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Bcg value creation in a low growth economy file59590

  1. 1. Report The 2010 Value Creators ReportThreading the NeedleValue Creation in a Low-Growth Economy
  2. 2. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global manage-ment consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor onbusiness strategy. We partner with clients in all sectorsand regions to identify their highest-value opportunities,address their most critical challenges, and transform theirbusinesses. Our customized approach combines deepin­ ight into the dynamics of companies and markets with sclose collaboration at all levels of the client organization.This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable compet­itive advantage, build more capable organizations, andsecure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a privatecompany with 69 offices in 40 countries. For more infor-mation, please visit
  3. 3. Threading the NeedleValue Creation in a Low-Growth Economy The 2010 Value Creators Report Eric Olsen Frank Plaschke Daniel Stelter September 2010
  4. 4. The financial analyses in this report are based on public dataand forecasts that have not been verified by BCG and on assump-tions that are subject to uncertainty and change. The analysesare intended only for general comparisons across companiesand industries and should not be used to support any individualinvestment decision.© The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. 2010. All rights reserved.For information or permission to reprint, please contact BCG at:E-mail: bcg-info@bcg.comFax: +1 617 850 3901, attention BCG/PermissionsMail: BCG/Permissions The Boston Consulting Group, Inc. One Beacon Street Boston, MA 02108 USA
  5. 5. ContentsExecutive Summary 4The Coming Era of Low Growth 6Why Low Growth Is Likely 6Challenges—and Opportunities 8Value Creation in Low-Growth Environments 12The Declining Importance of Capital Gains 12The Growing Importance of Cash Payout 12The Growth Paradox 15A Fresh Look at Value Creation Strategy 19Value-Creating Growth 19Balanced Capital Deployment 22Scenario-Based Strategic Planning 24Ten Questions Every CEO Should Know How to Answer 27Appendix: The 2010 Value Creators Rankings 28Global Rankings 31Industry Rankings 33For Further Reading 47Note to the Reader 48Threading the Needle 3
  6. 6. Executive SummaryT hreading the Needle: Value Creation in a BCG believes that the world’s developed economies Low-Growth Economy is the twelfth annual are entering an extended period of below-average report in the Value Creators series published growth. by The Boston Consulting Group. Each year, we publish detailed empirical rankings of the ◊ Recessions that are preceded by financial crisis tend tostock-market performance of the world’s top value creators be followed by significant shortfalls in postrecessionand distill managerial lessons from their success. We also GDP, according to a recent report by the Internationalhighlight key trends in the global economy and world capital Monetary Fund (IMF)markets and describe how these trends are likely to shapefuture priorities for value creation. Finally, we share our lat- ◊ In recent decades, growth in U.S. GDP has been the en-est analytical tools and client experiences to help companies gine of the global economy; but the high indebtednessbetter manage value creation. of U.S. consumers makes it unlikely that the U.S. econ- omy will be able to continue to play that role—despiteThis year’s report addresses the challenges of delivering unprecedented stimulus spending by the U.S. govern-above-average shareholder returns in a global economy char- ment and the Federal Reserveacterized by below-average growth. ◊ Although developing economies such as Brazil, China,Although 2009 saw a strong rebound in equity values, and India continue to grow rapidly, they will not beglobal capital markets are still laboring under the able to pull the Western economies forward (indeed,shadow of the worldwide financial crisis that began these economies continue to depend on exports to fuelin 2008. their rapid growth)◊ Global market indexes were up roughly 30 percent in ◊ BCG estimates that the average annual GDP growth in 2009, but the weighted average annual total sharehold- developed economies from 2010 through 2015 will be er return (TSR) for this year’s Value Creators database, in the neighborhood of 2.4 percent, with some coun- which covers the five-year period from 2005 through tries experiencing growth rates as low as 1 percent or 2009, was 6.6 percent. This is still considerably below even less the long-term historical average of approximately 10 percent A low-growth economy has big implications for how companies create shareholder value.◊ Market volatility remains high; as of this writing, most equity indexes are flat for 2010 ◊ Lower revenue growth, growing pressure on margins as companies compete for fewer growth opportunities,◊ Despite real signs of economic recovery, macroeco- and declining valuation multiples (reflecting shifting nomic fundamentals in the developed economies re- investor expectations), will make capital gains a rela- main under significant pressure tively less important source of TSR4 The Boston Consulting Group
  7. 7. ◊ As multiples decline, the yield from payouts of free ◊ Next, we describe the distinctive dynamics of value cash flow will increase, making these direct payments creation in a low-growth environment to shareholders in the form of dividends or stock re- purchases a more important source of TSR ◊ We then suggest steps companies should take to re- think their approach to growth and capital deployment◊ This shift means that there will be opportunities for and to reset their value-creation strategy in response companies to achieve above-average shareholder re- to these new dynamics turns by emphasizing cash payout as the primary source of TSR ◊ We conclude with extensive rankings of the top value creators worldwide for the five-year period from 2005◊ The very best performers (those that make our annual through 2009 rankings of the top ten value creators by industry) will be companies that find ways to “thread the needle”— About the Authors that is, to combine increased cash payouts with above- Eric Olsen is a senior partner and managing director in average profitable growth in what is a much tougher the Chicago office of The Boston Consulting Group and and more competitive economic environment the firm’s global leader for value creation strategy; you may contact him by e-mail at Frank◊ One of the key challenges facing every company will Plaschke is a partner and managing director in BCG’s be how best to deploy its ongoing free cash flow—as Munich office and the firm’s European leader for value well as the substantial cash it has accumulated on its creation strategy; you may contact him by e-mail at balance sheet as a result of cost cutting during the Daniel Stelter is a senior part- downturn and subsequent recovery—in order to opti- ner and managing director in BCG’s Berlin office and the mize value creation over the long term global leader of the firm’s Corporate Development prac- tice; you may contact him by e-mail at stelter.daniel@This year’s Value Creators report addresses the spe- challenges and opportunities for value creationin a low-growth economy.◊ We begin by making the case that the world’s devel- oped economies face an extended period of below- average growthThreading the Needle 5
