Michigan firm in Roumell’s cross hairs

It sounds like something right out of Warren Buffett’s playbook.

Take an ignored, old, family-owned company. Buy enough stock to gain control. Sell the money-losers. Keep the profitable parts. Make a fortune.

Chevy Chase-based Roumell Opportunistic Value Fund hopes to do just that with its ownership stake in a Michigan refrigerator compressor business.

Roumell, led by longtime stock bargain hunter Jim Roumell and his co-portfolio manager, Ted Crawford, filed documents with the Securities & Exchange Commission increasing its stake in Tecumseh Products Co. to 20 percent in hopes of owning enough of the company to force the hand of the board of directors.

Roumell is a shoe-leather researcher, spending time at Tecumseh’s India plant and even sitting in a commercial compressor store to gauge for himself the popularity of Tecumseh’s commercial business. His takeaway: the commercial business possesses what many investors covet in their investments: recurring revenue.

Roumell wants Tecumseh’s board to sell the unprofitable residential side of the business, then take the profits and pay shareholders — including Roumell’s value fund — a onetime dividend.

That would leave Roumell with a fifth ownership stake in a commercial refrigerator business that grosses $500 million a year and throws off $5 million to Roumell each year.

Stay tuned for the next chapter.

New addition

Crofton-based Force 3, which secures computer systems against bad guys, has acquired a three-person Annapolis technology company called SecureRad, which specializes in keeping medical images away from prying eyes.

The acquisition gives Force 3 entre into the market for storage, management and display of medical images, ranging from CAT scans to MRIs.

“It’s a neat little company with a great business model,” said Les Trachtman, chief operating officer of Force 3. “It fits really well with the strategic direction of Force 3.”

SecureRad was founded five years ago by Phillip Jackson and Mark Baganz of Chesapeake Medical Imaging, which has facilities scattered throughout Maryland.

The company’s 60 clients range from the United Kingdom to California and include the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration, Harvard University/Massachusetts General Hospital and Baltimore Washington Medical Center.

“These are computer geeks that figured this out,” Trachtman said. “Computer geeks are the only ones in the world who have 60 customers and only three employees.”

Terms were not disclosed.

Going live

Miss America, Kareem Abdul Jabbar and several Washington area CEOs are headlining Georgetown-based U.S. News & World Report’s first-ever national conference on the demand for employees with skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

After shedding its money-losing print magazine in 2010, U.S. News morphed into a digital publisher of news and consumer information, with monthly print guides.

And conferences.

The summit, opening in Dallas on June 27, combines major employers, government officials and educators to help solve the national shortage of STEM workers. Northrop Grumman boss Wes Bush and Eric Spiegel, head of Siemens, are the top speakers at STEM Solutions 2012.

Carlyle watch

Guess who just bought the AMC movie theater chain? That would be Dalian Wanda Group Ltd. of Beijing.

The sellers included Washington’s very own Carlyle Group, which has owned a stake in AMC for eight years. Also cashing out of AMC were Bain Capital, Apollo Global Management, CCMP Capital Advisors and Spectrum Equity Investors.

With 5,000 screens in 346 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, AMC is one of the nation’s largest theater chains. According to its recent announcement, Dalian Wanda is a “leading Chinese private conglomerate that operates in five major businesses, including commercial properties, luxury hotels, tourism investment, cultural industries and department stores.”

This hire is personal

Georgetown-based Personal, a private personal network and data vault for individuals to manage and control access to their digital information, hired Washington Post veteran Jenny Abramson as senior vice president for monetization and partnerships.

In other words, her job is to find ways for Personal, which has several local investors including former AOL chairman Steve Case and former ambassador Morton Abramowitz, to make money. Abramson ran Washington Post Live (the company’s live journalism division), FW (Fashion Washington) and The Washington Post Magazine.

Factoid of the Week

The Bozzuto Group, the Greenbelt-based company that develops, builds and manages apartments, will start nearly 1,900 multifamily units this year, an increase of more than 66 percent over last year. The company has also grown its employee head count by 20 percent in the past two years – from 1,000 in 2010 to more than 1,200 today.

1,900

New units breaking ground for Bozzuto.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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