Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Losing Money At Zero Percent

One thing that can drive students crazy when first learning Finance is that sometimes things seem counterintuitive. For example, a recent article highlights that while a zero percent interest rate on car loans seems like a good deal, it can actually cost the uninformed buyer money. One specific example is the 2015 Jeep Cherokee SUV.  The vehicle lists for $27,153, but the buyer can take a $2,000 rebate or zero percent financing for 60 months. While many people would jump at the zero percent financing, the monthly payment under this option would be $452.55. If the buyer takes the rebate instead and finances the vehicle at 2 percent, the monthly payments would only be $440.88 per month. Although the article does not discuss a breakeven interest rate, we hope your time value of money skills allow you to calculate that the breakeven rate is 3.10 percent. So, if you can borrow at any rate below 3.10 percent for 60 months, the $2,000 rebate is preferable to zero percent financing!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Chinese Stock Market Rout

Any market can experience a bear market and the Shanghai Composite, the 144 China-based companies that have a primary listing on major U.S. stock markets, is no exception. The Shanghai Composite lost about 8.5 percent on Monday and is down about 27 percent since its June 12 peak. The result is a loss of about $40 billion in stock value! Another measure of Chinese stock performance, the CSI300, which comprises the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen, fell 8.8 percent Monday. As a result, the Chines government has said that it was ready to buy shares of stock to stabilize the market and stop the "systematic risk." Regulators also said that they would harshly punish anyone who was malicously shorting stocks.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Really Bad Financial Analysis

There are times when we get a headache from slapping our foreheads after reading really bad financial analysis, especially when done by a well-respected S&P 500 company like Boeing. But, after reading this recent article, it may be a headache that lasts for a while. As you can read, the article states that Boeing loses $23 million on each 787 it sells. And while we understand Microsoft loses money on every XBox One, it makes up for those losses on the sale of each video game. So, we were wondering how Boeing was making up the losses on the sale of each 787 until we read this:

"Commercial jetliner programs typically lose money in the early years of production until the heavy upfront investments in engineering and production are repaid. Boeing's accounting spreads those costs over a large block of planes the company expects to deliver."

In other words, Boeing is losing money only because they are spreading the initial cost of the project over the life of the project! Accounting for the initial cost of a project in this manner not only violates a basic tenet of capital budgeting, but gives a misleading profitability number to investors.

If You Don't Like It, Create Your Own

Russian authorities are upset that Standard & Poor's and Moody's, who cited falling oil prices, a recession, and international sanctions due to the conflict in the Ukraine, rated the country's debt as junk. With the mindset "We can do it ourselves and everyone will believe", Russia announced that is starting its own credit rating agency. We are sure that Russian sovereign debt will be AAA rated. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Apple's Cash Hoard Grows

Apple's cash balance, which has been enormous by any measure, topped $200 billion for the first time. Cash held internationally has reached 89 percent, or about $180 billion, of Apple's cash. Apple has been reluctant to repatriate the money back to the U.S. as it would be forced to pay the full 35 percent corporate tax rate on the repatriated money. In an effort to pay investors, Apple has issued $50 billion in debt in various currencies around the world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A $120 Million Bogey?

So what affects stock prices? In reality, pretty much everything, possibly even a bogey at the famed Road Hole at St. Andrews in Scotland. For the non-golfers, phenom Jordan Spieth made a bogey (one over par) on the 17th hole in the final round of The Open Championship on Monday, which virtually eliminated him from contention. Shortly after he made the bogey, stock in Under Armour, the company Spieth has a marketing deal with, fell from $89.47 to $88.79. While this is a relatively small dip, it reduced the market value of the company by $120 million. All in all, a pretty expensive round of golf.

Monday, July 20, 2015

An Overconfident Donald

One of the biases often discussed in behavioral finance is overconfidence, that is the belief your abilities are better than they are. Further, many people actually have overconfidence in individuals who tell everyone how good they are. Take Donald Trump. Although his wealth is estimated by Forbes at $4.1 billion, he recently stated that he was worth $10 billion as a self-made man (who started with his father’s millions.) And while his companies have filed bankruptcy four times, The Donald will tell you how good of an investor he is. Unfortunately, a recent article disputes this statement. If The Donald had taken his stated wealth of $500 million in 1982 and invested in the S&P 500, he would now have $20 billion, twice his stated worth. We hope you note a couple of important points. First, as we discuss in the textbook, the power of compounding greatly increases the value of a portfolio over time. Second, don’t always believe the hype of self-styled investment gurus.

International Corporate Ethics

It often seems that many people believe corporate ethics problems are limited to U.S. companies. Unfortunately, ethical problems are a worldwide problem. Toshiba, which is base in Japan, just announced that it had overstated profits by ¥151.8 billion ($1.22 billion) over the past several years. The CEO of Toshiba, Hisao Tanaka, and his predecessor Norio Sasaki, were both apparently aware of the accounting fraud. It is believed that both men, along with the board, will be replaced.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Venture Capital On The Rise

Aided by several "unicorns," including Uber and Airbnb, venture capital investment reached $35.9 billion in the first half of 2015, more than was invested during 2013. Although VC investment is growing, it is still well short of the record $85 billion in 2000. During the second quarter, there were 1,034 deals, a slight decline from the same period in 2014.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Spirit Grows To Grow

In its recent quarterly report, Spirit Airlines reported poor results. In a sharp criticism of company management, an analyst notes “growth for growth’s sake will not be rewarded in this environment.” Evidently, Spirit has yet to figure out that growth is only good if the new projects are positive NPV projects. In Spirit's case, the industry is experiencing weakening prices, yet Spirit continues to expand, with an announced capacity growth of more than 20 percent in 2016.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crowdfunding Greece

The Greek debt crisis reached a new level when Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras claimed that the international bailout deal was blackmail. However, one optimistic Londoner has decided that the Greek debt crisis can be resolved through crowdfunding. The Greek Bailout Fund, which was started on Indiegogo by Thom Feeney, is a an effort to raise the €1.6 billion necessary to repay the Greek national debt. As this is written, the campaign has raised about €1.2 million, or less than one percent of the necessary amount.

The Stock Market's Bad Breadth

While we aren't big believers in technical analysis, many of our students are interested in the the topic. So, another technical tool we don't mention in the textbook is market breadth. Breadth is measured by a ratio of stock that are at a 52-week high minus the numbers of stocks. (As with any ratio, the calculation can be different. In this case, another calculation is the number of highs divided by the number of lows.) The idea behind market breadth is that the stock market is stronger when more stocks are increasing in value. A market with bad (low) breadth can be an indication of a weak market. A recent article discusses this point further in that although the stock market is increasing, the market breadth is relatively low, a possible indication of market weakness.