Course Perspective and Objectives
This course uses the case method to involve you in general financial analysis and decisionmaking. A "case" is a collection of facts, evidence, detail, and commentary describing a problem or problems faced by the firm and requiring a financial management decision(s). Since a "problem(s)" represents an impediment to stockholder wealth maximization, the case method forces you to assume the role of financial manager in resolving the problem(s).
While some of the cases are of a hypothetical nature, most are drawn from real world experiences, a fact which will more effectively involve you in genuine financial decisionmaking situations. As will become clear, the case method provides a low-cost, risk-free vehicle to simulate the real world.
Questions: What will you learn from this course? Answer: How to apply and put into action previously-learned financial concepts in real-world business situations. The business world usually comes at you in an ambiguous setting. Thus, the objective of this course is to hone your financial decisionmaking skills so as to enhance your ability to deal with this type of unstructured environment. To the extent that we achieve this objective, you will be more productive financial managers. To some extent the unstructured nature of cases means that some questions do not have "correct" answers as was the case in your principles of finance and accounting classes. This fact can be both enlightening and frustrating. If you participate fully in the course you will experience both states of mind.
This course is student/case driven rather than instructor/lecture driven. What does this mean? It means that class time will be predominantly devoted to case presentation and discussion by class members. This will include individual and group analysis of each case, cross-examination by others (including the instructor), and general open-ended class dialogue. The instructor's role will be to guide, direct, moderate, mediate, and grade. Accordingly, complete participation by every student is required and expected. NOTE: The instructor will interject commentary and opinion during case presentations where and when appropriate.
If everyone participates
we can have a lot of fun with this course.
I guarantee the course will enhance analytical, written, and oral skills in business if you participate fully.
Course Prerequisites Finance 3013, Accounting 2043 and 3033, Finance 3033. Statistics, while not required, will be helpful.
Exams There will be two formal examinations--a mid-term and a final. The exams will be cases that you have not seen before. They will differ from our regular in-class cases in that no pre-assigned questions will be given. Thus, their solutions will be more open-ended. These two exams will be "take-home" in nature and will require a complete, professional-appearing typed submission. YOU ARE NOT TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP FROM ANY OTHER PERSON (INCLUDING FACULTY) ON THE TAKE-HOME EXAMS. To do otherwise is to be dishonest. Exact exam write-up format will be discussed at the appropriate time. Exams will be graded on the basis of 100 points. You are allowed to refer to textbooks, and old finance and accounting notes on the exams. More on this later.
Grades and Grading Policy Grades will be assigned according to the conventional university scale: 90-100 A; 80-89 B; 70-79 C; 60-69 D; 59 and below F. Some curving of class test grades and the final numerical average of some students may occur at the discretion of the instructor. Individual student performance and in-class discussion, participation, and attendance will count heavily in your final course average. For a course of this nature there is a large subjective element in grading. If you participate you will be rewarded.
Your numerical grade will
be determined in the following manner:
|Your team's case presentations & write-ups||35%|
|Individual class participation & attendance||10%|
Cases and exams will be graded on the basis of 100 points. Weekly case grades will be a function of accuracy, content, appearance, and the quality and focus of the oral presentation.
Graduate Student Standards Graduate students will be held to a higher standard than undergraduates in terms of class presentations and examinations.
Class Format After the first week we will have two formal team presentations per class for a total of 24 cases over the semester. Presentations should take about 1:20 minutes each.
Class Attendance Class attendance is mandatory. Being a student-driven class, class participation is part of the course. If you are not here, you cannot participate. Roll will be taken at each class. Excessive absences may lower a marginal grade.
The Assignment Outline Case assignments and associated dates are listed on the Assignment Outline. We will do our best to comply with these dates as listed. Please bring the Assignment Outline to every class meeting and refer to it regularly so that you know what is ahead. I reserve the right alter cases or dates from those listed on the Assignment Outline as conditions require.
Finance 5053 Students Graduate students will be asked to 1) write and present a term paper (more on this later); 2) lead the class in the in the presentation of solutions to the mid-term and final examinations in conjunction with the class.
Text (required). None. Cases will be distributed by the instructor. Note that case topic areas described below are subject to change.
Optional texts It is my experience that all students in this class can benefit from reviewing your intermediate (or graduate) finance textbook as we go through the cases and touch on old (or possibly, new) concepts. I strongly suggest you keep these nearby for review throughout this course. Some recommended texts in this regard are Gitman, Managerial Finance, 8th ed, Brigham & Houston, Fundamentals of Financial Management, 8th ed., Brigham & Gapenski, The Theory and Practice of Financial Management, 9th ed. Other related texts are acceptable.
Calculator. Use of a calculator with NPV, IRR, and bond functions is needed for this course.
Two Case Formats There will be two case formats seen in this course. 1) Structured: The case is accompanied by specific questions; 2) Unstructured: The case does not have pre-determined questions. In-class presentations will be of the structured variety; take-home exam cases will be unstructured. See The Case Method handout for a discussion of unstructured cases. This is mandatory reading.
Team Conduct The
size of the class requires we form teams. In fact, team interplay
can aid in the learning process. However, there is a downside to
a team formató-"free riding." We all know what that means. I expect
every team member to contributed equally to class presentations, write-up,