Tag Archives: Economies of Scale

Chapter 7: Production Advantages Lost Part 2

Part 1: http://wp.me/p1PgpH-ta and the original post on the case study is here: http://wp.me/p1PgpH-r2

Logan James, a huge contributor to this blog, continues his analysis….

Question 2: Why was Cisco able to dominate the router market in the 1980s and 1990s in a way that Philips was not in the compact disc market?

Answer: Cisco’s router and switch products were much more complex than Philips’s compact discs. Cisco’s customers, in the beginning, were businesses, government agencies and universities. These institutions required initial setup of router and switch networks as well as continual service to make sure that the networks were up and functioning properly. If you’re a business that runs a network, imagine what it would be like if your network went down and business essentially stopped? Who would you call? Probably Cisco first. You would also view Cisco as the expert in the router/switch markets and would rely on their advice in regards to servicing the network. If you want to upgrade your network equipment, they’re probably getting the first call. So you have captive customers combined with some economies of scale (maybe in R&D, advertising, manufacturing). Note: Would need to check to see if these advantages show up in the numbers.

Philips sold compact discs, which are not complex. The company was the first mover, like Cisco, but did not benefit from any competitive advantages. Why would a recording studio be captive to one maker of compact discs unless that company had patents protecting its products for a period of time? The purchaser of the CD does not care which company makes the CD, they just want the music. Note that Philips initially targeted a niche part of the music market but planned to take share away from vinyl records in the future.

Note that growth can harm companies that benefit from EOS + CC because it is easier for competitors to enter the market, take demand and achieve minimum efficient scale. Two examples where this did not occur are MSFT and CSCO.

My comments below are repetitive to Logan James but may reinforce concepts pertinent to this case.

Cisco managed to create competitive advantages for itself, which became stronger as its business grew. The advantages of economies of scale never became important for Philips because the CD market was large relevant to the efficient plant size of two million discs per year. Cisco, by contrast, because of the high software content and attendant high fixed costs for its routers, enjoyed economies of scale advantages. It managed this advantage brilliantly.

Cisco prospered by solving a problem that was widely shared. By removing the language barriers between computer systems, Cisco made networking throughout the enterprise a reality. A company that makes life much better for its customers gets handsomely rewarded, provided it can separate itself from competitors offering similar benefits.

Cisco’s market had two elements missing from the CD market–substantial customer captivity and economies of scale. Routers are sophisticated pieces of equipment, a complex fusion of hardware and software. A high level of technological expertise was required to install and maintain the systems, an expertise not widely available except for those customers with large and skilled IT departments. The others relied on Cisco or its competitors (3Com and Wellfeet). As they expanded their own internal networks, they naturally turned first to the vendor whose equipment they already owned, not wanting to incur the risks and costs of developing a relationship with a new supplier. This asymmetry of familiarity was abetted by another feature of routers that made it difficult for customers to switch: the routers themselves were not compatible. Customers were made captive by complexity.

Cisco’s pre-tax return on invested capital during 1990-2000 was 142%!

Cisco moved into the new market of telecommunications service providers. As an entrant into this market, Cisco was without the critical competitive advantages it enjoyed in the enterprise market. It has no captive customers; so far as established customer relationships are concerned, it was the outsider looking in. Without this kind of customer base, Cisco had no economies of scale in distribution or service support. Because Cisco was working on new products for new customers, it had no economies of scale advantages in research and development either.
Part 3: Next Post.

Sees Pricing and EOS; Book Rec; Too big NOT to fail; Crony Capitalism; Obama Speech in Context

Money talks. Chocolate sings!

QUESTION from a READER on Pricing and Economies of Scale

I was reading the PDF and I had a question about the early 
discussion related to pricing below competitor's costs
with a brand that demands a premium in the market. 
There was a suggestion that the premium
brand is not able to arbitrarily price higher 
above the shared costs of the industry and 
earn outsize profits because this would invite 
competition, whereas when they lower prices closer to 
competitor costs, they're still able to be profitable due 
to marketplace premium while denying competitors
(potential and actual) the profitability they'd need 
to be incentivized to enter and compete.
How has Warren Buffett been able to raise
prices continuously on See's candy?  His
competitors aren't continually raising prices on
their candy, are they? Why don't these price
increases become self-defeating and
invite competitors?  

