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JacobFW

Intel Buying Back Stocks to Hide Declining Growth

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Posted · Original PosterOP
Quote

A review of Intel 10-k shows that the Company's operational performance is slipping.

EPS growth is being driven by cost reductions and stock buybacks.

Original Article on Seeking Alpha

 

Despite increased competition from AMD (whose stock price more than doubled this past year), Intel's stock price is trading at all time highs.  A review of their 10-K Annual Report shows that this growth is being fuelled by stock buybacks. 

Stock buybacks in and of themselves aren't unusual, as they are on of the ways in which companies return value to investors, the other being through dividends.  However, there are two things that stand out for Intel

  1. Intel's growth in key areas has either decreased or flattened out
  2. The amount of money for stock buybacks has increased over the past 3 years, from $3.6 billion in 2017, to $10.73 billion in 2018, and to $13.576 billion over 2019 

With almost no competition over the last 10 years, Intel has built up a nice little piggy bank being able to charge whatever the hell they want.  Now they're spending that in order to keep up appearances.  Hopefully they're also spending some of that on R&D.

 

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Your post gives reasons that contradict your title.  That makes your title seem like click bait.  Did you just click bait me?  Did you?!?


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Posted · Original PosterOP
Just now, nick name said:

Your post gives reasons that contradict your title.  That makes your title seem like click bait.  Did you just click bait me?  Did you?!?

No.  My explanation regarding buybacks was to let people know that a company buying back stock isn't in and of itself an indicator that they're facing really stiff competition or in financial trouble, but that what stands out about Intel is the stagnating/declining growth, and the dramatic increase in buybacks.

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Weird that is allowed. I guess you learn more everyday. I assumed Stock buyback is illegal or at least was illegal...Doesnt that create a fake pricing which in theory could collapse??? Dont wanna go off topic too much but that sounds silly to allow something like this , But I could be wrong...

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1 minute ago, JacobFW said:

No.  My explanation regarding buybacks was to let people know that a company buying back stock isn't in and of itself an indicator that they're facing really stiff competition or in financial trouble, but that what stands out about Intel is the stagnating/declining growth, and the dramatic increase in buybacks.

Well I haven't read anything about Intel's financials, but arguments could be made that it simply is a way for Intel to return value during their stagnation.  Like you mentioned.  Also, I'd imagine that fewer outstanding shares could give Intel the ability to self-manage more.  But I don't know anything about how their shares are structured.  


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4 minutes ago, GodSeph said:

Weird that is allowed. I guess you learn more everyday. I assumed Stock buyback is illegal or at least was illegal...Doesnt that create a fake pricing which in theory could collapse??? Dont wanna go off topic too much but that sounds silly to allow something like this , But I could be wrong...

Sometimes companies will buy back stock to go private again.  I believe Dell did it not too long ago.  

 

Edit:

In 2013 Dell went private and then in 2018 Dell went public again.  


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It's to help keep the stock price "Stable" so others with heavy investments in the stock won't be prone to leave by selling off their shares in turn.

When investors leave it's bad news and Intel from the sound of it is now having to buy time for getting things fixed and hoping time doesn't run out before the other stockholders do.

 

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This only works as long as you have spare cash in the bank. Once bought back, those shares disappear. Whoever holds outstanding shares, they are now owning a slightly bigger proportion of the company and thus can be worth more.

 

The question then is what else could Intel do with the money? Obviously if they are doing it, they have decided this is the best course of action for them. Some might say fix 10nm and give more cores, but that reminds me of the old joke question: If one woman takes 9 months to have a baby, how long does it take 9 women? Some things just don't go any faster no matter how much money you throw at it. They have acquired other companies to expand their product reach, but again there is only so much of that you can do before you get spread too thin.

 

9 minutes ago, nick name said:

Sometimes companies will buy back stock to go private again.  I believe Dell did it not too long ago.  

I think a management buyout is a bit different, in that people not the company buy the shares. If you buy enough to control the company (say, >50%, but there may be rules and things in the way) then you can opt to de-list it and buy out minority shareholders to get absolute control.


