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What are Corporate Actions?

Corporate actions are important events that can impact stock prices. These actions include the likes of stock splits, dividends, mergers, and more carried out by publicly listed companies. 

Every corporate action can directly affect share ownership, capital structure, and overall financial health of a specific business entity. That’s why you must know what are corporate actions if you’re an investor. 

What are Corporate Actions?

Corporate actions are the strategic actions and choices made by publicly listed companies to alter the cash flow, react to external requirements, or achieve business objectives. 

These actions range from basic events like stock splits to big ones such as mergers or acquisitions.

Corporate actions can be classified into two primary types: mandatory and voluntary. 

Voluntary corporate actions allow shareholders to choose whether or not to participate. On the other hand, the mandatory corporate actions impact the ownership, which requires the engagement of shareholders.

Corporate actions are vital decisions companies take, impacting everything from their financial health to shareholder wealth. 

A common example is the dividend payout, where companies distribute profits to shareholders, signaling confidence in their financial stability.

These actions, whether mandatory, like a stock dividend, or voluntary, such as a rights issue, reflect a company’s strategy and market response, making them crucial for market participants to monitor and understand.

Types of Corporate Actions

Corporate actions have significant implications for companies and investors and are not merely administrative tasks. To understand this, here are some of the most typical types of corporate actions:

1. Stock Split

The splitting of a company’s existing shares into several new shares can be called a stock split. 

Stock split results in raising the number of shares in circulation while decreasing their individual worth.

For example, in a 10:1 stock split, a shareholder receives ten shares for every one share they own. 

Stock splits are intended to boost the availability of shares, affordability,  and liquidity.

2. Reverse Stock Split

On the contrary, the reverse stock splits are intended to reduce the number of existing shares while increasing their own distinct value. 

Usually, reverse stock splits are done to comply with stock market listing criteria or to increase the perceived value of the company.

3. Dividend Payout

Dividends are the distribution of a company’s profit to the shareholders in the form of cash payout or additional shares. 

Dividends guarantee investors a reliable source of income and act as a way to gauge a company’s health.

Read > Top 10 Dividend Paying Stocks

4. Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A)

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) are strategic corporate actions where two companies combine (merger) or one company buys another (acquisition). 

This can lead to growth, diversification, and increased market share, benefiting both companies and their stakeholders.

5. Rights Issue

When a company files a rights issue, it allows existing shareholders to acquire additional shares at a lower cost. 

This serves as an advantage to the company as they can raise capital from their existing investor base.

6. Spin-offs and Divestitures

Companies may choose to spin off or divest from certain business divisions to concentrate on their main business activities. 

Shares of the newly formed companies are frequently awarded to the shareholders due to these actions.

7. Tender offers

An invitation extended by a business to its stockholders to sell their shares for a set price is known as a tender offer. 

There are instances where the set price is more than the going rate. These offers are made to acquire a significant ownership stake in the target firm and can be friendly or hostile.

8. Liquidation

This is another one of the types of corporate actions. Liquidation is a corporate action that involves the sale of assets and the payment of proceeds to shareholders. 

Liquidation is carried out in the unfortunate event of a company’s dissolution. It is usually carried out when a company is unable to satisfy its commitments or pay its debts and is struggling financially.

Impact of Corporate Actions on Investors

The impact of corporate actions can be classified into three categories as mentioned below. 

Positive Impact on Investors

Corporate actions can create significant value for investors. For instance:

  1. Enhanced Stock Value: Corporate actions like stock splits or bonus issues often lead to a rise in stock prices, reflecting positively on an investor’s portfolio.
  2. Dividend Payouts: Actions such as dividends reward investors directly, offering financial gains and signaling a company’s robust health.
  3. Increased Market Confidence: Positive corporate actions can boost investor confidence, leading to heightened demand and better liquidity for the company’s stocks.

Negative Impact on Investors

On the flip side, not all corporate actions have beneficial outcomes.

  1. Market Volatility: Announcements like mergers or acquisitions can lead to market uncertainty, affecting stock prices negatively in the short term.
  2. Dilution of Shares: Actions like rights issues may dilute stock value, potentially leading to a decrease in an investor’s share value.
  3. Operational Risks: Certain actions may signal operational or financial challenges within the company, causing investor apprehension and potential stock devaluation.

Arbitrage Opportunities

Corporate actions often lead to arbitrage opportunities, where investors can capitalize on price inefficiencies.

  1. Price Discrepancies: It can lead to temporary price discrepancies, offering savvy investors and traders a chance to profit through arbitrage.
  2. Market Mispricing: Traders can capitalize on the market’s delayed response to corporate news, buying or selling stocks before the market adjusts.
  3. Hedging Strategies: Corporate actions provide opportunities to hedge portfolios, manage risks, and exploit market inefficiencies.

Conclusion

We’ve answered the question of “what are corporate actions?” in this article. 

They’re important moves that companies make, such as when they share profits with you (that’s dividends) or join up with other companies (like in mergers), which have the potential to impact share value.

These moves tell you a lot about how healthy a company is and what it’s planning next. For anyone putting money in stocks or just watching the market, it’s super important to keep an eye on these actions.

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Shriram Shekhar

Simplifying trading & investing through meaningful content.

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