The Bottom Line To Investors From Tax Inversions: No Above Average Returns
While it remains to be seen if Obama can put an end to what has been the hottest M&A trend in 2014, namely engaging in tax redomiciling "inversion" deals, it is clear that the C-suite is delighted to continue pursuing deals which minimize the cash outflows to the US Treasury, with some 52 redomiciling deals done since 1983, 22 taking place since 2009 and another 10 being finalized and many more in the works. But what is the track record of tax inversions when it comes to the bottom line, namely investor returns. According to a Reuters calculation, "companies that have done such "inversion" deals have failed to produce above-average returns for investors."
The details, from looking back three decades at 52 completed transactions, the review showed:
- 19 of the companies have subsequently outperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 index;
- 19 have underperformed;
- 10 have been bought by rivals;
- 3 have gone out of business;
- 1 has reincorporated back in the United States.
More from Reuters:
Among the poorest performers in the review were oilfield services and engineering firms, all from Texas. Among them was the first of these companies to invert, McDermott International Inc (MDR.N), which moved its tax home-base to Panama in 1983.
Drugmakers are dominating the latest wave of inversions and most of them have outperformed the benchmark index. So far in 2014, five U.S. pharmaceutical firms have agreed to redomicile to Ireland, Canada or the Netherlands. Deals that have not been completed were excluded from the review.
It is impossible to know how the companies might have fared in the market had they not inverted. Innumerable factors other than taxes influence a stock's performance, and no two of these deals are identical, complicating simple comparisons.
But the analysis makes one thing clear: inversions, on their own, despite largely providing the tax savings that companies seek, are no guarantee of superior returns for investors.
"For some companies, these inversions are really smart business moves. For others, they're less smart ... You don't always know if it's going to work," said James Hines, professor of law and economics at the University of Michigan and one of a handful of academics who have closely studied these deals.