Altria Group (MO) spun off Philp Morris (PM) in 2008 and the two have persued strikingly different asset alllocation strategies since. PM has bought back 23% of their shares since 2008 while MO only bought back 5%.

As a result, MO grew their EPS and Net Profit 61% and 52% respectively over the period. This contrasts to +33% and 0% for PM. Had PM invested the $28 billion that they used to buyback stock at a 5.8% return, their 2015 Net Profit would have been $2.3 billion higher or 34% of what they achieved.

Company | MO |
PM |

INDUSTRY | TOBACCO | TOBACCO |

MARKET CAP | LARGE CAP = $125 B | LARGE CAP = $157 B |

P/E | 23X | 24x |

YIELD | 1.2% | 4.0% |

2008-15 CASH FLOW – DIVIDENDS | $ 5.0 B | $ 28.3 B |

2008-15 STOCK BUYBACKS | -$ 4.5 B | -32.4 B |

2008-15 CHANGE IN SHARES O/S | -5 % | -23% |

GROWTH OF EPS 2008-2015 | +61% or +7.0% pa | +33% or +4.2% pa |

GROWTH IN NET PROFIT “ | +52% or +6.2% pa | 0% or 0.0% pa |

REQ’D AFTER TAX % TO = EPS GROWTH[1] | 5.3% | 5.8% |

2015 NET PROFIT WOULD HAVE BEEN | $278 M more or +3% | $2.3 B more or +34% |

CORREL’N PRICE vs ANN. % BUYBACK | -.79 | -.21 |

*It should be noted that both companies that both companies had a –ve correlation between the annual percentage of the stock that they bought and the price they paid. This is the exception to the rule.*

__Note on Executive Compensation__: PM’s average executive compensation over the last 5 years was 57% more than MO’s or $64.2 million vs$ 40.8[2].

**Cigna vs Aetna**

Cigna Corporation (CI) and Aetna (AET) also show a contrast in asset allocation. CI bought only 5% of their stock back whereas AET reduced their float by 23%. AET spent $10.3 billion vs $3.9 for CI. As a result, CI grew their Net Profit and EPS at nearly the same rate (+14.4% pa vs 13.3%). AET on the other hand grew their EPS at twice the rate of their Net Profit (10.1% pa vs 5.1%).

Company | CI |
AET |

INDUSTRY | MEDICAL SRVCS | MEDICAL SRVCS |

MARKET CAP | LARGE CAP = $33 B | LARGE CAP = $40 B |

P/E | 14X | 14x |

YIE | 0% | 0.9% |

2008-15 CASH FLOW – DIVIDENDS | $ 13.4 B | $ 18.6 B |

2008-15 STOCK BUYBACKS | -$ 3.9 B | -$10.3 B |

2008-15 CHANGE IN SHARES O/S | -5 % | -23% |

GROWTH OF EPS 2008-2015 | +153% or +14.2% pa | +96% or +10.1% pa |

GROWTH IN NET PROFIT “ | +139% or +13.3% pa | +41% or +5.1% pa |

REQ’D AFTER TAX % TO = EPS GROWTH[3] | 3.3% | 9.1% |

2015 NET PROFIT WOULD HAVE BEEN | $136 mil or 6% more | $1,046 mil or 38% more |

CORREL’N: PRICE vs ANN % BUYBACK | .63 | -.63 |

the negative correlation between the annual percentage amount that they bought and the price, the Required Rate to equalize the Net Profit growth to their EPS is quite high at 9.1%.

Had they had achieved that, they would have earned $1 billion more in 2015 than they did. If they had earned only a 6% return, for example, the increase in Net Profit would have been $624 million more or 23% above what they achieved.

__Note on Executive Compensation__: AET paid their executives an average of $42.2 over the last five years, which was 17% more than the $36 million that CI executives were paid.[4]

** Costco vs Target**

Costco (COST) spent $2.7 billion on stock buybacks from 2008-2015 but their shares outstanding increased by 1%. By contrast, Target (TGT) paid $11.4 billion to reduce their float by 20%. As a result, COST achieved almost identical growth in the EPS and Net Profit whereas TGT had a divergence of +7.3% vs +4.3% pa over the period.

Company | COST |
TGT |

INDUSTRY | RETAIL STORE | RETAIL STORE |

MARKET CAP | LARGE CAP = $68 B | LARGE CAP = $52 B |

P/E | 28X | 16x |

YIELD | 1.2% | 2.8% |

2008-15 CASH FLOW – DIVIDENDS | $ 16.3 B | $ 36.4 B |

2008-15 STOCK BUYBACKS | -$ 2.7 B | -$11.4 B |

2008-15 CHANGE IN SHARES O/S | +1 % | -20% |

GROWTH OF EPS 2008-2015 | +82% or +9.0% pa | +64% or +7.3% pa |

GROWTH IN NET PROFIT “ | +82% or +8.9% pa | +35% or +4.3% pa |

REQ’D AFTER TAX % TO = EPS GROWTH[5] | – | 5.0% |

2015 NET PROFIT WOULD HAVE BEEN | – | $658 mil or 22% more |

Had TGT invested the $11.4 billion instead and earned a return of 5.0%, they would have earned close to $700 million more in 2015, or 22% more than they did.

__Note on executive compensation__:

*Can you guess which of these two companies paid their executives more?*

Target paid their top executives 120% more than Costco did over 5 years! The average was $47 million compared to $22 million. In 2015 alone the comparison was $60 to $24 million![6]

* Hypothesis*: Executive compensation is positively correlated to the spread between the growth of Earnings per Share and the growth of Net Profit.

[1] The required rate of return applied to the buyback funds to grow the Net Profit at the same rate as the EPS.

[2] Morningstar

[3] The required rate of return applied to the buyback funds to grow the Net Profit at the same rate as the EPS.

[4] Morningstar

[5] The required rate of return applied to the buyback funds to grow the Net Profit at the same rate as the EPS.

[6] Morningstar