One of the arguments made for the cause of the increase in Apple’s share price of late has been that dividends would attract more institutional investors and provide more liquidity to Apple’s shares. Can we test this argument?
We’re not dealing with speculation. The decision to start paying dividends was made three weeks ago. It makes sense to assume that this new information has been absorbed by the markets and market participants have adjusted their positions. Funds that were previously restricted in their investment in Apple due to its lack of dividend policy, could now go ahead.
However, as the following chart shows, the share price climbed continuously before and after the dividend declaration of March 19th (shown in red). Trading patterns did not show unusual highs or lows. In fact, after March 19th the trading volume decreased on a weekly basis.
The other indicator is institutional holdings.
On October 27th, Nintendo published half year results for the fiscal year ending in March 2012. Management stated that the company lost over $900 million with a negative outlook. Nintendo cited weaker than expected sales of Nintendo DS hardware and 3DS software and Yen appreciation as the main reasons for the miss. Is this the end of Nintendo?
Before we look more closely, here is a quick summary: The company is exclusively involved in selling game hardware and software. Their console platform is the Nintendo Wii, which will be followed by the Wii U late in 2012. The Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS are the company’s portable game consoles. The Wii and the DS are nearing the end of their product cycles. On the software side, the company is known for gaming titles such as Super Mario and Zelda. Nintendo also pioneered the licensing model to allow third-party developers to produce games for its hardware products.
A closer look
In his third “The Critical Path” podcast, Horace Dediu explained how Apple’s cash can be viewed as a strategic option, an opinion that resonated also with other analysts . Cash is one of the most flexible resources as it can convert quickly into other resources such as brands, companies, technologies, people and even processes. More cash means more strategic flexibility. The large cash reserve Apple has accumulated provides high flexibility for future investments. These characteristics of cash already imply an intrinsic option value. But how big is this value?
Calculating Option Value
To help us determine, I will apply the Black-Scholes model.
In his recent posts Horace took a look at Apple’s fixed assets and their development over the recent years. He also tested the hypotheses that Apple is making investments into machinery & equipment on which iOS devices are produced by overlaying iOS volumes with preceding changes in property, plant and equipment (PP&E).
The question that has arisen is: Are Apple’s investments in PP&E extraordinary?
To answer, I have compiled the capital expenditures (CapEx) for our previously established peer group .
But first we need to clarify what CapEx include and not include. CapEx includes investment into property, plants, equipment, office furniture, larger IT hardware and in some cases patents; CapEx do not include investment into long-term marketable securities or other long-term financial instruments, acquisitions or capitalized R&D. Furthermore, CapEx are gross values and are not net of any sold equipment . CapEx are largely depending on a company’s business model and strategy. For example if you are a manufacturer you need equipment to operate, if you are a software company or a retailer, your business will not be capital intensive.
As the second calendar quarter of 2011 is the latest quarter for which all companies have reported figures, we will take a look at last twelve months’ (LTM) figures from Q2/2011 backwards. The following stacked bar chart shows the combined CapEx of our peer group:
The combined capital expenditures of our peer group for the
On October 4th, Tim Cook will take the stage at Apple’s fall event. With Steve Jobs’ transition to head the Board of Directors of Apple and after serving as CEO for fourteen years, it is time to take a look at his reign.
Looking at his performance vs. peer companies from a capital market performance, I have composed the following two charts:
Market capitalization of selected peer companies by calendar quarter in USD million sorted by most recent market capitalization (1997-2011)
Market capitalization as share of combined market capitalization by calendar quarter sorted by most recent market capitalization (1997-2011)
CEO resignations often cause share prices to rise. Witness the effect of the latest CEO departure on Yahoo!. This typically happens because CEO replacements are not necessary when companies are successful. In times of crisis, the market sees management change as a hopeful sign. But Apple is doing well. So it was commonly believed that if Steve Jobs were to leave the helm at Apple the stock would fall. However, as the chart below shows, the stock price has since risen.
Apple’s share price rise of 3% even out-performed the Dow Jones index, and this phenomenon is not for the short term only. The Jobs resignation sent Apple puts to one-year lows.
So how do we reconcile this? How can such a valuable person be priced as a liability?
Apple’s valuation has been discussed several times on Asymco. Apple’s relative valuation in terms of P/E ratio has not improved since the recession despite an acceleration in financial performance. As Apple seems to be getting punished for growth, we have to also ask if it is the only one.
When looking at valuation from an institutional investor or financial analyst point of view, the most common methodologies are discounted cash flow (DCF) as well as comparable company multiples. Most often, a DCF valuation is performed and cross-checked with comparable multiples. The justification for using comparable companies is the exposure to the same market dynamics including, for instance, market growth and profitability. So to understand this perspective, let us focus on a peer group valuation by looking at the average P/E multiples for the calendar quarters 1/2005 to 1/2008.