Impact Investing

Impact Investing

Anant Jain

In this article, Anant JAIN (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022) talks about Impact Investing.

Introduction

Impact investing is defined as the investment process made with the intention to generate positive social and environmental impact that can be measured, along with positive financial performance. The main point of impact investing is to utilize money and investment capital for positive social results.

Impact investing considers both the physical investments of firms (on the assets side of the balance sheet of firms) and their impact on the environment and society, and the financial investments of investors, debt or equity (on the liabilities/shareholders’ equity side of the balance sheet of firms) to finance the physical investments.

Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets. Emerging markets are riskier compared to developed markets. An impact investor can target a desired market according to his or her strategic goals and desired returns from the investments.

Two key elements are present in impact investments:

  • Intentionality: an investor’s intention should include some element of both social impact and financial return.
  • Measurement: while there is more availability on metrics for financial performance, an impact investor should also aim to measure the social impacts of the investment.

All investments make an impact on society, either positive or negative. Impact investors intentionally make investments that lead to measurable positive social impacts.

Parts of Impact Investments

Impact investments come in different forms of project size and risk level. Just like any other type of investment, impact investments provide investors with a wide range of possibilities when it comes to investment expected returns. The only differentiating factor with impact investment is that it does not only provide investors with positive financial returns but also has a social or environmental impact via the physical investments of firms that it finances.

The market for impact investment may vary and investors may choose to invest their money into emerging or developed markets/economies. Impact investments cover a huge number of industries including healthcare, education, energy mainly renewable energy and agriculture.

There are mainly two parts of impact investment: the choice of criteria and the use of these criteria for investing (selection of firms in the portfolio of investors).

Environmental, Social, & Governance (ESG) Criteria

ESG criteria refers to healthy practices undertaken by an investment. It helps us to analyze potential investment that may have a prominent impact on the environment/society. ESG criteria are integrated to enhance the traditional financial analysis of an investment by identifying potential risks and opportunities beyond purely financial valuations. Even though there is a parallel social conscience, the main objective of ESG evaluation remains financial performance.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)

Socially responsible investing (SRI) is a step up to ESG since it actively eliminates or selects investments according to specific ethical agendas. SRI uses ESG criteria (which facilitate valuation) to apply negative or positive screens on the investments. SRI uses ESG criteria to select potential impact investments.

Benefits of Impact Investing

The following points mentioned below are some of the benefits of impact investing:

Return on investment (ROI)

An impact investor can invest a fixed amount of money in a series of socially beneficial projects or organization. The returns on the investment would vary from below-market to market rate. However, in impact investing, even a simple return of principal amount used for investing creates philanthropic leverage that is unattainable through tradition investing methods.

Alignment with goals of financial investors

Firms have traditionally been focused on achieving profit maximization. This is also known as shareholder theory where the main goal of the firm is to maximize the shareholders’ returns. With impact investing, firms can utilize more assets to be leveraged for social or environmental goals. This is also known as stakeholder theory where the goal of the firm is to maximize shareholders’ profit without harming the environment or society.

Negation of onvestor’s conflict

When investors utilize their money for impact investing, they are aware that the investments are in line with ethical values. As a result, investors do not find themselves in situations of conflict with the management regarding the utilization of money for social or environmental benefits.

Examples of impact investing

The Gates Foundation

One of the most commonly known impact investment funds is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was launched with a total endowment of nearly $50 billion. The Foundation has a strategic investment fund with $2.5 billion under management, which is invested in ventures that align with the Foundation’s social goals.

Soros Economic Development Fund

Launched by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, the Soros Economic Development Fund is part of the Open Society Foundations. Out of the $18 billion contributed to the Open Society Foundations, the Soros Economic Development Fund uses $90 million to actively invest in impact ventures.

The Bottom Line

Socially and environmentally responsible practices tend to attract impact investors. It means that companies can gain financial benefits by committing to socially responsible practices. It is observed that impact investing is more attractive to younger generation, such as Millennials and Gen-Z, who want to give back to society.

Investors also tend to profit from impact investing. A 2020 survey by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) found that more than 88% of impact investors reported that their investments were meeting or surpassing their financial expectations.