  8. 8. The Coming Era of Low GrowthA lthough 2009 saw a strong recovery in eq- such as Japan, as low as 1.8 percent. And although emerg- uity values, global capital markets are still ing markets in Asia and other parts of the developing laboring under the shadow of the world- world will grow much faster (8.5 percent, on average, in wide financial crisis that began in 2008. 2011), the growth rates in these economies will also slow Market volatility remains high; as of this down compared with their growth rates this year.writing, most equity indexes are flat for 2010. And de-spite real signs of economic recovery, macroeconomic There are at least four reasons for believing that thefundamentals in the developed economies remain un- world’s developed economies are likely to experience ader significant pressure—most recently from the sover- period of below-average growth.eign-debt crisis in European countries such as Greece,Portugal, and Spain. The Nature of the “Great Recession.” The downturn that began in late 2008 was a globally synchronized reces-We don’t know precisely how the recovery will play itself sion brought on by a worldwide financial crisis. Historyout. But we do feel confident about one prediction: the shows that recessions preceded by systemic financial up-developed world is entering an extended period of be- heaval tend to be far deeper and longer lasting than oth-low-average growth—with profound implications for how er recessions, and the subsequent recovery is slower. Incompanies create value. That’s why we have devoted this 2009, for instance, the IMF released a study analyzing theyear’s Value Creators report to the theme of value cre- medium-term implications of 88 historical financial crisesation in a low-growth economy. in developed, emerging, and developing countries. 2 It found that in the seven years after such a crisis, econo- mies tend to have a significant output gap (that is, a devi-Why Low Growth Is Likely ation of actual output from what one would expect by extrapolating from the precrisis growth trend) of, on aver-At first glance, this focus may seem misguided. After all, age, a negative 10 percent.economic growth in 2010 has been better than most ob-servers had anticipated. Just as we were writing this re- Earlier this year, BCG used empirical data from the IMFport, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced study to simulate GDP growth rates from 2010 throughthat it was raising its global growth forecast for 2010 to 2015.3 Our model suggests that while major developing4.6 percent—up from the 4.2 percent projection it had is- countries such as Brazil, China, and India will soon returnsued in April.1 1. See “I.M.F. Says Growth to Continue, but at Slower Pace,” TheAnd yet, the same IMF forecast estimates that growth will New York Times, July 8, 2010.slow in the second half of 2010 and will be lower (4.3 per- 2. See IMF, World Economic Outlook: Sustaining the Recovery, October 2009.cent) in 2011. What’s more, it points out that in the 3. See Collateral Damage, Part 8: Preparing for a Two-Speed World;world’s developed economies, growth rates in 2011 will Accelerating Out of the Great Recession, BCG White Paper, Januaryaverage only 2.4 percent—with the growth rate in some, 2010.6 The Boston Consulting Group
  9. 9. to a level of GDP growth that approaches their precrisis pace than those in the developed world, they remain toogrowth rates, the more developed economies may see sig- small and too focused on exports to pick up the slack.nificantly lower growth for a number of years. Specifical-ly, the simulation shows GDP growth rates of less than 2 Reduced Availability of Credit. Although the situationpercent per year for the United States, Europe, and Japan, has improved somewhat since the dark days of late 2008,leading to an overall output gap ranging from a negative the damaged global banking system is still leery about8.7 percent (France) to a negative 16.7 percent (United granting credit. Given that in recent years it has takenKingdom). (See Exhibit 1.) about five dollars of credit to sustain each dollar of GDP growth, less credit is also a serious constraint on growth.The Indebtedness of U.S. Consumers. In the twodecades preceding the downturn, median inflation-ad- The End of Government Stimulus. To be sure, the fastjusted U.S. hourly wages remained relatively flat. And reaction and unprecedented financial stimulus by theyet, the American consumer (whose spending accounts Obama administration and other governments hasfor 70 percent of U.S. GDP) continued to spend with the propped up growth rates and contributed to the econom-sort of abandon that only unconstrained credit can pro- ic recovery in 2010. But as of this writing, all signs indi-vide. That spending was a critical engine of global eco- cate that world governments are shifting from economicnomic growth. stimulus to deficit reduction.4 Once government stimulus winds down, can private demand sustain the recovery?Now, however, U.S. consumers are worried about jobs,reduced asset values from the bursting of property and For all these reasons, both executives and investors arestock bubbles, and the consequent threat to their retire- anticipating an economic environment characterized byment accounts. Their spending is unlikely to fuel a newwave of global growth. And although economies of the 4. See “Governments Move to Cut Spending, in 1930s Echo,” Thedeveloping world are growing at a significantly faster New York Times, June 29, 2010. Exhibit 1. Lower Growth Rates Could Lead to Significant Gaps in GDP Estimated decline in GDP growth, 2010–2015 Estimated gap in GDP China 7.7 9.5 Brazil 2.1 India 6.4 7.3 India –2.5 Brazil 3.1 3.3 China –4.3 United 1.1 2.6 France –8.7 States Eurozone 1.1 1.9 Eurozone –10.4 United 1.0 2.6 Germany –11.7 Kingdom France 1.0 1.8 United –12.8 States Germany 0.7 1.6 Italy –13.9 Italy 0.7 1.6 Japan –15.7 Japan 0.6 1.6 United –16.7 Kingdom 0 2 4 6 8 10 –20 –15 –10 –5 0 5 Average annual GDP growth (%) Output gap (%) Postcrisis Precrisis Sources: Economist Intelligence Unit; Bloomberg; IMF; OECD; BCG analysis. Note: The output gap is the estimated shortfall in total 2015 GDP owing to the financial crisis, based on regressions derived from an IMF analysis of 88 historical examples. The precrisis growth rate is calculated by a various-length ordinary least squares (OLS) regression spanning at least ten years before the financial crisis. The postcrisis growth rate is the amount of growth necessary to achieve postcrisis GDP, using the Solow growth model. Brazil shows a positive value (output surplus) because its growth rate was above its precrisis trend in 2008 and was relatively unaffected by the downturn.Threading the Needle 7
  10. 10. low growth. In March 2010, BCG surveyed 440 senior ex- have, first, suffered from the late-2008 market selloff and,ecutives in seven major world economies.5 When asked then, benefited from the 2009 rebound in equity values,what “shape” they thought the emerging recovery would valuation multiples will become more differentiated astake, fully half said that they expected the recovery to be investors reward those companies that combine above-“L-shaped”—that is, relatively slow and difficult. This re- average growth with clear competitive advantage, strongsponse is significantly higher than in March 2009, when margins, and appropriate capital deployment. How to en-only 17 percent of respondents to a similar survey were sure that a company benefits from the increasing differ-so pessimistic. entiation in valuation multiples and avoids becoming its victim?In April 2010, we surveyed 110 profession- A low-growthal investors and equity analysts in the Unit- economy poses major An irony of the current economic environ-ed States and Europe who cover econo- ment is that opportunities for growth aremies around the world and represent some challenges for value becoming constrained precisely at the mo-$1 trillion in assets under management.6 creation. ment when, due to widespread cost cut-Although respondents disagreed on pre- ting and cash accumulation in response tocisely when the recovery would be in full the recession, corporations have built upgear (in general, those covering Europe and other global an unprecedented amount of cash on their balancemarkets were more pessimistic than those covering the sheets. For example, the U.S. Federal Reserve reported inUnited States), they agreed that lower GDP growth would early June that U.S. companies, excluding financial ser-have an impact on corporate net income. The vast major- vices companies, held $1.84 trillion in cash, the highestity were convinced that growth in company net income in level as a percentage of assets since the 1960s.7 To bethe years to come would be below the long-term historical sure, the size of any company’s cash hoard has to be eval-average for developed markets of approximately 5 per- uated in terms of its level of debt and its potential needcent. A plurality (46 percent) estimated that annual net- to use that cash to pay down that debt in the future.8 Still,income growth rates in the next few years could be as low the question remains, how should companies best deployas 2 to 4 percent during the recovery. Another 40 percent this cash and their high levels of ongoing free cash flowwere slightly more optimistic, seeing net income growth to create value in the future?in the neighborhood of 4 to 6 percent. And only 9 percentexpected earnings growth to be 6 percent or higher. Finally, as a result of the turmoil over the past several years, governments are becoming more involved in the private sector, and many observers are questioning theChallenges—and Opportunities legitimacy of shareholder value as an appropriate model for corporate governance. How to balance the interestsWhatever the precise level of future growth, a low-growth and priorities of different stakeholders (investors includ-economy poses major challenges when it comes to value ed) in an environment in which the “economic pie” iscreation. Lower GDP growth will put pressure on corpo- likely to grow at a lower rate than in the recent past? (Seerate revenues and profits. For many companies, maintain- the sidebar “Why Shareholder Value Still Matters.”)ing historical levels of revenue growth will only come bywinning market share. Competitive intensity will in- But if an extended period of low growth presents chal-crease, and real winners (and losers) will emerge. How to lenges for public companies, it also presents a singulardeliver profitable growth that beats the average without opportunity. The stagflation of the 1970s, Japan’s “lostundermining other drivers of total shareholder return(TSR)—in particular, margins? 