Stock splits are all the rage these days. Tech juggernaut Apple and electric vehicle leader Tesla grabbed headlines in recent weeks by splitting their high-priced stocks to make them more affordable for the average investor, among other reasons. Following the moves, those companies’ valuations flew even higher — until last week’s broad market sell-off — even though splits don’t affect a business’s underlying value one bit.
That’s because stock splits usually don’t do anything other than cut the same pie into more slices. However, there are occasional instances where such a maneuver can create something of value. Such was the case with the recent splits of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP) and Brookfield Renewable Partners (NYSE:BEP), which created two new corporations. Investors won’t want to overlook the results.
A new way to invest in infrastructure
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners completed a stock split transaction at the end of March that gave investors one new share for every nine they owned. However, those new shares were not common units of Brookfield Infrastructure Partners — a publicly traded partnership much like an MLP. They were shares of Brookfield Infrastructure Corporation (NYSE:BIPC), a newly formed corporation.
While the two entities are economically equivalent — meaning that investors get the same portion of the profits and distribution/dividend rate — the move has major implications. First, because Brookfield Infrastructure Corporation is a traditional C-Corp, it pays a qualified dividend instead of a partnership distribution. As a result, it will send investors a 1099-DIV Form for tax purposes each year, usually as part of a consolidated 1099 Form from their brokerage. It’s a more straightforward form than the Schedule K-1 sent by partnerships like Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, which often makes tax filing more complicated.
Another benefit of the new corporation is that, as an investment, it appeals to a broader base of purchasers. For example, many retirement accounts — including Roth and Traditional IRAs — don’t allow investors to purchase partnership units because of the potential tax complications. On the other hand, there are no such restrictions on buying shares of corporations like Brookfield Infrastructure Corporation. As a result, more people will now be free to invest in the company in their retirement accounts, making it a real gift to investors given its wealth-creation track record.
A new way to invest in renewable energy
Renewable energy giant Brookfield Renewable Partners followed its infrastructure sibling by creating a corporation via a stock split transaction this July. Under its split, investors got one share of Brookfield Renewable Corporation (NYSE:BEPC) for every four units of the partnership they owned. This maneuver similarly created an economically equivalent entity that pays a dividend and should appeal to a broader investor base.
That latter factor was a key driver of the decision. “BEPC shares will provide investors greater flexibility to invest in Brookfield Renewable’s globally diverse portfolio of renewable assets,” stated CEO Sachin Shah. He further noted that “this positions us well to continue attracting new investors to our high-quality renewable power portfolio.”
The company put that flexibility to use by offering the newly minted shares of Brookfield Renewable Corporation to help close its merger with TerraForm Power. Investors had the option of receiving either Brookfield Renewable Partners units or Brookfield Renewable Corporation shares in exchange for their TerraForm stock. Many opted for the latter, especially those who had held TerraForm in a retirement account.
Meanwhile, new investors have clearly preferred shares of Brookfield Renewable Corporation over the partnership structure. They’ve been a hot commodity over the past month, with investors willing to pay a premium for them. Shares of BEPC rose 13.3% in August, compared to BEP’s 5.5% rise.
Given the successes both Brookfield entities have had in growing long-term shareholder value, investors won’t want to miss out on the results of their unusual stock splits, which created something new with real value.