By engaging in impact investing, individuals or organizations essentially state their support to the vision and the mission of the company working towards a certain social or environmental change. As we see a shift in the investor’s perspective to be more socially conscience, and to engage in impact investing, it will most likely result in more companies to become socially conscious.

Useful resources

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The article was written in July 2021 by Anant JAIN (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

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Operating Profit

Operating Profit

Bijal Gandhi
In this article, Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022) explains the concept of Operating profit.

This read will help you understand in detail the meaning, components and formula for calculating operating profit along with relevant examples.

Operating Profit

Operating profit refers to the profit obtained from business operations before the deduction of interest and taxes. Operating profit is a good representation of the company’s profits as all the core expenses are taken into consideration except interest and tax. It is synonymously used with “EBIT” (Earnings before interest and taxes) and “operating income”. Although, EBIT may sometimes include non-operating revenue.

Components and Formula

Operating profit is equal to:

Operating revenue – COGS – Operating expenses – Depreciation –Amortization

  • Gross profit: We know from the blog on revenue, gross profit equals revenue less COGS (cost of goods sold). Therefore, operating profit is often simplified as, Gross Profit – Operating expenses – Depreciation – Amortization.
  • Operating expenses refers to the expenses that a business undertakes during its normal operations such as rent, electricity, salary, etc. These expenses are generally divided into broad categories in the income statement to make it concise. For example, in the LVMH example below, the operating expenses are divided into three broad categories like marketing and sales, general and administrative and other such costs.
  • Depreciation refers to the value of the assets that have been used up every year. It is a method to allocate the cost of a physical asset over its useful life.
  • Amortization refers to the accounting method of spreading the cost of an intangible asset over its useful life.

Example: LVMH

Let us once take the example of LVMH. The French multinational company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was founded in 1987. The company headquartered in Paris specializes in luxury goods and stands at a valuation (market capitalization in June 2021) of $329 billion. It is a consortium of 75 brands controlled under around 60 subsidiaries. Here, you can find a snapshot of LVMH Income statement for three years: 2018, 2019 and 2020.
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The operating profit for the year 2020 is 7,972 million euros. This means that from a revenue of 44,651 million euros in 2020, the company is now left with 7,972 million euros after deducting all expenses except interest and tax.

Operating profit vs Net profit

Net profit refers to the amount that a company is left with after deducting all expenses including interest and tax. For example, in the snapshot above, net profit is 4,702 million euros as compared to the operating profit of 7,972 million euros. This means that the total interest and tax expenses amounted to 7,972 less 4,702 million euros. Net profit which is also referred to as “bottom line” gives us a picture of the overall performance of the company and its management.

Exclusions from operating profit

There are several exclusions from operating profit because operating profit is calculated with the purpose of understanding the performance of a company’s core business only.
The revenue from the sale of an asset is not part of the operating profit. Similarly, investment income, interest income and debt interest expenses are not part of the company’s core business and therefore excluded from the calculation of operating profit.

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Article written in July 2021 by Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

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Depreciation

Depreciation

Bijal Gandhi
In this article, Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022) explains briefly the meaning of Depreciation.
This reading will help you understand the concept of depreciation, its main components and types with examples.

What is depreciation?

Depreciation is the accounting technique of dividing the total cost of a physical asset over its useful life period. The amount allocated is the value of the asset used up in that particular financial year. Depreciation is used by companies to spread the cost of an asset over time. This method eliminates the cost burden in one particular year. If not for depreciation, the company’s profits would seriously be affected in the year of purchase.

Depreciation for long-term assets may also be practiced by companies for tax benefits in a particular year. The reduction in taxable income can be achieved through tax deduction for the cost of an asset. Note that there are standard rules regarding the accounting practices of depreciation and firms cannot do what they want.

Types of depreciable assets

The guidelines for the types of assets to be depreciated is set by Internal revenue service (IRS) in the U.S. The following criteria are to be met with,
• The asset should be owned by the company.
• The asset should be used in the business to generate income.
• The life of the asset is determinable and is more than a year.
The most common examples of depreciable assets include plant and machinery, equipment, furniture, computers, software, land and vehicles.

Components of a depreciation schedule

A depreciation schedule is a detailed document that comprises of the information pertaining to depreciation for each asset owned by the company. It generally includes the following,
• Description and purchase price of asset
• Date of purchase and expected useful life.
• Depreciation method and salvage value.

