Samuel Nicholls

Sam Nicholls

Industry Experience:

SAM NICHOLLS lives in Atlanta full time, where he leads the IBI training program with more than 20 years of investment experience.  He is currently a Manager with Williamette Management Associates, a nationally recognized firm in the fields of business valuation, forensic analysis, and transaction financial advisory services. His specific role entails performing USPAP compliant valuations of private companies, both controlling and non-controlling ownership interests for pass-through entities and C corporations. Engagements consist of valuations of businesses and assets in all sectors for tax compliance and litigation.

Sam began his career as an Analyst in New York City at Rockefeller & Company for both public and private equity (early stage investments), and as a Venture Capital Associate at Wolfensohn Partners, founded by the former Chairman of The World Bank, and an original investor in Celgene.

Sam transitioned to public equity in 1999 and served as a Sell-side Equity Analyst at Gerard Klauer Mattison and W. Quillen Securities with a focus on the industrial sector, and then as a Buy-Side Equity Analyst at Carret Asset Management in New York City, covering all sectors and holdings, assisting with investment strategy, and serving as a member of the 4-person investment committee. Carret is an investment advisor founded by a pioneer in value investing and an inspiration to Warren Buffett. Sam has been responsible for the deployment of hundreds of millions of dollars in capital over his career.


Sam earned his B.A. from Hamilton College and and M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management.  He is a candidate for Accredited Senior Appraiser of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) in business valuation.

Transaction Highlights (Analysis):
  • MacQuarie Infrastructure – a conglomerate, examined drivers of each unit, ROI trends for acquisitions in context of price paid, gauged valuation, and determined dividend was unsustainable. Recommended sale in June 2008 in the low $30s (mkt cap $1.4 billion). Stock fell to 80 cents/share
  • Starbucks – modeled the impact to cash flow and ROI by right-sizing its store portfolio, recommended purchase at $17/share (mkt cap $12.4 billion) in June 2008. Stock reached $22 at the end of 2009, $32 at the end of 2010, and $46 at the end of 2011
  • Titanium Metals – Prior to the commercial aerospace upcycle, in early 2005, discovered reason for increased titanium content on new aircraft. Researched and modeled likely volume and price increases, and timing, examined impact of sponge capacity constraints, forecast GAAP earnings and cash flow. Covered company and recommended purchase August 2005 at $7.44 (mkt cap $12.4 billion). Stock increased nearly five times, peaking at $36 in May 2006
  • Sifco – In October 2005, observed that this small casting and forging company owned much of its real estate and the company was vastly undervalued if they were to do a sale/leaseback, or could be acquired. Valued the holdings, determined likely valuation range and viability of an LBO, given comp valuations for the core business. (mkt cap $17 million). Stock increased from $3.33/share to $22/share in July 2007, more than six times in less than two years
  • Calgon Carbon – In March 2007, discovered the FTC’s review of Chinese dumping of activated carbon, which is used for water purification. Examined financial impact on Calgon Carbon, in light of market concentration, and determined likelihood of US duties, which were indeed imposed later. Recommended purchase in March 2007 (mkt cap $270 million) at roughly $8/share. Stock to $21/share in August 2008
  • Schwab v. E-Trade – As an associate analyst in 2000, intuited valuation discrepancy between Schwab and E-Trade, in light of the ROI of TV advertising by E-Trade versus the ROI of Schwab’s physical office presence as a form of advertising. Performed valuation in light of this and customer churn impacting the average life of an account for each company, and margin usage by clients. After we issued a report, a few senior analysts at bulge bracket investment banks emulated my work. Schwab thereafter outperformed E-Trade for roughly two years
  • At Wolfensohn Partners, performed debt recapitalizations on several portfolio holdings at Wolfensohn Partners, and conducted a quantitative study on PIPEs terms
  • At Rockefeller & Company, researched, analyzed, modeled, valued, and helped structure terms for numerous venture stage prospective investments which had no comparables, such as a producer of plastic pallets, a laser eye surgery chain of clinics, and a producer of an eco-friendly pool water purification systems
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