Best of the Week
Most Popular
1.Are UK Savings Interest Rates Finally Starting to Rise? Best Cash ISA 2017 - Nadeem_Walayat
2.Inflation Tsunami - Supermarkets, Retail Sector Crisis 2017, EU Suicide and Burning Stocks - Nadeem_Walayat
3.Big Moves in the World Stock Markets - Big Bases - Rambus_Chartology
4.The Next Financial Implosion Is Not Going To Be About The Banks! - Gordon_T_Long
5.Why EU BrExit Single Market Access Hard line is European Union Committing Suicide - Nadeem_Walayat
6.Trump Ramps Up US Military Debt Spending In Preparations for China War - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Watch What Happens When Silver Price Hits $26...  - MoneyMetals
8.Stock Market Fake Risk, Fake Return? Market Crash? - 2nd Mar 17 - Axel_Merk
9.Global Inflation Surges, Central Banks Losing Control and Triggered the Wage Price Spiral? - Nadeem_Walayat
10.Why Gold Will Boom In 2017 - James Burgess
Last 7 days
Silver Mining Stock Fundamentals - 24th Mar 17
A Walk Down the Dark Road of Bad Government - 24th Mar 17
Is Stock Market Flash Crash Postponed Until Monday? - 24th Mar 17
Stock Market Bubble and Gold - 24th Mar 17
Maps Of Past Empires That Can Tell Us About The Future - 24th Mar 17
SNP Independent Scotland's Destiny With Economic Catastrophe, the English Subsidy - IndyRef2 - 24th Mar 17
Stock Market VIX Cycles Set To Explode March/April 2017 – Part II - 23rd Mar 17
Is Now a Good Time to Invest in the US Housing Market? - 23rd Mar 17
The Stock Market Is a Present-Day Version of Pavlov’s Dog - 23rd Mar 17
US Budget - There’s Almost Nothing Left To Cut - 23rd Mar 17
Stock Market Upward Reversal Or Just Quick Rebound Before Another Leg Down? - 23rd Mar 17
Trends to Look Out For as a Modern-day Landlord - 23rd Mar 17
Here’s Why Interstate Health Insurance Won’t Fix Obamacare / Trumpcare - 23rd Mar 17
China’s Biggest Limitations Determine the Future of East Asia - 23rd Mar 17
This is About So Much More Than Trump and Brexit - 23rd Mar 17
Trump Stock Market Rally Over? 20% Bear Drop By Mid Summer? - 22nd Mar 17
Trump Added $3 Trillion in Wealth to Stock Market Participants - 22nd Mar 17
What's Next for the US Dollar, Gold and Stocks? - 22nd Mar 17
MSM Bond Market Full Nonsense Mode as ‘Trump Trades’ Unwind on Schedule - 22nd Mar 17
Peak Gold – Biggest Gold Story Not Being Reported - 22nd Mar 17
Return of Sovereign France, Europe’s Changing Landscape - 22nd Mar 17
Trump Stocks Bull Market Rolling Over? You Were Warned! - 22nd Mar 17
Stock Market Charts That Scream “This Is It” - Here’s What to Do - 22nd Mar 17
Raising the Minimum Wage Is a Jobs Killing Move - 22nd Mar 17
Potential Bottoming Patterns in Gold and Silver Precious Metals Stocks Complex... - 22nd Mar 17
UK Stagflation, Soaring Inflation CPI 2.3%, RPI 3.2%, Real 4.4% - 21st Mar 17
The Demise of the Gold and Silver Bull Run is Greatly Exaggerated - 21st Mar 17
USD Decline Continues, Pull SPX Down as well? - 21st Mar 17
Trump Watershed Budget - 21st Mar 17
How do Client Acquisition Offers Affect Businesses? - 21st Mar 17
Physical Metals Demand Plus Manipulation Suits Will Break Paper Market - 20th Mar 17
Stock Market Uncertainty Following Interest Rate Increase - Will Uptrend Continue? - 20th Mar 17
Precious Metals : Who’s in Charge ? - 20th Mar 17
Stock Market Correction Continues - 20th Mar 17
Why The Status Quo Is Under Increasing Attack By 'Populist People Power' - 20th Mar 17
Why the SNP WILL Destroy Scotland, Exit UK Single Market for EU - IndyRef2 - 19th Mar 17
Crypto Craziness: Bitcoin Plunges on Fork Concerns, Steem Skyrockets and Dash Surges Above $100 - 19th Mar 17
What ‘Ice-Nine’ Means for Your Money - 19th Mar 17
Stock Market 4 Year Cycle - 18th Mar 17
The Only Article You Need to Read to Understand the Trump Phenomenon - 17th Mar 17
Janet Yellen Just Popped the Stock Market Bubble - 17th Mar 17
Financial Crisis, Steve Eisman: Smart, Lucky, Abrasive & Now One Of Them - 17th Mar 17
Gold Cup – Horse Racing’s Greatest Show, Gambling and ‘Going for Gold’ - 17th Mar 17
Trader Education Week - Free Event to Help You Learn to Spot Trading Opportunities - 17th Mar 17
$1.4 Trillion of SPX Notionals Due to Expire - 17th Mar 17
Preserving Order Amid Change in NAFTA, U.S. Sovereignty v. WTO - 17th Mar 17
3 Maps That Explain Why Syria Raqqa Battle Will Drag On - 17th Mar 17

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

Elliott Wave Trading

Corporations Making a Huge Mistake, Destroys More Value Than the Government Ever Could

Companies / Corporate News Nov 16, 2012 - 08:39 AM GMT

By: DailyWealth

Companies

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleDan Ferris A few weeks ago, I called Apple...