Depreciation types with examples

Depreciation can be carried in several ways. The company can use any one of the four depreciation methods highlighted by Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) guidelines. GAAP is the set of rules and guidelines that are to be adhered to by accountants. The four methods for depreciation include the following,

Straight-line depreciation

Straight-line is one of the simplest methods of depreciation. In this method, the value of the asset is split evenly over the useful life of the asset. The value of the asset is calculated by subtracting the salvage value (scrap value) from the original cost incurred to purchase the asset. For example, if an equipment is bought for 10,000 euros, with a useful life of 10 years and a salvage value of 1,000 euros, the depreciation is computed as follows:

Depreciation per year= (asset cost – salvage value) / useful life
= (10,000-1,000) / 10
= 900 euros per year.
Therefore, 900 euros will be written off each year for 10 years.

Declining balance depreciation

The declining balance method of depreciation is an accelerated version of the straight-line method. Instead of an equal amount of depreciation for each year of useful life, unequal amounts depending upon the use are written off. In this method, more of the assets value is depreciated in the initial years than afterwards. This method is practiced by businesses who wish to recover maximum value upfront. For example, the equipment bought for 10,000 euros with a useful life of 10 years and salvage value of 1,000 will be depreciated by 20% each year,

For first year, the depreciable amount will be (9,000*20%) = 1,800 euros
For second year, the depreciable amount will be ((9,000-1,800) *20%) = 1,440 euros and so on.

Sum-of-the-years’ digits depreciation

This method serves a similar purpose as the declining balance method. It allows to depreciate more in the initial years as compared to the later years. It is a bit more even in terms of distribution per year as compared to the declining balance method.

The formula is as follows,
 (Remaining life in years / SYD) x (asset cost – salvage value)
Where, SYD is the sum of the years of the asset’s useful life. SYD for an asset with a useful life of 4 years is equal to 11, which we get from (1 + 2 + 3 + 4).

Units of Production Depreciation

A simple way to depreciate would be to quantify an asset’s use every year. For example, an equipment can be depreciated in proportion to the units produced. This is exactly what the units of production method of depreciation works.

The formula is as follows,
Depreciation: (asset cost – salvage value) / units produced in useful life.
The number will vary each year, depending upon the use of the asset.

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Article written in May 2021 by Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

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Revenue

Revenue

Bijal Gandhi

In this article, Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022) delves deeper into the accounting concept of revenue.

This read will help you understand in detail the meaning, types and calculation of revenue  along with relevant examples.

What is revenue?

Revenue is referred to the money brought into a company from the sale of either goods, services, or both. Revenue is synonymous to sales and top line. This is because it first line on the income statement and it is a good indicator of a business’s performance. Revenue consists of two components, the price and the number of products/services sold. It is then calculated in the following manner:

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Gross revenue vs net revenue

Gross revenue is simply the income generated from a sale without consideration for any expenses that might have occurred. Net revenue is the income after subtracting all the cost of goods sold and other expenses related to running the business.

For example,
If Alpha sells 2,000 toy cars at $100 each, its gross revenue for the month would be $200,000. If the cost of producing each car was $25, their net revenue would be 2,000 x ($100 – $25) toy cars or $150,000.

Revenue example: LVMH

Let us once again take the example of LVMH. The French multinational company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was founded in 1987. The company headquartered in Paris specializes in luxury goods and stands at a valuation of $329 billion. It is a consortium of 75 brands controlled under around 60 subsidiaries. Here, you can find a snapshot of LVMH Income statement for three years: 2018, 2019 and 2020.

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Here, the revenue, also known as top line, is 44,651 million euros for the year 2020. The revenue is the sum of income generated from all divisions. In the snapshot below, the revenue is a consolidation of income generated by several brands that sell wines, spirits, fashion, leather goods, perfumes, etc.

Accrued vs deferred revenue

Accrued revenue refers to the revenue earned by a company for which the goods are delivered but the payment is yet to be received. In this type of accounting, the revenue is recorded irrespective of whether the cash is received or not.
Deferred revenue refers to the revenue for which the customer has already made the payment, but the company is yet to deliver the goods. Here, in accounting the company will record the cash payment but that the revenue is unearned, but it will not recognize the revenue on the income statement.