You can see all comments on this post here: 

My Reply: Good question. In the example you mentioned, the same logic would apply to Sees Candy. I have extensive notes on Sees but trapped on a dead laptop.  The notes below have an analysis on Sees pricing. Read the PDF on Sees, and we can discuss further.


BOOK Recommendation

I rarely suggest investment books, but here is a thoroughly revised edition of a book that Joel Greenblatt recommends in his MBA classes: Contrarian Investment Strategies: The Psychological Edge by David Dreman.

I have read about a third of the book, and certainly any Contrarians out there should read the book.  For example, on page 179 there is a table of Analysts’ and Economists’ earnings growth estimates for the S&P 500, 1988-2006 (18 years)

                                Analysts                     Economists                        Actual

Average                         21%                                      18%                                    12%

Percentage Error    81%                                   53%                                     —       

Even a cynical observer of Wall Street like me can’t believe my eyes. How can analysts estimate on average 21% earnings growth? The odds of any company growing in excess of 15% per year for 10 years is almost infinitesimal.  Take common sense so we add an optimistic GDP growth rate of 4 percent a year plus nominal inflation rate of 6% and we have 10% earnings growth, How can analysts even think of 20% EPS growth?


Too big NOT to fail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAxKAzpGmVA&feature=player_embedded

That leads us to David Stockman’s interview with Bill Moyers on CRONY CAPITALISM or Welcome to the USA today. http://billmoyers.com/segment/david-stockman-on-crony-capitalism/

The Blow-up Artist. Victor Neiderhoffer interview on being wrong. http://www.scribd.com/doc/79358509/Niederhoffer-Discusses-Being-Wrong





Study on Economies of Scale

I went to a fancy french restaurant called “Deja Vu.” The headwaiter said, “Don’t I know you?” — Steven Wright

Economies of Scale

Below is a 27-page PDF on economies of scale. Yes, the document is repetitive, but you often have to read or hear something three times before the lesson sinks in. Economies of scale is one concept of competitive advantage that you must understand in order to improve your business understanding. Learn it.


We will tackle the Coors case study in a day or so.

Keep plodding along.

Wal-Mart Analysis Post 1985; Money and Credit; Short Seller Blog

 I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering. — Steven Wright

Wal-Mart Post 1985 Analysis


My Greenwald notes on Wal-Mart should help you understand how regional economies of scale work. You see returns on capital decline as Wal-Mart grows larger in assets and sales but into areas with less regional economies of scale and more competition.

Money and Credit

A short synopsis on The Theory of Money and Credit http://mises.org/rothbard/money.pdf

A reader suggested this financial blog on short selling and focus on financial statement analysis: http://www.thefinancialinvestigator.com/


How does Kyocera (KYO) http://americas.kyocera.com/ir/index.html earn high operating profits on its core business of ceramics?  You will have to separate out non-operating assets like cash and investment in other companies to peel away the onion.  Are there economies of scale in R&D here?   Not a recommendation but some of you may want to have a current example to work on.

Part 2: A Professor Provides a Different Perspective on WMT

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.–Michael Jordan

What is a Moat?

Moats are structural characteristics of a business that are likely to persist for a number of years, and that would be very hard for a competitor to replicate.  Management is not a moat. The best poker player with a pair of deuces can’t beat a beginner with a straight flush.

Moats are not great products, strong market share, great execution and good management.

Part Two: A Professor discusses WMT Case Study

See Part 1: http://wp.me/p1PgpH-j0

Part Two: The Professor continues his talk on Wal-Mart’s success.