5. See Collateral Damage, Part 9: In the Eye of the Storm; Ignore Short- Term Indicators, Focus on the Long Haul, BCG White Paper, May 2010.After a 20-year period in which valuation multiples have 6. See “Investors’ Priorities in the Postdownturn Economy,” BCGbeen above the long-term historical average, lower growth article, July also likely to mean lower multiples as investors factor 7. See “US Companies Tap Cash Piles for Share Buy-Backs,” Finan-lower growth expectations into a company’s stock price. cial Times, June 17, 2010.(See Exhibit 2.) What’s more, after nearly all companies 8. See “Show Us the Money,” The Economist, July 1, 2010.8 The Boston Consulting Group
  11. 11. Exhibit 2. Valuation Multiples Remain Above the Historical Average P/E1 50 40 30 June 2010 P/E = 19.9 20 2 Median P/E = 17.5 10 0 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 Sources: Robert Shiller, Yale University; BCG analysis. 1 Cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios are based on a ten-year moving average of price index and earnings for S&P 500 composite. 2 From January 1970 through June 2010. Why Shareholder Value Still Matters Critics argue that managing for shareholder value con- ny delivers enduring economic returns above the cost of tributed to the global economic crisis by encouraging ex- any new capital it employs; and second, increase the re- ecutives to overemphasize the short term, oversimplify turns earned by its existing capital over time. There are their company’s actual performance, and overpay for dan- three basic ways to achieve these goals. The first is to grow gerous risk taking by corporate management.1 What’s healthy (that is, high-return) businesses. The second is to more, considering that in late 2008 many investments de- fix or shrink unhealthy businesses with returns that are clined in market value by half or more in the space of a below the cost of capital. And the third is to return cash to few short weeks, why should we still trust shareholder val- investors in the form of dividends or stock buybacks when ue as a relevant measure of corporate performance? a company has more cash on hand than it has opportuni- ties for profitable growth. To blame the concept of shareholder value management for such negative outcomes is to mistake remarkably From this perspective, managing for shareholder value poor—and in some cases, self-interested—corporate gov- has nothing to do with “managing earnings” to fool inves- ernance for defects of principle in the idea itself. There is tors into thinking that a company’s fundamental perfor- nothing in the theory or practice of shareholder value mance is better than it actually is. It doesn’t necessitate management that forces companies to maximize short- “borrowing from the future” to maximize today’s returns term returns at the expense of long-term sustainability or to reward owners at the expense of alienating customers, employees, or other stakeholders. 1. For some examples, see “Welch Condemns Share Price Focus,” Financial Times, March 12, 2009; N. Craig Smith and Luk Van Was- senhove, “How Business Schools Lost Their Way,” Bloomberg Busi- Understood correctly, the principles of managing for nessweek, January 11, 2010; and Roger Martin, “The Age of Customer shareholder value are simple: First, ensure that a compa- Capitalism,” Harvard Business Review, January–February 2010.Threading the Needle 9
  12. 12. Why Shareholder Value Still Matters (continued) or playing an “expectations game” with the goal of always beating quarterly estimates. Returns to P&G Investors Were Only About 7 Percent of Market Capitalization The tools of shareholder value enable managers to devel- op a granular view of where strategies, activities, and re- Breakdown of P&G’s 2009 stakeholder value sources add or subtract value. Cash-based metrics such as ($billion) Stakeholders who benefit cash flow return on investment, economic profit, and TSR Revenue 79.0 Revenue reflects value allow managers to compare performance across different delivered to customers businesses, identify and address wasteful or uncompeti- Cost of goods sold 38.9 Suppliers and manufacturing tive practices, quantify potential growth opportunities employees and tradeoffs, and measure performance outcomes Selling, general, and 24.0 Service providers and against expectations and against peers. Such metrics also administrative expenses administrative employees force companies to be disciplined about how they allocate Taxes 4.0 Governments capital and to evaluate potential investments carefully against the alternative of returning cash to investors. Interest expense 1.4 Bondholders Net income from 11.3 Shareholders Perhaps even more important, managing for long-term continuing operations1 shareholder value gets management teams thinking of Market capitalization ~150 the company’s owners as a resource to leverage rather than an audience to spin. Almost all companies have a Sources: Procter & Gamble 2009 annual report; BCG analysis. 1 Includes $560 million of other nonoperating income. core group of long-term owners who would like to see the business run in a way that drives fundamental perfor- mance over a three-, five-, or even ten-year period. These To illustrate this point, consider the breakdown of Procter owners are professional investors, and they embody so- & Gamble’s $79 billion in 2009 revenue (a result of de- phisticated views of the company, its businesses, and its livering value to customers) as it flows to various stake- changing competitive landscape. They represent a valu- holders of the company. (See the exhibit above.) Its able feedback loop for senior management about the ob- almost $39 billion in cost of goods sold represents value jective prospects of the company’s strategies and its pri- to suppliers and to the employees who make its products. orities. Its $24 billion in selling, general, and administrative ex- penses represents value to marketing and admin- Finally, managing for shareholder value is one of the best istrative employees in the form of salaries and benefits. ways for a public company to continue to serve not only its Its $4 billion in taxes is value flowing to governments. And investors but also its other stakeholders. When a compa- its more than $1 billion in interest expense represents ny delivers consistent and sustainable improvements in value to bondholders. Only after all these bills are paid shareholder value, it lays the foundation not only for its does P&G have a net income of approximately $11 bil- own long-term survival but also for long-term returns to lion—the economic value created for shareholders— all stakeholders: to customers in the form of new innova- which represents a relatively low 7 percent return on the tions and ever-greater customer value, to employees in company’s market capitalization of roughly $150 billion. the form of rising wages and salaries, to governments in Unless P&G can find some way to grow its revenues at a the form of taxes, and to communities in the form of sta- profit in the future, not only the company’s investors but ble jobs. Indeed, the more effectively a company monitors also all its other stakeholders are likely to suffer. and adapts its strategy to deliver long-term shareholder value, the more likely it is to avoid crisis situations that re- quire radical restructuring, massive employee layoffs, or government bailouts.10 The Boston Consulting Group
