Recent Question/Assignment

Strategic and Financial Decision Making
Assignment Semester 2- 2018/19
Ace Printers plc is a medium-sized manufacturing company, based in the UK, which produces printer cartridges for the computer industry.
The company has been quoted on the stock exchange for 4 years and has no long-term debt, although it does have an overdraft. However, as a result of this its interest cover is higher than that of competitors. Its return on capital employed (ROCE), however, is similar to that of other companies within the same business sector (20% before taxation). The company operates from three small production facilities, within the UK, which it owns, along with a small fleet of distribution vehicles, which is also owned.
At the moment Ace Printers plc is considering an investment in a new machine (at a cost of £2,250,000), in order to manufacture a new printer cartridge. This machine would have a maximum capacity of 180,000 units per annum. The company has employed a market research agency and the agency has established a link between demand and the amount that the company can charge to potential retailers. The agency has suggested two possible sales strategies that could be implemented:
Strategy 1 Strategy 2
Selling price (in current price terms) 12.00 11.50
Sales volume in first year 80,000 95,000
The agency has also predicted that with Strategy 1 sales volume would be expected to increase by 4% per annum and that with Strategy 2 there would be an annual increase in sales volume of 11% per annum.
The market research agency has not yet been paid and Ace Printers currently owes them £120,000.
The company expects the annual variable cost per cartridge to be £4.50 (in current terms) when 80,000 units per annum are produced. Upon investigation it is discovered that for each additional 10,000 units produced in excess of 80,000 units, there will be a reduction in average variable cost per unit of £0.10. This means that when production is between 90,000 and 99,999 units, the average unit variable cost would be £4.40, and that between 100,000 and 109,999 the cost would be £4.30 per unit, and so on.
Furthermore, the operation of the new machine would cause a rise in fixed costs of £165,000 (in current terms) per annum.
It is anticipated that the machine would have a useful life of 5 years and that upon investigation of economic factors it appears that inflation is expected to increase fixed costs at 4% per year and that annual inflation on the selling price and variable costs could be expected to be 3%. Within the economy as a whole it is expected that the annual Consumer Price Index will be 5% per annum.
With regard to financing the new machine the finance executive, Peter Komakech, is of the opinion that the money should be raised by a new issue of equity. He is also aware that the company’s current shareholders require a real rate of return of about 8½%.
At Board level when the prospective investment is discussed Peter Komakech says, “I think that we should estimate the Net Present Value in order to decide whether or not to proceed.”
Bob Vickerstaff, the production director, responds, “Net Present Value? Sounds like a load of old accounting jargon to me. Why don’t you just calculate the annual percentage return? Of course, I realise that you’d have to make an allowance for the fact that money received in early years is worth more to us. However, I must admit that I do like percentages.”
Beverly Margerison, the marketing executive, adds to these two comments, “Aren’t you both over-complicating the issue? If we know the current ROCE in our industry why don’t we just see what the ROCE is on this particular project and compare the two?”
Tom Sparkes, the Human Resource manager says, “I’m far from being an expert with numbers so I’ll leave these decisions to you lot. However, I was wondering whether or not there are any better alternatives than going back to the stock exchange in order to raise the finance through more shares. Couldn’t we increase our overdraft or borrow the money?”
Peter Komakech then responds, “Let’s get back to the proposal. I’m not sure how reliable the future forecasts of the cost of capital will be. However, I did read somewhere that we could use the Capital Asset Pricing Model in order to estimate an appropriate figure.”
This comment was enough for the non-finance managers at the gathering and the meeting soon drifted to a halt!
With these considerations in mind the board decide to appoint a management consultant in order to help them with some of their decisions.

Acting as a management consultant you are required to address the following issues:
1. Determine which of the proposed pricing strategies would be most attractive to Ace Printers plc, using the following methods of capital investment appraisal:
i) Net Present Value
ii) Internal rate of Return
iii) Accounting rate of return, based on average investment
In addition, clearly explain the rationale for your answers and explain upon which methodology you would place most reliance when considering a capital investment project.
You are not required to take account of taxation.