First used in grocery supermarkets, bar-code scanners at retail checkout stations are now ubiquitous. Mass merchandisers began to use them in the early 1980s. Most retailers saw the bar-code scanner as a way of eliminating the cost of constantly changing the price stickers on times. But Wal-Mart went further, developing its own satellite-based information systems. Then it used this data to manage its inbound logistics system and traded it with suppliers in return for discounts.

Susan, a human resources executive, suddenly perks up. Isolating one small policy has triggered a thought. I gave a talk the day before on “complementary” policies and she sees the connection. “By itself,” she says, “it doesn’t help that much. Kmart would have to move the data to distribution centers and suppliers. It would have to operate an integrated inbound logistics system.”

Good,” I say, and point out to everyone that Wal-Mart’s policies fit together—the bar codes, the integrated logistics, the frequent just-in-time deliveries, the large stores with low inventory—they are complements to one another, forming an integrated design. This whole design—structure, policies, and actions—is coherent. Each part of the design is shaped specialized to the others. The pieces are not interchangeable parts. Many competitors do not have much of a design, shaping each of their elements around some imagined “best practice” form. Others will have more coherence but will have aimed their designs at different purposes. In either case, such competitors will have difficulty in dealing with Wal-Mart. Copying elements of its strategy piecemeal, there will be little benefit. A competitor would have to adopt the whole design, not just a part of it.

The professor suggests that WMT incorporated the bar-code scanners into an integrated process that a competitor couldn’t copy at least in the short run. When a company invents a process advantage, competitors can eventually copy that. I see WMT using a technology to lower costs within the company’s regional economies of scale advantage. Even if Kmart could lower its costs with the same technology, it was still at a disadvantage in terms of cost structure versus WMT.

There is much more to be discussed: first-mover advantages, quantifying its cost advantage, the issue of competence and learning developed over time, the function of leadership, and whether this design can work in cities. We proceed.

With fifteen minutes to go, I let the discussion wind down. They have done a good job analyzing Wal-Mart’s business, and I say so. But, I tell them, there is one more thing. Something I barely understand but that seems important. It has to do with the “conventional wisdom”—the phrase from the case I put on the whiteboard at the beginning of the class: “A full-line discount store needs a population base of at least 100,000.”

I turn to Bill and say: “You started us out by arguing that Walton broke the conventional wisdom. But the conventional wisdom was based on the straightforward logic of fixed and variable cost. It takes a lot of customers to spread the overhead and keep costs and prices low. Exactly how did Walton break the iron logic of cost?”

I push ahead, putting Bill into a role: “I want you to imagine that you are a Wal-Mart store manager. It’s 1985 and you are unhappy with the whole company. You feel that they don’t understand your town. You complain to your dad, and he says, ‘Why don’t we just buy them out” We can run the store ourselves.’ Assuming Dad has the resources, what do you think of his proposal?”

Bill blinks, surprised at being put on the spot for a second time. He thinks a bit, then says, “No it is not a good idea. We couldn’t make a go of it alone. The Wal-Mart store needed to be part of the network.”

I turn back the whiteboard and stand right next to the boxed principle: “A full-line discount store needs a population base of at least 100,000.” I repeat his phrase, “The Wal-Mart store needs to be part of the network,” while drawing a circle around the word “store.” Then I wait.

With luck, someone will get it. As one student tries to articulate the discovery, others get it, and I sense a small avalanche of “Ahas,” like a pot of corn kernels suddenly popping. It isn’t the store; it is the network of 150 stores. And the data flows and the management flows and a distribution hub. The network replaced the store. A regional network of 150 stores serves a population of millions! Walton didn’t break the conventional wisdom; he broke the old definition of a store. If no one gets it right away, I drop hints until they do.

When you understand that Walton redefined the notion of “store,” your view of how Wal-Mart’s policies fit together undergoes a subtle shift. You begin to see the interdependencies among location decisions. Store locations express the economics of the network, not just the pull of demand. You also see the balance of power at Wal-Mart. The individual store has little negotiation power—its options are limited. Most crucially, the network, not the store, became Wal-Mart’s basic unit of management.

