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.