I spoke to an investor relations person about the company's massive cash hoard. She confirmed Apple has $121.3 billion in cash and securities on its balance sheet... Of that amount, a "substantial portion" of the company's cash is "indefinitely reinvested" in accounts outside the U.S.



Specifically, $82.6 billion of Apple's total cash position is held in foreign accounts.

The story is similar at other big-name blue chips... For years, companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Johnson & Johnson have kept a large portion of their cash offshore. This strategy allows them to pay lower taxes on their earnings.

It sounds like a good idea. But it's not. A preoccupation with tax rates is hurting shareholders. Let me explain...

At 35%, America has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.

This means companies are required, by law, to pay 35% of the income they make to the government. But corporations have found a legal workaround... Businesses that earn big profits in lower-tax countries leave that money overseas, so they pay lower corporate taxes.

Apple, for example, paid a lower effective tax rate in its latest fiscal year of 25% – well below the U.S. corporate rate of 35%.

I realize most shareholders would like the companies they invest in to pay the lowest possible tax rate... That's why many investors don't care much about their companies' massive offshore cash holdings. But they should...

Longtime DailyWealth readers know I'm an enthusiastic supporter of software giant Microsoft. I recognize it's one of the all-time-great creators of shareholder value... Microsoft has compounded shareholder wealth by an average of more than 25% per year since it went public. Few corporations can say the same.

So why is the stock of such a wonderful business trading at such a depressed market valuation?

Right now, the S&P 500 is trading around 16 times earnings. Microsoft trades around 11 times earnings. It should trade at a premium to the market, not a discount. What's going on?

According to the most recent data available, Microsoft has over $60 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments. More than 90% of it is sitting idly in accounts outside the U.S. Microsoft would have to pay $19.4 billion in taxes if it were to bring that cash home to the U.S.

You may think shareholders will end up better off if the company doesn't essentially light $19 billion on fire. But Microsoft shareholders should fear bad capital allocation much more than they fear the taxman.

The U.S. taxman won't destroy 100% of the dollars a company brings home. We can't say the same for companies themselves...

I recently spoke with one of Microsoft's investor relations representatives about the $8.5 billion purchase of Luxembourg-based Skype in October 2011. She offered the Skype deal as evidence Microsoft uses offshore money to create shareholder value. Microsoft paid more than three times what eBay paid for Skype not too long ago. Is Skype three times closer to making a net profit? I sure hope so...

That's not the only bad acquisition management has made. In 2007, Microsoft bought out digital marketing and service provider aQuantive. The acquisition cost $6 billion and was recently written down to zero. The money is gone.

Tell me... would you rather own 100% of aQuantive and Skype... or 65% of $14.5 billion? The aQuantive acquisition was essentially a 100% tax on the invested capital. The U.S. government, by contrast, charges just 35%. Who is the bigger threat to your money?

Most people view taxes as bad and corporate mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity as good. It's silly. It's like saying you'd rather lose your money gambling than have it stolen from you. It doesn't matter who ferried your cash away. It only matters that it's gone.

Piling up cash to avoid paying taxes is a denial of reality. Corporate managers deny reality when they pretend tax efficiency is a priority. And shareholders deny reality when they let management get away with it.

There's really only one solution to the problem: return the excess capital sitting idly on the balance sheet to the owners of the company. Investors are starved for safe, growing income now more than ever.

Microsoft generated over $29 billion of free cash flow last year. It paid out $6.4 billion in cash dividends. It could have paid out triple that amount. Microsoft has enough cash to raise its dividend by 50% immediately. If it instituted a policy of paying out 60% of its free cash flow, I wouldn't be surprised to see shares rise 40%.

My point is simple: Tax efficiency is NOT more important than smart capital allocation. Shareholders should revolt against companies that think it makes sense to play tax games with shareholder money. They should insist the money be brought to the U.S. for distribution to shareholders via dividends or share repurchases.

Good investing,

Dan Ferris
P.S. I recently wrote a letter to Microsoft's board of directors addressing this very issue. If you want to understand how these decisions affect you as a shareholder, it's a must-read. Access it here. And please feel free to forward it to anyone you think might benefit.

http://www.dailywealth.com

The DailyWealth Investment Philosophy: In a nutshell, my investment philosophy is this: Buy things of extraordinary value at a time when nobody else wants them. Then sell when people are willing to pay any price. You see, at DailyWealth, we believe most investors take way too much risk. Our mission is to show you how to avoid risky investments, and how to avoid what the average investor is doing. I believe that you can make a lot of money – and do it safely – by simply doing the opposite of what is most popular.

Customer Service: 1-888-261-2693 – Copyright 2011 Stansberry & Associates Investment Research. All Rights Reserved. Protected by copyright laws of the United States and international treaties. This e-letter may only be used pursuant to the subscription agreement and any reproduction, copying, or redistribution (electronic or otherwise, including on the world wide web), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research, LLC. 1217 Saint Paul Street, Baltimore MD 21202

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

Daily Wealth Archive

© 2005-2016 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

Catching a Falling Financial Knife