Sunday, March 11

Week 349 - Dividend Achievers with high Long-term Debt offset by a Strong Global Brand

Situation: Some highly indebted companies manage to pass through economic cycles with little difficulty, even though though they sometimes find it expensive to roll-over (refinance) their Long-Term Debt. This is a conundrum, given the impairment of their Balance Sheets (debt maturing in more than one year represents more than one third of their total assets). Think of having $200,000 left on your mortgage but your household assets (including equity in your home) are only worth $600,000. 

I try to avoid investing in such companies. When I do, I look for an excuse to sell. But there has to be a rational explanation for why these companies prosper, given the cost of servicing long-term debt. Two explanations come to mind: 
   1) These companies have a lower cost of capital, since so much of their capitalization is in the form of debt, where interest payments have not been taxed until recently. (The new tax law levies a 21% tax on interest payments that consume more than 30% of earnings.) 
   2) These companies have a strong Global Brand, which is an Intangible Asset that increases their acquisition value. That is, a strong Global Brand would increase the purchase price at least 5% above Tangible Book Value.
   3) These companies sell products that are remarkably “inelastic”, meaning that sales volumes are insensitive to price: “The price elasticity of supply measures how the amount of a good that a supplier wishes to supply changes in response to a change in price.[2] In a manner analogous to the price elasticity of demand, it captures the extent of horizontal movement along the supply curve relative to the extent of vertical movement [in price]. If the price elasticity of supply is zero the supply of a good supplied is ‘totally inelastic’ and the quantity supplied is fixed.” 

Mission: Analyze high-yielding Dividend Achievers (companies that have increased their dividend annually for at least the past 10 years). Select companies that have long-term Debt amounting to more than 33% of Total Assets, as shown in Column P of the Table. Reject companies that do not have a strong Global BrandAlso reject companies that do not have A ratings from S&P for both the bonds and common stocks that they have issued (see Columns T and U in the Table). Brand rankings are shown in Columns AB-AC of the Table. Examine a comparison group of companies in the Benchmark Section of the Table

Execution: see Table.

Bottom Line: The outperformance and low price volatility of these stocks, even during difficult market conditions (see Column D in the Table), cannot be explained by unique Tangible Assets such as strong Patent Protections or Tax Advantages. That leaves Brand Values (i.e., consumers prefer a brand they can trust) and Inelasticity (i.e., unit sales are not price sensitive) to account for the resiliency of their stock prices. That resiliency ultimately comes from pricing power. 

Risk Rating: 6 (where 10-Yr US Treasury Notes = 1, S&P 500 Index = 5, and gold bullion = 10)

Full Disclosure: I dollar-average into Coca-Cola (KO), and also own shares of IBM and McDonald’s (MCD).

"The 2 and 8 Club" (CR) 2017 Invest Tune All rights reserved.

Post questions and comments in the box below or send email to:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting our blog! Leave comments and feedback here: