The Financial Detective, 2016

Case Solution

Kenneth Eades, Jenelle Sirleaf
Darden School of Business ()

This is an updated version of The Financial Detective, 2005 (UVAF1486). The case presents students with financial metrics for eight pairs of unidentified companies and asks them to link the description of the company with the financial profile derived from the metrics. The main objective of this case is to introduce students to the analysis of financial metrics, specifically the range of metrics and the insights that each one provides. This case assumes that students have already been introduced to the definitions of various financial ratios through other readings or lectures. Structured exploration of company pairs within an industry provides important insights into strategy and financial performance. First, the economics of individual industries explain significant differences in key financial figures due to different technologies, product characteristics, or competitive structures. Second, financial performance is the result of management decisions: Within industries, large differences in financial metrics are often the result of different corporate strategies in marketing, operations, and finance. For these reasons, this case is a good stepping stone to later classes dealing with the interplay of strategy and financial performance.

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