Black Rifle’s political ideology isn’t what’s most important going forward. It’s whether this SPAC deal, which gives the target a high valuation, can live up to expectations, resulting in worthwhile returns.

A Look at The Numbers

As is common with blank-check company mergers, there is an investor presentation available that breaks down the Black Rifle deal. The presentation devotes most of its 56 pages to touting the company’s purported strengths. For example, it employs an omnichannel strategy of selling coffee direct to consumers, through stores and through retail locations it calls “Outposts.”

But flip to the back of the slide deck and you’ll find what matters most when it comes to SBEA stock. I’m talking about the implied valuation of the deal, plus financial projections for the next two years. After the “deSPACing,” Black Rifle will have a market capitalization of $1.9 billion and an enterprise value of $1.7 billion (accounting for the $203 million in post-deal cash).

That’s a rich valuation given the company’s estimated revenue of $230.1 million in 2021. This valuation gives it an EV/sales ratio of 7.4. Projected to grow sales by 35.4% in 2022 and 38.2% in 2023, some may believe it’s worth it to pay up for growth. However, if a fast-growing coffee company is what you’re looking for, why not just buy Dutch Bros (NYSE:BROS)? It’s growing at a similar clip and sports a lower EV/sales ratio to boot (5.7x).

Also, Black Rifle’s future growth hinges largely on the success of its “Outpost” retail coffee shops. Growing this segment may be tougher than it looks. Half the country may lean right, but it’s unclear whether they’ll switch from established chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.

The Bottom Line on SBEA Stock

Black Rifle may try to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to conservative politics. But when it comes to investing in this pending SPAC deal, what the left or the right thinks about the company isn’t what should determine whether you buy it or avoid it.

Instead, your top concern should be its rich valuation, which is built on ambitious growth targets. If the company can hit these targets, shares could potentially take off. If it falls short, expect SBEA stock to drop to single-digit prices in the years following its deSPACing.

Post-deal, if investors price in more uncertainty and send it to single digits, it may be worth another look. But now, “priced for perfection,” it’s best to hold off on SBEA stock.

On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.

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