In the United States, you would have to go back to 2005 to find the last year in which more golf courses opened than closed. And since 2011, the United States has been riding an ominous streak in which 150 or more golf courses per year closed than opened. Other data sends similar signals: Adidas is generating half as much revenue from the sale of golf clubs as it did in 2013. Dick’s Sporting Goods, after spending $200 million to acquire Golf Galaxy in 2006, made its mark soon after by hiring a PGA golf pro to staff its 522 locations. Then, it laid off all of them shortly thereafter despite lofty initial promises (those fired golf pros probably viewed their boss as living up to its name). The demographic of 18 year olds to 32 year olds now golfs at only half the rate of the same demographic back in 1999.
In 2013, the year before oil prices began to slide, shares of Royal Dutch Shell traded at an average price of $63.22. The shareholders of the dual-listed British and Dutch oil juggernaut collected $3.60 in 2013 dividends, $3.76 in 2014 dividends, $3.76 in 2015 dividends, and $1.88 in dividends through the first two quarters of 2016.
All in all, it’s been in investment that has thus far generated exactly $13 in dividends since the February 15, 2013 record for that year’s first-quarter dividend. WIth Royal Dutch Shell Class B shares trading at $50.25 as of Friday’s after hours trading, the investor that has owned the stock in a tax-advantaged account since the first quarter of 2013 has now broken even on the investment with a three cent gain for each share.
For almost all of civilization except for the past century or so, land rather than business ownership was the primary mechanism to acquire economic power (and by extension, the social and political power that can flow from economic power).
In medieval England, the monarchs did not like the idea of people transferring their estates in land to the Catholic Church because such a gift really was a “forever” gift since the lifetime duration of the Catholic Church’s property interest was potentially infinite.
The T. Rowe Price Emerging Markets Bond Fund (PREMX) is one of the few bond funds with a historical record of delivering returns that are competitive with equities while also giving its investors current income that you’d expect from investing in government debt.
One of the few markets that is not in a bubble territory right now is lower-tier government debt. Everything else looks severely overpriced. Governments like Germany, Switzerland, and the United States are currently paying their bondholders interest that will almost certainly trail inflation over the coming decades, and thus, will leave such investors poorer in 2026, 2036, and 2046 than they were in 2016 (the only reason to make such an investment right now is for liquidity purposes). Meanwhile, large corporations like Microsoft are issuing thirty-year bonds that barely pay 3%, which like large governments, has almost no chance of giving its debtholders a return that will increase purchasing power between the 2015 issuance date and the 2045 maturity.
In my recent Wal-Mart article, I mentioned that one of the risks of owning stock in a company reliant on share repurchases is that there is little recourse left when business conditions deteriorate and there is not enough retained earnings to continue executing a repurchase-reliant strategy to build shareholder wealth.
To get a glimpse of a real-life example, take a look at what is going on at ExxonMobil right now. Between 2000 and 2014, ExxonMobil retired enormous amounts of stock. Exxon had 6.9 billion shares outstanding in 2000, and reduced it to 4.2 billion by 2014. Those 2.7 billion retired shares ended up reducing the share count by 3.5% annually.