Evaluating Dell Inc. As a Prospective Employer
Dell Inc. specializes in the sale of computer systems directly to their customers. Their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code is 3571: electronic computers. Companies within the manufacturing portion of this code have an SIC code from 3571-3579. This code allows them to manufacture and sell their systems directly to their consumers. When one compares their SIC classification to their actual business as listed in their 10-K, they are close. Dell states that it sells systems directly to customers. However, it does not indicate whether it manufactures them or purchases them from another manufacturer. This is not stated in the company description. However, in the Shareholder Letter it is found that many of the systems that it sells are produced by remote partners (Shareholder Letter, p. 1). It is important for the company to use the correct SIC code.
According to the letter to shareholders, Dell has achieved record growth over the past several years. It continues to reach new sales levels and break records. The CEO and Chairman of the Board are optimistic that this growth will continue into the future. They attribute their exceptional growth to an approach that focuses on the customer. Dell will continue to expand its holdings on a global basis, particularly in the Asian pacific. Dell expects to double its business in China and other emerging nations (Shareholder Letter, p. 1).
Customer experience is the pillar of Dell’s strategic plan. Their ability to deliver what the customer wants when they want it is one of the key factors that has led to Dell’s growth in the past and that will contribute to its continued growth in the future (Shareholder Letter, p. 4). However, Dells’ philosophy means that it is never satisfied and will continue to strive for continuous improvement in the systems that they provide and in meeting customer expectations. Dell has an active recycling program that encourages customers to recycle old computers (Shareholder Letter, p. 5). They reuse the material recovered in their manufacturing processes. Dell’s philosophy is centered on customer desires, and this includes attention to social responsibility.
Dell’s marketing strategy remains consistent in each of their global enterprises. it’s philosophy and overall business strategy is customer driven. Dell collaborates with other providers on a global basis. It selects partners based on compatibility with company philosophy and attention to the same quality that Dell customers expect (Shareholder Letter, p. 15). Dell manufactures 1/3 of its computers sold in the U.S. The rest are produced by Dell’s many partners. Dells’ leading selling point is their customer service centers that offer support to Dell’s entire client base.
Dell systems are the backbone of many major global corporations including DuPont and FedEx. Dell specializes in consumer systems including desktops and laptops. It also provides large business solutions such as server and large capacity storage systems (Shareholder Letter, p. 17). Their systems are known for ruggedness and durability.
The forefront of Dell’s business strategy is its direct customer model that includes a highly efficient manufacturing system. It focuses on supply chain management and organization. Dell feels that the most effective path to the customer is a direct relationship (Annual Report, p. 1). This model allows them to eliminate the intermediaries and retail dealers. Dell customers have the privilege of dealing directly with the manufacturer. This allows them to maintain lower prices than their competitors (Annual Report, p. 1).
Dell has the opportunity to custom build units for their clients with a fast turnaround. Dell is directly accountable to its customers, rather than going through levels of the retail chain (Annual Report, p. 2). This business model allows Dell to deliver the models that customers want at a price that is competitive. When they get a Dell, they know that they can count on excellent customer service. This business strategy gives Dell its competitive advantage.
Notes to Financial Statements
Accounting practices differ among various corporate entities. It is the job of the accountant to make certain that the information is presented in such as way that it most accurately represents the company. Accounting practices must comply with the Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP). However, there is more than one way to represent this information. The “notes” section of the financial statement provides the reader a clue as to how the information was prepared and presented. This will help the reader to make a more accurate assessment of the financial information within the report.
Dell’s Note1 explains the length and timing of the fiscal year, principles of consolidation, use of estimates and how investments are translated into cash equivalents (Annual Report, p. 41). This section of the statement explains how tangible assets are valued and how investment instruments are considered in the financial statements. Because Dell operates in many nations outside of the U.S., it must also explain how it accounts for fluctuations in foreign currency (Annual Report, p. 42). The reader must understand these items so that can compare them and make an informed decision. If these statements were not included then the information presented may appear to be misleading.
