Analyzing and Interpreting
Q4-1. Return on investment measures profitability in relation to the amount of investment that has been made in the business. A company can always increase dollar profit by increasing the amount of investment (assuming it is a profitable investment). So, dollar profits are not necessarily a meaningful way to look at financial performance. Using return on investment in our analysis, whether as investors or business managers, requires us to focus not only on the income statement, but also on the balance sheet.
Q4-2.B ROE is the sum of an operating return (RNOA) and a nonoperating return (the effective use of financial leverage – specifically, leverage multiplied by the spread). Increasing leverage increases ROE as long as the spread is positive. Financial leverage is also related to risk: the risk of potential bankruptcy and the risk of increased variability of profits. Companies must, therefore, balance the positive effects of financial leverage against their potential negative consequences. It is for this reason that we do not witness companies entirely financed with debt.
Q4-3. Gross profit margins can decline because 1) the industry has become more competitive, and/or the firm’s products have lost their competitive advantage so that the company has had to reduce prices or is selling fewer units or 2) product costs have increased, or 3) the sales mix has changed from higher margin/slowly turning products to lower margin/higher turning products. Declining gross profit margins are usually viewed negatively. On the other hand, cost increases that reflect broader economic events or certain strategic product mix changes might not be viewed negatively.
Q4-4. Reducing advertising or R&D expenditures can increase current operating profit at the expense of the long-term competitive position of the firm. Expenditures on advertising or R&D are more asset-like and create long-term...