David Einhorn is suing Apple to make them give shareholders a separate vote over whether shareholders should have a vote over whether Apple can issue preferred stock. I guess that requires some unpacking. Let’s start at the end, with the preferred stock. Here is Einhorn’s plan:
For example, Apple could initially distribute to existing shareholders $50 billion of perpetual preferred stock, with a 4% annual cash dividend paid quarterly at preferential tax rates. … Assuming Apple retains its price to earnings multiple of 10x and the preferred stock yields 4%, our calculations show that every $50 billion of perpetual preferred stock that Apple distributes would unlock about $30 billion, or $32 per share in value. Greenlight believes that Apple has the capacity to ultimately distribute several hundred billion dollars of preferred, which would unlock hundreds of dollars of value per share. Further, Greenlight believes additional value may be realized when Apple’s price to earnings multiple expands, as the market appreciates a more shareholder friendly capital allocation policy.
What do you think? I vote yes. (I mean, I think it’s a good idea. The voting is more complicated.) My math is here and ties closely to Einhorn’s:
The math is super straightforward though it can and should boggle you conceptually if you think about it. Read more »
One reason that you’re in for seven lean years in the investment banking business is that bank capital requirements are going up due to Basel III, and “capital is expensive” in some loose sense, so banks will have less money to use to make loans and/or pay you. Some people think that this is mostly bull, because capital is not actually any more “expensive” than any other form of funding, though those people often actually don’t care that much about paying you so it may not be worth listening to them. In any case here is the abstract to an amusing new paper by Karlo Kauko of the Finnish central bank, because yes I make a point of being up to date on everything published by the Finnish central bank:
Bank managers often claim that equity is expensive relative to debt, which contradicts the Modigliani-Miller irrelevance theorem. … An opaque bank must signal its solvency by paying high and stable dividends in order to keep depositors tranquil. This signalling may require costly liquidations if the return on assets has been poor, but not paying the dividend might cause panic and trigger a run on the bank. The more equity has been issued, the more liquidations are needed during bad times to pay the expected dividend to each share.
Don’t worry if you don’t get that name dropping, it doesn’t matter. Also don’t worry too much about the paper itself, which is amusing but also sort of nuts.* The basic idea to come away with is that bank equity is where the bank puts all its hopes and dreams, and that, if banks are more or less reflections of hopes and dreams, the people who provide the real funding for the banks – repo counterparties and clearing banks and suchlike – are going to be inordinately influenced by reading equity tea leaves. Because what else are they going to read? Read more »