Buybacks (part 2)

To follow a theme outlined a couple of weeks ago, my going forward intent in my random musings segments is to view some of the issues of the 2020 presidential campaign under discussion.  My investing rationale has always been that to be successful, one has to understand all possible outcomes which means digging through a lot of crap to discern viable opportunities. It would appear at this early stage that much like 2016, 2020 will have plenty of that to wade through.  As an added bonus, I don’t want to disappoint my newest audience demographic by suppressing my irreverence. As always, these are only observations awaiting an investing opportunity that may never present itself.

The Pitchfork Economics series on buybacks continued on February 26th with Sen. Cory Booker (one of the multitude of Democratic presidential contenders) as a guest discussing his new bill, Workers Dividend Act.  Evidence cited to support his cause is twofold.

  1. American Airlines (AAL) wage increase was roundly panned by analysts.   Booker states the analyst opinions were misguided – which is true. To parlay these opinions into supporting rationale against buybacks is equally misguided as these were partially collectively bargained.  (i.e., benefit to unionized employees which is a goal of the bill.)
  2. His use of Walmart (WMT) as the proverbial case of buyback greed ignores some aspects that are detrimental to his position.  Walmart offers its’ employees matching 401K plans, stock ownership plans with a 15% discount and HSAs, of which some – if not all – allow employees to share proportionately in the “wealth” gained through buybacks.  The choice resides with the employee as to participation.

In an attempt to frame rhetoric with reality, I chose my oldest 15 holdings to identify what happened over the past three years.

Company201820172016
Comcast3.05% decline1.83% decline 3.18% decline
WEC Energy 0.09% decline .09% incr. 16.21% incr.
Chevron0.46% incr.1.33% incr.0.11% decline
Kimberly-Cl.1.77% decline 1.6% decline 1.26% decline
Norf. Southrn3.48% decline 1.93% decline 2.76% decline
Clorox1.19% decline 0.11% decline 0.8% decline
Prosperity B.0.51% incr. 0.28% decline 0.53% decline
Sysco0.5% decline5% decline 3.26% decline
Owens & Minor0.0% change 0.16% decline 0.16% decline
Walt Disney1.51% decline 3.72% decline 4.1% decline
Home Depot2.81% decline 3.82% decline 4.68% decline
PepsiCo0.9% decline 0.96% decline 2.22% decline
Kimco Realty0.62% decline 1.03% incr.1.66% incr.
Towne Bank0.13% incr.0.08% incr.1.05% incr.

Data from MacroTrends

In this scenario (excluding increases denoted bold/italic), the buybacks – as a percentage of the stock outstanding – actually decreased during each of Trump’s years as president despite the tax plan (from 2.1%/1.94%/1.45%).  Companies increasing their share count did so generally to use as currency in lieu of debt. In Chevron’s case this was to fund capital expenditures. Most of the others were for acquisitions.  It’s only slightly ironic that a merger cutting jobs and increasing capital concentration (banking sector) would be viewed more favorably due to an expanding share count

This discussion topic has also been picked up by Mr Tako Escapes who elaborates more skillfully than I.  I don’t dispute two points here, 1) Companies tend to have poor judgement in the timing of these transactions (buy high) and 2) the dollar amounts being expended.  But a dose of reality has to exist as well, I mean – realistically how many capex dollars should be spent to further the worldwide glut of steel (as one example)?

At least this exercise has been interesting but to draw any real conclusions requires a larger sample size.  More questions will also arise such as, ‘Are buybacks more prevalent in the overall S&P universe moreso than the DGI slice?’ or ‘Is my portfolio a large enough sample to be reflective of the stats bandied about by the Democratic candidates?’.  As usual in this blog, more questions than answers. I intend to complete this exercise for all of my holdings during the year

Other concepts will likely hit the garbage heap prior to getting much traction including a wealth tax (constitutional issues) and Modern Monetary Policy (hyperinflation).  As an aside, these concerns, per David McWilliams piece entitled Quantitative easing was the father of millennial socialism as presented by Ben Carlson makes for an interesting case. It certainly appears that the 2020 election season is off to a rousing start. Bottom line, I suspect some candidates will use this issue as a cry to rally the base with minimal substance to follow – similar in many ways to “Build the Wall” of yesteryear.  A reflection of what little has been learned over the last two years. In my mind not an investable theory.  

