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SW24 tests national strategy in Manhattan’s Diamond District

‘Hey, you in the red tie,’ SW24 woos customers with Fusion Centre, armed guard capability, retail store and lighthearted ad campaign
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05/21/2014

NEW YORK—It has ambitions to become a national enterprise-level security provider, but SecureWatch 24, a full-service security company based here, also has identified a strong market in its own backyard—the roughly 3,000 high-end jewelry stores in Manhattan’s famous Diamond District.

COPS bringing more information to customers' fingertips

The grouped access enhancement allows subscribers to place up to five accounts on test at once from a mobile phone
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05/21/2014

WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J.—COPS Monitoring is enhancing its mobile subscriber access product—called MPower Me—by introducing “grouped access,” which allows customers to view and manage multiple accounts from their smart phones at once.

Online wireless locks moving forward, but not locked into the market

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05/21/2014

Online wireless locks are making inroads in the security industry, particularly on the perimeters of large buildings with hundreds of doors inside.

CO restaurant death leads to new laws, but can industry do more?

A fire company president calls for digital displays of CO levels on system-connected detectors, but a manufacturer says other safeguards are already in place
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05/21/2014

CENTEREACH, N.Y.—The death of a Long Island, N.Y. restaurant manager from carbon monoxide poisoning has prompted several Long Island communities to pass new CO requirements.

Private equity firm invests in mPERS company

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The PERS market has become somewhat notorious for its lack of acquisition activity, a surprising reality given the demographic trends in America that appear to favor such a market.

Many industry watchers on the private equity side attribute the lack of acquisitions to valuations that have yet to ripen. Some hold that as churn decreases, generating longer average account lives, outside investment is bound to pick up. With greater scale and higher multiples, the acquisitions will follow.

Enter Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners, a Tampa-based private equity firm that recently invested an undisclosed amount in MobileHelp, a mobile PERS provider based in Boca Raton, Fla.,—this according to multiple reports, including an article form the Tampa Business Journal.

Stonehenge summarizes its investment strategy on its website, noting that it typically invests in growth stage businesses and “aims to catalyze rapid growth of companies in up-and-coming markets.” The firm also says its typical investment size is between $1 and $5 million, and that it typically targets companies that have at least $3 million in revenue and are profitable.

Like many investment firms, Stonehenge likes the recurring revenue business model.

No question, then, that MobileHelp fits many of the firm’s ideal investment characteristics. Henry Edmonds, president of The Edmonds Group, an investment bank in St. Louis, said it’s very good news that private equity investors are supporting PERS businesses. He added that it’s unsurprising Stonehenge chose to invest in MobileHelp, which Edmonds characterized as a “leading provider of mobile PERS solutions,” that has distinguished itself in an increasingly competitive market.

“I think we’ll see a lot more of this as people get beyond the early stage and nascent products and once they’ve established a niche in the industry as MobileHelp has done,” Edmonds said. “I think it will be likely that these kinds of companies will attract new capital, because it’s an exciting space.”

He described the PERS and mobile PERS market as “the wild wild west,” in a certain sense, because there are a lot of products currently vying for attention.

“But if you can rise above the fray as MobileHelp has done, it’s a great opportunity because of all the current and expected growth in mobile PERS and mobile security,” Edmonds said.

I’ll be following up on this story in the coming days. I plan to piece together an article about the implications of this investment, bringing together the perspectives of MobileHelp, Stonehenge, and others on the private equity side who’ve been monitoring the PERS valuation market for some time now.

Global Link adds monitoring for Bosch systems

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05/20/2014

TORONTO—Global Link, a monitoring and security services company based here, is now offering monitoring services for Bosch intrusion detection systems out of its two central stations, according to a news release.

Construction underway for Monitronics new campus

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05/20/2014

FARMERS BRANCH, Texas—Construction of Monitronics’ new campus, here, is scheduled to begin May 16, according to a report from the Dallas Business Journal. The campus will become home to 1,000 corporate employees, the report noted.

Good service key to High Rise Fire and Security’s success

The company is gearing up for growth in NYC’s affordable residential housing market under new mayor
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05/20/2014

BROOKLYN, N.Y.—High Rise Fire and Security does a lot of high-profile jobs—such as putting in the fire alarm system for the Liberty View Plaza, a former U.S. Navy 1 million-square-foot warehouse that’s now one of the largest commercial real estate projects in this city. Good service is a key reason for the company’s success, according to its vice president, Robert Aiello.

Education one of the highlights at the NFPA show

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05/16/2014

LAS VEGAS—Education will be a robust feature of the 2014 National Fire Protection Association Conference & Expo. The number of education sessions grew to 150 last year and will remain at that level this year when the annual event is held June 9-12 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center here.

Kessler examines future of Monitronics

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Good news for Ascent Capital, the parent holding company of Monitronics, according to a recent research report conducted by Imperial Capital’s Jeff Kessler. The takeaway is that the monitoring company’s Q1 2014 earnings—$484 million in revenue, EBITDA of $321 million—were consistent with estimates and the company is “not experiencing impact from the entrance of cable/telcos."

As a result, Imperial Capital is maintaining the outperform rating and one-year price target of $94, about 43 percent above the company’s recent share prices, recorded in the report at $65.80.

The share price is being impacted currently by skittishness surrounding the big new market entrants, referred to as a “false negative perception about the competition from cable/telcos.”

“We believe that Ascent remains fundamentally strong and is not seeing any slowdown as a result of cable/telcos entering the security space,"  the report says.

As far as the new competitive landscape, Kessler believes traditional security companies remain Monitronics’ primary competitors. He also envisions something of a schism taking place between traditional large security companies and the newcomers who established themselves first in other industries.

The former, according to the report, will continue to command their share of business in the market for critical life safety systems, while the latter will bring to market more of a “home services,” lifestyle-focused package. The report said that existing skepticism about the “commitment to service” of the cable/telcos could hinder their ability to gain share from the largest security providers.

Kessler’s report was extremely thorough, full of many fascinating prognostications about not just Monitronics but the industry at large. Needless to say, a lone blog post can hardly do it justice. Here’s a sample sentence from the report that certainly piqued my interest:

“We believe smaller, undercapitalized security companies who do not have the capital to install Alarm.com or iControl wireless interactive systems may face real competitive threats.”

The report also touched on the implications of the enormous advertising budgets of the new market entrants, as well as the positive effects of Monitronics’ acquisition last August of Security Networks.

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