Last month we looked at recent news reports that Japanese electronics giant Matsushita Electric
The company's plan has three parts: a dividend increase, share buybacks, and the adoption of an "Enhancement of Shareholder Value" plan.
Let's start with dividends. In fiscal 2004, Matsushita paid out 14 yen per share, and increased that to 15 yen in the fiscal 2005 just ended. In the fiscal 2006 just beginning, Matsushita will increase its payout by 33% to 20 yen per share. In American money, that's $0.19, or a 1.3% yield at the company's current share price.
On buybacks, Matsushita has authorized the repurchase of up to 120 million shares of its stock and/or up to 150 billion yen. (For ease of reference, each American Depositary Receipt traded on the NYSE represents one share of common stock.) That puts the potential size of the repurchase at more than $1.4 billion, or 4.9% of all shares currently outstanding for this $33 billion goliath.
And now for the bad news. The company has gone ahead with its threatened adoption of an Enhancement of Shareholder Value plan, a poison pill designed to delay any would-be acquirer from obtaining a significant bloc of Matsushita shares. Even so, the plan is not as bad as it could have been. It first asks would-be acquirers to provide a packet of information about the acquiring company, then negotiate with Matsushita's board of directors, and wait up to 90 days before acquiring any targeted shares. After the waiting period elapses, however, the plan does not appear to envision the company diluting its shares or taking other actions to ward off the acquirer (although that could certainly change).
As the plan currently stands, only a would-be acquirer that attempts to purchase a bloc of shares without presenting the requested information and negotiating with the board would trigger defensive actions.
So while this Fool still doesn't completely buy the company line that this plan is for the shareholders' benefit, I do have to admit: It could have been worse.
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position, short or long, in Matsushita.