“For the final project we will study a diversified (diversified here is defined broadly which includes different product lines or product innovations) company and how it sustains/strengthens its competitive advantage to achieve future growth.”
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(The company I picked is GrubHub)
Below is what I want for this part of the project:
1. CORPORATE PORTFOLIO AND PERFORMANCE
- Do a financial analysis of the company to evaluate its performance such as its Revenue, Cost, Gross profit margin, ROC, Cash flow and their growth rate over the last 5 or 10 years (some can be broken down into segments e.g. often found in 10K reports). What do these numbers and growth rates tell you about the current status and future trend for the company? For example, how fast is the company growing? Has the growth rate slowed down?
- What does the company’s portfolio of markets/products lines/businesses look like? How much does each contribute to the corporate profitability (broken down into segments, e.g. found in 10K reports)? Where do you see the position of each in its product lifecycle (S curve), e.g. emerging, growth, mature, decline, etc.? What are the connections and synergies between these products/businesses?
- Dig behind the numbers to see which products/businesses that are the major growth engines that have been driving the company’s financials, e.g. revenue, profit, and growth rate? How much percentage do they account for the company’s revenue and profit? How high are the growth rates against the rest of the company?
I recommend you use the following resources, rather than just relying on Google and finding a few disjointed articles about it. The comprehensiveness and depth of your research will naturally be reflected in the quality of your paper and your grade.
- Mergent Online (a library database) gives you 15 years of the company’s financial statements so you can easily see the trend, plus many other resources
- Company’s most recent 10K (annual) or 10Q (quarterly) filings (you can find it from SEC or company’s investor relations website), which gives you comprehensive information about the company’s business, and financials. Two most useful sections are financial statements and manager’s discussion of the business. (Note: You are expected to use 10K instead of company’s own annual report, which tends to be promotional in nature!)
- Contact investor relations to ask to talk to somebody regarding some in-depth questions, e.g. finding out sales from a specific segment.
- Comprehensive Research with Data Insights: whether the analysis shows research of comprehensive information, uses valid data sources, and gain patterns and insights from data/facts.
- Critical Strategic Thinking and Independent Analysis: how much strategic and critical thinking you employ, whether the analysis is sophisticated, insightful, and thoughtful.
- Presentation, Organization and Professionalism: whether arguments are clearly laid out, logic flows well, and structure is clear.
Based on the past experience, I also have the following guidance. It’s extremely important you read and understand these carefully to make sure you meet the expectations:
- This is an integrative strategy project, and you have all the strategy tools at your disposal, including those from this corporate strategy/managing the multi-business class, plus the tools learned in the earlier business strategy/achieving competitive advantage class (esp. in Part 2 industry analysis). Pick whatever strategic tool/framework that are most relevant to your analysis, and can generate the most insights regarding the questions posed, e.g. you might want to use business strategy tools such as SWOT, Porter’s Five Forces, VRIO, value chain analysis, etc. for the questions in Part 2, in addition to examining the corporate strategy decisions such as alliances, acquisitions, and innovation. While applying the strategic tool/framework, aim to have a firm grasp of the few key factors instead of a long laundry list as a common pitfall e.g. in Porter’s Five Force or SWOT analysis.
- The focus is on analyzing strategic decisions and their impact on company performance and not descriptions, therefore only include brief background and facts absolutely necessary for the analyses. Overly detailed descriptions and space fillers (e.g. copy & paste company history, mission statements, etc. from websites) will have a negative impact for evaluation. Do not act like a spokesperson or promoter for the company, or include company videos (most of them promotional in purpose), except in the rare necessary occasion, e.g. to explain a complex technology.
- The quantity and quality of your data sources and interpretation are key criteria in evaluating the final project. It’s critical you use valid and comprehensive data sources and include them in the notes section of each slide. If you have to use data from some random article on Internet, cross check with other trustworthy sources and your business sense. Examining the financial data carefully to see patterns and thinking hard about the business model driving these numbers will help achieve depth of insights.
- Since our focus in this course is on corporate strategy, it’s important to break down the company’s revenue and profits into segments in your financial data analysis, and see which segments offer better growth to drive the future growth engine. Think about what these numbers mean and portend about the future. You can often find this from companies’ 10K filings to SEC or elsewhere.
- You should aim to achieve insights at the level of depth of a executive who really understand the name of the game in this business, rather than at a superficial level of a consumer who knows what everybody already knows. After all, strategy is the job of top level executives. Note that to better understand strategy, we also need to keep an objective stance and use critical thinking, and not be biased by company’s own propaganda and grand talk. Failures and mistakes need to be studied and properly evaluated as well as successes.
I would like the paper to be as main points and detailed notes beneath each point because I will use the information from the paper to create a powerpoint and use the main points on the slides and the detailed notes in the note section.
I attached the rubric for further information about the requirements.
Please let me know if you need any explanation.