Moleskine SpA: Paper Is Not Dead

My latest article published on Seeking Alpha. It’s on the iconic and global brand Moleskine. This is the same company that is all the rage right now among artists and professionals. It’s also makes a great gift.

Seeking Alpha has the rights to the article. For the full article you have to visit their site.

Moleskine SpA: Paper Is Not Dead

Reposted from Seeking Alpha
By Brian Langis


  • Moleskine is an iconic and global brand. The Moleskine brand has developed a cult-like following.
  • Over the years Moleskine has delivered continued double digit revenue and EBITDA growth.
  • Solid balance sheet. Almost net cash (4.1m euros in debt).
  • The notebooks are popular amongst professionals, artists, hipsters, and collectors.
  • Slump in the share price is not justified. Moleskine is consistently matching or beating their targets. The market is not noticing.

Borsa Italiana Milan ISIN: IT0004894900, Bloomberg: MSK:IM

Moleskine is primarily traded on the Milan stock exchange Borsa Italiana under the ticker MSK:IM, where there’s plenty of volume. I will be referring to the Italian symbol for the article.

Note: Dollar amounts are in Euro € unless mentioned otherwise. EUR-USD 1.1025. Price of 1 EURO in USD as of February 25, 2016.

Moleskine SpA (OTCPK:MOSKY) is an Italian manufacturer of luxury notebooks and other stationery items such as agendas, journals, bags and cases. The company might have an Italian headquarters, but its business is global. You would actually think it’s American with its Star Wars and Batman notebooks. Moleskine suffers from a lack of coverage. Except for one article in 2015 and (one in) 2013, there is no coverage on Seeking Alpha. Part of this article is to demonstrate this opportunity, and I sort of hope the article can spark further discussion on the investment merits of Moleskine. Throughout the article I will refer to journals, diaries, planners, agendas as “notebooks” for simplicity’s sake.

Moleskine’s business might be exploding but its stock is not. The stock has been trading on the Milan Stock Exchange since 2013. As the graph below demonstrates, the stock has been slumping since the IPO.

Source: Google Finance. Stock is down 31.7% since the IPO in 2013.

In this article I will provide my investment case for Moleskine. With a conservative approach, I believe the stock has a 30% to 40% upside from where it’s trading today. There are several catalysts that could turn the slump in the stock price around such as: continued growth at a double digit rate, more market coverage by analysts and the media that enhances the stock’s visibility, a share buyback program to take advantage of the discounted price, a take-over offer, and the market realization of the full value of Moleskine’s assets and brand. The current slump in the share price is unwarranted. Moleskine is consistently matching or beating their targets but the market is not noticing.

Revenge of Analog

Source: Moleskine

You wouldn’t expect a paper notebook company to be successful in a digital world. Moleskine is not an isolated case of “old world” technology making a comeback, or simply refusing to disappear. Moleskine’s success is part of a movement that some have labelled the “revenge of the analog”, especially among the young people. The movement, where certain technologies and processes that have been rendered “obsolete” suddenly show new life and growth, even as the world becomes increasingly driven by digital technology. You can see this renaissance with business cards and the return of vinyl records.

For the full article and valuation, it’s available on Seeking Alpha since they have the rights to the article. Thank you for reading.


13 thoughts on “Moleskine SpA: Paper Is Not Dead

  1. Very fascinating article. I have far more Moleskines than I care to admit, especially since the paper quality isn’t great for fountain pens. I can’t think of why this is, except maybe it’s the kind of notebook I know will take a beating and hold together. I don’t have to be as precious with what I write in it as I would with a fancier leatherbound journal. I never thought of Moleskines in terms of longevity – great article!

      1. Thanks, it’s rapidly becoming more of a photography blog than I ever thought possible. I really need to get back to posting my writing, though sharing my photos has been fun.

  2. I’m a Moleskine shareholder and since the company is relatively underfollowed, I looked forward very much to reading this. I don’t mean to sound too harsh, but I’ve never seen an investment writeup spill so much ink yet miss the merits ENTIRELY. I’m afraid you’re actually contributing to the misperception of this company…

    1. Space Wrangler, thank you for commenting. Yes I write a lot. Maybe I miss the merits entirely, it would be great if you can share with us here or on the Seeking Alpha websites where there’s a lot of comments. As a shareholder, you must be happy that the stock is up 20% since publication with an increase of 40 million euros in market capitalization.

      1. I’m reluctant to share my thoughts but I’ll give you a very broad outline.

        Stop looking at the IR deck and start thinking about the nature of their products. First of all, you are 100% correct that the death of paper at the hands of iPads is not only overblown but the opposite is actually true. Since the iPad was released, Moleskine has thrived. Tablets are just plain lousy at note-taking. But what else is funny about “luxury” stationary? Does such a thing even exist? Is there another branded products company that has even a passing interest in this stuff? Why yes, there is…but I’m not saying who. 😉 But it’s by far the most successful peer on earth. Stationary has no fashion risk, it’s not limited by sex or season or age, it’s accessible, and maybe best of all, it’s consumed. A Coach wallet might last a decade, a notebook maybe a few months. What does all this lead to? How about margins higher than Diageo, LVMH, Nike, etc. How about returns on capital higher than Tumi, Luxottica, Richemont, etc. Oh yes, selling branded, premium-priced stationary is secretly one of the best businesses you can find.

        There are other merits, too. I suspect in a few years that Moleskine’s stock price will be multiples higher than where it currently trades. Today, Moleskine is under-appreciated as evidenced by its low multiple…and I understand why, I think. But one day sentiment will shift and this will be viewed (correctly) as a gem of a business.

  3. Takeover attempt at 2.40. Premium looks rather lukewarm, just 10 cents above IPO and taking into account dividends basically at IPO level.

    1. I think the market hasn’t embraced the potential of Moleskine. It a great company. I think it wasn’t listed on the right exchange. If it was in New-York or London, it would get more exposure. Some companies are not met to be public.

  4. Well, Moleskine is the real Giant in the paper notebook universe. I think I’ve been using it for ages now! I love its quality and the great choice of notebooks of any shapes and colors! By the way, if to mention the problem of paper planners vs digital calendars is one of the Moleskine projects, don’t you know?

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