Silicon Valley Medical Technologies – SIVMED was found in San Jose, CA, in 1982 by Kelly’s O’Brien, David Roberts, and Barbara Smalley. O’Brien and Roberts, both MDs, were on the research faculty at the UCLA Medical School at the time; O’Brien specialized in biochemistry and molecular biology, and Roberts specialized in immunology and medical microbiology. Smalley, who has a PhD, served as department chair of the Microbiology Department at UC-Berkeley.
The company started as a research and development firm, which performed its own basic research, obtained patents on promising technologies, and then either sold or licensed the technologies to other firms which marketed the products. In recent years, however, the firm has also contracted to perform research and testing for larger genetic engineering and biotechnology firms, and the US government. Since its inception, the company has enjoyed enormous success even its founders were surprised at the scientific breakthroughs made and the demand for its services. One event that contributed significantly to the firm’s rapid growth was the AIDS epidemic. Both the US government and the private foundations have spent billions of dollars in AIDS research, and SIVMED had the right combination of skills garner significant grant funds, as well as perform as a subcontractor to other firms receiving AIDS research grants.
The founders were relatively wealthy individuals when they started company, and they had enough confidence in the business to commit most of their own funds to the new venture. Still, the capital requirements brought on by extremely rapid growth soon exhausted their personal funds, so they were forced to raise capital from outside sources. First, in 1991, the firm borrowed heavily, and then in 1993, when it used up its conventional debt capacity, it issued $15 million of preferred stock. Finally, in 1996, the firm had an initial public offering (IPO) which raised $50 million of common equity. Currently, the stock trades in the over-the counter market, and it has been selling at about $25 per share.
SIVMED is widely recognized as the leader in an emerging growth industry, and it won an award in 1998 for being one of the 100 best-managed small companies in the US. The company is organized into 2 divisions: (1) the Clinical Research Division and (2) the Genetic Engineering Division. Although the two divisions are housed in the same buildings, the equipment they use and their personnel are quite different. Indeed, there are few synergies between the two divisions. The most important synergies lay in the general overhead and marketing areas. Personnel, payroll, and similar functions are all done at the corporate level, while technical operations at the divisions are completely separate.
The Clinical Research Division conducts most of the firm’s AIDS research. Since most of the grants and contracts associated with AIDS research are long-term in nature, and since billions of new dollars will likely be spent in this area, the business risk of this division is low. Conversely, the Genetic Engineering Division works mostly on in-house research and short-term, contracts where the funding, duration, and payoffs are very uncertain. A line of research may look good initially, but it is not unusual to hit some snag, which precludes further exploration. Because of the uncertainties inherent in genetic research, Genetic Engineering Division is judged to have high business risk.
The founders are still active in the business, but they no longer work 70-hours weeks. Increasingly, they are enjoying the fruits of their past labors, and they have let professional managers take over day-to-day operations. They are all on the board of directors, though, and David Roberts is chairman.
Although the firm’s growth has been phenomenal, it has been more random than planned. The founders would simply decide on new avenues of research, and then count on the skills of the research team and good luck- to produce commercial success. Formal decision structures were almost nonexistent, but the company’s head start and its bright, energetic founders easily overcame any deficiencies in its managerial decisions processes. Recently, however, competition has become stiffer and such large biotechnology firms as Genentech, Amgen, and even Bristol-Myers Squibb have begun to recognize the opportunities in SIVMED’s research lines. Because of this increasing competition, SIVMED’s founders and board of directors have concluded that the firm must apply state-of-the-art techniques in its managerial processes as well as in its technological processes. As a first step, the board directed the financial vice president, Gary Hayes, to develop an estimate for firm’s cost of capital and to use this number in capital budgeting decisions. Haves, in turn, directed SIVMED’s treasurer, Julie Owens, to have cost of capital estimate on his desk in one week. Owens has an accounting background, and her primary task since taking over as treasurer has been to deal with the banks. Thus, she is somewhat apprehensive about this new assignment, especially since one of the board members is a well-known Northwestern University finance professor.
