What-If Analysis In Unit 1, you examined some of the ways organisations use financial

What-If Analysis
In Unit 1, you examined some of the ways organisations use financial and accounting data to make decisions. You examined similarities between the ways that financial data affects you personally and how organisations are affected by financial data. You are no doubt well aware that your own behaviour is often affected by your personal financial data. The amount of disposable income you have available, combined with the credit you can access, has an impact on your expenditures.

Similarly, organisations’ behaviour is guided by financial data. In the short term, such data will help determine operational expenditures; in the long term, historical data may help generate forecasts aimed at determining strategic plans. In both instances, data can assist managers in performing what-if analysis (sometimes referred to as ‘sensitivity analysis’), whereby discussions can focus on likely behaviour given changing sets of data.

Suppose that the management of a manufacturing company has approached you as a consultant. You have been asked to analyse financial data and develop alternative budget scenarios to help the company make some pricing decisions with which it is struggling.

The details of this are as follows:

The Blake Manufacturing Corporation manufactures and sells folding umbrellas. The corporation’s condensed income statement for the year at 31 December 2011 follows:

Sales (200,000 units)

£1,000,000

Cost of goods sold

600,000

Gross margin

400,000

Selling expenses

£150,000

Administrative expenses

100,000

Net profit (before income taxes)

£150,000

Blake’s budget committee has estimated the following changes for 2012:
30% increase in number of units sold
20% increase in material cost per unit
15% increase in direct labor cost per unit
10% increase in variable indirect cost per unit
5% increase in indirect fixed costs
8% increase in selling expenses, arising solely from increased volume
6% increase in administrative expenses, reflecting anticipated higher wage and supply price levels

Any changes in administrative expenses caused solely by increased sales volume are considered immaterial.

Because inventory qualities remain fairly constant, the budget committee considered that for budget purposes any change in inventory valuation can be ignored. The composition of the cost of a unit of finished product during 2011 for materials, direct labor and manufacturing support, respectively, was in the ratio or 3:2:1. In 2011, £40,000 of manufacturing support was for fixed costs. No changes in production methods or credit policies were contemplated for 2012.

In this Shared Activity, your group will assume this consultancy role. You will review current and historical financial data. You will have the opportunity to discuss the organisation’s behaviour and reactions to your analyses of this data. Your group will make a recommendation based on a what-if analysis.

To prepare for this Shared Activity:

Review this unit’s readings and the above scenario.

Blake has established a budgeted target profit of £200,000. There is a debate brewing within the management ranks of Blake regarding which strategies will put the company in best position to reach that objective. Blake CEO would like to adjust prices. The sales manager would like to focus on increasing the number of units sold while maintaining current prices. Your job is to provide an analysis aimed at helping to reach a decision.

To begin this analysis:
Compute the unit sales price at which Blake must sell its product in the current year in order to earn a budgeted target profit of £200,000.
Calculate a value in response to the following: Unhappy about the prospect of a price increase, Blake’s sales manager would like data regarding the number of units that must be sold at the former price to earn the £200,000 profit.
Calculate a value in response to the following: Believing that an estimated increase in sales is overly optimistic, a company director is requesting data predicting annual profit if the selling price calculated above is adopted but the change in sales volume only amounts to a 10% increase.

To complete this Shared Activity:
Post your opinion regarding the question of whether the company should pursue price adjustments versus a focus on increased sales. Given the data, would you be in favour of a price increase? What other factors would you like to consider in this analysis that have not been addressed yet, and how might they change your opinion?
Respond to at least two colleagues’ postings who have taken a different side of this debate. Discuss your reasons for recommending that company management should take a particular approach. Within your group, attempt to come to a consensus regarding what you, as a consulting group, would recommend to the company.

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