Sniffing Out Shareholder-Friendliness

Shareholder-friendly managements…

…are the need of the hour.

What are the signs that we need to look out for, to know that a management is benevolent towards its co-owner?

Frugality in lifestyle and attitude is worth looking at.

What I’m trying to say is…

…that one hates to see a promoter living it up on company funds, at the cost of the company’s health.

Living it up is ok. Have the balance-sheet to justify it – first – please.

Are you debt-free? Quasi debt-free will do too.

Does your company ooze free cash-flow?

Are your employees well-paid and automatons for growth?

NPM double-digit?

RoE in the 20s?

Fine.

Live it up for all I care.

Take a high salary. Throw in a hefty commission.

God bless you.

I still want to co-own your company.

Any or most of these metrics not present & living it up on company money – well, nice knowing you, but no thanks.

We’re then looking for shareholder give-aways, you know,…

…dividends, bonuses, buybacks and stuff.

Again, the balance-sheet should show enough robustness to justify a giveaway.

If it doesn’t, it means that the management is trying to appease shareholders at the cost of the balance-sheet, and that’s an avoid in my book.

Look for simplicity in the annual report.

If one is getting lost in fancy words and hi-fi design, without being given the nitty-gritty at a glance, one is probably knocking on the wrong door.

Free cash-flow is a good thing. It allows for leverage to act upon opportunity and without incurring debt, among other things.

Look at deployment of net cash-flow generated from operating activities also. Deployment should be healthy. Shows growth.

Instead of looking for fad-stuff like synergy, let’s look to see if promoter action adds to the balance-sheet and makes it stronger.

These are just examples.

Sniff out shareholder-friendliness.

Put your own metrics together, to do so.

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Negating Promoter Greed

You like a stock. 

You’ve checked it out. 

Fundamentals are under control. 

You find the management reasonable.

They’re shareholder-friendly. 

They have high salaries though, specifically those connected to the promoter-group. 

Now, you need to answer some questions.

Are you ok with high salaries for the top staff?

What is your definition of high?

Are salaries performance-driven?

Do the company’s number justify what promoter-connected management is taking home?

Ok. 

You’ve answered these questions. 

You still want the stock, despite the fact that an answer to two could be an outlier. 

That’s fine. 

One won’t find perfection anywhere. 

If one finds it, the stock will probably already be overpriced. 

So, you’re ok with mild imperfection, as long as your basic needs are met. 

You decide to purchase the stock. 

Here’s how you can negate promoter greed. 

The fancy cars, the family dish outs, the pushed-in lunch bills, the first class travel, you get the drift. 

Who doesn’t do it, given the opportunity?

Your promoter is human, and will surround him- or herself with comforts, at the company’s expense. 

That is the norm. Get used to it. 

Here’s how you are not letting this affect you. 

You buy in a staggered fashion. 

You buy with margin of safety. 

Because you’re sure of fundamentals, you average down. 

Each time your holding average touches a new low, you’ve secured yourself against promoter greed just a tad more. 

Because of sound fundamentals, ultimately, the stock will start to rise. 

That’s the time your low holding average will show a stellar profit for you. 

Perhaps your holding average is better than that of the promoter.

If that is the case, rise in price has given you more profit than it has to the promoter. 

Therefore, while the promoter got to live in the lap of luxury at the cost of the company, you were busy raking in a better result owing to the price rise.

Successive margin of safety buying amounting to averaging down after convincing oneself of intact fundamentals has been the key for you. 

Use this key, but do so wisely, and safely. 

Remember, that averaging down only works well in the case of diligent, research-based long-term investing. Averaging down is a strict no-no for short-term traders, however. 

Wishing you happy and fruitful investing!

🙂