It is nearly two years since Williams F1 floated 21 percent of its shares on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The shares were sold in March 2011 at around €25 per share, which meant that the team raised €60 million in cash and gave itself a market capitalisation of €243 million ($337 million).
After the launch the share price fell and by August that year it was down at €12.50 per share, but this had no effect on the team itself except in financial circles where people like to talk about notional value and such things. The naysayers chirped away but they have fallen silent since then and gradually over the last 14 months the team’s value has increased. In the last few days the share price has finally climbed back to the value at the launch and they are now trading slightly above it. The only losers in this process are those who have sold their shares along the way, but the actual selling has been fairly limited. The company is making money and does have a policy that could see between 25 percent and 35 percent of the annual net profits paid out as dividends, although for the moment this is not the case, as the company is holding on to its cash.
On the race tracks the team did win a race in 2011, but overall it climbed only one place in the Constructors’ Championship, despite scoring 76 points compared to 2011’s total of five points. This meant that Williams did not win as much prize money as it should have done. If there has been fewer incidents the team could easily have scored another 50 points, and that would have brought $15 million in extra revenues. One must say that while neither was a bad choice, the feeling was that the car was good enough to have achieved much more. The victory in Barcelona was vindication of the team’s strategy to concentrate primarily on engineering in order to begin a comeback. The architect of that strategy was Adam Parr, who brought in Mike Coughlan to get the technical department working properly. Coughlan showed that despite his troubles with McLaren, he is a very fine engineer and clearly understood what had to be done. The new car was a great deal better than its predecessors. The next step in the strategy is to bring in a top class driver and the team hopes that Valtteri Bottas will be its answer to that problem in 2013 and beyond. If the youngster can rack up a lot of points this year, then big name drivers will start to take interest in Williams again 0 and so too will sponsors.
All this means that if things go to plan the value of the Williams shares will continue to rise as demand for them rises…