In making an integrated network into the operating unit of the company, instead of the individual store, Walton broke with an even deeper conventional wisdom of his era: the doctrine of decentralization that each kettle should sit on its own bottom. Kmart had long adhered to this doctrine, giving each store manager authority to choose product lines, pick vendors, and set prices. After all, we are told that decentralization is a good thing. But the oft-forgotten cost of decentralization is lost coordination across units. Stores that do not choose the same vendors or negotiate the same terms cannot benefit from an integrated network of data and transport. Stores that do not share detailed information about what works and what doesn’t can’t benefit from one another’s learning.

If your competitors also operate this kind of decentralized system, little may be lost. But once Walton’s insights made the decentralized structure a disadvantage, Kmart had a severe problem. A large organization may balk at adopting a new technique, but such change is manageable. But breaking with doctrine—with one’s basic philosophy—is rare absent a near-death experience.

The hidden power of Wal-Mart’s strategy came from a shift in perspective. Lacking that perspective, Kmart saw Wal-Mart like Goliath saw David—smaller and less experienced in the big leagues. But Wal-Mart’s advantages were not inherent in its history or size. They grew out of a subtle shift in how to think about discount retailing. Tradition saw discounting as tied to urban densities, whereas Sam Walton saw a way to build efficiency by embedding each store in a network of computing and logistics. Today we call this supply chain management, but in 1984 it was as an unexpected shift in viewpoint. And it had the impact of David’s slung stone.

Compare this discussion with Greenwald’s analysis of WMT in Ch. 5 of Competition Demystified. Do you agree with the professor that WMT has a network effect?

Hint: You are most likely to find the network effect in businesses based on sharing information (Amex), or connecting users together (Ebay, CME), rather than in businesses that deal in rival (physical goods). Of networks there will be few.

Cost advantages matter most in industries where price is a large portion of the customer’s purchase criteria.

A Typical View of Wal-Mart’s Advantages. Again!

If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack. –Winston Churchill
We will discuss Wal-Mart in the next few posts before moving on to the Coors case study.  Think of reviewing these cases as you develop more experience with analyzing competitive advantages. In fact, do not be afraid to read the cases again! Think of these guys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9AajQn7b18

Now give me fifty push ups! Does power corrupt?

A Typical View of Wal-Mart’s Advantages


The Limits of the Local by Steven Horwitz

Critics of the market often point to the increased globalization of production and consumption as one of the problems that economic freedom can generate. This criticism has a number of elements. One is that multinational firms like Wal-Mart or McDonald’s turn the United States, as well as the rest of the world, into one commercial culture, destroying the local stores that provided a distinct identity to small towns and cities across the globe.

Large chain stores and franchises do affect local businesses, especially in small towns, but note that it’s mostly a shift rather than destruction: Some businesses find ways to compete effectively by filling niches that the larger stores can’t fill, particularly with respect to distinctly local products, such as restaurant food.

However, larger chains have at least two big advantages worth discussing.

First and perhaps most obviously, their size normally gives them the ability to buy in larger quantities, keeping their costs and prices down. Wal-mart grew to the size it did through highly effective inventory management; it pressured suppliers to keep their input prices low and passed those low prices on to consumers.* Low prices are a big part of what lures people to shop there rather than at the smaller boutique stores. Chains like McDonald’s work in similar ways; a burger, fries, and drink there is usually no more expensive (especially if you count the lack of a tip) than the diner up the road.

Known Commodity

The second advantage is less commented on. The very similarity of chain stores and franchises nationwide, and even worldwide, is a big attraction to many customers because they are a known commodity. If you’re hungry in a strange town, you know that you can always go to a national fast-food chain and get a meal of nearly identical quality to what you’re used to at the chain’s restaurant at home — and for a good price. If you are sufficiently risk-averse, the consistency of a national brand is very valuable. In an economy where national chains were more difficult to operate, we would be far more at the mercy of the unknown.