Understanding the balance sheet gives the investor a snapshot of the company’s overall health. The balance sheet alone does not tell the entire story, but is can provide a basic understanding of the overall picture. The balance statement summarizes the receivables and assets that the company owns against the liabilities and debt that it has. Assets include receivables, inventory at hand, tangible assets such as the plant and equipment, as well as any monies received as a part of short or long-term investments. Liabilities include operating expenses, taxes owed, shares outstanding, and capital needed for projects.
Dell’s most significant asset is their cash and cash equivalents (Annual Report, p. 37). Their least significant are long-term receivables from financing. These ratios reflect the nature of Dell’s business. They offer many financing solutions to their customers and therefore receive considerable income from financing activities. These types are reflected as cash and cash equivalents if they are three months or less (Annual Report, p. 41). Receivables from long-term financing stem from long-term financing of major system to large corporations and from leasing property and other assets.
Dells’ long-term financial responsibilities include the lease of property and equipment including manufacturing facilities and office space. It retains certain commitments and agreements with suppliers. Dell has a number of commitments that may be at risk at any particular time. In order to limit risks, Dell maintains diversified offerings. Dell has an active plan for monitoring investments so that it can mitigate any risks that may arise. In some cases, Dell maintains a contract with a single supplier if it feels that it is advantageous and that the quality is superior (Annual Report, p. 56). However, for most supplies, it retains alternative sources in case one supplier cannot meet the demand. The most important aspect of this information is that it lets the reader know that the company has made allowances for supplier failure and that it practices good risk management.
Dell does have a category for “other assets.” These assets were not defined within the notes of the financial statements. Their amounts were insignificant and the nature of these assets is not known. Dell’s statement does contain a section entitled “other non-current liabilities” but no mention is made of these assets in the notes or narrative.
The debt ration and debt to equity ration are two of the most important indicators that can be calculated from the balance sheet. The debt ration tells the reader how much the company relies on debt to finance their assets. A high debt to equity ratio is can indicate potential volatility. However, if the debt is used to increase revenues, then the company may generate more revenues than it would have without the additional financing. Interpretation of the debt to equity ratio is highly dependent upon how the financing was used to generate revenues.
Debt to Equity Ratio
6485 = 2.58
4129 = 4.60
These numbers tell us that Dell has been using a considerable amount of financing in its growth. This is reasonable considering its overseas expansions. However, in this case, they are experiencing considerable growth from their ventures and continue to add new sources of income to their portfolio through these financing options.
Income Statement and Statement of Shareholder’s Equity
Dell divides its business segments according to global regions. It includes data from the U.S., Asia, Europe, and South America. They also divide their segmentation into a number of products within those countries, such as desktop PCs, mobility, software and peripherals, servers and networking, enhanced services, and storage (Annual Report, p. 59). Dividing their business into various segments gives them an overall picture of what products are the most successful and where to spend more effort in the future.
According to the annual report, Dell’s most important segment is their desktop PCs. This segment outpaces their other products and comprises almost 1/2 of their total sells. As far as regional sales are concerned, U.S. business sales comprise the most sales (Annual Report, p. 58). This is not surprising because Dell’s home country is the U.S. The other markets represent emerging markets and represent excellent chances for growth in the future. However, they are not yet established. Dell established its core business in the U.S. before it began to branch out into other markets. These secondary markets were established due to a maturing, and rather saturated market in the U.S. They represent a way to continue growth as the U.S. market becomes mature.
At the current time, storage solutions represent only about 2% of total revenue. However, storage solutions are not a part of their core business. They were an additional service that was added after the establishment of the PC business. Their branding is not established on storage solutions. They must evaluate their position regarding this service in the future and determine if their resource might be better spent expanding their core business.