How do revenue & earnings differ?

Revenue refers to the income generated by a company before deducting expenses, while earnings refer to the profit earned by the company after deducting the expenses, interest, and taxes from revenue.
Earnings is synonymous to net income or the bottom line. Along with revenue, it is also a very important indicator of a company’s performance.

How do revenue & cash flows differ?

Cash flow refers to the total amount of cash that moves into or out of the company. While revenue is the indicator of a company’s overall effectiveness, the cash flow is an indicator of liquidity.

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Article written in May 2021 by Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

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Cost of goods sold

Cost of goods sold

Bijal Gandhi
In this article, Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022) explains Cost of goods sold.

This read will help you understand in detail the meaning and components of cost of goods sold along with relevant examples.

Introduction

Cost of goods sold (COGS) refers the sum of all costs directly related to the production of the goods. It is fundamentally very similar to cost of sales and hence synonymously used. Some examples of items that make up COGS include,

  • Cost of raw materials
  • Direct labor costs
  • Heat and electricity charges
  • Overheads

Components and Formula

The COGS is calculated using the following formula,

COGS = (Beginning Inventory + Purchases) – Ending Inventory

• Beginning Inventory is the total value of the inventory left over or not sold from the previous year.

• Cost of goods is the sum of all costs directly related to the production of the goods or the purchase value of the same (in case of retailer or distributor)

• Ending inventory is the total value of the remaining inventory that was not sold till the end of the financial year. This number is carried forward to next year.

Example: LVMH

Let us once again take the example of LVMH. The French multinational company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was founded in 1987. The company headquartered in Paris specializes in luxury goods and stands at a valuation of $329 billion. It is a consortium of 75 brands controlled under around 60 subsidiaries. Here, you can find a snapshot: 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Bijal Gandhi

In the income statement, COGS is placed just below revenue (Link to the blog) to easily compare the numbers and derive the gross margin. For example, in the snapshot of LVMH income statement below, the cost of sales for the year 2020 is 15,871 million euros for the revenue of 44,651 million euros resulting in a gross margin of 28,780 million euros.

Direct costs vs indirect costs

Direct cost refers to the costs that are directly associated with the production of goods and services. They are generally variable in nature as they fluctuate depending upon the production. Some examples of direct costs include, raw materials, direct labour, manufacturing supplies, fuel, power, wages, etc. Most importantly, direct costs are the ones that can be directly assigned to the product or service.
Indirect costs are those which cannot be assigned to one specific product or service. These costs are those that apply to more than one business activity. For example, rent, employee salary, utility and administrative expenses, overheads, etc. These costs may be fixed or variable in nature.

COGS vs operating costs

Operating costs are expenses that are not directly related to the production of goods or services. The operating expenses are a separate line item in the income statement, and they include indirect costs like salaries, marketing, rent, utilities, legal and admin costs, etc.
It is important to classify the costs correctly as either COGS or operating. This will help managers differentiate well between the two and effectively build a budget for the same.

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Article written in May 2021 by Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

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Why do governments issue debt?

Why do governments issue debt?

Rodolphe Chollat-Namy

In this article, Rodolphe Chollat-Namy (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2023) gives the reasons why governments issue debt.

In normal times, governments use debt (bills, notes and bonds) to cover expenses and finance investments that will create new wealth, which will make it possible to repay the debt. This is what companies do when they use credit to buy new machinery for example. It is also what public authorities do when they build schools, hospitals or roads that will increase the productive capacity of the country and improve the living conditions of its inhabitants. However, the interest for a state to go into debt could not be limited to this. What are the other reasons to go into debt?

 

Public debt allows the mobilization of private savings

The level of savings directly influences investment in the economy and, therefore, the level of consumption. However, there are many factors that can push savings away from their optimal level, i.e. the level that maximizes consumption. It is therefore necessary for a government to find solutions to adjust this level of savings. Recourse to debt is one of the solutions.

Indeed, recourse to debt is a means of mobilizing, in return for remuneration, the savings of individuals, and in particular those of households with sufficiently high incomes to save. Today, there are not enough borrowers who issue good quality assets. The proof is that interest rates are very low on public debt. Savers are competing with each other and accepting lower and lower yields for this type of savings medium. Thus, in a world of asset shortages, it is the state that will provide sufficient savings vehicles. The state is then faced with a dilemma: to provide adequate and safe savings vehicles and to increase taxes in order to pay the interest on new public debt.

