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Debt Securities

Why Warren Buffet prefers not to pay Dividends

@WarrenBuffett explains a more reliable method to earn big as a #shareholder of a #company. The sell-off approach

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Warren Buffett
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Shareholders in Nigeria are quite used to expecting two types of returns from companies. Dividends (including script) and Capital Appreciation. However, a more reliable method may well be the suspension of dividends and reliance on pure capital appreciation -the Sell Off approach.

No other but Warren Buffet, the sage of Omaha himself, is a proponent of this method. It’s a long read but worth the time. Also, note the assumptions as they are as important as the method itself. He explains it below;

The Illustration

We’ll start by assuming that you and I are the equal owners of a business with $2 million of net worth. The business earns 12% on tangible net worth – $240,000 – and can reasonably expect to earn the same 12% on reinvested earnings. Furthermore, there are outsiders who always wish to buy into our business at 125% of net worth. Therefore, the value of what we each own is now $1.25 million.

Investment Returns

You would like to have the two of us shareholders receive one-third of our company’s annual earnings and have two-thirds be reinvested. That plan, you feel, will nicely balance your needs for both current income and capital growth. So you suggest that we pay out $80,000 of current earnings and retain $160,000 to increase the future earnings of the business.

In the first year, your dividend would be $40,000, and as earnings grew and the one- third payout was maintained, so too would your dividend. In total, dividends and stock value would increase 8% each year (12% earned on net worth less 4% of net worth paid out).

 “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”[Open Opportunity: Master Financial Terminologies used in Investing in Nigeria]

The Projection

After ten years our company would have a net worth of $4,317,850 (the original $2 million compounded at 8%) and your dividend in the upcoming year would be $86,357. Each of us would have shares worth $2,698,656 (125% of our half of the company’s net worth). And we would live happily ever after – with dividends and the value of our stock continuing to grow at 8% annually.

The Alternative Way

There is an alternative approach, however, that would leave us even happier. Under this scenario, we would leave all earnings in the company and each sell 3.2% of our shares annually. Since the shares would be sold at 125% of book value, this approach would produce the same $40,000 of cash initially, a sum that would grow annually. Call this option the “sell-off” approach.

The “sell-off” approach

Under this “sell-off” scenario, the net worth of our company increases to $6,211,696 after ten years ($2 million compounded at 12%). Because we would be selling shares each year, our percentage ownership would have declined, and, after ten years, we would each own 36.12% of the business. Even so, your share of the net worth of the company at that time would be $2,243,540.

SSKOHN

And, remember, every dollar of net worth attributable to each of us can be sold for $1.25. Therefore, the market value of your remaining shares would be $2,804,425, about 4% greater than the value of your shares if we had followed the dividend approach.

Merit of Warren’s “sell-off” over Dividend

Moreover, your annual cash receipts from the sell-off policy would now be running 4% more than you would have received under the dividend scenario. Voila! – you would have both more cash to spend annually and more capital value.

Conditions

This calculation, of course, assumes that our hypothetical company can earn an average of 12% annually on net worth and that its shareholders can sell their shares for an average of 125% of book value. To that point, the S&P 500 earns considerably more than 12% on net worth and sells at a price far above 125% of that net worth. Both assumptions also seem reasonable for Berkshire, though certainly not assured.

Warren Buffett

Stanbic 728 x 90

[You May Like: How to invest in US stocks from Nigeria]

The Possibilities

Moreover, on the plus side, there also is a possibility that the assumptions will be exceeded. If they are, the argument for the sell-off policy becomes even stronger. Over Berkshire’s history – admittedly one that won’t come close to being repeated – the sell-off policy would have produced results for shareholders dramatically superior to the dividend policy.

Arguments

Aside from the favorable math, there are two further – and important – arguments for a sell-off policy. First, dividends impose a specific cash-out policy upon all shareholders. If, say, 40% of earnings is the policy, those who wish 30% or 50% will be thwarted. Our 600,000 shareholders cover the waterfront in their desires for cash. It is safe to say, however, that a great many of them – perhaps even most of them – are in a net-savings mode and logically should prefer no payment at all.

Shareholders and cash out

The sell-off alternative, on the other hand, lets each shareholder make his own choice between cash receipts and capital build-up. One shareholder can elect to cash out, say, 60% of annual earnings while other shareholders elect 20% or nothing at all.

Of course, a shareholder in our dividend-paying scenario could turn around and use his dividends to purchase more shares. But he would take a beating in doing so: He would both incur taxes and also pay a 25% premium to get his dividend reinvested. (Keep remembering, open-market purchases of the stock take place at 125% of book value.)

Another downside of dividend approach

The second disadvantage of the dividend approach is of equal importance: The tax consequences for all taxpaying shareholders are inferior – usually far inferior – to those under the sell-off program. Under the dividend program, all of the cash received by shareholders each year is taxed whereas the sell-off program results in tax on only the gain portion of the cash receipts.

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[Don’t Miss: 9 TIPS TO KNOW WHEN NOT TO INVEST]

Personal Illustration

Let me end this math exercise – and I can hear you cheering as I put away the dentist drill – by using my own case to illustrate how a shareholder’s regular disposals of shares can be accompanied by an increased investment in his or her business. For the last seven years, I have annually given away about 41⁄4% of my Berkshire shares.

