Friday, August 24, 2012

Do you fall for this common management trick?

We humans have evolved to possess absolutely first rate linguistic skills. Our math skills in comparison look significantly underdeveloped. So much so that most of us come across as useless in something as basic as fractions. An evidence of this is routinely found whenever we go out shopping during the discount season. Imagine being faced with the prospect of choosing between a 50% increase in quantity and 33% discount in price. Most of us could end up choosing the former even though the two offers are exactly the same. Or take the hypothetical example of choosing between a 33% extra free and a 33% drop in price. While on the surface they appear the same, a deeper look would reveal that the discount is a better proposition than the increase in quantity.

If you thought such tactics are adopted by retailers and shopkeepers alone, you are certainly wrong. For even the field of  stock investing is known to use this trick and rather generously at that. Take the practice of issuing bonus shares or implementing a stock split. You will routinely hear management talk about how the share price of the company is on the higher side and how doing a stock split will make it more affordable for small investors. Not only this, even stock bonuses are given under the garb of rewarding shareholders for their long term association with the firm.

To make matters worse, investors more often than not fall for this trick and even send the stock price of the company under consideration soaring. What they fail to take into account is the fact that although their number of shares may have gone up, the share price is reduced proportionately. This thus leaves their total investment the same as before. Besides, the management that focuses mostly on bonuses and stock splits rather than trying to improve the long term profitability of the company should always be viewed with suspicion. The management's efforts at all times should be directed at improving the fundamentals of the company. For if profitability improves, share prices will automatically follow. Trying to artificially improve the share price through frequent bonuses and stock splits is not the mark of a good management we believe. And investors should always steer clear of such companies.

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