Emi Group Plc Case Study

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EMI Group plc

In early spring 2007, Martin Stewart as chief financial officer (CFO) for global music giant EMI, he’s knew most of the news that would break at the company’s April 18 earnings announcement. Annual underlying revenue for the company was down 16% to GBP 1.8 billion (British pounds). Earnings per share (EPS) have also dropped from 10.9 pence (p) in 2006 to -36.3p in FY2007. The performance reflected the global decline in music industry revenues, as well as the extraordinary cost of the restructuring program EMI was pursuing to realign its investment priorities and focus its resources to achieve the best returns in the future.

On an annual basis, EMI has consistently paid an 8p-per-share dividend to ordinary shareholders since 2002. EMI’s recent performance, Stewart questioned whether EMI should continue to maintain what would represent a combined GBP 63 million annual dividend payment. Stewart recognized that EMI faced considerable threat of takeover. It seemed that boosting EMI’s share price was imperative, if Emi wanted to maintain its independence.

The Dividend Decision

The board already declared an interim dividend of 2p per share in November 2006, whether to maintain the past payout level by recommending an additional 6p final EMI dividend be paid. Provided a forecast of the cash flows effects of maintaining the dividend based on market-based forecast of performance.

Dividends are payments made by an organization to its shareholders from earnings generated in current or previous periods. Shareholders earn income from two sources, the capital gain due to appreciation of share and dividend yield. Dividend yield is calculated by dividing the current dividend by the price of a share.


EMI, Warner Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group, collectively known as “the majors” dominated the music industry in the early 21st century and accounted for more than two-thirds of the world’s recorded music and publishing sales. Recorded music and music publishing were the two main revenue drivers for the music industry. Global music sales have been hit in recent years due to piracy and competition for consumer spending, despite the growing popularity of digital music.

The smallest major labels, EMI and Warner Music, are struggling most visibly. Warner Music's share price has fallen to $4.75, 72% lower than its IPO price in 2005, and it is weighed down by debt. EMI's new private-equity owner, Terra Firma, paid a high price for the business in August 2007. Now, having got rid of most of EMI's senior managers and revealed embarrassing details of their spending habits (£200,000 a year went on sundries euphemistically referred to in the music business as “fruit and flowers”), Terra Firma is due to produce a new strategy later this month. But many observers reckon the private-equity men are out of their depth.

The two biggest majors—Universal, which is owned by Vivendi, a French conglomerate, and Sony BMG, a joint venture between Sony and Bertelsmann, a German media firm—derive some protection from their parent companies. Universal is the strongest and is gaining market share. But people speculate that Bertelsmann may want to sell out to Sony next year.

Three vicious circles have now set in for the recorded-music firms. First, because sales of CDs are tumbling, big retailers such as Wal-Mart are cutting the amount of shelf-space they give to music, which in turn accelerates the decline. Richard Greenfield of Pali Research, an independent research firm, reckons that retail floor-space devoted to CDs in America will be cut by 30% or more in 2008. The pattern is likely to repeat itself elsewhere as sales fall.

The results from 2007 confirm what EMI's focus group showed: that the record industry's main product, the CD, which in 2006 accounted for over 80% of total global sales, is rapidly fading away. In America,...
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