Whiny Analysts Hate Google's Stock Split
Richard is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) recently announced a two for one stock split with a twist.
This is usual reaction to stock splits:
Retail investor: "Oh my God, I have twice as many shares! I'm rich!"
Pro investor: "Twice as many at half the price. You are aware of math, right?"
The truth is somewhere in between, because while in a perfectly rational world a split should make zero difference, brace yourself for this epiphany: human beings are not rational creatures.
Just blow your mind? If you're still with me, what actually takes place is a lot of novice investors say "My God, I couldn't afford to buy any shares at $200 but at $100, I guess I could buy a few." So high-rolling it, they go out and purchase twenty shares, adding a fractional amount of liquidity to the market, as well broadening the investor base who want the company to do well, and based on my theory of rationality (Nobel Prize 2012) they actually believe that in purchasing the company's products their investment will benefit. Attract enough new investors who behave accordingly, and this actually might have a positive effect on earnings, and thus stock price.
I was at the Wynn (NASDAQ: WYNN)Las Vegas a few years ago with some buddies who had invested in the casino, and they were down $700 each, and when I suggested it was time to go, they placed another bet and stated, "It's okay, at least our stock will go up."
Now, back to Google's "split with a twist." What they have done is divide the common shares with the new class being non-voting shares. I have heard analysts whining and moaning that their voting rights are being diluted, to which I reply merely two letters: BS.
You have exactly same voting rights as you used to, as everyone's shares are being split in half, thus you own the same percentage of votes you used to. (in relation to this class of voting shares)
In fact, long run, your voting rights will be higher than otherwise, as the new class of stock issued will be dilutive to earnings, but not votes, and will be used as currency for stock option compensation and any potential take overs/mergers. Companies issue new stock such for such purposes on a regular basis, normally with voting rights, and with the additional number of voting shares outstanding, this action is in fact dilutive to your voting power, but as Google's new class of shares have no voting rights, and this is the currency they'll using, your current percentage of votes should in fact stay steady rather than decrease over time.
Now, a fair argument is that the new shares we are getting have less value, because there are no voting rights attached, thus will sell at an immediate discount to the old class of shares with voting (albeit token) priveleges, and thus, shareholders are being robbed.
I understand that point of view, but in reality nothing has changed. When Google went public in 2004, they let everyone know that the founders had every intention of maintaining control over the company. These new shares are actually the third class of Google shares, as Class A shares, reserved for the founders, have a 10-1 voting power over the common shares currently being traded. Brin, Page, and Schmidt (the founders) own nearly 2/3rds of Google's voting power, so in reality, this new class of shares should make absolutely zero difference, as the these three act as an oligarchy.
What the founders are doing is making sure they maintain control over the company's destiny, so that some Gordon Gekko doesn't come in and meddle with what they've created.
Have they not done a wonderful job of building shareholder value? What, you want a Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) situation where the big new shareholders are waging a war with management, damaging the morale of the rank and file workers. Too many cooks in the kitchen.
Where was this outrage when Warren Buffet issued class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A(NYSE: BRK-B)) to help finance his purchase of Burlington Northern? Those shares have no real voting rights.
In the end, all these whiny analysts are just that. It's much to do about nothing, although it might be fair to claim the Google split serves as a precedent for other companies that most investors don't like to see, given the way some CEO's, think WorldCom/Enron, have run the corporations.
So go ahead investors, sell all your Google shares in protest. Flood the market with them like you did on Friday. Drive the price down and get as quickly as you can, because if falls far enough, yours truly will be adding to his position, and with the shares splitting and selling at "half-price" I'll be doing it high-roller style baby. Hey, I'm just acting rationally.
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I am long GOOG, and Berkshire Hathaway B Shares- BRKB. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Berkshire Hathaway, Google and Yahoo!. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google and Yahoo!. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.