Corporate Finance - Stock Dividends and Repurchases

Like cash dividends, stock dividends and stock splits also have effects on a company's stock price. Stock splits occur when a company perceives that its stock price may be too high. Companies tend to want to keep their stock price within an optimal trading range.

While stock prices will most likely rise after a split or dividend (remember price increases are caused by positive signals a company generates with respect to future earnings), if positive news does not follow, the company's stock price will generally fall back to its original level.

There is an argument that stock splits and stock dividends are unnecessary and do little more than create more stocks.

Stock Split
In a stock split, a company will divide each share of its existing stock into multiple shares to bring down the company's stock price.

Suppose Newco's stock reaches $60 per share. The company's management believes this is too high and that some investors may not invest in the company as a result of the initial price required to buy the stock. As such, the company decides to split the stock to make the entry point of the shares more accessible.

For simplicity, suppose Newco initiates a 2-for-1 stock split. For each share they own, all holders of Newco stock therefore receive two Newco shares priced at $30, and the company's shares outstanding double. Keep in mind that the company's overall equity value remains the same. Say there are 1 million shares outstanding and the company's initial equity value is $60 million ($60 per share x 1 million shares outstanding). The equity value after the split is still $60 million ($30 per share x 2 million shares outstanding).

To learn more about stock splits, read: Understanding Stock Splits

Stock Dividends
Stock dividends are similar to cash dividends; however, instead of cash, a company pays out stock. As a result, a company's shares outstanding will increase, and the company's stock price will decrease. For example, suppose Newco decides to issue a 10% stock dividend. Each current stockholder will thus have 10% more shares after the dividend is issued.

Stock Repurchase
A stock repurchase occurs when a company asks stockholders to tender their shares for repurchase by the company. This is an alternate way for a company to increase value for stockholders. First, a repurchase can be used to restructure the company's capital structure without increasing the company's debt load. Additionally, rather than a company changing its dividend policy, it can offer value to its stockholders through stock repurchases, keeping in mind that capital gains taxes are lower than taxes on dividends.

Advantages of a Stock Repurchase
  • Many companies initiate a share repurchase at a price level that management deems a good entry point. This point tends to be when the stock is estimated to be undervalued. If a company knows its business and relative stock price well, would it purchase its stock price at a high level? The answer is no, leading investors to believe the management perceives its stock price to be at a low level.
  • Unlike a cash dividend, a stock repurchase gives the decision to the investor. A stockholder can choose to tender his shares for repurchase, accept the payment and pay the taxes. With a cash dividend, a stockholder has no choice but to accept the dividend and pay the taxes.
  • At times, there may be a block of shares from one or more large shareholders that could come into the market, but the timing may be unknown. This problem may actually keep potential stockholders away since they may be worried about a flood of shares coming onto the market and lessening the stock's value. A stock repurchase can be quite useful in this situation.
Disadvantage of a Stock Repurchase
  • From the perspective of an investor, a cash dividend is dependable, usually quarterly. A stock repurchase, however, is not. For some investors, the dependability of the dividend may be more important. As such, investors may invest more heavily in a stock with a dependable dividend than in a stock with less dependable repurchases.
  • A company may be in a position where it ends up paying too much for the stock it repurchases. For example, say a company repurchases its shares for $30 per share on June 1. On June 10, a major hurricane damages the company's primary operations. The company's stock therefore drops down to $20. Thus, the $10-per-share difference is a lost opportunity to the company.
  • Overall, stockholders who offer their shares for repurchase may be at a disadvantage if they are not fully aware of all the details. As such, an investor may file a lawsuit with the company, which is seen as a risk.
Price Effect of a Stock Repurchase
A stock repurchase typically has the effect of increasing the price of a stock.

Example: Newco has 20,000 shares outstanding and a net income of $100,000. The current stock price is $40. What effect does a 5% stock repurchase have on the price per share of Newco's stock?

Answer: To keep it simple, price-per-earnings ratio (P/E) is the valuation metric used to value Newco's price per share.

Newco's current EPS = $100,000/20,000 = $5 per share
P/E ratio = $40/$5 = 8x

With a 2% stock repurchase, the following occurs:
Newco's shares outstanding are reduced to 19,000 shares (20,000 x (1-.05))
Newco's EPS = $100,000/19,000 = $5.26

Given that Newco's shares trade on 8 times earnings, Newco's new share price would be $42, an increase from the $40 per share before the repurchase.
Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Investment Analyst: Career Path and Qualifications

    Learn how to prepare for a career as an investment analyst, and read more about how many professionals in the field progress during their careers.
  2. Professionals

    CAIA Vs. CFA: How Are They Different?

    Find out how the CAIA and CFA designations differ, including which professionals should seek either title based on their career ambitions.
  3. Professionals

    Equity Investments: CFA Level II Tutorial

    Chapter 1: Equity Valuation: Its Applications and Processes Chapter 2: Return Concepts for Equity Valuation Chapter 3: Industry Analysis With Porter's 5 Forces
  4. Professionals

    What To Expect On The CFA Level III Exam

    The Chartered Financial Analyst Level III exam, which is only offered in June, is the last in the series of three tests that CFA candidates must pass.
  5. Professionals

    What To Expect On The CFA Level I Exam

    Becoming a chartered financial analyst requires the passing of three grueling exams covering an array of topics.
  6. Options & Futures

    The Alphabet Soup of Financial Certifications

    We decode the meaning of the many letters that can follow the names of financial professionals.
  7. Professionals

    How to Ace the CFA Level I Exam

    Prepare to ace the CFA Level 1 exam by studying systematically.
  8. Personal Finance

    How To Choose A Financial Advisor

    Many advisors display similar skillsets that can make distinguishing between them difficult. The following guidelines can help you better understand their qualifications and services.
  9. Investing

    Asset Manager Ethics: Investment Process and Actions

    Managers, in developing their investment process, need to determine some “general rules” that make it meaningful. We offer six.
  10. Professionals

    Career Advice: Financial Analyst Vs. Investment Banker

    Read an in-depth comparison about working as a Financial Analyst vs. working as an Investment Banker, two highly prestigious business careers.
  1. Personal Financial Advisor

    Professionals who help individuals manage their finances by providing ...
  2. CFA Institute

    Formerly known as the Association for Investment Management and ...
  3. Chartered Financial Analyst - CFA

    A professional designation given by the CFA Institute (formerly ...
  4. Security Analyst

    A financial professional who studies various industries and companies, ...
  1. What are the differences between a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Certified ...

    The differences between a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) are many, but comes down ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How do I become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)?

    According to the CFA Institute, a person who holds a CFA charter is not a chartered financial analyst. The CFA Institute ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What types of positions might a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) hold?

    The types of positions that a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) is likely to hold include any position that deals with large ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Who benefits the most from prepaid expenses?

    Prepaid expenses benefit both businesses and individuals. Prepaid expenses are the types of expenses that are bought or paid ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. If I am looking to get an Investment Banking job. What education do employers prefer? ...

    If you are looking specifically for an investment banking position, an MBA may be marginally preferable over the CFA. The ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can I still pass the CFA Level I if I do poorly in the ethics section?

    You may still pass the Chartered Financial Analysis (CFA) Level I even if you fare poorly in the ethics section, but don't ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  2. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  3. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  4. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  5. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
  6. Indemnity

    Indemnity is compensation for damages or loss. Indemnity in the legal sense may also refer to an exemption from liability ...
Trading Center