And it’s not just about food. On a recent trip I forgot to pack dress socks. Thankfully, in a strange town 2,500 miles from home there was a Wal-Mart five minutes up the road. I happen to like Walmart’s in-house Faded Glory cotton dress socks, so I was able to buy several pairs of exactly the socks I like and usually wear (for less than $2 per pair). In a “local only” economy, not only would I have had to spend more time searching for a store that carried dress socks (and was open at 8:30 a.m.!), I would also have faced uncertainty over whether those socks would be the kind I like. And I probably would have paid considerably more. A highly local economy constantly puts strangers in a similar position to the traveler with car trouble who knows he is at the mercy of a mechanic he’ll never see again. Chain stores and franchises bring reputation and repeated dealing into the equation, removing uncertainty and reducing the seller’s power over the buyer.

Freedom of Choice

One final advantage of a global economy is that it still permits people to “buy local” if that’s what they prefer. I love living in a small town with a Wal-Mart ten minutes away and a farmer’s market during the summer and a top-notch restaurant that serves lots of local beef and produce. In a world where everything is local, those of us who want to “buy global” presumably would be prohibited from doing so — in the name of preserving the local character. Just as markets allow pockets of voluntary socialism, but socialism cannot abide capitalist acts between consenting adults, so a global economy has room for the local, while mandatory localism cannot meet the needs of those who prefer to buy global.

Whether it’s food or socks or pretty much anything else, the freedom of the marketplace allows for firms of varying size and composition to meet the equally varied wants of consumers.

*Has the writer accurately assessed the competitive advantages of Wal-Mart—the source of Wal-Mart’s cost advantage? Will going global help or hurt Wal-Mart’s profitability? How? (See 2003 Wal-Mart Case Study for help).  And if the writer is correct, then why do Sears, Kmart and other large retailers struggle? What does this article illustrate about most business writers or analysts? Lessons?

A Different Analysis of Wal-Mart Part 1

I bought a self-learning record to learn Spanish. I turned it on and went to sleep; the record got stuck. The next day I could only stutter in Spanish.                 — Steven Wright

A Different Professor’s Analysis of the Wal-Mart Case Study  (Part 1)

Try to jot down answers to the professor’s discussion. Part two of his lecture will be posted tomorrow.

A Professor Discusses Wal-Mart with his MBA class. The purpose of this analysis is to give you another approach of analyzing a case. Do you find Greenwald’s approach “better” or more thorough, precise and analytical or this professor’s approach? Can you answer his question at the end of this post?

The Professor: Much of my work with MBA students and companies involves helping them uncover the hidden power in situations. As part of this process often teach a case about Wal-Mart’s founding and rise, ending in 1986 with Sam Walton as the richest person in the US. In a subsequent session I will follow-upby discussing the modern Wal-Mart, pushing into urban areas, stretching out to Europe, and becoming the largest corporation on the planet in terms of revenue. But the older case portrays a simpler, leaner Wal-Mart—a youthful challenger rather than the behemoth it has become. Hard as it is to believe today, Wal-Mart was once David, not Goliath.

I write this on the Black-Board: CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: A Full-line discount store needs a population base of at least 100,000. The question for the group is simple: Why has Wal-Mart been so successful? To start, I call on Bill, who had some experience in sales during the earlier part of his career. He begins with the ritual invocation of founder Sam Walton’s leadership. Neither agreeing nor disagreeing, I write “Sam Walton” on the board and press him further. “What did Walton do that made a difference?”

Bill looks at my labeled box on the board and says, “Walton broke the conventional wisdom. He put big stores in small towns. Wal-Mart had everyday low prices. Wal-Mart ran a computerized warehousing and trucking system to manage the movement of stock into stores. It was non-union. It had low administrative expenses.” It takes about thirty minutes for six other participants to flesh out this list. They are willing to throw anything into the bin, and I don’t stop them. I prod for detail and context, asking, “How big were the stores?” “How small were the towns?” “How did the computerized logistics system work?” And “What did Wal-Mart do to keep its administrative expenses so low?”