The Asian-Pacific and Japan represent the smallest segment according to regions. Revenues from European nations represent the second least important regional sector. If one only looks at the numbers, it would be easy to advise considering dropping out of these markets and spending more effort building in the more successful U.S. market. This might be the case if the competitive arena in these countries were such that the market was already cornered. However, this is not the case and these expansions represent an attempt to secure Dell’s growth status into the future. The Asian-Pacific and Japan are emerging markets. They represent an investment in Dell’s growth in the future. Therefore, the assessment of these positions would indicate that they should continue to expand these markets.
Dells’ income statement only gives three years for comparison. It provides information for 2004, 2005 and 2006. Dell uses a multiple-step format that separates expenses into various categories. However, it might be noted that the income statement is not very detailed in this respect. A more detailed breakdown would be more useful in the analysis of this company’s performance. The single-step statement is easier to analyze at a glance, but it does not allow for detailed ration analysis according to activity.
Dell spends more on sales and general merchandising expenses than on research and development. It only provides information on gross revenue on the income statement. One must refer to other sections of the report to gain a detailed analysis of various revenue streams. The information is provided, but is consolidated on the Income statement. They do not have a category called “other income” on their statement.
Statement of Stockholder’s Equity
Dell presents information as far back as 2003 on the Statement of Stockholder’s Equity. Changes in employee plans and benefits accounts for the most significant change in Shareholder’s equity. Dell only lists common stock and treasure stock on its report. In 2006, it issued 2,818,000 shares of common stock in 2006. They issued 488,00 shares of treasury stock. They did not mention preferred shares on their statement, therefore, it can be assumed that none were issued.
In the financial notes, one finds an explanation of why the company chose to reacquire its own stock. In the beginning of 2002, Dell began to repurchase shares of its common stock as treasure stock. Until that time, Dell retired all of their repurchased shares and recorded them as a reduction in retained earnings. However, Dell accounts for treasury stock using the cost method and includes treasury stock as a component of stockholder’s equity. This repurchase represents a change in accounting methods.
Gross Profit Margin
Net Profit Margin
Return on Assets
Return on Common Equity
Dividend payout ratio
Earnings per share
Price to earnings
Dell has realized a steady growth in profit margin over the past three years. Its net profit margins are higher than gross margins, but have declined. This would suggest that while sales have increased at a steady pace, expenses have taken a toll on the margins. However, this can be a positive or negative sign depending on the situation. For instance, if they are simply a reflection of increased costs, then they may herald trouble in the future as the company struggles to keep up with rising costs. However, they may also be the result of expenditures to expand the business. This ratio does not tell us much without further information.
Dell did manage to experience outstanding returns on assets on common equity. They do not pay dividends. They have healthy and steadily growing earnings per share. Their price to earnings ratio has seen some volatility, largely explainable by the expenditures involved in emerging markets. Dell demonstrates a healthy prospect for increasing growth in the future, particularly as they expand into emerging markets. They may need to adjust their product mix so that it is more efficient, but the adjustments needed are minor and will not affect the overall health of the company.
In order to address the health of Dell, Inc. one must compare it to its competitors. For this analysis, Apple Computer Inc. will be used.
Apple Computers, Inc.
Gross Profit Margin
Net Profit Margin
Return on Assets
Return on Common Equity
Dividend payout ratio
Earnings per share
Price to earnings
Compared to Dell, Apple appears to be a more profitable company, particularly when one considers the gross profit margin, and Earnings per share. It would appear the Apple is the better value. However, the Net profit margin gives us a clue that they also have high expenditures involved in their revenue generation. It would at first appear that Apple is the better value due to its high return on assets, and earnings per share. However, this should be taken with caution as it may also point to a mishandling of capital. Dell may not produce the rapid growth of Apple, but it offers more stable growth.