As always, opinions are welcome!

Advertisements

Sep 2016 Update

Last month saw the commencement of the Congressional take on the ‘bully pulpit’ with first Heather Bresch (Mylan (MYL)/EpiPen) then John Stumpf (WFC) called on the carpet.  One would think Heather would have been smart enough to avoid taking the same path blazed so brilliantly by Martin Shkreli (Turing/Valeant (VRX) fame).  Her show was overshadowed by the even greedier Wells Fargo with John either portrayed as ‘asleep at the wheel’ or a criminal mastermind.  Wouldn’t life be interesting if Congress actually did anything other than use hearings to frame media sound bites?  The S&P was basically flat for the month ending down 0.12%.  My portfolio was basically flat as well, ending up 0.04%.  This increases my lead for the year to 11.88% with one quarter left to go.

Headlines impacting my portfolio:

  • 9/1 – CHD 2:1 stock split
  • 9/2 – Ireland to appeal EU anti-AAPL tax ruling
  • 9/6 – ENB to acquire SE
  • 9/12 – AGU/POT reach merger agreement
  • 9/19 – REITs officially become their own sector
  • 9/26 – YUM spin set at 1:1 YUMC for 10/31
  • 9/29 – Supreme Court agrees to hear credit card surcharge case
  •           – PNY/DUK merger approved, closing set for 10/3

Blog Updates:

I’m a little behind this month but the portfolio data has been compiled and will be posted in the next couple of days with the goals update later in the week.  The Unabridged portfolio should be next week as per normal.

Portfolio Updates:

  • FMBH replaced FCLF due to merger
  • Added to TOWN – this ‘makes whole’ this holding following my sale of MNRK prior to the merger.  (didn’t want to hold TOWN across two accounts)
  • Added to AROW prior to ex-div for the stock dividend (shares added Sept 29)
  • Added to SBUX

All were funded by dividends with no ‘new cash’ deployed.  New cash was deployed for the  annual funding of the trust I manage (skip generation).  The trust is excluded from my DGI portfolio and WFC is this year’s addition.  This is only the second time I’ve duplicated one of my holdings – the other being DIS.  The other trust holdings are GIS, HSY, PG, WMT, WGL, UNP, KHC and TXN.

Dividends:

  • September delivered an increase of 24.7% over September 2015.  This was due about evenly between dividend increases (Y/Y) and late 2015 funding.
  • September was up 4.4% from the prior quarter.
  • Announced dividend increases currently average 12.91% with 63.09% of my portfolio having at least one raise so far this year.
  • Through September, dividends received were equal to 95.7% of all 2015 dividends, keeping me on pace to exceed last year’s total -now estimated to be October 4th (as compared to 2015 being Sept. 9th).

With the cash from PNY/DUK, I’ll be looking to redeploy primarily into existing Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct payers within my portfolio with no new positions expected.  Losing PNY and the expected loss of LSBG (another merger) will leave about a 5.07% hole in my January dividend receipts unless I act now.

Spinoffs:

The YUM spin has been set for Oct 31st with YUMC to begin trading Nov 1st.  I don’t think the XRX spin date and ratio have been set.

 

 

Recent Buy, Sell & More

  • Sold: Monarch Financial
  • Bought: Source 1, Arrow Financial, Bank of South Carolina, Codorus Valley Bancorp
  • Cancelled  Chevron DRIP

Today I made the decision to sell Monarch Financial.  This was going to be pulled from my account – probably later this month – anyway, so I chose to accelerate the process for these reasons:

  1. Locked in a 22% total gain over the past year and half
  2. Since I also own the acquirer, I didn’t want the same stock in two accounts
  3. In the event the merger fails (doubtful), could buy in cheaply

Continue reading

And so it continues …

December is shaping up to be a pretty good month.  The news this morning was Monarch Financial merging into Towne Bank.  This is the second time I’ve owned both sides of the deal which is pretty cool.  Terms of the merger:

  • each share of Monarch gets .883 shares of Towne.

Based on yesterday’s close, the value is about 18.57 per Monarch share which is a 39% premium off of yesterday’s close.

I guess the only ‘complaint’ is that Monarch was one of those companies that paid an annual stock dividend and Towne doesn’t.  At least they paid this years’ stock dividend earlier this month!