Aurora Borealis LLC is an activist Hedge fund. They are trying to buy a large stake in the company and thereby force the management to reorganize the capital structure by raising the debt and using it to pay the dividends or buy back the shares. The effect of restructuring on various financial parameters will be discussed in the concluding parts.
Hedge Fund Strategy
The buyback of shares would increase the EPS for the firm as a natural consequence of reduction in number of shares outstanding. The increase in EPS will signal towards a positive market sentiment, which would result in increase in share price. Also, raising debt at lower cost of debt i.e. at good credit ratings lowers the WACC due effect of the tax shield and hence the value of the firm. Aurora Borealis LLC, like any other hedge fund, banks on instantaneous rise and fall in stock prices than the long term investment in growth and stability of the firm. The hedge fund plans to short the stock at the moment it rises to the optimal level due to strong signals the hedge fund is trying to pursue.
Effect of recapitalization on WACC
The current WACC of Wrigley is 10.9%. Since it is all equity firm the WACC is same as cost of equity. Raising $3billion debt for repurchase of stock or dividend would change the capital structure of the firm. The raised debt, because of the debt tax shield under good credit ratings, would reduce WACC and hence increase value of the firm. But in our case, the WACC after including the debt structure almost remains the same (10.9 to 10.91). The reason of this change is the increase in Beta due to re-levering at new debt level, which consequently brings the beta up to the same level at relevant debt ratios. Hence although re-levering shows no effect on value of the firm, the EPS rises and the stock price rises due to the repurchase. A possible explanation for this would be the decreasing financial stability of the firm and its ability to make profits in the future.
Effect of recapitalization on Financial Indicators
The effect of using the new debt to repurchase shares would result in reduction in number of outstanding shares by and decrease in book value by $3,222,250. We understand that the stockholders are mostly mature investors desiring gains from growth of the firm, instead of short-term yields from dividends. Wrigley’s share prices in the past have shown consistent growth against S&P500. The calculated price paid for stock repurchase is $62, which will be The EPS will increase to 1.97 from 1.61 due to decrease in number of outstanding shares. The debt interest coverage would decrease to 1.2, but this still keeps the company within acceptable industry standards from Standard & Poor's CreditStats. Moreover, other key financial ratios like Long-term debt/capital will still remain on high end of the credit spectrum (A to AA).
The dividend payout, in our view is an ongoing commitment, as once the dividend is paid, stockholders expects at least the same dividends in the future. The reduction in dividends in future may disappoint many of the stakeholders and the stock price may drop significantly after an announcement or in anticipation of any such announcements. A share repurchase is a temporary phenomenon and the company remains more flexible in terms of its financial decisions in the future.
Any adverse factors on like loss in sales due to economic recession or sudden rise in prices, may hit the bottom line of the company hard. If the company is levered at those times, the effective WACC would become much higher because of increased cost of equity due to re-levered WACC and cost of debt without the tax shield.
Valuation by DCF and APV
The value of the firm is $15.3b by APV valuation as compared to $13.6b by DCF analysis using the WACC after relevering. The difference in the analysis is because...