Japanese industrial robot maker Fanuc Corp said it would be doubling its dividend payout ratio, signaling an apparent win for US activist investor Dan Loeb in calls on the debt-free firm to return more of its growing cash pile to shareholders.
Fanuc announced that it would pay 60% of its net profit to its shareholders, up from their 30% figure when the financial year ended March 31st.
Fanuc is an international group of companies that provides automation products and services such as robotics and computer numerical control systems. Fanuc includes FANUC Corporation of Japan, Fanuc America Corporation, located in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and FANUC Europe Corporation S.A. of Luxembourg.
This move aligns with the measures sought over time by Loeb. Loeb runs the hedge fund Third Point LLC and is one of a growing number of foreign investors whose longing gaze is focused on Fanuc and other Japanese exporters who have been incredibly financially successful in the past several years.
In addition to Loeb’s pushes for this big payout, Fanuc is also responding to a request made by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to be more responsive to investors in the hopes of attracting them to Japan’s equity markets. Historically, Japanese companies paid little attention to shareholder returns.
Fanuc also said in a statement that they plan to regularly cancel shares they hold in treasury in excess of 5 percent of outstanding common stock.
So why has Fanuc become so successful? Fanuc’s Chief Executive Yoshiharu Inaba cited strong demand for Fanuc’s machine tools as a reason for their lucrative success. Their machine tools are popular among smartphone makers.
Before investing in Fanuc, Loeb also invested in another Japanese company, Sony Corp. Loeb’s campaign with Sony came to an end last year, when he sold all of his Sony shares. Fanuc and their investors are hoping that these impressive gains will continue for years to come.
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