  13. 13. decade,” and even the Great Depression all offer exam- quarterly earnings growth rates. In short, they are givingples of companies that prospered in tough economic companies permission to focus on long-term competitive-times.9 The big winners didn’t succeed by playing it ness and sustainable value creation—more so than in asafe—that is, paying down debt, driving down costs to long time.preserve the bottom line, conserving cash, and simplywaiting for conditions to get better. Rather, they took ad- No one knows how long this shift will last. But investorsvantage of their competitors’ paralysis to create new have reset their focus and strategies to achieve superiorsources of competitive advantage that endured for a TSR. Managements need to do the same. The first step islong time. understanding the distinctive dynamics of value creation in a low-growth environment.What’s more, the belief that the downturn is ushering ina period of below-average growth is creating a fundamen-tal shift in investor expectations.10 For the first time in along time, investors are focusing on longer-term funda- 9. See David Rhodes and Daniel Stelter, Accelerating Out of the Greatmentals. Instead of riding marketwide trends, they are as- Recession: How to Win in a Slow-Growth Economy, McGraw-Hill, 2010.sessing the quality and sustainability of individual com- 10. See Collateral Damage: Function Focus; Valuation Advantage—How Investors Want Companies to Respond to the Downturn, BCG Whitepany stocks. They care more about a company’s business Paper, April 2009; and “Investors’ Priorities in the Postdownturnstrategy and management track record and less about Economy,” BCG article, July 2010.Threading the Needle 11
  14. 14. Value Creation in Low-Growth EnvironmentsW hat characterizes value creation in pressure on margins owing to increased competition. low-growth environments? Two What’s more, as a company’s growth in net income de- broad trends and a paradox. Their clines, the overall level of its valuation multiple will likely implications for an individual com- drop as well, as investors factor that decline into the com- pany will, of course, depend on its pany’s stock price. To be sure, earnings are currently re-particular situation. But understanding the underlying bounding from their depth-of-recession lows and corpo-dynamics of value creation in a low-growth economy is rate profitability is at an all-time high, but that won’t stopa necessary first step. valuation multiples from declining as a reflection of the low-growth future outlook.The Declining Importance of Capital All these changes will cut significantly into a company’sGains ability to deliver capital gains, making this source of TSR relatively less important in the future than in the past. AtAs regular readers of the Value Creators reports know, first glance, this might seem to imply that overall TSR willBCG has a model for quantifying the relative contribution be lower as well. For example, when we asked the respon-of the various sources of TSR. (See Exhibit 3.) The model dents to our investor survey what they thought the marketuses the combination of revenue (that is sales) growth and average TSR would be in the years to come, 89 percentchange in margins as an indicator of a company’s im- said that it would be below the long-term historical aver-provement in fundamental value. It then uses the change age of roughly 10 percent, with the median estimate at 8.8in the company’s valuation multiple to determine the im- percent. This logic is true as far as it goes; however, it ne-pact of investor expectations on TSR.11 Together, these glects the inherently dynamic nature of TSR.two factors determine the change in a company’s marketcapitalization. Finally, the model also tracks the distribu-tion of free cash flow to investors and debt holders in the The Growing Importance of Cash Payoutform of dividends, share repurchases, or payments ondebt in order to determine the contribution of free-cash- Investors set stock prices in order to earn a required rateflow payouts to a company’s TSR. Using this model, exec- of return on their capital. The required rate of return forutives can analyze the sources of TSR for their company, equities is a function of expected returns on risk-freeits business units, a peer group of companies, an industry,or an entire market index over a given period. 11. There are many ways to measure a company’s valuation multi- ple, and different metrics are appropriate for different industriesHow is low GDP growth likely to affect these drivers of and different company situations. In the Value Creators rankings,TSR? Although it will vary by industry, in general lower we use the EBITDA multiple—the ratio of enterprise value (theeconomic growth will mean lower sales growth for many market value of equity plus the market value of debt) to EBITDA— in order to have a single measure with which to compare perfor-companies. Lower revenue growth will also mean lower mance across our global sample. (See “Appendix: The 2010 Valueprofits—a result of reduced operational leverage and Creators Rankings.”)12 The Boston Consulting Group
  15. 15. Exhibit 3. BCG’s Model Allows a Company to Identify the Sources of Its TSR TSR 9.9% Fundamental value 1 Revenue growth Margin change 3.8% –0.5% Profit growth 3.3% Gain in market capitalization 6.5% Valuation multiple 2 Multiple change 3.2% Free-cash-flow contribution Free-cash-flow contribution 3 Dividend yield 3.4% Share change 2.3% 3.4% Net debt change –2.3% 3.4% Sources: Thomson Financial Datastream; Thomson Financial Worldscope; Bloomberg; BCG analysis. Note: This calculation is based on an actual company example; the contribution of each factor is shown in percentage points of average annual TSR.bonds, plus a premium for the risk in equities. The main To calculate a company’s expected free-cash-flow yield,factor driving equity risk premiums is volatility in earn- divide the expected percentage of net income that will beings growth and stock prices. Given how uncertain the paid out in the future (as dividends or share repurchases)current environment is, one would expect that investors’ by the size of a company’s expected price-to-earningsrequired rate of return would be, if anything, higher (to (P/E) multiple. By way of a simple illustration: if a com-account for the increased risk). Investors are unlikely to pany pays out 50 percent of its net income and its P/Eaccept a lower rate of return just because revenue growth ratio is 20, then its free-cash-flow yield contributes 2.5is likely to be lower (and potentially riskier) in the future. percentage points of TSR. If the company’s P/E drops toInstead, they will set lower prices for equities so that 10, however, the same cash payout yields 5 percentagestocks continue to deliver the required rate of return de- points of TSR. Thus, lower valuation multiples allow in-spite lower revenue growth. vestors to achieve a higher future TSR. Since the lower a company’s multiple, the higher its yield, this dynamicAs investors reset their expectations about future growth, tends to counteract the parallel drop in net incomereducing the absolute level of valuation multiples, the growth, resulting in an average TSR closer to the histori-long-term result is to increase the value of a company’s cal yield. Free-cash-flow yield is the return in-vestors get from cash payouts that companies make to in- Market analysts often overlook this dynamic. Typically,vestors. The percentage contribution of free-cash-flow their forecasts assume that a company’s future yield willyield to TSR is calculated by the amount of cash paid to include only its current announced dividends and shareinvestors divided by the company’s market capitalization. repurchases. This assumption makes sense because al-A company’s market capitalization is a product of its though most companies have significant free cash flowearnings and the valuation multiple assigned to those that remains uncommitted, analysts do not know how theearnings. If valuation multiples decline, then the yield companies are going to use that cash or whether it willgoes up on the same amount of cash paid out. end up creating or destroying shareholder value.Threading the Needle 13
