Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The Kraft plan to buy Cadbury hinges on synergies between their distribution channels, which brings up an ugly memory: the Quaker Oats purchase of Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1994, followed by the sale of Snapple three years later for just $300 million (accompanied by the departure of the longtime Quaker CEO). [You can hear an audio excerpt of our Quaker Oats case study at the Billion-Dollar Lessons website.]
Posted on Friday, September 4, 2009
While Oracle has talked of all the gains it will make by acquiring Sun, the early benefits, as usual, have gone to competitors. As the Wall Street Journal notes, IBM, HP and Dell have all picked up market share in the server market without paying a dime in acquisition costs and without having to deal with the complex integration that follows a major purchase.
Posted on Thursday, September 3, 2009
Warren Buffett says his guiding principle is to “be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” There’s certainly plenty of fear out there, and thus plenty of opportunities to get greedy. Greed, however, does not necessarily translate into wealth.
In “Beyond Fear and Greed: Capitalizing on Opportunities in the Current Crisis,” we draw on our two years of research into more than 2,500 major corporate failures and our related consulting work to describe the landmines that companies are mostly like to hit as they try to capitalize on the turmoil that has roiled many markets since the summer of 2008. We also lay out a process for stress testing new business strategies, ensuring that greed does not send you down the wrong path and increasing the chances that you’ll pick a highly prosperous road.
Posted on Monday, August 31, 2009
The General Motors board’s decision to overrule management’s plans on selling the Opel subsidiary underscores how much the business environment has changed because of the Great Recession. Boards that used to be along for the ride are asserting themselves, even in industries that aren’t so dependent on government aid.
In GM’s case, the board’s order to step back and reexamine the strategic alternatives might well have given management a measure of relief. There are numerous indications that management, in the midst of U.S. bankruptcy proceedings at the time, endorsed the sale of Opel to a Magna International-led group only reluctantly, yielding primarily to pressures from the German government.
Whatever the specifics of the Opel situation, GM’s board’s actions raise an important question: How should management deal with this new aggressiveness?
Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Procter & Gamble’s decision to sell its prescription-drug business to Warner Chilcott for $3.1 billion is the reverse of Nokia’s move into netbooks. P&G is recognizing–albeit belatedly–that prescription drugs have little in common with the rest of its portfolio of consumer products, even ones having to do with health.
Posted on Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Nokia’s introduction of a netbook computer shows all the signs of a misguided move into an adjacent market. Nokia is operating from a position of weakness, not strength–because of slowing growth in Nokia’s cellphone markets. Nokia also seems to be overestimating what it can bring to the netbook market while underestimating the difficulties that it will find there.
Posted on Sunday, August 23, 2009
Pulte’s agreement to buy Centex for $1.4 billion means, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, that Pulte “succeeded in its quest to become the largest home builder in the U.S.,” but Pulte’s may be a Pyrrhic victory. The acquisition shows many of the characteristics of the classic mistake we identified in our book as “Doubling Down on a Bad Hand.”
Posted on Tuesday, August 4, 2009
But the fact is that the Internet is wreaking real havoc in some areas, and organizations sometimes have their head in the sands. As we put it in “Billion-Dollar Lessons,” they have adopted a strategy of Staying the (Misguided) Course.
The latest example comes from a recent report from the U.S. Government Accounting Office about the U.S. Postal Service.
Posted on Monday, August 3, 2009
Just because something is in bad shape apparently doesn’t mean it can’t get worse. Having reported recently that big music labels are losing new singers and bands to Internet-based businesses, the New York Times now speculates that the music business will pretty much just go away. As this article asks, why pay for music at all if you can just stream it to your listening device free?
There’s a lesson there. Many companies can’t bring themselves to imagine Armageddon. They can maybe foresee a bad year or two, but not a scenario that would wipe out their core business. Yet Armageddon is possible.
Posted on Friday, July 31, 2009
A 7/26/09 article in the Wall Street Journal online, “Bed Bath & Beyond Shines in Troubled Retail Sector,” about retail chain Bed, Bath and Beyond underscores the opportunities available to those committed to using the financial crisis to gain market share.