#technology

Aussie company has only approved technology for Qantas Boeing 737NG wing crack detection

Very simple story. Aussie based company Structural Monitoring Systems (SMN AX) has the only approved crack detection product in the market.

The 5 Qantas Boeing 737 NG planes (and dozens like it around the world) could have had far earlier detection with SMN’s CVM technology. To cut a long story short, CVM technology has vacuum channels, which if broken (via cracks emerging) notifies the ground crew of the structural issue.

The company already has a contract with Delta Airlines for its aircraft. This type of technology not only has the potential to ward off catastrophic failures but reduce the cost of inspections for airlines.

CM has owned SMN for over a decade. This trend was always coming.

Atlassian should back the Minerals Council of Australia, not knock it

Atlassian co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes (MCB) has apparently been on a campaign trying to get the already left-leaning board of BHP to ditch ties with groups like the Minerals Council of Australia. But why?

CM believes that nothing shows the prosecution of a cause than leading from the front. MCB should use the might of Atlassian’s $32 bn market cap and seek to buy a controlling stake in BHP whereby it can behave like an activist shareholder and achieve those goals from within. A bit rich to demand a company like BHP fold to the whims of another listed corporate which has no direct business with it. That would be terrible governance for BHP to pay MCB any mind.

How would MCB react if BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie turned around and demanded that Atlassian cut ties with ANZ for being embroiled in the Hayne Banking Royal Commission? MCB would rightly tell him to take a hike.

One doubts that MCB has much of his superannuation buried in BHP shares but why pick on the Minerals Council of Australia? After all, if he had a good look at what Australia’s mineral industry enables, Atlassian should be a backer not a knocker. Why not influence the debate by being part of it?

Here is a list of 30 things Australian minerals companies provide, including vital materials used in wind farms and solar panels, the very forms of renewable energy MCB wants Atlassian to rely on 100% to power its future. MCB’s Tesla is reliant on Aussie minerals to make the batteries. So does his smartphone, tablets, laptops and desktops. And so do the white goods that chill his food and the copper pipes that deliver hot water in his lovely mansion in Sydney. His dentist uses those minerals to maximise his oral hygiene.  The list goes on.

No one can take away the success MCB has achieved in the corporate sphere. However, it would appear that being an expert in the software world doesn’t always translate to being a sage on the environment much less hold any authority to dictate the boardroom discussions of a company that is more crucial to its existence than the other way around.

Was Tesla/Maxwell deal smart?

Related image

Tesla (TSLA) has bought Maxwell (MXWL) for an all-stock transaction at US$288m notional value. The question is why any company would accept an all share transaction from a chronic loss-making company to buy its supposedly “amazing” futuristic dry capacitor technology? Are shareholders of MXWL as hooked into the EV cult as those at Tesla? Clearly not all of them. A group of MXWL investors launched a class action to block the deal. Sadly they failed.

If the management of Maxwell truly believed this deal was a winner and the technology was game-changing, why not demand cash? Why didn’t Tesla invite Panasonic’s battery boffins to assess whether the technology had merit? One must question how good is Maxwell’s IP to only find one buyer and for an all share deal? Where were the private equity (PE) vultures circling? How little confidence in one’s product or how much faith in Musk’s cult-like status to fall for such terms?

Maxwell at the 9 month FY2018 stage reported US$91.6mn (-8%YoY) in revenue and a net loss of $30.2mn. Cash halved from $50.122m in 9M 2017 to $23.561mn 9M 2018. The company did sell its high voltage product line to Renaissance Investment Foundation for $55mn with a 2-year $15mn earn out. That involved an upfront payment of $48m making pro-forma cash as at Sep 30, 2018, total $69mn. The company has an accumulated deficit of $277mn.

While the two companies had been in conversation for several years, Musk seemed to get serious in December 2018.

Forget the technological merits of Maxwell. It is easy to work out the quality of the deal based on the structure and the lack of appetite from the mega battery makers or PE firms to validate it. There is no way that MXWL didn’t show its wares to the majors. Given the deal was announced in February 2019, the EV battery and PE world would have at the very least done some back of the envelope calculations to value the business.

All that Musk has done has absorbed another loss-making business into the same cult and give himself another “dream” to add to the smoke and mirrors story.

Maxwell’s management must have channeled Don Adams, “good thinking, 99” but will undoubtedly end up saying, “sorry about that, Chief!”