Post 1: The Company – Introduce the company and its businesses.
Post 2: Competitors – Determining which companies are most comparable to the subject company is a non-trivial exercise. Look at the companies that operate in the same industry segment as your company. How are they similar and how are they different? Are they comparable in size? How do their strategies compare? Do they serve similar market segments and geographic areas? Do these companies also operate in other businesses that may affect comparisons with your company?
Post 3: Strategic Analysis – What is the company’s strategy and how does it compare to that of its competitors? What is the company’s source of competitive advantage? Do an environmental scan and/or a SWOT analysis. Consider the industry and what it takes to succeed. Consider Porter’s five forces. Look into the future. How is the business and industry changing? Are there any disruptive innovations looming?
Post 4: Profitability Analysis – Examine the firm’s profitability over the past five years in comparison to its overall industry and to your selected competitors. Look at multiple metrics for profitability including gross profit margin, net profit margin, return on assets, return on equity and return on net operating assets. Use the DuPont equation to disaggregate the firms’ ROE and explain changes in the firms’ ROE over the past five years.
Post 5: Revenue Recognition and Operating Income – How does your firm recognize revenue and how does your firm’s revenue recognition policies compare to its competitors? Is there any evidence of aggressive revenue recognition? Consider the firm’s operating income and how it has been affected by “above the line” items including research and development expenses, restructuring costs, income taxes and foreign currency translation. Consider “below the line” components to income including discontinued operations and extraordinary items. Examine earnings per share and the impact of dilution from new shares (and potential new shares) and the anti-dilution effects of share buy-backs. Finally, consider the “quality of earnings” of your firm.
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