Long Lived Assets
Long-term assets are those items such as buildings and equipment that are necessary to the business. They have value, but they also have a certain useful life expectancy when they will have to be replaced, or repaired. As they approach this point, their value decreases. When one compares the long-term assets of Dell and Apple, both companies use straight-line depreciation over the estimated useful lives of the equipment. Equipment is amortized over 5 years. Buildings and other structures are amortized for 30 years. Apple estimates its expense on property and equipment to be 180 million for 2006, 141 million for 2005, and 126 million for 2004. Dell only depreciated assets in the amount of 393,000 in 2006, 224,000 in 2005, and 263,000 in 2004.
Intangible Assets, Cost of Goods Sold
Apple did not recognize any goodwill or impairments on any of its assets over the past three years. Dell did not mention intangible assets in their report, but they did mention them in their notes. Therefore, it can be assumed that there was none of note during the time period. Losses of this type are difficult to foresee, but they may have an impact on the business of both companies in the future.
Both Dell and Apple divide their cost of goods sold (COGS) into Selling, General, and Administrative (S G. And a) and Research and Development (R and D) costs. The costs of goods sold had a direct impact on Dell’s margins. They did have an impaired loss due to an acquisition that did not turn out as planned. Dell holds 1,581 worldwide patents and has applied for 1,416 additional patents in 2006. Apple increased R. And D. spending for the 2006-year as compared to 2005. These expenditures are necessary to the development of the company’s core business. SG and a expenses for Apple increased by 31% from 2005 to 2006. Inventory costs flows for Apple and Dell are complex due to the varied product offerings. Detailed information on inventory cost flow was not provided for either company.
Inventory turnover for Apple was 63.1 in 2006. Dell’s inventory turnover for 2006 was 88.0 Apple’s receivables period was 18.8. Dell’s receivables period was 13.2. Dell appears to be using its investment in inventory more effectively. This reflects an efficient value chain. This may be due to Dell’s direct sales business model that gets the product to the customer without the intermediary.
When one compares the financial statements of Apple and Dell, it would at first appear as if Apple were the clear leader as far as growth was concerned. However, when one begins to examine their use of assets and efficiency, it becomes apparent that Dell is the clear choice as far as stability is concerned. Dell takes a more conservative approach to risk management and growth strategies. Dell keeps its costs down compared to Apple and this gives it a clear advantage in being able finance its own expansions and investments. Dell may not have soared to the top the way Apple did, but it is seated in a position to experience stable long-term growth for the future.
Financial Statements: A Closer Look
Dell 2006 Apple 2006 Dell 2005 Apple 2005 Dell 2004 Apple 2004 Basic earnings per share for three years 1.49 2.36 1.21 1.64 1.03.36 Diluted earnings per share for three years 1.46 2.27 1.18 1.55 1.01.34 Asset turnover ratio 2.4-1.3 NA NA Receivables turnover ratio 13.2-18.0 NA NA Current ratio 1.11 2.24 1.20 2.96.98 2.63 Quick Ratio.83 1.76 1.01 2.63.81 2.33 Times interest earned for three years
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Earnings per share are a measure of profitability. The first ratio that will be considered is the basic earnings per share. Diluted earnings per share include warrants, stock options, and convertible preferred stocks, which means that there are more outstanding stocks to be included in the EPS calculation. The nuances of understanding this ratio are complex. In general, the higher the better. However, if the difference between the basic and diluted earnings per share is too wide then it could indicate excessive profit taking by upper management, which would mean that they do not have the interests of other shareholders at the forefront. In the case of Dell and Apple, both companies are healthy in this respect.
Asset and Receivables turnover ratio tells us how efficiently companies use their assets. Dell is slightly higher than Apple in this respect, but they are still comparable as far as the overall industry is concerned. Receivables turnover tells the analyst how much cash the business is likely to have on hand to cover outstanding obligations. In this aspect, Apple is considerably higher than Dell. However, this picture is not complete without an understanding of their liabilities and obligations.