  16. 16. However, this approach has the effect of underestimating U.S. companies, totaling roughly $178 billion.13 Projecteda company’s actual TSR potential. The significant amount over the full year, this rate of stock repurchases would beof cash that companies have accumulated on their bal- the highest volume since 2007 and total some $898 bil-ance sheets and the currently high levels of free cash flow lion—in contrast to only $128 billion in 2009.that resulted from cost cutting during the downturn havegiven many companies the opportunity to improve their There are also indications that investors have begun tofree-cash-flow yield dramatically. put a higher value on cash returned to shareholders, re- sulting in positive impact on a company’s valuation mul-There are signs that at least some companies are realizing tiple as well. When we asked participants in our investorthat cash payout is becoming a more important source of survey to set their priorities for the use of excess cash, in-TSR. After cutting back on dividends and share buybacks creases in a company’s dividend shot up to number threeduring the depths of the downturn, more and more com- on the list, chosen by 32 percent of respondents as eitherpanies are starting to return some of that cash to share- their first or second priority. (See Exhibit 4.) Last year, byholders. As of late June 2010, 136 companies in the S&P contrast, it was the lowest priority on the list, chosen by500 had either increased their dividend payouts in 2010 only 10 percent. This shift in investor sentiment helps ex-or initiated new dividends—bolstering payments by a plain why, as of late June, the Dow Jones Select U.S. Divi-total of $11 billion.12 Only two S&P 500 companies had de- dend Index was up 1.9 percent for 2010—in contrast tocreased or suspended dividends during this period. (These the S&P 500 which was down 2.5 percent.14actions are in sharp contrast to those in 2009, when therewere 157 dividend increases and 78 decreases or suspen- 12. See “Dividends Are Rising. Will Stocks Follow?” The New York Times, June 25, 2010.sions that together cut payments to shareholders by a 13. See “US Companies Tap Cash Piles for Share Buy-Backs,” Finan-record $37 billion.) And according to a recent study by cial Times, June 17, 2010.Bank of America Merrill Lynch, by mid-June 2010, there 14. See “Dividends Are Rising. Will Stocks Follow?” The New Yorkwere some 343 new authorizations for stock buybacks at Times, June 25, 2010. Exhibit 4. Investors Are Putting a Higher Value on Dividend Increases Percentage of respondents who chose option as a high priority Options for the Variation use of excess cash from 2009 (%) Organic-growth investments 73 +20 Strategic M&A 43 –1 Dividend increases 32 +22 Stock repurchase 22 program +9 Debt retirement 19 –22 Accumulation of cash on the balance sheet 11 –11 0 20 40 60 80 n = 110 Source: BCG 2010 Investor Survey. Note: Respondents were asked, “How would you rank the following options based on your preference for the use of excess cash?” For each option, the exhibit shows the percentage of respondents who ranked it first or second.14 The Boston Consulting Group
  17. 17. For some companies, a value creation strategy that em- special situations, when a company’s valuation multiplephasizes cash payout and strong free-cash-flow yield may remains low, can it sustainably deliver superior TSR frombe a sensible approach in a low-growth environment. a value creation strategy based on free-cash-flow yield.16This is especially true for companies in mature, consoli- In order to be a top TSR performer, most companies will,dated industries with high returns on invested capital sooner or later, need to find a way to grow. To understandthat are generating far more cash than they can invest why requires grasping a phenomenon that we call thein profitable growth. But there are two important caveats growth this scenario. First, it is unclear how long the currenthigh levels of free cash flow will last. As governmentsaround the world cope with high deficits and anemic tax The Growth Paradoxrevenues, cash-rich corporations will become a temptingnew revenue source—whether through new corporate Exhibit 5, based on data from the S&P 500, illustrates thetaxes such as the recent U.K. tax on bonuses in the finan- paradoxical role of growth in value creation. On the onecial sector or through the kind of political pressure that hand, revenue growth is the single most important driverforced BP to contribute to a $20 billion cleanup fund to of value creation for top performers over the long term,defray the economic losses due to the Deepwater Hori-zon oil spill.15 15. Indeed, there are some signs that investors are already expect- ing growing government pressure on dividends. For example, the 2012 futures on the Euro Stoxx 50 Index of major companies pre-Second, although a value creation strategy emphasizing dicts that dividends will amount to €90 per share (about $110),free-cash-flow yield can occasionally generate superior down from €158 at the market’s peak in 2007—and well below theTSR, it is extremely difficult to sustain that performance 2012 consensus analyst forecast of about €130. See “The Short View,” Financial Times, June 29, 2010.over time. As a company’s yield rises, investors will even- 16. See the section “The Cash Machine” in Searching for Sustainabil-tually bid up its valuation multiple—which, of course, has ity: Value Creation in an Era of Diminished Expectations, The 2009the parallel effect of causing the yield to decline. Only in Value Creators Report, October 2009, pp. 13–15. Exhibit 5. The Growth Paradox For top performers, growth is the single most . . .but not all companies with above-average important source of TSR over the long term. . . growth necessarily create value Sources of TSR for top-quartile performers Correlation of revenue growth and TSR (S&P 500, 1990–2009) (S&P 500, 1990–2009) Change in annual TSR (%) Average annual TSR (%) 40 40 Growth with 34 value creation 12% 30 20 22 21 46% 11% 20 7% 17 6% 19% 15% 5% 20% 20% 15% 0 13% 10 50% 58% 74% Growth without 29% value creation 0 –20 1 year 3 years 5 years 10 years –20 0 20 40 Free cash flow Multiple Margin Revenue growth Average annual revenue growth (%) Source: BCG analysis. Note: Each bar shows the average annual TSR for a given time period; the shaded sections of each bar show the percent of total TSR from each source.Threading the Needle 15
  18. 18. responsible for nearly three quarters of average annual A macroeconomic environment characterized by lowTSR for top-quartile performers over rolling ten-year pe- growth exacerbates this growth paradox. Precisely be-riods from 1990 through 2009. Put simply, revenue growth cause it is the scarce resource in a low-growth economy, ais by far the main driver of superior value creation. That’s company’s ability to generate even modestly above-aver-why, for example, most of the top ten companies in our age sales growth will be a key differentiator between TSRsustainable value-creators rankings have revenue growth winners and losers. For example, during the last pro-rates in the double digits—and one as high as 73 percent. longed bear market—from 1966 through 1982—nearly(See the sidebar “The BCG Top Ten Sustainable Value all of the top 20 companies that most strongly outper-Creators.”) formed their industry peers in TSR did so through growth in sales rather than growth in margins or dividends.17And yet, not all companies that deliver above-averagegrowth necessarily create above-average TSR. The right- Therefore, it is critical that companies do not become sohand chart in Exhibit 5 shows that a great many compa- reconciled to the lack of growth opportunities that theynies grow without creating value because their growthcomes at the expense of other drivers of TSR—for exam- 17. See Megatrends: Tailwinds for Growth in a Low-Growth Environ-ple, declining margins or a lower valuation multiple. ment, BCG Focus, May 2010. The BCG Top Ten Sustainable Value Creators For more than a decade, the BCG Value Creators report ny, the beverage conglomerate AmBev, are from Brazil. has included rankings of the top ten value creators in the And the number two company, chemical maker Reliance world and in 14 global industries, on the basis of their av- Industries, is from India. erage annual TSR during the previous five years.1 Last year, however, in order to emphasize that shareholder val- But that’s not to say that companies from developed ue management is all about long-term performance, we economies aren’t also well represented—that is, as long decided to supplement our traditional rankings with a as they are from the English-speaking world. The