 

Public debt helps limit fluctuations in production levels

As we have seen with the Covid-19 crisis, an economy can be confronted with one or more shocks that temporarily push the level of production away from its potential level. Such fluctuations represent a cost. Indeed, a higher volatility in the level of output translates into a lower growth rate. In addition, a temporary fall in output from its potential level can lead to the failure of long-term viable businesses.

Investments financed by debt can be used to limit the magnitude of changes in the level of output. Changes in government spending or tax obligations significantly affect the level of output. An increase in expenditure usually results in an increase in output. Thus, public debt is an effective way of stabilizing output. This is what happened during the 1980s and 1990s. Governments around the world used massive debt to support their economic activity. During the Covid-19 crisis, the “whatever it takes” approach saved many companies. However, it has also kept unprofitable companies on life support, which should have disappeared, due to a lack of hindsight.

 

Public debt is a redistribution within the present generations

Public debt is often presented as a burden to be borne by future generations. However, this statement is far from obvious. Indeed, it is very difficult to measure the extent of transfers between generations. Future generations will also benefit from part of the money borrowed today that will have been invested and distributed to households that will be able to save it and then pass it on to their children. Thus, it is difficult to assess the real burden of the debt for future generations.

What is more certain, however, is that the public debt is primarily a transfer within the households at the present time. The State borrows from an agent X to redistribute to an agent Y or to make an investment that will benefit an agent Z. Thus, from this point of view, the use of debt is a good tool for redistribution among households.

 

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Article written in July 2021 by Rodolphe Chollat-Namy (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2023).

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Earnings per share


Earnings per Share

Bijal Gandhi

In this article, Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022) explains the meaning and calculation of Earnings per Share.

This reading will help you understand the earnings per share in detail with relevant examples.

Introduction

The earnings per share (EPS) indicates the total amount of money that the company earns for each share of its total stock. A high EPS is a good indication as investors will be willing to pay more for each share owing to higher profits and vice versa. There are several methods to derive EPS.

Calculation of EPS

One direct way to calculate EPS is by simply dividing the net income by the number of common stocks that are outstanding for that period of the earnings. To understand the calculation for net income, refer to our blog on Income statement.

A refined way to calculate the EPS would be to adjust both the numerator and denominator. For the numerator, the net income should be adjusted for any dividends paid for preferred shares. For the denominator, a weighted average number of common shares should be taken since the number of outstanding shares tend to vary over time.

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EPS example

Here, we again take the example of LVMH. The French multinational company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was founded in 1987. The company headquartered in Paris specializes in luxury goods and stands at a valuation of $329 billion (market capitalization in June 2021). It is a consortium of 75 brands controlled under around 60 subsidies. Here, you can find a snapshot of LVMH Income statement for three years: 2018, 2019 and 2020. The last line highlights the basic and diluted EPS of the group for each of the three years.

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Net income for the group= 4702 millions
Average number of shares= 503,679,272
Basic EPS= 9.33 euros per year.

Basic EPS vs. Diluted EPS

Basic EPS eliminates the dilutive effect of warrants, stock options, convertible debentures, etc. These instruments will increase the total number of outstanding shares if exercised by the holders. For example, warrants when exercised will result in dilution of equity.

Diluted EPS considers all the potential sources of equity dilution and therefore it gives a clear picture of the actual earnings per share. In the above LVMH example, the diluted earnings are derived after adding the dilutive effect of stock option like described below,

Net income for the group= 4,702 millions
Average number of shares outstanding: 503,679,272
Dilutive effect of stock option and bonus share plans: 530,861
Average number of shares after dilution: 504,210,133
Diluted earnings per share: 9.32

How is EPS used?

EPS is one of the best indicators of a company’s profitability and performance. It is a helpful indicator to choose stocks as it is one of the sole metrics that isolates net income to find the earnings for shareholders. A growing or a consistent EPS means that the company creates value for the shareholders while a negative EPS might indicate losses, financial trouble or eroding investor value.
It also helps calculate the price to earnings (PE) ratio where the market price per share is divided by the EPS. This ratio helps understand how much the market is willing to pay for each euro of earnings.