The Current ratio tells the analyst if the company has enough on hand to meet their operating needs. In general a ration of 1.5 or greater is considered sufficient. Quick ration is the current assets minus inventories divided by the liabilities. This tells whether the company will have enough on hand to meet short-term needs. A ration of 1.0 is considered healthy. There is some concern over Dell’s quick ratio, especially in 2006 when it was below a 1.0. However, Apple’s current ration could be considered to be excessively high, which may indicate hoarding of profits, rather than using them to grow the business. Neither of the companies reported their times interest earned. This may be due to the existence to too many complex investing tools.
Dell’s major asset classifications are cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments, accounts receivable, financing receivables, inventories, property, plant and equipment, investments, long-term financing receivables, and other non-current assets. Apple’s major asset classifications are Cash and Cash equivalents, short-term investments, accounts receivable (less allowances of $52 and $46 respectively), inventories, deferred tax assets, property plant and equipment, goodwill, acquired intangible assets, and other current assets. As one can see Apple depends more on gains realized by intangible assets such as goodwill and deferred taxes. Dell’s assets are based on tangible assets. This reflects two different philosophies on asset management.
Dell’s liability categories are accounts payable, accrued and other liabilities, and liabilities to stockholders. Apple’s liabilities are similar, except that they include deferred stock. Liability accounting is almost the same between both companies.
Apple’s annual report included a restatement of previous earnings for the 2005-year. Both companies have acquired and disposed of assets over the past year a normal part of operations. Neither company reported any significant changes in connection with these changes.
Statement of Cash Flows
When one examines operating cash flows for Dell, a flag is raised by a negative operating cash flow in 2006. If one examines this historically, these indicators have been sporadic, ranging from 2% to 44%. When one compares this to Apple’s cash flows over the same period, they also show a negative cash flow for 2006. This may mean an industry wide phenomenon that took its toll on all players. However, when one examines the previous two years, Apple was generally over 170%. Apple has considerably more reserves built up to handle a shock than Dell. Although both companies were in a negative cash flow situation, they have sufficient inventory and convertible assets to cover them in a pinch.
Investing cash flows and Financing Cash Flows have an impact on the overall ability to meet obligations. These forms of income help add to the total revenue picture. Dell depends more on financing and investing for cash flow than Apple. The question is not whether the company depends on these as a source of income, but whether they have sufficient risk management practices to protect against a loss. When one examines risk management procedures, Dell uses diversification as a major tool to protect against excessive risk. Dell’s risk management policy is much more stringent than that of Apple.
Summary, Conclusions, and Recommendations
Interpreting the financial health of a company is an arduous task. There are many factors to consider and one must be careful not to place too much emphasis on any one factor. In the case of Dell vs. Apple, it is difficult to pick one over the other. They both have their good and bad points. Dell and Apple demonstrate two different management styles and philosophies. Dell’s strength lies in its steady growth and vision of expansion into emerging markets. It foresees the maturity of the U.S. market and is looking towards a future of continued growth. Its key weakness is that it does not have the strong cash flow to back many of its ventures. At times, it appears that it has overextended itself and the ability to meet financial obligations is questionable.
Dell’s key opportunity is its existing presence in emerging markets. It is already there establishing brand equity. Dells’ key threat is the entry of competitors in emerging markets. Dell spends much more on research and development than Apple, which may account for the slim finances at times. Dell is a feast or famine company that is highly volatile at times. If it is able to break into emerging markets successfully, than it could be considered a good investment. However, this is a cautionary statement and the investor must be aware of the risks involved. As far as employment prospects are concerned, there are many opportunities for advancement, especially if one is willing to travel. However, one has to question the job stability in the long-term future.
Apple computers Inc. 2006 Annual Report. Retrieved February 6, 2007. http://sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/320193/000110465906084288/a06-25759_210k.htm
Dell. Shareholder Letter. Retrieved February 5, 2007 at http://ccbn.mobular.net/ccbn/7/1442/1583/.
Dell Inc. 2006 Annual Report. Retrieved February 5, 2007 at http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/826083/000095013406005149/d33857e10vk.htm
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