United new one. This ranking identifies those large global compa- States has two companies on the list: drug maker Gilead nies that have been most successful at sustaining superi- Sciences at number four and Apple at number seven. So or value creation over an even longer period of time: does the United Kingdom with British American Tobacco ten years. We call these high-performing companies sus- at number five and the consumer goods company Reckitt tainable value creators. Benckiser at number eight. And Canada is represented by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion at number six. The companies on BCG’s list of top ten sustainable value creators this year are large global companies with a mar- As one might expect, high-growth, innovation-based in- ket capitalization of at least $35 billion. We limit our rank- dustries such as pharmaceuticals and technology appear ings to the world’s largest companies because the bigger on our list. But more traditional sectors such as consumer the company, the harder it is to exceed expectations and goods, mining and materials, chemicals, and retail are deliver superior TSR year after year. Of the 712 global also represented. All told, 6 of the 14 industrial sectors companies in this year’s Value Creators database, 102 covered in the Value Creators report have companies cleared that hurdle. We tracked performance over an en- among the top ten sustainable value creators. tire decade because we believe that ten years is the mini- mum time frame necessary to evaluate the staying power But what is most striking about our list is the way these of a company’s value-creation performance. top performers combine significant—usually double-dig- it—revenue growth with high free-cash-flow yield. For ex- The exhibit to the right lists the top ten value creators for ample, our number-one company, Vale, had sales growth the period from 2000 through 2009. The exhibit highlights of 21 percent per year and at the same time managed to the arrival of what BCG calls global challengers from rapid- have a dividend yield of an unusually high 5 percent. ly developing economies on the world value-creation stage. Both the number one company on the list, the di- 1. Readers interested in previous Value Creators reports can down- versified mining giant Vale, and the number three compa- load them from the BCG website.16 The Boston Consulting Group
  19. 19. focus exclusively on cost cutting and cash payouts at the As a result, a company may win on growth but not winneglect of making the necessary investments to secure on TSR.future revenue-growth opportunities. The companies thatare tempted to milk the business in order to prop up their How can companies thread this needle? By developing anearnings per share (EPS) may end up underinvesting in explicit strategy for value creation marked by three char-the future—in effect, making low growth a self-fulfilling acteristics:prophecy.18 ◊ Creativity in identifying new ways and new areas inAt the same time, however, a company has to be careful which to invest in profitable growthto avoid the opposite problem: growth without value. Be-cause companies are so flush with cash as a result of the 18. For example, when we asked the participants in our senior-exec- utive survey in which areas they would be making significant ef-cost cutting and cash accumulation of recent years, they forts in 2010, only 41 percent said that they were planning to in-may be tempted to overcommit to growth. But as more crease R&D, only 35 percent were planning to hire new talent, andand more companies compete for fewer growth opportu- fewer than 40 percent were thinking of extending their geographic reach, expanding capacity, or exploring acquisitions. See Collateralnities, the odds that improvements in revenue growth Damage, Part 9: In the Eye of the Storm; Ignore Short-Term Indicators,will come at the expense of other drivers of TSR go up. Focus on the Long Haul, BCG White Paper, May 2010. Of course, past results are no guarantee of future perfor- mance. Executives at these companies should ask them- selves whether they know how to sustain their superior performance in the decade to come—especially since it is likely to look significantly different from this one. The BCG 2010 Top Ten Sustainable Value Creators 1 TSR Decomposition Net Market Sales Margin Multiple Dividend Share debt TSR2 value3 growth change change4 yield change change # Company Location Industry (%) ($billions) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) 1 Vale Brazil Mining and materials 35.7 148.6 21 –1 10 5 –1 1 2 Reliance Industries India Chemicals 33.1 78.3 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 3 AmBev Brazil Consumer goods 30.8 61.9 25 14 –8 4 –16 11 Pharmaceuticals and 4 Gilead Sciences United States 29.0 38.9 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A medical technology 5 British American Tobacco United Kingdom Consumer goods 25.6 65.1 5 5 4 7 2 3 6 Research In Motion Canada Technology and telecom 24.3 38.2 73 9 –54 0 –4 0 7 Apple United States Technology and telecom 23.4 189.6 21 17 –12 0 –3 –1 8 Reckitt Benckiser United Kingdom Consumer goods 22.3 39.2 10 7 1 3 –2 2 9 Wal-Mart de México Mexico Retail 21.4 38.3 12 4 5 2 1 –1 10 Posco South Korea Mining and materials 20.9 42.4 11 –5 6 4 1 3 Sources: Thomson Reuters Datastream; Thomson Reuters Worldscope; Bloomberg; annual reports; BCG analysis. Note: n = 102 global companies with a market valuation greater than $35 billion that have been listed on some world stock exchange and have available data for the complete ten-year period. 1 Contribution of each factor shown in percentage points of ten-year average annual TSR; any apparent discrepancies in TSR totals are due to rounding. (TSR decomposition is not available for Reliance Industries and Gilead Sciences owing to years of negative EBITDA.) 2 Average annual TSR, 2000–2009. 3 As of December 31, 2009. 4 Change in EBITDA multiple.Threading the Needle 17
  20. 20. ◊ Discipline to invest only in those growth initiatives that The challenge for companies today: to shift from an ap- will truly be value creating—and then to pay back ex- proach to value creation that is focused on delivering cess cash to investors once the necessary investments quarterly earnings growth to one that emphasizes man- to pursue those opportunities have been made aging TSR over the long term. How companies can begin charting a course to deliver superior TSR over the long◊ Long-term focus that privileges sustainable value cre- term is the subject of the next section of this report. ation over a three- to five-year period, rather than try- ing to maximize short-term gains in EPS18 The Boston Consulting Group
  21. 21. A Fresh Look at Value Creation StrategyT he shift to a low-growth economy requires to preserve and protect existing sources of competitive a parallel shift in how companies set their advantage. value-creation strategy. Put simply, they need to stop managing to momentum tar- As a company develops its growth strategy, it also must gets for short-term revenue and earnings be especially alert to the impact of growth on margins. Ingrowth and start managing for superior TSR over the the high-growth era of the 1990s and first decade of thislong term. Doing so requires rethinking their approach to century, companies chased easy growth. Many got out ofgrowth and their criteria for capital deployment. It also the habit of tracking the impact of that growth on theirrequires innovations in the strategic-planning process. margins. In today’s environment, achieving profitable growth will be harder, and margins will be under threat. Therefore, it is necessary to manage the growth-marginValue-Creating Growth tradeoff very carefully. To be sure, there may be situa- tions in which it is necessary to accept lower margins inAchieving profitable growth is going to be harder in a order to remain competitive. But, by all means, compa-low-growth economy. There will be more competition— nies should avoid simply chasing share based on a weakespecially from global challengers from the fast-growing competitive position because such a move is likely toemerging economies. It is no coincidence, for instance, wreak havoc on margins.that all of the companies in our list of the top ten globalperformers for the five-year period from 2005 through Once weaknesses in a company’s core business have been2009 are from Asia. (See the exhibit “The Global Top Ten, addressed, a company can begin thinking about