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Article written in May 2021 by Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

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Income Statement

Income Statement

Bijal Gandhi

In this article, Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022) explains briefly the structure of an Income Statement.

This reading will help you understand the structure and the main components of the income statement.

Introduction

Income statement is a financial statement that reports the financial performance of an entity over a specified accounting period. The financial performance is measured by summarizing all income and expenses over a given period. Also known as ‘Profit and Loss’ Statement, the Income statement helps the company have a look at the profits for the year and helps it take financial decisions about costs and revenues. The Income statement is also the basis for the tax institution to compute the income tax that the company has to pay every year. The Income statement also allows shareholders to know the dividends that they can receive from the earnings.

Structure of an income statement

Bijal Gandhi

Main components of an income statement

The income statement may slightly vary sometimes depending upon the type of company and its expenses and income, but the general structure and lines may remain the same.

  • Revenue: Also known as top line, revenue or sales revenue refers to the value of the total quantity sold multiplied by the average price of goods or services sold.
  • Cost of goods sold: The cost of goods sold is the sum of all the direct costs associated with a product or service. For example, labor, materials, equipment, machinery, etc.
  • Gross Profit: Gross profit is derived after subtracting the cost of goods from sales/revenue.
  • Indirect Expenses: Indirect expenses include general, selling, and administrative expenses like marketing, advertisement, salary of employees, office, and stationery, rent, etc.
  • Operating Income: Gross profit less indirect expenses are equal to operating income. It is the firm’s profit before non-operating expenses and income, taxes and interest expenses are subtracted from revenues.
  •  Interest Expenses/Income: Interest expense/income is deducted/added from operating income to derive earnings before tax.
  • Tax: The taxes are deducted from pre-tax income to derive the net income. The taxes can be both current and future. The net income then flows to retained earnings on the balance sheet after deducting dividends.

Example: LVMH

The French multinational company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton was founded in 1987. The company headquartered in Paris specializes in luxury goods and stands at a valuation of $329 billion (market capitalization in June 2021). It is a consortium of 75 brands controlled under around 60. Here, you can find a snapshot of LVMH Income statement for three years: 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Bijal Gandhi

Most important components of an income statement include:

  • Total Revenue= Sum of Operating and Non-Operating Revenues for the accounting period. ($ 44,651)
  • COGS: Cost of goods Sold is the total cost of sales of the products actually sold. ($15,871)
  • Gross Margin = Net Sales – Total COGS ($28780)
  • Total Expenses = Sum of Operating and Non-Operating Expenses (Marketing and Selling Expenses + General and administrative expenses + Loss from joint Venture = ($ 16,792 + $ 3641 + $ 42= $ 20475)
  • EBT: Earning before taxes = Net Financial Income (Income – Expenses before Taxes). ( – $ 608)
  • Net Income = (Total Revenues and Gains) – (Total Expenses and Loses) = $ 4702

Income statement and Statement of cash flow

It is important to know that Income Statement does not convey the cash inflow and outflow for the year; The Cash Flow Statement is used for this. For example, credit sale is not recorded in the cash flow statement while cash sale is. Credit sale refers to sale for which the customer will make payment in the future while for cash sales the customer makes the payment at the time of purchase.

Conclusion

Income statement is the source to obtain valuable insights about factors responsible for company’s profitability.

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Article written in May 2021 by Bijal Gandhi (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

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Could the 2008 financial crisis been foreseen?

Could the 2008 financial crisis been foreseen?

img_SimTrade_Photo1_Raphael_Roero_de_Cortanze

In September 2008, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers broke the news and disclosed to the public what would become the biggest financial crisis since 1929. This crisis, fuelled by the speculation around ill-rated and poorly packaged mortgage securities, has been explained by some by the “black swan” theory.

Developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007), the black swan theory states that, similarly to black swans which were unthinkable for Europeans before they conquered Australia, exceptional financial events have a very low probability of occurring and are unpredictable from a statistics point of view. Nonetheless, is it fair to consider the 2008 as an unpredictable “black swan”?