2. Beverly Margerison is interested in the capital investment appraisal calculations and mentions that when she was a student she can remember using the Capital Asset Pricing Model in order to calculate a suitable cost of capital for use in determining an appropriate discount factor. She also remembers that the cost of capital for a corporation relies upon the size of the company’s beta factor.
With this in mind she says to you, “I am rather confused by beta as it seems to be rather random. If I look at the beta for two well-known UK registered organisations such as United Utilities Group plc and Glencore plc, they are 0.77 and 1.91 respectively”
(, accessed 12/10/18).
How can it be possible that two such companies can have such different betas?
You are required to provide a response discussing explicitly why the betas of the two companies (United Utilities Group plc and Glencore plc) may have such different beta factors and considering the implications of this difference.
3. Provide a critical review of the comments made by Tom Sparkes, the HR
Manager, and consider why the source of capital is an extremely
important decision for a company and how it may impact upon its investment decisions? You should consider both theoretical and practical factors.

4. As Ace Printers plc is expanding quite rapidly it is considering future growth strategies. Peter Komakech favours acquiring a competitor, whereas Beverly Margerison says, “it would be far more sensible to grow organically and carefully.”
You are required to prepare a brief report for the management team providing a critical analysis of the above suggested strategies for growth.
(Total 100%)

Further Information
You are required to present well-structured answers of no more than 3,500 words in total (excluding calculations).
Assignments will be graded according to the following criteria:
• Evidence of critical judgement in selecting, ordering and analysing content in order to present a sound argument.
• The demonstration and understanding of relevant concepts and models.
• The demonstration of insight and originality in responding to the assignment.
• The extent and level of research undertaken and the degree to which this research is appropriately referenced.
All of the usual University regulations will apply with regard to the late submission of work and plagiarism.
Work should be submitted electronically through Turnitin on the due date, by 12noon.
Hand in date: December 30th 2018

How to succeed in the assignment!
• Ultimately this depends on to what extent you want to achieve a good grade! Those students who put time and diligence into their assignments are generally rewarded for their efforts.
Important specific points to remember
• Think about the question and the structure of your answer – you need a clearly defined structure which addresses the specific issues of the assignment. Therefore, PLAN your response very carefully before beginning to write. Think to yourself:
o What is the question asking me to do?
o Is what I am writing focussed on the question – is it relevant – or am I just including it because I found it!!?
• Make sure that you read all articles which are referred to in the assignment
• Never write anything in your assignment that you do not understand
• Do not use ‘bullet points’ to any great extent – this tends to preclude analysis and explanation
• Show FULL workings for all calculative work
• Think about presentation
o Contents page
o Page numbers
o Use short sentences
o Use many short paragraphs – a new paragraph for each different idea.
o Do not use too many headings – this tends to prevent the flow of the work
o Where an assignment is divided into parts 1) 2) 3) etc – answer in that format – do not merge answers - it is impossible for the assessor to mark these easily.
• When referencing
o NEVER reference to Wikipedia, Investopedia,, etc – these websites are all unsubstantiated – the material on these can be written by anyone – ALWAYS use academic literature (journal articles, text books etc – these have been refereed by other academics – unless you are looking on reliable websites for data and statistics)
o If you include a quote in “speech marks” you need to also include the page number from the source as well as the author name and date – no page numbers if there is no quote
o All the references that appear in the script should appear in your Reference List – it is not a Bibliography
o The Reference List should be in alphabetical order by author surname (family name)
• Working Practice
o Discuss with colleagues but type up your work separately.
o Never give your work to another student in an electronic format – you will be guilty of collusion, as well, if they use any of it
o Do not leave your work accessible on a university computer whilst you are not present
o Never share a file where calculations/spreadsheets are concerned
o Keep a back-up of your work – computer problems are not a reason for an extension
o Print the work leaving yourself plenty of time before submission
o Never sub-contract your work to a third party – it is generally easy to identify!