Finance-AW146 Online Services The Basics


The Company name (Costco wholesale)

• This assignment is to be done in PowerPoint
• You should be able to do the assignment using only your company’s annual report and related documents (some companies split out their annual report materials into multiple related documents) as research material.

• Avoid at all costs: generalities, platitudes, gut-instincts and blah-blah-blah-ing.

• No fluff, Please! Good answers are specific and concrete, and use things like actual numbers, and identifiable products, brands, names and locations. A good test to see if something is specific and concrete (i.e., not fluff): if you read a bullet point/sentence and you cannot determine the company or industry to which it is referring, you need to get more specific.

The Questions

1. (15 points; 3 slides max) Generic Business Strategy (Intro; Chapter 5). Identify your company’s generic business strategy. There are two main tasks to answering this question: (1) choosing the right strategy; and (2) justifying this choice using company information. It is the latter that will largely determine the quality of the answer.

a. Identify your company’s generic business strategy

b. Explain how/why the company’s scope is narrow or broad. Remember that scope discussion should address products, customers and geography.

c. Where does its competitive advantage flow from? If it is a low cost leader, explain how it keeps costs down. If it is a differentiator, explain how it makes itself better/different/superior than others.

You will find it useful to use the 2×2 diagram used in class regarding generic business strategy. Use the company’s annual report (other materials are fine, but you should be able to answer this using no more than the annual report and related documents). Be specific and concrete in your answer.

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2. (20 points; 4 slides max) Industry Environment (Chapter 2). Do a Porter’s Five Forces analysis of your company’s industry environment, There are three main components to doing a good analysis

a. Monkey stuff where you fill in the boxes for each of the five forces. Note that you are expected to talk about 2-3 items from the text exhibit for each force. Reference things like switching costs, economies of scale, differentiation, etc.

b. Assessment of each force, where you assign it Hi/Med/Low based on your analysis above.

c. A brief concluding analysis where you do an overall conclusion and highlight the most important things in the industry environment as they relate to your firm.

3. (25 points; 4 slides max) Value Chain Analysis (Chapter 3). Do a thorough value chain analysis of your company. Remember that there are two types of activities: Primary, which includes Inbound Logistics, Operations, Outbound Logistics, Marketing & Sales, and Service; and Support/Secondary, which includes General Administration, Human Resources, Technology Development, and Procurement. There are nine activities altogether. A proper analysis will include

a. Monkey stuff where you fill in the boxes for each of the nine different activities. If your company outsources an activity, that is still noteworthy here. Nike changed the world based on the limited number of activities that it does in-house.

b. Highlight visually those activities key to a company’s performance. At most, this will include one or two activities per category (i.e., one or two primary and one or two support activities).

c. A brief concluding analysis where you do an overall conclusion and highlight the most important items of the value chain as they relate to your firm’s profits or competitive advantage (or disadvantage).
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