Business Strategy, Decisive Management, and Success
An Article Written for the Euro-Horizon Magazine
By Dr. John Psarouthakis
Founder and President, JPManagementCenter, llc
Adj. Professor of Business Administration (ret.), School of Business, University of Michigan, and Sr. Lecturer (ret.), Mechanical Engineering, MIT. Founder and former CEO, JPIndustries,Inc., a Fortune 500 industrial Group.
Plato, many centuries ago, said, “Nothing endures but change itself”. What is different in our era is not the presence of change but its pace–the rapidity with which ideas arise, are developed and applied, and the immediacy and degree of their impact in our lives. Let me illustrate.
When I were a student at MIT in the ‘50’s, it used to take five to ten years for an idea, or research result from a University, to become reality in the market and in our lives. Today it is almost simultaneous! This drastic change has fundamentally altered how we manage business and how the universities relate to the society at large and to the economic development demands more specifically. In the long past corporate strategists could rely on the likelihood that things would not change for a relatively long time. Long term periods were identified as ten year long, while a short tem was a three year time. Today these expectations are tossed out of the window. There is no “static” period to plan within. Things are ever changing. We live in a time phase when strategies must be dynamic, flexible and responsive to the ever changing conditions around us.
Dr. John Psarouthakis, Founder and former CEO, JPIndusries,Inc., a Fortune 500 industrial corporation. Publisher of www.BusinessThinker.com
Before you can begin final negotiations on price, you need to determine the value of the company. You can use several techniques to value a company. We recommend the discounted cash flow value approach as the most accurate method although other approaches are useful in preliminary stages of your search to give you a sense of the range of the estimated price.
Timing and Scope of the Valuation Process
An initial calculation of valuation can be done on a fairly mechanical basis, based on information provided to you by the seller using established formulae and guidelines. However, determining the accuracy of the financial data that the seller provides you is an on-going part of the evaluation process that should take place throughout preliminary and formal due diligence up to the closing. Thus valuation takes place along with negotiations throughout the deal-making process. One of the key objectives of due diligence is to surface any information that might affect the accurate valuation of the company. If your team does not have a financial auditor you should hire one to verify the accuracy of the historical data.
Once you verify the completeness and accuracy of existing documents, historical valuation of a company is often relatively easy from a technical standpoint. But it may be a fairly inaccurate reflection of what you can expect from the firm’s financial performance in the future. Thus, although a preliminary valuation of the company might be done initially when you first receive financial data from the company, refining the financial assumptions about the company’s future performance must take into consideration a wide array of non-financial considerations. Accurate forecasting requires a thorough understanding of general trends as well, trends specific to your industry, the economy, and of course a thorough understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the particular company you plan to purchase.
George A. Haloulakos, CFA, is a university instructor, author and entrepreneur [DBA Spartan Research and Consulting]. His published works utilize aviation as a teaching tool for Finance, Game Theory, History and Strategy.
Value is the key performance measure in a market economy because it encompasses the long-term interests of all stakeholders in a company. In highly competitive global businesses – especially with diversified companies — it is essential for a firm to be effective in all three phases of managing cash flow — operations, investing and financing – to generate cash at a return exceeding its cost of capital. The concept of stakeholder management has broadened the responsibility of management to include financial stakeholders (i.e., equity owners and creditors) and non-financial stakeholders such as customers, employees and suppliers. This task is magnified for diversified companies whose corporate structure is based on a mix of different types of product or business groups having a variety of financial requirements. Corporate financial strategy for diversified companies based on a portfolio management style may benefit from a stakeholder approach in order to cope with a myriad of challenges including, but not limited to, achieving economy of scale, diversification and growth in difficult or less predictable environments. Two different eras – the “stagflation” period from the mid-1970s to the very early 1980s and the “globalization” decade of the 2000s – provided extremely competitive market conditions where diversified companies achieved mixed results with divergent stock price performance. The case studies reviewed here offer a study in contrast in how the stock market values diversified firms with different corporate financial strategies.