The Financial Cockpit: Three Levers and One Flight Plan
This case focuses on the use and interpretation of the DuPont model financial ratios, in particular the following four: return on sales, asset turnover, financial leverage, and return on equity . Students consider how these ratios are used to assess a company's financial performance for a single year, over time, and in comparison with other companies within and outside the focal company's industry. They also learn how these ratios provide insight into a company's business model via the margins it is able to earn, the productivity with which it uses its assets, and the company's aggressiveness (or lack thereof) in using borrowed money to finance its operations. The case is rooted in the basic premise that "ROE is the ratio most commonly used to analyze profitability of a business" and it is "important to both current and prospective shareholders." Furthermore, in the context of the DuPont model, the case positions ROE as the product of the other three ratios noted above. Thus, the protagonist in the case, Jill Keyes, has gravitated to the DuPont model. The case ends with a set of questions that Jill Keyes has left for her subsequent follow-up-these provide the basic assignment for students.