According to the dominant economic theory, 2008 was a surprise

From the 1980’ to 2007, the “great moderation” period has reinforced in the dominant economic school of thought (the new classical economy) the idea of a stable long-term growth, uninterrupted by economics shocks and crisis. Indeed, from the 1980’, especially in the United States, all the indicators are green. The GDP is growing steadily, unemployment is low (under 4% for three years in a row under the Clinton presidency) and credit is accessible.

The “great moderation” is characterized by the reduction in the volatility of business cycle fluctuations in developed nations compared with the decades before. The flattening of business cycle fluctuations had been on the public debate since the 1967 and the famous conference led by Social Science Research Council Committee On Economic Stability called “Is the business cycle obsolete”.
During this period, Central banks became more independent, and governments began to widely use counter-cyclical policies in order to maintain growth in the long term with a balanced budget.

In “La Grande Crise: comment en sortir autrement”, James K. Galbraith describes this thirty-year period as a “great mirage”: everything was going well, so economists believed that everything was going well in the economy, and that everything would go well in the economy. Ben Bernanke, Governor of the Federal Reserve between 2005 and 2014, explained in 2015 that between the 1980’ and 2007, developed economics had returned to a stable economic pattern, thus that a shock could inevitably come from outside the economy. This framework of thought shared by most economists, politicians and central bankers at that time can explain why the 2008 crisis was not even foreseeable, as it is impossible to foresee an external shock.

Nonetheless, the analysis of certain parameters foreshadowed an upcoming financial crisis

During the early 2000s, Dean Baker studied the evolution of bubbles across history in order to understand when the future crisis would occur. He specifically studied the price-to-earnings ratio (stock price / net income) of stocks on the stock market. He explained that a bubble appears when the gap between price and earnings widens in a non-proportional way (i.e., the stock prices increase more quickly than the net income or earnings does). During the course of his analysis, Dean Baker has even estimated the size of the mortgage bubble. He valued the bubble at $8,000 billion, which is strangely equivalent to the total amount of wealth destroyed during the 2008 financial crisis…

Minsky in 1986 stated that financial crises are a moment of the financial cycle. He explained that during a period of stability (here the “great moderation”), speculators get bored and begin to take more and more risks, until they reach a Ponzi phase, and the economy collapses. According to Minsky, the international wave of financial deregulation and the recombination of investment and commercial banks during the 1980s have allowed the speculative game to become even more dangerous. According to this theory, the 2008 crisis was thus bound to happen, the only uncertainty has been the exact date of the collapse of the economy.

Financial crisis are not black swans: they are rather common

Modern history is paved with financial crises. In 1637 the “tulip mania” in Holland led to a dramatic increase and then collapse in the price of the tulip bulb. At the height of the tulip craze, in February 1637, promises to sell a bulb were negotiated for ten times the annual salary of a skilled craftsman. Some historians have called this crisis the “first speculative bubble” in history, as the sudden drop in prices is similar to a crash and the financial instruments used (futures sales, “options” contracts – purchase/sale at a fixed price in advance) make it a real financial crisis.

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Anonymous, The Sale of Tulip Onions, 17th century. Oil on wood

During the XIXth century, the crises of the modern era appear. They are usually overproduction industrial crises which spread internationally. In 1857 occurred the “1st international crisis of the industrial era”. A series of bank failures in the US spread to the financial spheres in Europe, and then to the real economy, impacting industrial production and generating wage decreases. In May 1873, an intense speculation around real-estate led to a financial crash which spread to the rest of developed world. It was followed by a depression, a thirty-year period of depression and growth deceleration, characterized by persistent underemployment.

The 20th century also had its share of financial crises: 1929, the 1970s, etc.

Furthermore, economic research on financial crisis mainly focuses a western-centric event. If developed countries have enjoyed a high degree of stability, despite regular financial crises, it is not the case for economies of less-developed countries, which experience numerous repeated financial crises.

Useful resources

Baker D. (2008), The housing bubble and the financial crisis, Center for Economic and Policy Research (issue #46)

Bernanke B. (2015) The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis.

Galbraith J. (2015) La Grande Crise : Comment en Sortir Autrement.

Taleb N. (2007) The Black Swan: The Power of the Unpredictable.

