Business Studies

  1. Company Overview

2.1.   Background

Products / Services: Briefly summarize the company; describe each brand, division, and/or service.  What is the company’s mission, values, and objectives?

History: Develop a brief timeline of the company that includes the date of the founding and major corporate events including IPOs, M&A’s, CEO transitions, other major events (e.g., bankruptcy filings), etc.

Industry: List the company’s primary and secondary SIC codes and NAICS codes and include the industry descriptions.  In addition, include the company’s stock symbol, CUSIP number, and all other relevant classification information.

Background summary: Comment on the situation the company is facing in the case you read.

2.2.   Performance Analysis (some of these will require external research)

Financial Performance: Select two performance measures/ratios.  Then, in separate graphs, plot the performance measure over a five-year period comparing the measure against those of the company’s top 2 or 3 competitors and the industry average.  In a short paragraph, discuss whether the company is enjoying competitive advantage or suffering competitive disadvantage.

Now discuss the company’s primary stakeholder performance (i.e., investors, customers, and employees):

Investor Performance: In a single graph, plot the company’s stock price against the stock prices of its top three competitors and the S&P 500 index.  Make note of any stock splits, stock buybacks, etc.  Then, in one table, summarize the stock analysts’ buy/sell recommendations of stock analysts (see Yahoo! Finance).  Compare this information to the company’s top three competitors.  Finally, in a short paragraph, summarize the information and assess the company’s investor performance.  To what extent is the company meeting investor expectations?

Customer Performance: Find customer satisfaction rankings, product reviews, product recall information, etc. from Consumer Reports.  If you can find the data, discuss the rate of repeat business, price comparisons, quality, etc.  Provide a comparison to the company’s top competitors. Then, in a short paragraph, assess the company’s customer performance.  To what extent is the company capable of satisfying its customers’ needs?  How does the company’s customer satisfaction and/or product quality compare with its competitors?

Employee Performance: Find any information on the company’s performance in context of its workforce.  Look for rankings of the “best companies to work for,” news reports of labor troubles (e.g., lawsuits), and whether the company’s workforce unionized).  Then, in a short paragraph, assess the company’s employee performance.  To what extent is the company capable of satisfying its employees’ needs?  Is the company rated a good employer?

Other Stakeholder Satisfaction: Find information concerning the company’s environmental performance (e.g., rankings of “green companies” and company environmental programs). Find information concerning the company’s social responsibility (e.g., charitable and “cause-related” activities).

Performance Summary:  In a short paragraph, summarize what the performance assessment reveals about the company.  A good financial analysis goes beyond the numbers and makes conjectures about emerging trends and likely strategic implications of the numbers, often by combining insights from multiple elements of the financial statements.  Consider some of these questions in your discussion: How does the performance of the company compare with its competitors?  Over the past five years, has the company’s performance improved or decline?  Based on your analysis, does it appear that the firm’s financial performance is headed in the right direction?  What is your prognosis for the next couple of years?  Are there signs of competitive (dis)advantage?


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