Skip meals, give up beer, burn calories.
That combination lowers my weight. The essentials. In fact, depending on the amount of meal-skipping and skipping-rope (well, riding bikes), I drop pounds in days.
What’s the equivalent for creating shareholder-value, public companies? We ought to know if we’re in the investor-relations profession (as I’ve been for 27 years). And investors, you’d do well to know, too.
I could give you a list as long as an election ballot of people on TV telling investors to “buy the stocks of great companies.”
Nvidia is a great company. Zscaler is a great company. Heck, Netflix is a great company that made $3.53/share last quarter and trades at 15 times earnings. It’s down 71% this year.
Occidental Petroleum is the best performer in the S&P 500 this year, up 92%. Over the four years ended Dec 31, 2021, OXY lost $10 billion. It paid so much for Anadarko that Carl Icahn fought a vicious battle to stop the deal.
You can’t just say “buy good companies.” You can’t just be a good company and expect shareholder-value to follow.
That would be true if 90% of the money were motivated to own only great companies. Energy stocks are up 38% this year – even after losing 18% last week. You don’t have to be great. You just have to be in Energy.
That’s asset-allocation behavior, trading behavior.
Do you know that OXY and ETSY have exactly the same amount of volume driven by Active Investment? About 9%. Etsy is profitable, too. But its short volume – percentage of trading from borrowed or manufactured stock – has been over 50% all year and at times over 70%.
And 52% of Etsy’s trading volume comes from machines that don’t own anything at day’s end. Well, there you go. Heavily short, heavily traded. Recipe for declines.
Occidental? About 44% of its trading volume ties to ETFs and derivatives. Just 47% is machines wanting to own nothing. Short Volume in OXY had been below 50% until last week, when it jumped to 60% right before price dropped from $70 to $55.
Small variances in market structure are reasons why one is down 65%, the other up 92%.
In sum, value in the stock market is about Supply and Demand, as it is in every market. And Supply and Demand are driven by MONEY. And 90% of the money is trading things, leveraging into things via derivatives, allocating according to models.
And it pays to be big. Occidental is among the 20 largest Energy sector stocks by market capitalization, Etsy is on the small side of a sector dominated by Amazon, Tesla, Home Depot, Alibaba, McDonald’s, Nike.
Callon Petroleum is a darned good company too, but where OXY is over $50 billion of market cap, CPE is under $3 billion, in the Russell 2000 instead of the Russell 1000 where all the money is. It’s down 7% this year.
How about Campbell Soup, Kellogg, General Mills? Similar companies in Consumer Staples. Which is biggest? GIS. Which stock is up most the last year? GIS.
So Occidental did it right. It got bigger.
If Kellogg splits into three companies, there will be three choices rather than one for asset-allocation models. In case you missed that news. Maybe that’s good for business. It’s bad for size, and size matters (I think increasing operating costs and decreasing synergies is stupid but the bankers don’t).
Mondelez? Big company. But it was bigger before shedding Kraft. It trades about where it did three years ago.
Lesson? Be the biggest thing in your industry that you can be. If you’re Energy, become one of the 20-25 largest.
If quitting beer didn’t cut my weight, why would I do it? I love CO beer. I want to do things that count, not things that go through the motions, form over substance.
Here are your essentials, public companies. If you want to be in front of as much money as possible, become the biggest in your business. You can tell your story till you’re blue in the face and it won’t matter if you’re $2 billion and the big dogs are $50 billion.
Another essential to shareholder value, public companies, stop reporting earnings during options expirations, because three times more economic value ties to derivatives paired with your stock than tie to your story.
Are we playing at being public, or taking it seriously? Stop drinking beer and expecting to lose weight. So to speak.
And Essential #3. Know your market structure. Investors, understand where the money is going (if you don’t know, use EDGE. It’ll show you. And it works.). Market Structure, not story, interprets enthusiasm and determines your value.
Do those things, and you’ll be a serious public company, just like it takes three things for me to seriously lose weight. And it’s not that hard.