SIVMED, Inc. Balance Sheet for the year ended Dec 31, 1999
(in millions of dollars)
Cash and marketable securities $ 7.6 Account Payable $ 5.7
Account Receivable 39.6 Accruals 7.5
Inventory 9.1 Notes payable 1.9
Current Assets $ 56.3 Current Liabilities $ 15.1
Long-term debt 61.2
Net fixed assets 114.5 Preferred stocks 15.0
Common stock 79.5
Total assets $170.8 Total claims $170.8
To begin, Owens reviewed SIVMED’s 1999 balance sheet, which is shown in Table 1.
Next, she assembled the following data:
Now assume that you were recently hired as Julie Owens’s assistant, and she has given you the task of helping her develop the firm’s cost of capital. You will also have to meet with Gary Hayes and, possibly, with the president and the full board of directors (including the Northwestern finance professor) to answer any questions they might have. With this in mind, Owens wrote up the following questions to get you started with your analysis. Answer them, but keep in mind that you could be asked further questions about your answers, so BE SURE you understand the logic behind any formulas or calculations you use explain your reasoning briefly.
In particular, be aware of potential conceptual or empirical problems that might exist write them down.
B) Should flotation costs be included in the component cost of debt calculation? Explain.
C) Should the nominal cost of debt or the effective annual rate be used? Explain.
D) How valid is an estimate of the cost of debt based on 15-year bonds if the firm normally issues 30-year long-term bond? If you believe the estimate is not valid, what could be done to make the 15-year cost a better proxy for the 30-year cost (Hint: Think about the yield curve).
E) Suppose SIVMED’s outstanding debt had not been recently traded, what other methods could be used to estimate cost of debt?
F) Would it matter if the currently outstanding bonds were callable? Explain.
B) SIVMED’s preferred stock is more risky to investor that its debt, yet you should find that its before-tax yield to investors is lower than the yield on SIVMED’s debt. Why does this occur?
C) Now suppose SIVMED’s preferred stock had a mandatory redemption provision, which specified that the firm must redeem the issue in 5 years at the price of $110 per share. What would SIVMED’s cost of preferred be in this situation? (in fact, SIVMED’s preferred does not have such a provision, so ignore this question when working the remainder of the case).
B) What is SIVMED’s estimated cost of retained earnings using the CAMP approach?
C) Why might one consider the T-bond rate to be a better estimate of the risk-free rate than the T-bill rate? Can you think of an argument that would favor the use of the T-bill rate?
D) How do historical betas, adjusted historical betas, and fundamental betas differ? Do you think SIVMED’s historical beta would be better or worse measure of SIVMED’s future market risk than the historical beta for an average NYSE company would be for its future market risk? Explain your answer.
E) How can SIVMED obtain a market risk premium for use in a CAPM cost-of-equity calculation? Discuss both the possibility of obtaining an estimate from some other organization and also the way in which SIVMED could calculate a market risk premium in-house.
B) Suppose SIVMED, over the last few years, has had a 14% average return on equity (ROE) and has paid out about 25% of its net income as dividends. Under what conditions could this information be used to help estimate the firm’s expected future growth rate, g? Estimate ks using this g estimate.
C) The firm’s per share dividend payment over the past 5 years has been as follows:
What was the firm’s historical dividend growth rate using the point-to-point method? Using linear regression?
B) Would the MCC schedule remain constant beyond the retained earnings break point, no matter how much new capital it raised? Explain. Again, ignore depreciation.
C) How does depreciation affect the MCC schedule? If depreciation were simply ignored, would this affect the acceptability of proposed capital projects? Explain.
B) What are SIVMED’s market value weights of debts, preferred stock, and common stock?
C) Should book value or market value weights be used when calculating the firm’s weighted average cost of capital? Why?