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The proper way to 'return value' to investors would be to just pay out more dividends. Against a declining share price would mean the yield going much higher. This is what proper investors are after. You might think it makes no difference to hold cash vs increasing dividends, but that is not the case for US company that already has a lot of cash that is just laying around and not generating revenue. (please at least look at the balance sheet before jumping to conclusions)

 

For a company this large and in this industry, management and direction is not going to be affected by reducing market float. This company is not going private (duh)

 

This share buyback activity is indeed to just prop up the share price.


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1 hour ago, porina said:

This only works as long as you have spare cash in the bank. Once bought back, those shares disappear. Whoever holds outstanding shares, they are now owning a slightly bigger proportion of the company and thus can be worth more.

 

The question then is what else could Intel do with the money? Obviously if they are doing it, they have decided this is the best course of action for them. Some might say fix 10nm and give more cores, but that reminds me of the old joke question: If one woman takes 9 months to have a baby, how long does it take 9 women? Some things just don't go any faster no matter how much money you throw at it. They have acquired other companies to expand their product reach, but again there is only so much of that you can do before you get spread too thin.

 

I think a management buyout is a bit different, in that people not the company buy the shares. If you buy enough to control the company (say, >50%, but there may be rules and things in the way) then you can opt to de-list it and buy out minority shareholders to get absolute control.

Could be a select few assuming more direct control is the thing here.

It's already been said they do have a nice stash of cash even now but anytime you start having to burn through it, you've got a problem and it will be noticed at some point - Undoubtedly has been by now anyway.

 

Mind you this is simple speculation on my part but I believe it's something that's damage-control related.

 

We've seen how bad decisions by those running a company can steer things into the ditch, AMD had that going on for awhile and who's to say without any real insider info that's the case here too ATM?

Or at least an after-effect of it with all this as an attempt to fix things.

 

Still, going back private is a big move - Esp when the company has been "As Is" for so long and was doing well before.

We possible may see another like Lisa Su appear in their camp and take the helm before much longer - It's going to take progress on what they are doing to fill the hole they're in or they may get buried in it themselves.

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24 minutes ago, porina said:

-snip-

 

I think a management buyout is a bit different, in that people not the company buy the shares. If you buy enough to control the company (say, >50%, but there may be rules and things in the way) then you can opt to de-list it and buy out minority shareholders to get absolute control.

What are you saying?  In the 2013 Dell instance the company bought back the shares.  


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5 minutes ago, nick name said:

What are you saying?  In the 2013 Dell instance the company bought back the shares.  

Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners (whoever they are) bought out Dell the company. Dell the company didn't buy Dell the company.

 

Quote

On Oct. 29, 2013, Dell announced the completion of its acquisition by Michael Dell, Dell's founder and CEO, and Silver Lake Partners, a leading global technology firm.

Source https://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/secure/acq-dell-silverlake

 


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3 minutes ago, porina said:

Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners (whoever they are) bought out Dell the company. Dell the company didn't buy Dell the company.

 

Source https://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/uscorp1/secure/acq-dell-silverlake

 

I see what you're saying.  Yeah, they had to get the money somewhere.  Going private doesn't mean they can't use somebody else's money.  As such they can privately control the company.


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1 hour ago, porina said:

This only works as long as you have spare cash in the bank. Once bought back, those shares disappear. Whoever holds outstanding shares, they are now owning a slightly bigger proportion of the company and thus can be worth more.

I don't think that's correct - the company itself would continue to hold those shares. Most companies buy back shares so that they can get a larger share of the controlling votes (often but not always as a precursor to taking the company private).

 

There would be literally no point to buy back shares if the share just disappeared and the company didn't get anything out of it.

 

EDIT:

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/05/retiredstock.asp

A company can buy back and then "retire" (cancel) the shares - but it doesn't have it. It can just hold onto them, and issue them back onto the stock market at a later date. Or it can issue them privately to employees, etc, in various forms.


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2 hours ago, GodSeph said:

Weird that is allowed. I guess you learn more everyday. I assumed Stock buyback is illegal or at least was illegal...Doesnt that create a fake pricing which in theory could collapse??? Dont wanna go off topic too much but that sounds silly to allow something like this , But I could be wrong...

