A newly-appointed director of a small German beer brewer must prepare to vote on three issues coming before the board of directors the next day: (1) approval of the financial plan for 2001, (2) declaration of the quarterly dividend, and (3) adoption of an incentive compensation plan for the marketing manager. The student’s task is to evaluate the past and prospective financial performance of the company and to critique its liberal credit and inventory policies. The objectives of the case are to:
• Introduce and exercise tools and concepts of financial-statement analysis (including financial ratios, break-even analysis, and cash-flow statements).
• Explore…show more content… Open-ended questions such as these will generate energy in the class, though the instructor should take care to limit the amount of time spent in this phase of the class, since students will find it easy to offer observations about the firm’s apparent strategy and financial performance. By letting the students assess the problems of this company in a nondirective fashion, the instructor can gauge students’ abilities and build students’ “ownership” of the analysis. The next three questions are a directive approach to problem assessment and could supplement this question or be used in place of it.
3. What does the break-even chart tell us?
This question gives students an opportunity to exercise their ability to interpret break-even analyses. Key teaching points should include explaining the preparation of a break-even chart, the interpretation of the break-even volume (938,799 hectoliters [HL]), and the comparison of the break-even volume to the current volume (1,173,000 HL). Another key point is that the chart in case Exhibit 5 is relevant only for the current cost structure of the company—if variable costs increase or the plant expansion is approved, the break-even volume will rise. Finally, students should be aided in understanding that “break-even” refers to operating profit, not free cash flow. The typical use of the break-even chart ignores taxes, investments, and the depreciation tax shield.