As the responses flood in, three diagrams take shape on the white-board. A circle appears, representing a small town of ten thousand persons. A large box drawn in the circle represents a forty-five thousand square foot store. A second diagram of the logistical system emerges. A square box represents a regional distribution center. From the box, a line marks the path of a truck, swooping out to pass by some of the 150 stores served by the distribution center. On the return path, the line passes vendors, picking up pallets of goods. The line plunges back to the square, where an “X” denotes cross-docking to an outgoing truck. Lines of a different color depict the data flows, from the store to a central computer, and then out to vendors and the distribution center.

Finally, as we discuss the management system, I draw the path of the regional managers as they follow a weekly circuit: Fly out from Bentonville, Ark., on Monday, visit stores, pick up and distribute information, and return to Bentonville on Thursday for group meeting on Friday and Saturday. The last two diagrams are eerily similar—both revealing the hub structure of efficient distribution.

The discussion slows. We have gotten most of the facts out; I look around the room, trying to include them all, and say, “If the policies you have listed are the reasons for Wal-Mart’s success, and if this case was published—let’s see—in 1986, then why was the company able to run rampant over Kmart for the next decade? Wasn’t the formula obvious? Where was the competition?”

Silence….This question breaks the pleasant five-and take of reciting case facts. The case actually says almost nothing about competition, referring broadly to the discounting industry. But surely executives and MBA students would have thought about this in preparing for this discussion. Yet it is totally predictable that they will not. Because the case does not focus on competition, neither do they. I know it will turn out this way—it always does.

Half of what alert participants learn in a strategy exercise is to consider the competition even when no one tells you to do it in advance. Looking just at the actions of a winning firm, you see only part of the picture. Whenever an organization succeeds greatly, there is also at the same time, either blocked or failed competition. Sometimes competition is blocked because an innovator holds a patent or some other legal claim to a temporary monopoly. But there may also be a natural reason imitation is difficult or very costly. Wal-Mart’s advantage must stem from something that competitors cannot easily copy, or do not comply because of inertia and incompetence.

In the case of Wal-Mart, the principal competitive failure was Kmart. Originally named the S.S. Kresge Corporation, Kmart was once the leader in low-cost variety retailing It spent much of the 1970s and 1980s expanding internationally ignoring Wal-Mart’s innovations in logistics and its growing dominance of small—tow2n discount. It filed for bankruptcy in 2002. After some moments I ask a more pointed question: Both Wal-Mart and Kmart began to install bar-code scanners at cash registers in the early 1980s. Why did Wal-Mart seem to benefit from this more than Kmart?

Wal-Mart Discount Stores’ Operations 1985 Case Study Analysis

 Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.

Each Wal-Mart store should reflect the values of its customers and support the vision they hold for their community.
High expectations are the key to everything.
I had to pick myself up and get on with it, do it all over again, only even better this time.
I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond where they’ve been.
Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.
There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
We let folks know we’re interested in them and that they’re vital to us. cause they are.
We’re all working together; that’s the secret.
               — All quotes are from Sam Walton

Wal-Mart Case Study 1986

Analysis of Wal-Mart http://www.scribd.com/doc/78543427/WMT-Case-Study-1-Analysis

See: http://www.scribd.com/doc/78527294/Wmt-50-Year-Chart

Who wants to move deeper into analyzing WMT and see the HBS Case on WMT for 2003? …………or

Ready to move onto to the Coors Beer Case Study which is a lesson on what happens if a company loses its regional economies of scale advantage?

Lessons learned so far?

If you had read this case study when it was published in 1986 would you have bought WMT and held on for five or seven years?  What analysis would you need to do?

Tomorrow I will post another strategic view of Wal-Mart so you can see other perspectives.

