Acquired by Oracle Corporation in 2009, Sun Microsystems provided network computing solutions.
A company creates wealth for its long-term shareholders in 2 main ways - through dividend payments and through the accumulation of retained earnings. This graph shows the accumulation of per-share equity of long-term shareholders (green bars), which consists of the retained earnings plus all capital invested in the company, and the cumulative dividends the company has paid over time per share of its stock (blue bars).
In the words of Warren Buffett: "We're looking for... businesses earning good returns on equity while employing little or no debt."
Return on equity is a key metric of financial performance, indicating a company's ability to generate earnings using shareholder capital. Over time, ROE is one of the major determinants of the rate at which a company creates shareholder wealth. The average ROE for large U.S. companies is 12%, and many investors use it as a threshold for attractive investments.
Companies can boost ROE by increasing leverage, which reduces the safety of the investment. Therefore, it is useful to look at the return on assets (ROA), which measures a company's earning power regardless of its capital structure. A widening gap between ROE and ROA may be a warning sign that should be thoroughly investigated.
Earnings per share is a popular metric used to value a company (using P/E ratio); growth in EPS is often used to judge company growth potential. However, many investors believe that EPS is an inferior metric to ROE, because it ignores the amount of capital the company used to generate earnings.
Free cash flow shows how much cash a company generates from operations, above and beyond what is required to maintain or expand its productive assets. This cash can be returned to investors, or spent by management on growing the company or paying back its debts.
Balance sheets of many companies contain intangible assets such as goodwill, trademarks, patents, etc. Many investors consider intangibles more difficult to value than physical assets. If intangible assets had been valued incorrectly, they must be impaired, resulting in a loss charged against shareholder equity. This chart demonstrates the potential loss to shareholder equity from such impairments.
Companies often use debt financing to increase their return on equity. However, as the amount of debt financing increases relative to the amount of equity financing, the company becomes more sensitive to down turns and other negative events. As a result, many investors use the ratio of debt to equity as a measure of a company's financial risk, and avoid companies that have this ratio above 1.
This chart shows shareholder equity as a percentage of total assets, allowing investors to judge the overall leverage. Companies with a higher proportion of equity can be viewed as safer investments. This metric is particularly important for highly leveraged institutions, such as banks, where it must be at least 4% according to government regulations.
The ratio of current assets to current liabilities is known as the current ratio. This metric is a quick measure of the company's ability to pay its short-term obligations. A current ratio below 1 is a warning sign that should be investigated, especially for companies that cannot count on adequate cash flow from operations.
This chart shows the cumulative dilution of investor ownership in a company over time. Dilution reduces an investor's participation in the future earnings. Dilution increases when a company issues new shares, and decreases when a company buys its shares back. Many investors avoid companies with large chronic dilution.
analysis provides insight into factors affecting the Return On Equity of a company.
The DuPont equation decomposes ROE as follows:
ROE = (Net margin) * (Asset turnover) * (Asset to equity ratio)
Net margin indicates operating efficiency, Asset turnover measures the total asset use efficiency, and the Asset to equity ratio is a measure of financial leverage.
The dividend payout ratio tells investors what percentage of earnings a company returns to shareholders, and what percentage it retains and reinvests. This ratio represents a major capital allocation decision by the company, and can be used to judge management rationality. Rational management should pay out all earnings that cannot be productively reinvested. Therefore, a low dividend payout ratio for a profitable company with a low growth potential may be a warning sign.
Many investors use the P/B ratio as a quick way of judging company valuation. Value investors - followers of Graham and Dodd - specifically seek out companies with low P/B ratios. However, investors should be careful not to make investment decisions on this metric alone, without considering a company's earning and growth potential, since a low P/B ratio can be a sign of a bleak future for the business.
P/E ratio is a popular way of making a quick judgment of a company valuation. Value investors - followers of Graham and Dodd - often seek solid companies with low P/E ratios as investment opportunities. However, P/E ratio represents an oversimplified approach to business valuation, and can often lead to incorrect investment decisions.
On December 7, 2000, we acquired all of the outstanding capital stock of Cobalt, a Delaware corporation, by means of a merger transaction pursuant to which all of the outstanding capital stock and options of Cobalt were converted into the right to receive shares of and options to purchase our common stock. The total purchase price for Cobalt was approximately $2,061 million. At the acquisition date, Cobalt was engaged in development activity associated with development of its Cobalt RaQ XTR, Qube ML and CacheRaQ server appliance products as well as related software. These products perform critical internet-related applications including file serving, web hosting and providing software applications over the Internet, such as electronic mail and electronic commerce. These products also provide overflow file storage for network users, and network caching products, which enable more efficient bandwidth usage and improve speed of Internet content delivery. At the acquisition date, Cobalt had made substantial progress in the areas of product definition, architecture design and coding. Remaining efforts necessary to complete these server appliance products related primarily to additional coding, testing and implementation. We released certain general availability versions of these products in late January 2001 through April 2001, at which time we began to realize economic benefits associated with these server appliance products.
In October 2002, based on a combination of factors, particularly: (1) our current and projected operating results; (2) our decision to reduce our workforce and eliminate excess facility space; and (3) our then current market capitalization, we concluded there were sufficient indicators to require us to perform an analysis to assess whether any portion of our recorded goodwill balance was impaired. When we performed the new analysis in October 2002, the estimated fair value of our reporting units decreased because our then current forecasted discounted cash flows and market capitalization were lower than at the time of our previous analysis. Based on this new analysis, we concluded that the goodwill in our Volume Systems and Network Storage reporting units was impaired. As required by SFAS 142, in measuring the amount of goodwill impairment, we made a hypothetical allocation of the estimated fair value of these reporting units to the tangible and intangible assets (other than goodwill) within these reporting units. Prior to this allocation of the assets to the reporting units, we assessed long-lived assets for impairment in accordance with SFAS No. 144, Accounting for the Impairment or Disposal of Long-Lived Assets, (SFAS 144). Based on this allocation, we concluded that all of the recorded goodwill in the Volume Systems reporting unit ($1,566 million) and the Network Storage reporting unit ($461 million) was impaired and needed to be expensed as a non-cash charge to continuing operations during the second quarter of fiscal 2003. Approximately $1,560 million and $360 million of the impairment related to goodwill acquired from our acquisitions of Cobalt Networks, Inc. and HighGround Systems, Inc., respectively.
On August 31, 2005, we acquired all of the outstanding shares of StorageTek, a publicly held company based in Louisville, Colorado (NYSE: STK). Under the terms of the agreement, StorageTek stockholders received $37 per share in cash for each StorageTek share. We acquired StorageTek in order to offer customers a complete range of products, services and solutions for securely managing mission-critical data assets. The total purchase price was $4,082 million.
April 20, 2009 Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ: JAVA) and Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL) announced today they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Oracle will acquire Sun common stock for $9.50 per share in cash. The transaction is valued at approximately $7.4 billion, or $5.6 billion net of Sun's cash and debt.