new2005–2009” in The 2010 Value Creators Rankings appen- ways and new markets in which to grow. For example, isdix.) As everyone competes for relatively fewer growth there some way to exploit the “two-speed” economy byopportunities, margins will be under threat to a degree expanding in emerging markets? And if so, what is thenot seen in recent years. best way to do so—through organic growth, M&A, or part- nerships? (See the sidebar “Five Growth Strategies for aCoping with these challenges will require discipline. Com- Low-Growth Economy.”)panies will need to take a tough look at existing businessplans so as to weed out those growth investments that do When a company has few opportunities for organicnot create value and to focus on those that do. It will also growth, growing through acquisitions can be an effectiverequire creativity. Companies will have to be far more sys- way to create value.19 For example, acquisitions that con-tematic in finding new ways and new places to grow. solidate an industry can be a good way to preserve a com-Given the likelihood of increased competition, companiesshould start by making any investments necessary to 19. See Growing Through Acquisitions: The Successful Value Creation Record of Acquisitive Growth Strategies, BCG report, May 2004; andbuild a competitive moat around the core business. Com- Searching for Sustainability: Value Creation in an Era of Diminished Ex-petitors will be coming after that business, so it is critical pectations, The 2009 Value Creators Report, October 2009, p. 12.Threading the Needle 19
  22. 22. Five Growth Strategies for a Low-Growth Economy Through its work with clients around the world, BCG has Engage in business model innovation. A company’s identified five growth strategies that have served compa- business model—the value proposition that it offers cus- nies well during periods of low growth. tomers and the operating model it creates to deliver that value at a profit—is key to creating shareholder value in Invest in innovation. During periods of low growth, any economic environment. In times of instability, when innovation becomes more important, not less. In the the potential for competitive disruption is high, business Great Depression, for example, DuPont, IBM, Chrysler, model innovation is especially important. Business mod- and GE all outspent their rivals and developed products el innovation can provide companies with a way to break ahead of their competitors. And many companies— out of intense competition, establish competitive barriers P&G most dramatically—acquired unassailable brand around new markets, or create new growth opportunities leadership by systematic investment in their brands.1 where none existed before.3 Through a commitment to innovation when other compa- nies were cutting back, these companies established a Practice pricing fluency. In a low-growth environment in dominant position in their industries that would last for which margins are likely to be under pressure, a compa- decades. ny’s pricing policies and implementation will be a critical lever to manage. The winners will be those companies Exploit megatrends. Megatrends are major trends with that resist the temptation to offer concessions on prices in the power to shape the landscape of economic opportu- order to maintain share. Companies that can defend their nity and risk for decades to come. They can take decades prices with disciplined processes will have a competitive to gather strength and then suddenly burst forth to re- advantage. But it requires building a capability that reach- arrange the competitive environment. But because of the es deep into a company’s sales and marketing organiza- long buildup before takeoff, companies often underesti- tion. A comprehensive “pricing fluency” program focuses mate the power of megatrends or assume that they have on improving a company’s pricing model with better poli- already accounted for them in their plans. BCG has been cies for setting prices and on enhancing the pricing plat- tracking the development and interaction of 78 mega- form for organizational implementation. In our experi- trends since 2005. Nearly 80 percent continued to grow ence, the result is sustainable revenues that are 1 to 3 during the downturn—with 23 actually strengthening in percent greater than those of competitors.4 importance.2 Of the trends that kept growing, we estimate that 44 percent represent opportunities with a global mar- ket size greater than $500 billion. Take, for example, the demographic trend of the aging of the population. The so- called silver market (goods and services for consumers over 60) is now worth more than $700 billion worldwide and is fast become a valuable source of growth for compa- nies in sectors as diverse as cosmetics and financial ser- vices. Spotting the megatrends that will sweep through a company’s markets over the next decade is a critical step in reigniting growth. Pursue breakout growth. Some industries grow faster than others. But in every industry, there are always a few companies that achieve breakout growth at rates that are anywhere from two to seven times the average for the in- 1. See David Rhodes and Daniel Stelter, Accelerating Out of the Great dustry as a whole and that create correspondingly above- Recession: How to Win in a Slow-Growth Economy, McGraw-Hill, 2010. average shareholder value. These companies do so by ac- 2. See Megatrends: Tailwinds for Growth in a Low-Growth Environment, tively managing their corporate portfolio, focusing on BCG Focus, May 2010. 3. See Business Model Innovation: When the Game Gets Tough, Change developing and expanding their core business, exercising the Game, BCG White Paper, December 2009. discipline to sustain or expand margins while pursuing 4. See Crisis Pricing for the Downturn and After, BCG White Paper, Sep- top-line growth, and expanding aggressively outside their tember 2009; and “Pricing Fluency: A Program for Pricing Excel- home market. lence,” BCG Opportunities for Action, December 2009.20 The Boston Consulting Group
  23. 23. pany’s competitive advantage and protect margins. Simi- The company had a long history of acquisitive growthlarly, buying businesses with strong future growth that had fed a rising dividend. But, in a situation similarprospects can be a way to expand a company’s growth to that faced by many companies today, the company’sopportunities and build new growth platforms for the fu- recent TSR performance was lagging; it was experiencingture. But investments in M&A tend to be riskier than weak demand in many of its core business segments, andequivalent investments in organic growth, so a company its customers were becoming far more cost conscious,needs to assess its opportunities carefully and be realistic making it harder for the company to set prices at levelsabout its capabilities, both for doing deals that would sustain its margins.and for the subsequent postmerger inte-gration (PMI).20 No company should To address this worrisome situation, think about where to senior executives decided that they need-When it comes to M&A, the main shift ed to do a detailed business-by-businesscompanies need to make is to think less grow without thinking health check. They evaluated their entireabout whether a particular deal is “EPS about where not to. corporate portfolio on three critical dimen-accretive” in the short term and more sions—the long-term attractiveness of theabout whether it is actually going to create market both in terms of its growth pros-shareholder value in the long term. A deal may appear to pects and the company’s competitive position, the likelybe “cheap” and deliver one-time EPS gains without nec- financial results in terms of return on investment, andessarily improving a company’s TSR. For example, when the expected future TSR contribution of each of the com-a company that is trading at a P/E ratio of 20 acquires a pany’s business with a P/E ratio of 10, whatever benefit is ob-tained from combining the earnings of the two compa- The results were disconcerting. The executives discoverednies can be undermined by declines in the acquirer’s val- that not only was a significant portion of the company’suation multiple. business portfolio delivering returns below the compa- ny’s cost of capital, but also the majority of capital invest-By the same token, deals that dilute EPS in the near term ment—60 percent—was going to those value-destroyingcan improve TSR over the long term. Indeed, in a low- businesses. As a result, the