Through this process, my original position of 712,497,000 B-equivalent shares (split-adjusted) has decreased to 528,525,623 shares. Clearly my ownership percentage of the company has significantly decreased.

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The Magic and How it Works

Yet my investment in the business has actually increased: The book value of my current interest in Berkshire considerably exceeds the book value attributable to my holdings of seven years ago. (The actual figures are $28.2 billion for 2005 and $40.2 billion for 2012.) In other words, I now have far more money working for me at Berkshire even though my ownership of the company has materially decreased.

It’s also true that my share of both Berkshire’s intrinsic business value and the company’s normal earning power is far greater than it was in 2005. Over time, I expect this accretion of value to continue – albeit in a decidedly irregular fashion – even as I now annually give away more than 41⁄2% of my shares (the increase having occurred because I’ve recently doubled my lifetime pledges to certain foundations).

[Bonus: How to transfer money abroad from Nigeria]

What do you think? Is this possible in Nigeria? Are our companies that reliable when it comes to consistent earnings growth? Which company comes to mind?

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Nairametrics is Nigeria's top business news and financial analysis website. We focus on providing resources that help small businesses and retail investors make better investing decisions. Nairametrics is updated daily by a team of professionals. Post updated as "Nairametrics" are published by our Editorial Board.

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        Debt Securities

        MTN invests N121 billion in fixed deposits, treasury bills, etc

        MTN Nigeria invested a whopping N121.5 billion in bonds, treasury bills and foreign currency deposits in 2020.

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        UACN appoints Toriola as new Director 
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        Nigeria’s largest telecommunications company, MTN Nigeria invested a whopping N121.5 billion in bonds, treasury bills and foreign currency deposits in 2020. This compares to just N9 billion in 2019 suggesting the GSM giant had challenges deploying the capital raised during the year.

        MTN raised N143.96 billion in several syndicated facilities during the year which was to be utilized for its network expansion plans. However, the Covid-19 induced lockdowns affected capex activities forcing most companies to freeze spending on anything that is capital intensive. Effective Interest Rates for most of the loans obtained by MTN range between 3.5% and N5.8% per annum.

        From the breakdown seen by Nairametrics, MTN invested N93 billion in naira denominated fixed deposits, equivalent of N19 billion in US dollar deposits and another N34.8 billion in treasury bills. The total amount invested earned MTN about N15.84 billion in income which it used to offset its finance cost of over N129 billion.

        Why it matters

        Interest rates for risk-free government securities fell drastically in 2020 as investment outlets dried up locally. This triggered a massive influx of money into the stock market helping it to close above 50%, one of the best performing in the world last year.

        • For companies like MTN with a significant cash hoard, treasury operations are a significant part of the activities of its finance department.
        • The investments in risk-free treasury bills despite the negative real return (when interest rate is adjusted for inflation) suggest corporates will rather fix their money in treasury bills than leave it idle in commercial banks.
        • It also suggests corporates like MTN are more favourably disposed to lending to the government despite Nigeria’s ballooning public debt and its attendant risk to its credit ratings.
        • Despite the investments, MTN still closed the year with about N275 billion cash in its balance sheet.

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        Debt Securities

        Emzor Pharmaceuticals accesses capital markets for the first time, lists N13.7bn Bond on NGX

        Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, has listed its N13.7bn 5-Years Series 1 Bond exclusively on NGX.

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        Emzor Syrup
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        Wholly-owned, indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturing group, Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited, has listed its N13.7 billion 5-Years Series 1 Bond exclusively on the Nigerian Stock Exchange Limited “NGX” Platform.

        Information contained in a statement published on the NGX website revealed that the N13.7Bn 5-Years Series 1 Senior Unsecured Fixed Rate Bond due by 2026, under the company’s N50 billion Debt Issuance Programme, is the first public instrument listed by the Nigerian pharmaceutical group.

        Why this matters

        In line with the objective of the NGX Group, Emzor capitalized on the robust size of the Nigerian Capital Market to bridge funding gaps and restructure its existing debt profile, through its N50 billion Debt Issuance Programme.

        Details of the transaction revealed that Emzor was able to access the domestic debt capital markets for the first time and raise 5 years of financing in local currency using a corporate bond, with the issuance of its N13.73 billion 5-Year 10% Series 1 Senior Unsecured Fixed Rate Bond.

        READ: This woman turned her little pharmacy shop into one of the biggest Pharmaceutical companies in Nigeria

        The proceeds from the bond initiated by Emzor Pharma Funding SPV Plc, a special purpose vehicle set up to finance Emzor’s funding requirements, will be used to finance the purchase of notes and other debt securities issued by Emzor, in accordance with the terms of the Master Notes Purchase Agreement (the “MNPA”).

        The N13.73 billion Series 1 Unsecured Bonds accorded with an ‘A-’ credit rating by Global Credit Rating Co., was undersubscribed by 8.47% as the intended capital was pegged at N15 billion.

        READ: Dangote Cement, MTN, Nigerian Breweries, 9 others raise N478.4 billion from commercial papers

        What you should know

        • Emzor Pharmaceutical Industries Limited is a renowned manufacturer of quality pharmaceutical products and medical consumables. The company has grown its product portfolio from a modest four products in 1987, to more than 120 different products in recent times.
        • The company has a wide range of products in the analgesic, anti-malaria, vitamin/haematinics/multivitamin supplement, anti-helmintic, antibiotics and therapeutic categories.

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