Intel are allowed to buy/sell their own stocks... though no idea if this counts as "insider trading" Lol. :D

PS, as above, the number of shares available also affect things. I know of one company that split shares. So if you had 1, you got 3 or if you had 10, you got 30, but each was a 3rd the previous price. So I'm not sure you can just make new ones or remove old ones (you own a % of the company, so it magicing a new 10% out of thin air either gives it 110% or shrinks everyone else % without asking their permission!).

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4 minutes ago, dalekphalm said:

There would be literally no point to buy back shares if the share just disappeared and the company didn't get anything out of it.

I'm no expert in the area, but the value is for the shareholders, who essentially control the company.


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7 minutes ago, porina said:

I'm no expert in the area, but the value is for the shareholders, who essentially control the company.

indeed - but the company itself doesn't directly benefit from that.

 

Either way, do you know for sure if Intel is specifically retiring shares in this case?


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2 hours ago, GodSeph said:

Weird that is allowed. I guess you learn more everyday. I assumed Stock buyback is illegal or at least was illegal...Doesnt that create a fake pricing which in theory could collapse??? Dont wanna go off topic too much but that sounds silly to allow something like this , But I could be wrong...

Yes.  And it has happened.  Stock buyback can be a dangerous game if taken too far.  It’s not fake pricing per se.  when stock is bought back it’s still owned by the company.  If enough stock is bought back a company could theoretically find itself a private corporation.  Stock is a fractional ownership of a company.  All companies start fully private.  A company will release publicly traded stock the while amount of which is a fraction of its total ownership divided into pieces.  Google once released stock.  It released a tiny fraction of its value though.  If there are, say a million shares of google stock available, but only 5% of company value was ever released, if a person bought all one million shares they would still own only 5% of the company.  When a company buys back a share of the company it is still publicly traded, but there are now only 999,999 parts to that total. Fractionally less than 5%.


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1 hour ago, TechyBen said:

Intel are allowed to buy/sell their own stocks... though no idea if this counts as "insider trading" Lol. :D

PS, as above, the number of shares available also affect things. I know of one company that split shares. So if you had 1, you got 3 or if you had 10, you got 30, but each was a 3rd the previous price. So I'm not sure you can just make new ones or remove old ones (you own a % of the company, so it magicing a new 10% out of thin air either gives it 110% or shrinks everyone else % without asking their permission!).

I thought this was more a stock buyback which is usually when they purchase their own stocks to drive up the price as this hides any financial dips which could scare trading....Not sure though. 

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It is being done.  There are a number of reasons why it might be being done.  Hiding lack of growth is one though.  It’s a questionable tactic because it’s not sustainable and harms the ability of the company to respond to a strong threat.  It implies that intel either feels or wished people to think it feels that the threat posed by new AMD chips is temporary and does not require investment to respond to and merely covering a temporary dip with sore cash is all that is needed


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4 minutes ago, Bombastinator said:

It is being done.  There are a number of reasons why it might be being done.  Hiding lack of growth is one though.  It’s a questionable tactic because it’s not sustainable and harms the ability of the company to respond to a strong threat.  It implies that intel either feels or wished people to think it feels that the threat posed by new AMD chips is temporary and does not require investment to respond to and merely covering a temporary dip with sore cash is all that is needed

Who says Intel aren't investing? I'm not interested enough to dig through reports, but my guess is they're burning enough money on 10nm and beyond that they're at a point where throwing even more at it isn't in their best interest as diminishing returns kick in.

 

Share buyback is not unusual in the finance world, which often doesn't make sense to normal people outside of it. It really is as simple as you do it if you have a load of cash sitting around you don't have anything else to usefully use it on. It is a direct manipulation of the share price, but it is a legal one that is done in the open.


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5 hours ago, GodSeph said:

Weird that is allowed. I guess you learn more everyday. I assumed Stock buyback is illegal or at least was illegal...Doesnt that create a fake pricing which in theory could collapse??? Dont wanna go off topic too much but that sounds silly to allow something like this , But I could be wrong...

No, not illegal but it does potentially inflate the price as without the buyback you'd expect the value of the stock to decrease. 

 

From a finance perspective, a companies sole purpose is to maximise the value of its shareholders and chances are the CEO is remunerated in a similar manner, so buy backs are one way to achieve this.... But yes, the gravy train can run out and then the price might crash. That said, most savy investors will see past this.


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