The final project for this course is the creation of an Individual Case Analysis. The primary objective of this project is for students to understand how to analyze the capital structure of a company. Students will also improve their understanding of some basic forms of debt financing and learn to formulate strategies in structuring debt financing. The case will also expose students to the process of debt rating and its importance. Because of its international setting, the case provides an excellent opportunity for students to obtain an understanding of international capital markets and offshore offerings. Students will apply the case method described in this document. They will define the problem, build an analysis separating the important facts from the peripheral data, develop alternative courses of action citing advantages and disadvantages, and make final recommendations on policies that will maximize value for the business.
The case method is an important tool in educating managers by allowing students to bring to life conceptual material that is often difficult to understand without application, and aiding in integrating tools and theories students have learned by applying them to relevant management decisions.
The cases used in this course are a record of issues and problems actually faced by business executives, with supporting facts, opinions, and financial data that decisions were based on. These real-life situations are summarized by case writers who provide you with all of the relevant information that was available to the decision makers involved. If the information presented seems incomplete, remember that this only mirrors the business world reality of decision making with limited information. Obtaining more information costs time and money, resources that are scarce in most situations.
Each case, like each management situation, is unique. Since there is no one best procedure for solving problems or making decisions, there are no right or wrong answers in case analysis. Each class member will approach the case in a different manner. However, the following procedure can serve as a rough guide to your analysis which can be fine-tuned to personal preferences.
1. Read the Case. The first step is to get acquainted with the situation. Read through the case quickly, getting a general feel for what is going on. Who are the main players? What types of information are available to you? Go back and reread the case carefully, paying particular attention to case facts, figures, and diagrams. Be careful to separate symptoms and problems. Case writers will often flag important issues by italics, headings, or questions at the end of the case.
2. Define the Problem. Put yourself in the place of the decision makers in the case (managers, investors, debt holders, banks, employees, etc.). What are the critical issues? Does one problem stand out as primary, with other problems secondary or contingent upon it? Establish a time dimension to the problems; which problems demand immediate action, and which are long-term or strategic in nature? What critical assumptions are being made by the decision makers in the case, and how do these assumptions influence their chosen strategies? Try to state the problems so as to identify (a) who must take action, (b) why action must be taken, and (c) when should action be taken.
3. Build your Analysis. Gather the important facts and concepts in the case, and discard unimportant or fringe issues and data. Build a theme for your analysis, and establish the importance of the problems you have identified. Incorporate your knowledge of cultural impact on the situation, financial analysis, accounting techniques, marketing methods, economics, and human behavior into your analysis. Put theory to work in your paper, by using concepts from the readings and module overviews to analyze the problems and issues and explain why they require responses by management.