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Black & Decker was incorporated in 1910. Begun by Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker, Black & Decker’s first power tool was an electric drill in 1916. They went on to develop and offer the first portable screwdriver, electric hammer, as well as finishing sanders and jigsaws all the way up to the hugely successful dust buster in 1978. Over the next 70 years, the company established itself as dominant name in power tool and accessories, first in the United States and then accros a broad global front but particularly in europe.
Growth was achieved by adding to its lineup of power tools and accessories and by increasing its penetration of more and more foreign markets
Symptons, Issues and Problems
Issues in this case is diversification strategy runned by Black & Decker corporation. As a diversified global manufacturer and marketer of household, commercial, and industrial product, Black & Decker need to develop and choose the right strategy for diversification.
This case particularly discuss diversification of Black & Decker corporation during late 1980’s to early 1990’s, where Black & Decker which is established as dominant name in power tools and accessories, began to pursue diversification.
It is because the continuing maturity of its core power tools business.
During the 1980’s Black and Decker had established themselves as a leader in the power tool industry. However, they were feels that the market for such tools was maturing to the point where expansion within the industry would provide little or no additional revenues so they decided to diversify.
Black and Decker began their expansion operation by acquiring General Electric’s housewares business, the leader in the industry, for $300 million in 1984. The success of the GE deal, and the reorganization efforts of their new CEO Nolan Archibald, led Black and Decker to continue on this path of acquisitions and diversification in other areas. Then, various acquisitions and acquisition attemp made by Black & Decker in their strategy to diversified. But the biggest and most noticed was the acquisition of Emrat Corporation, a diversified manufacturer of industrial product, for a $2.8 billion in March 1988. This steps is considered to be very bad decisions made by Black & Decker.
Change in strategy
In the mid 1980s, Black & Decker feels that the power tool market had matured to the point where there is no much room for further growth. Black & Decker then decided to change their corporate strategy from single business firm into diversified company.
In 1984 they began to diversify. First they tried to get into the small household appliance market. Rather than create their own line, Black & Decker decided to acquire General Electric’s unit of household appliances for $300 million. Although it was a small part of GE’s company, it held more market share than other houseware distributors (25 percent of the market and the leadership position). That acquisition gives an additional $500 million a year in revenue for Black & Decker because it was able to offer products like irons, coffee makers and toasterswhich.
This began a trend of acquisitions by Black and Decker expanding into various related and unrelated markets with varying levels of success. This various acquisitions allowed Black & Decker to offer even more new products such as portable woodworking tools and stronger drill bits. After all the new changes, Black & Decker Manufacturing Company also changed its name to Black & Decker Corporation to help market those changes
The successful story of GE’s household appliance division acquisition in 1988, has triggered Black & Decker to tried again. Only this time the company of interest was American Standard Inc. American Standard had an impressive $127 million profit in 1987, which towered above the mere $70 million for Black & Decker. But then, the acquisition was unsuccessful.
The Emhart acquisitions
The failed attempts by Black & Decker in 1988 did not stop Black & Decker moves to acquiring other company. In 1989, Black & Decker acquiring Emhart for the price of $2.8 billion, a price that 33% premium over Emhart’s preannouncement value. This acquisition may not have been the best move for Black & Decker because its stock price dropped 15 points after the announcement of the acquisition. After difficult negotiation of exactly how the acquisition would occur, Black & Decker decided to pay for Emhart for the next 48 years.
The deal put over $2 billion in goodwill on Black & Decker’s books and increased debt to over $4 billion just before the credit markets were about to contract severely. With the exception of a few businesses like Price Pfister faucets and Kwikset locks, which represented just $600 million in sales, Emhart made no sense for Black & Decker. Several of its subsidiaries were quickly placed on the block.
But then suddenly the economy became sluggish and the market slowed down, Black & Decker stock slumped from a pre-acquisition $25 to $8 per share. Archibald (Black & Decker’s CEO at that time) had to scramble to keep the company solvent. Archibald’s plan was to sell off about $1.8 billion of Emhart assets to pay down debt while merging the company’s line of Kwikset locks and Price Pfister Inc. plumbing fixtures with Black & Decker’s offerings. According to Archibald, the plan would have been successful enough under normal economic conditions. However, he failed to sell the Emhart businesses for the set prices leaving a long term debt of a hefty $3 billon and annual interest payments of more than $300 million.
Black & Decker initially sold $1 billion in Emhart assets to reduce the interest costs. It met this demand by selling whole divisions of Emhart and also by selling equipment and other assets. By 1991, Black & Decker reduced the debt acquired by more than 25%. From 1993 to 1996, Black & Decker sold off three segments of Emhart that did not prove to be strategic parts of the acquisition. By 1997, Black & Decker was able to meet its liquidity requirements and management chose to amortize the costs on a straight-line basis for the next 40 years.