likely TSR that the entire port-growth economy, some of the most value-creating acqui- folio could generate was well below the company’s target.sitions—those of companies with a higher growth rate (See Exhibit 6.)than that of the acquirer—will initially dilute EPS be-cause the target will likely be trading at a higher valua- The company took three major steps to address thesetion multiple than the acquirer. But over time, such an problems. First, it adopted a more nuanced approach toacquisition will lead to higher revenue growth and a high- how it managed its business units, allocating each to oneer overall multiple. of three broad categories or roles. Those delivering re- turns above the cost of capital and in markets with sig-Last but not least, no company should be thinking about nificant growth prospects were designated “growth” busi-where to grow without at the same time thinking about nesses that would receive the lion’s share of investment.where not to—because it lacks advantage, is not produc- Meanwhile, in “core” businesses that were generating sig-ing returns above the cost of capital, or faces an industry nificant cash but had fewer prospects for profitableenvironment that makes a cash payout strategy prefera- growth, the emphasis would be on tighter managementble. It is the rare company, for example, that knows pre- and improved efficiency to maximize cash generation.cisely where it is creating value—by business unit, by Finally, those business units that were destroying valueproduct line, or by customer segment. Yet, that kind of would either be managed in order to improve returns ordetailed assessment is all the more necessary in today’s divested.environment.For an illustration of the right way to navigate these 20. See Accelerating Out of the Great Recession: Seize the Opportunitieschoices, consider the example of a $5 billion industrial in M&A, BCG report, June 2010; and Real-World PMI: Learning fromconglomerate with a portfolio of some 20 business units. Company Experiences, BCG Focus, June 2009.Threading the Needle 21
  24. 24. Exhibit 6. Inefficient Capital Deployment Can Impede Value Creation Too much investment in business units . . .meant that the entire portfolio’s future delivering returns below the cost of capital. . . TSR was well below the company’s target Current ROGI1 (%) Future ROGI (%) 30 50 20 30 Cost of 20 10 capital 0 10 Cost of capital –10 0 –20 –10 0 10 20 –20 –10 –5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Average annual growth S&P 500 Plan iTSR2 (%) in gross investment (%) median TSR $100 million in gross investment $250 million in entity value Company total Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 4 Segment 5 Source: BCG analysis. 1 ROGI = return on gross investment. 2 iTSR = “internal TSR,” a metric for simulating each business unit’s contribution to company TSR.But the executive team didn’t stop there. They proceeded By the end of the first year after announcing its new plan,to identify a range of specific initiatives within each of the company’s TSR was 40 percent above the S&P 500these three categories and quantify their potential contri- average.bution to TSR. Through this process, the company identi-fied an additional 5 percent of annual TSR that could beadded to the momentum five-year forecast and bring the Balanced Capital Deploymentcompany closer to its TSR target. (See Exhibit 7.) As the example of the industrial conglomerate suggests,Finally, because the company had a more targeted ap- companies can no longer think about growth in isolationproach to growth and an explicit plan for creating value, from other uses of capital. Unless the economy witnessesthe senior team felt confident that the company would severe erosion in margins, many companies are going togenerate the necessary returns to fund a substantial (30 have a lot more cash flow than they can effectively rein-percent) increase in its dividend—and thus appeal to in- vest in profitable growth. The worst outcome would be tovestors clamoring for a greater cash payout. waste that cash by pursuing value-destroying growth or to fail to exploit the value-creating potential of that cashThe capital markets did not respond immediately to the by simply leaving it on the balance sheet. Rather, execu-company’s announcement of its new value-creation strat- tives need to ask how best to deploy that cash in order toegy, including the dividend increase. Initially, there was a create shareholder value.fair amount of skepticism on the part of analysts aboutthe seriousness of the company’s commitment. But by Getting to the right answer will require challenging somethe time the company had completed the divestiture of legacy assumptions. The first is the lingering belief thatits largest value-destroying business and exited some un- dividends are to be avoided because they signal to inves-profitable business segments (about ten months into the tors that a company has few growth prospects. As wenew strategy), market sentiment began to turn around. have argued in these pages, investors’ views of dividends22 The Boston Consulting Group
  25. 25. Exhibit 7. A Value Creation Plan Helped One Company Outperform the Market Identifying and quantifying initiatives . . .allowed the company to outperform to create additional value. . . the S&P 500 by 40 percent TSR (%) Index Announcement of Meaningful progress 20 150 new strategy ◊ Completion of largest ◊ Emphasis on TSR divestiture ◊ Future divestitures ◊ Exit from Company Improve unprofitable Manage for core Grow 125 ◊ 30 percent dividend 15 returns or divest Increase segments 0.6 12.7 1.3 0.2 1.0 100 0.4 S&P 10 0.7 median 1.0 TSR 7.5 75 S&P 500 5 Market uncertainty 50 ◊ Analyst skepticism ◊ Continued erosion of end markets 0 25 Momentum Restructure Manage cost Improve Plan plus +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10 +11 +12 plan business of core pricing new Months since project start unit “B” business initiatives units Restructure Divest or Accelerate Grow business liquidate other mergers in internationally unit “A” business units business unit “C” Source: BCG analysis.have changed. Increasingly, they see a strong dividend ny’s valuation multiple than share repurchases do. In-not as a sign that a company can’t grow but, rather, as an deed, in many cases, buybacks can actually reduce a com-indication that management is disciplined about using its pany’s multiple in the near term.22 And, as discussedcapital to fund only value-creating growth.21 earlier, the respondents to our investor survey rated divi- dend increases as a higher priority for excess cash thanA related assumption worth challenging is the manage- share repurchases—in part because, by a large majorityment preference for share repurchases over dividends as (76 percent), they believe that most companies do a poorthe best means to return cash to shareholders. This mis- job of timing their share repurchases.taken belief is yet another artifact of too narrow a focuson EPS rather than on TSR. Many executives prefer share Finally, a third assumption about capital deployment thatbuybacks because, unlike dividends, buybacks boost EPS companies will have to rethink concerns the desirabilityabove the level that underlying organic growth in net in- of leverage. Leverage exacerbates the volatility of a com-come would on its own. They also think that boosting pany’s value-creation performance. But in a low-growthEPS growth is a convenient way to boost an “underval- economy, investors will be looking for quality and sus-ued” stock price. And, of course, their incentives are often tainability. Some companies may want to retire debt intied directly to EPS growth, and the value of their stock order to become a “safer,” less risky stock. Others mayoptions depends on appreciation in stock price, not on in- want to preserve current levels of leverage because inter-creases in dividend yield. est rates are so low and because it may be difficult to takeBut there is growing evidence that investors prefer divi-dend increases to recurring share repurchases because 21. See “Thinking Differently About Dividends,” BCG Perspectives, April 2003.they are a far more robust signal of a company’s financial 22. See the section “The Share Buyback Trap” in Avoiding the Cashhealth and stability. BCG’s research demonstrates that Trap: The Challenge of Value Creation When Profits Are High, The 2007dividends have a far more positive impact on a compa- Value Creators Report, pp. 20–23.Threading the Needle 23