SWOT Assignment ( shell)

This assignment is a 5-7 page report on one Fortune 500 company. The purpose of the report is to provide a detailed description and analysis of your chosen organization.

Imagine you are providing this report for your boss. It should be written in a professional, dispassionate, analytical manner.  Avoid use of the first or third person.  You are not an advocate for this company. You are a neutral analyst of it. The research questions that your investigation and analysis should be designed to help you answer include, but are not limited to:

Provide a description of the company and its competitive position in the industry (e.g. company’s overview/brief history, products, target markets/audiences, competition with other companies, market performance, organizational structure etc.)

What is the financial situation of the company?

What are its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT Analysis). Deal with each of these items separately and under a specific subhead for each one.

What are the Key Management strategies (integration, globalization, distribution, media convergence, etc.)

What appears to be the likely future of this company (next 5 years)?  New products, new directions, financial strength?

Compare this company with other major competitors (e.g. from the aspects of key management strategies, products, competitive advantages; you may choose one or two major competitors to analyze)

Is this a company one that you would want to work for? Why or why not?

You should hand-in:

A professional looking report cover page

A 5 -7 page paper written in 12-point Times New Roman Font and properly cited in APA format. Double spaced with 1-inch margins on all sides. Number all pages except for the cover. Staple once in the upper-left hand corner.  Included in this page count should be:

1-2 page financial table containing an overview of key financial data for the company (more info below).

1-2 page SWOT Chart (more info Below)

Complete list of citations (not included in the page count)

Financial Table:

Build a Table (NOT a chart) (Use the Table function of your Word Processing Program and single space all info in the Table.) Include the following information in it for each of the last 5 years.

Revenues for each of the five years (Sales). Tip: Be sure to designate the denomination (thousands? millions?). Drop the extra zeros out of the table. The company’s income statement will give you this.  $1,200,000,000  is written $1.2 billion in text or $1,200 in a table where the denomination is marked as millions   (millions) or (000,000).

Percentage change in Revenues of the most recent year over the first year of the five ((Big-Small)/First). Be sure that if it is a decline from 5 years ago, that you indicate that. Do not do this for every year — just year 5 (most recent) as compared to year 1.

Operating Profit for each of the five years.  The company’s income statement will give you this.

Percentage change in Operating Profit of most recent year from first year. Calculate this exactly as you did for the change for revenues. However, if Year 1 or Year 5 show operating losses, you cannot use that figure. So then move to the next year in the 5 years where they showed a profit and use that figure in your calculation. Be sure to put a footnote on the table that explains that’s what you did and what year you used.

Operating Profit Margin for each year. (Operating Profit/Revenues)

Net Profits for Each Year. (Also known as net income). The company’s income statement will give you this.

Percentage change in Net Profits of most recent year from first year. This is done exactly the same way that Operating profits are done.

Net Profit Margin for Each Year. (Net Profit/Revenues)

In addition to providing this information in the Table, write a few paragraphs in your report telling me about the data in your table and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, telling me what it means.

SWOT Analysis

Go to the Web Page for your company. Familiarize yourself with its subsidiaries and overall business holdings. Ask yourself what management strategies it is, and isn’t using. Focus not on every strategy it is using but the ones that seem to be central to its operations. I also recommend you read the “Letter to Stockholders,” found in the annual report (usually under “investor relations” or “shareholder information” on the Web site). The Web site usually also has recent press releases.

Read the company’s own statements and analyses, but read them skeptically. The company will be trying to put the best face on everything — pure public relations. You should do your own analysis. Think for yourself. What do YOU think this company is doing right and wrong? That’s what I want to know — not what the company is saying.

Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with your company’s financial condition, its key management strategies, subsidiaries, and any recent developments that have made the news, build your SWOT analysis table. Then, you can use this information to write your SWOT analysis section of the report. You should have a specific section head and analysis for each of the 4 elements: Strengths of the Company as a competitor in their industry; Weaknesses of the company as a competitor; Opportunities it may be positioned to seize; Threats that may be on the horizon.

 

 

Tips:

Do NOT write this report answering the above research questions point-by-point. Only in the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) section would you necessarily write a section for each item.

Write this report as if you were briefing your friend on the story of the company. What is the first thing a naïve person would need to know about the company in order to understand the rest of the information you are going to present? Use subheads where logical to help your reader move from topic to topic.

Do not assume that these are the only things that your report should contain or explain.  Any information relevant to your SWOT analysis should be laid out clearly in your company description section.

You should not be introducing new facts into the report in the SWOT portion of the analysis. That section should be devoted to analyzing the information you’ve already presented.

Remember:  If your company is a public company, you will find all of the financial information and a lot of other valuable information for your SWOT analysis online from various sources.  Try to find an Annual Report.

Think for yourself and clearly state your analysis.

Provide evidence in the form of examples to explain WHY you believe that something is a strength, weakness, opportunity or threat.

Argue and defend your position. There are few rights and wrongs here. Analysis is about thinking and argument.

Remember that everything has an upside and downside, so what you propose as a strength or opportunity also may be a weakness or pose a threat, if looked at a different way or if the competitive environment changes. Point that out.

Professional writing avoids the following:

Hyperbole and exaggeration. Few things are “always” and “never.” Nothing is perfect. Be moderate in your proclamations.

The first person. Use of “I” undermines your credibility as an analyst. You should not be arguing from personal opinion, but rather from expert analysis. Instead of “I think,” use phrases like “It would appear,” or “it seems likely that X will happen because the company has recently done Y.”

 

 

 

 

 

Sources to consider:

  • The company’s Web Site
  • The company’s annual reports and 10-q (quarterly financial reports), found on the company Web site
  • News Stories about the company in the general press and the trade press
  • Information on the Web at blogs etc. Be skeptical of the sources, however.
  • Books on Corporate History, found in the Reference section of the Main Library. (There are lots of different ones).
  • Speeches/Interviews with/by the Chairman or CEO
  • DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA
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