This shows that the acquisition of Emhart Corporation is a Black & Decker’s bad move. Black & Decker’s decision to acquire a company that was larger than $2.3 billion (revenues) Black & Decker itself, (the Emhart Corporation were $2.7 billion in revenues), was too risky and apparently Archibald didn’t too aware about it.
The purchase and acquisition of Emhart had proven a lack in the synergy required to make such purchases profitable. Also the company had not been able to reduce its amount of debt (primarily from the purchase of Emhart) over the subsequent 10 years. Archibald made poor decisions in the Emhart acquisition, which impacted its profit margin, lowered its competitive advantage, and killed any chance of creating above-average returns.
There are things that has to be done in order to ascertain whether the acquisition may create value for the shareholders, which is the CEO’s primary responsibility. Effort should have concentrated on three essential tests:
· The attractiveness test.
The industries chosen for diversification must be structurally attractive or capable of being made attractive.
· The cost-of-entry test.
The cost of entry must not capitalize all the future profits.
· The better-off test.
Either the new unit must gain competitive advantage from its link with the corporation or vice-versa. Conceding the point that the purchase provided some benefits, such as increased market share and well-known consumer brands, the cost-ofentry and better-off tests provide evidence that the Emhart purchase was very risky.
Black & Decker SWOT Analysis
· Brand recognition is a strong attribute for Black and Decker. Black and Decker has a reputation for producing electrical engines, power tools and appliances.
· Black and Decker produce a variety of products in its respected industry, and it is involved in constant research and development (e.g., developing cordless appliances and tools, rechargeable batteries that are compatible with both tools and small appliances). · Black and Decker have penetrated the market causing it to dominate market share in the industry.
· Black and Decker’s reputation for quality tools and appliances has been decreasing. This was likely due to the fact that Black and Decker was busy dealing with its non-strategic businesses.
· Opportunities to gain more market share by sponsoring home improvement shows.
· Gain more market share with industrial market, by offering quantity-based deals and advertising the quality of its products.
· Sears is the strongest competitor in the power tools division with 13.4 percent of the US market share.
· Black and Decker needs to be aware of new items that the
consumer can use and develop them before their competitors.
Conclusion and Recommendation
When an industry became mature and not offered enough room for further growth, it is important for a company to change their strategy to keep growing continuously. This is what Black & Decker did, although being a dominant player in power tools and accessories for many years, Black & Decker realized the industry is being mature, so they decided to change their strategy into a diversified company.
To be successful, a diversified company should have a portfolio of product with different growth rates and different market shares. The portfolio composition is a function of the balance between cash flows. High-growth product, that important for company to keep growth in the future, need lot of cash inputs. Low-growth product, product that already in maturity growth, should generate cash. How to balance between this two is the most important things in managing multi-business (diversified) company.
The Emhart acquisitions is an example of bad acquisitions from Black & Decker in their strategy to diversified. There can be many reasons that an acquisition strategy fails to earn its cost of capital. An acquirer may have no real strategy to begin with and thus pay an unjustified acquisition premium right from the beginning. Or there may be a complete failure in executing a fundamentally sound strategy. One major risk in acquisitions is the failure to close the gap that may exist between the strategic objectives and organizational design of the new organization and those of the old. Issues such as new information systems and channels, management succession, new decision rights, and incentive systems must be planned carefully in light of where competitive performance gains are expected to result.
This case is also an example of the problems where mismanaged growth can bring diversification away from core businesses and core competencies rarely creates value for the shareholders. High leveraged acquisitions put the firm at higher financial risks, particularly when the firm’s products depend on business cycles. Shocks to the economy may result in insolvency and possible bankruptcy. The company may have to sell assets at low prices to meet debt obligations. As financial markets become more and more sophisticated, investors may diversify more easily, thereby making corporate diversification less attractive. Firms must continue to strengthen their core competencies and sustain their competitive advantages.
In conclusion, the fundamental reason for the failed acquisition is due to lack of long term planning, forecasting and predicting of the return on investment relative to cost. The highly leveraged acquisition of Emhart placed Black & Decker at higher financial risks, primarily when the firm’s products depended on business cycles. As result of the inherited debt and the unanticipated market fluctuations and weak economy may result in collapse or possible bankruptcy of the corporation. Black & Decker Executives’ lack of strategic direction and poor application of funds may lead the corporation to sell of assets at low prices or lay off employee to meet debt obligations.
Our recommendation for this case is, Black & Decker should stick with its original vision that includes the consolidation of their portfolio. The company should continue in investing in, and strengthening, its core products within its existing portfolio, so that these products will generate cash flow that will enable the company to embark upon expansion opportunities.
In the future, Black & Decker should consider international companies with strong recognition in the countries that they plan on expanding into, considering either acquisition, merger, or creating a joint venture. The affiliation between Black & Decker and these companies must create synergy in order to justify such deliberate moves and expansions. These planned executive decisions and actions will help Black & Decker to obtain competitive advantages which will result in aboveaverage returns, leading to greater investor wealth and value to its employees.
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