Strategic Logic Case Study Part 2 Global Crossing


If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple of payments. –S. Wright

Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” –Andre Gide

Part 1 of this case was presented yesterday here: http://wp.me/p1PgpH-hj

If readers don’t grasp the significance of this case then I will QUIT posting and join them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_kRDcfTKrg

Invest in Global Crossing February 2000

Part 2: You are about to meet the fund manager in 30 minutes to give your recommendation.  Take a glance at Global Crossing’s 10-K. http://www.scribd.com/doc/77824423/Global-Crossing-1999-10-K What’s it worth?  The price is near $61 or about $37 billion in market cap.

Forget the financials you think, after reading Gilder’s Technology Report (background on George Gilder, the Guru of the Telecosm: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.07/gilder_pr.html) on the telecosmic Global Grossing, your confidence increases because growth will double every 100 days.

Since you leave nothing to chance, you call up David Cleevely, the managing director of Analysys, in Cambridge, England. Cleevely is a well-regarded observer of the new telecommunications economics.  He tells you, “The key thing to understand is the huge advantage of the fat pipe (or high-capacity fiber optic channels).  Remember that the cost of laying fiber is mainly the cost of right-of-way and digging or of laying it under the ocean. Recent advances let companies install enormous capacity at no more cost than building a narrow pipe. The economies of scale of the fat pipe are decisive. The fat pipe wins.”

Next you pull a slide from the company’s power point presentation on Where is the Company is Going.

The company will be in a market with EXPLOSIVE growth, competition, capacity on demand, no capital required from telecom carriers, and responsive to market demands.

Your secretary knocks on the door and asks whether you want to read about strategic logic from csinvesing?  You are handed some papers, and you immediately slam dunk the research into the circular file (waste-basket). “Who needs this bullsh@t,” you mutter.


You are thinking of the riches you will make and what you will do with your new car: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uo5E-2_2mgg&feature=related

You know that economies of scale are important. The logic seems simple—the fat pipes of the new-wave telecom builders and operators gave them much lower average unit costs (Think about how average cost curves are formed). I sat back and thought a moment about fat pipes, scale economies, and telephone calls. What was the “cost” of moving one telephone call, or one megabyte of date, under the Atlantic Ocean?

But the thoughts of massive wealth kept interrupting my thoughts. “Would putting in a fur-lined sink be in bad taste?” I wondered.

What critical aspect of analysis is missing here? If you need a hint go back to the connection between industry structure and profit.

The time is late February 2000 and with your supporting materials and 10-K you wait here for the big boss to arrive. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TulxjdKsROI

Strategy Quiz and Case Study

Change is inevitable….except from vending machines.

A fool and his money are soon partying. –Steven Wright


Dear Readers:

I know the three of you out there will be wondering about replies to your questions. This week requires traveling so please bear with me until I can reply properly.  Meanwhile, continue your work towards completing the Wal-Mart case study and Competition Demystified reading pages 1-110.

This quiz is meant to reinforce concepts you should be thinking about. Whenever you first look at an industry and/or company what should be one of the first questions that you ask______________________?

Research Question

Now, you have been asked to research a new company that has a product where the demand is estimated to increase 10 fold and you must advise your $2 billion hedge fund on Park Avenue, in New York whether to invest.  After two months of 18 hour days, you find out that the research on growth estimates was wrong!  The demand for the service will increase 1000x fold!  You are so excited you can barely wait to speak to the portfolio manager.  How great an investment will this be? What further MAJOR questions should you ask if demand will grow so rapidly. Take five minutes to frame your questions and what you will say to the big boss whom you will be meeting soon.

OK, scroll down and click on the cases below to learn what happened. Surprised?  Why or why not? Let me know your thoughts.



http://www.scribd.com/doc/77775204/Global-Crossing-A –sorry this had to be placed in the Value Vault under Global Crossing A (36 pages) due to security restrictions. If you do not have a key then email me at aldridge56@aol.com with VALUE VAULT in the subject line.


For a different perspective and more context: http://www.scribd.com/doc/77780615/Bubbles-and-Gullibility-2008