About the author

Article written in June 2021 by Raphaël ROERO DE CORTANZE (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

Posted in Actualités boursières, Contributeurs | Leave a comment

Stock split

Stock split

img_SimTrade_Photo1_Raphael_Roero_de_Cortanze

In this article, Raphaël ROERO DE CORTANZE (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2018-2022) introduces the specificities of stock splits.

Stock split

What a stock split?

A stock split is a decision by a company’s board of directors to increase the total number of shares by issuing more shares to current shareholders. The effect is to divide the existing shares into multiple new shares.
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For instance, a company with 1 million shares launches a 2-for-1 stock split. Post-stock split, the Number of Outstanding Shares (NOSH) will be 2 million, thus, the company has to issue 1 million new shares. Each existing shareholder will receive an additional issued share for each share he/she already has.
During a stock split, the market capitalization of the company remains the same. In effect, the company has simply issued new shares to existing shareholders, it has not sold those shares (it would have been the case during a capital increase for instance). As the market cap remained the same and the Number of Outstanding Shares doubled during this stock split, the adjusting variable is the stock price. In this case it is divided by 2.

Before the operation, the per share price amounted to:
Screenshot 2021-06-21 at 19.32.33
After the stock split, the per share price amounts to:
Screenshot 2021-06-21 at 19.32.45
In other words, a stock split does not add any real value, because the issued shares are not bought.

Why do companies split their stock?

Stock splits are far from being uncommon. Apple has undergone two stock splits in the last 10 years: the first in 2014 (7-for-1 stock split) and the second in 2020 (4-for-1 stock split, where the share price decreases from $460 to $115). In 2020, Tesla has also decided to go with a 5-for-1 stock split, which reduced the share price from $1,875 to $375. But why do companies resort to stock-splits?

Two main reasons can explain why companies go through splitting their stock:

  • Decrease the stock price: when to stock price is too high, it can be quite expensive to acquire “lots” of shares (lot in the sense of bundle). Splitting the stock reduces the prices, thus allowing more investors to buy the company’s stock.
  • Increase the stock liquidity on the market: a higher number of shares outstanding can result into a higher liquidity for the stock, which makes the stock more attractive for buyers and sellers. Indeed, it allows more flexibility, and provide buying and selling movements from having too much of an impact on the company’s stock price.

Many companies exceed later the price level at which they had previously split their stock, causing them to go through another stock split. For instance, Walmart has split its stock 9 times between 1975 and 1999.

Stock exchanges publish regularly a Stock Splits Calendar, which notifies the market when to expect a split and at what ratio.

Stock split signalling

As we have seen in our example above, a stock-split is supposed to not influence the stock price (besides dividing its price by the stock-split ratio). In reality, a stock-split usually sends a positive signal to the market, as stock-splitting announces higher liquidity and decreased prices. Stock splits also allow companies such as Apple or Tesla to prevent their stock from breaking through the ceiling and make the stock unaffordable.

Reverse stock-split

What is a reverse stock-split

As for a traditional stock split, a reverse stock split is a decision made by a company’s board of directors. Nonetheless, like its name indicates, a reverse stock-split is the opposite of a traditional stock split. The goal is to decrease the total number of shares.

Before the reverse stock split After the reverse stock split

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In this example, the reverse stock split ratio is 1-for-2 (i.e., 1 new share for 2 existing shares). From the 1 million shares of the company, 0.5 million are destroyed. The Number of Outstanding Shares post-reverse stock-split is thus 0.5 million. As for a traditional stock split, no real value is created or destroyed, the market capitalization remains the same. The adjusting variable is the stock price. In this case, the stock price is multiplied by 2.

Why do companies go through reverse stock-split?

The reverse stock-split procedure is usually used by companies which have a low share price and would like to increase it. Indeed, companies can be delisted from stock exchanges if their stock falls below a certain price per share.

In addition, a reverse stock split can be used to eliminate shareholders that hold fewer than a certain number of shares. For instance, in 2011, Citigroup launched a reverse 1-for-10 split in order to reduce its share volatility and discourage speculator trading.

Useful resources

CNN

Nasdaq

The Economic Times

About the author

Article written in June 2021 by Raphaël ROERO DE CORTANZE (ESSEC Business School, Master in Management, 2019-2022).

Posted in Aspects techniques, Contributeurs | Leave a comment