Ford and GM are the leading companies in the American automotive industry. Thus, to determine their operations in the last five years, this paper focused on the American Economy and its automotive industry. At the same time, qualitative and quantitative analysis were conducted on each one of these companies and their organizational structure. From this analysis, it was identified that although the companies have been experiencing tough economic times, their operations have improves as a result of their ever-increasing profits since 2009. Thus, these companies have changed their business strategies to meet the prevailing market demands and to ensure that their operations are sustainable in the short run and in the long run.
The Economy of the United States
The United States of America is one of the largest nations in the world in terms of physical size. As per mid 2011, the population of USA was estimated to be at 311 million people. Despite the recession that has been experienced in the world since the begging of the 21st century, USA has been experiencing a fairly stable economic growth. In the year 2011, USA reported a GDP of $15 trillion (Dooley, 2011). This made USA to be the worlds largest economy. In terms of purchasing power parity, USA still is the leader. It holds approximately 20% of the worlds purchasing power parity. At the same time, the industries within the nation are also functioning effectively and efficiently. It is due to this fact that the nation has also managed to maintain a strong economic output. In 2011, USA reported a GDP per capita of $48,387 (Dooley, 2011).
However, since 2007, the world has been experiencing a global economic crisis. According to analysts, this financial crisis is considered the worst since the great recession that the world experienced during the 1930s (Drazen, 2011). This global economic crisis has been characterized by collapse of huge financial institutions, reduction of stock market activities and bail out of banks by national governments. A key ingredient of this crisis has been inflation. Many national currencies, including the dollar, have reduced in value. This has come about because of reduction in global economic activities and devaluation of national securities (Frankel, 2011). As a result of the global financial crisis, the US economy has been experiencing some ill effects. For instance, as a result of the decline in production of goods and services by the companies that are located in the United States and labor within the country, it was reported that the GDP declined by 6% in the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. At the same time, the level of unemployment rose to 10.1%, the highest since 1983 (Hatzius, 2011).
Almost every aspect of the US economy has been affected by this crisis. This includes the automotive industry that had been fairing well for several decades. The giants of the industry, GM, Ford and Chrysler have suffered the most. This is evidenced by the decline in their sales figures and overall economic performance within the United States and the rest of the world.
Automotive Industry in USA
The automotive industry in begun during the 1890s and grew to be one of the largest in the world (Gourinchas, 2011). This came about because of the huge internal market that USA had and still do. Another factor that contributed to the massive growth of the company was due to the innovation of mass production technology. This resulted to an increase in production rate and efficiency to meet the increasing demand of vehicles in USA. As a result, USA had the largest automotive industry until it was overtaken by Japan during the 1980s and later on by China in 2009 (Frankel, 2011). In the year 2010, USA alone manufactured approximately 7.5 million vehicles. This figure however indicated a decline since during the early 2000s, the nation manufactured an average of 15 million vehicles annually.
The automobile industry in the United States, since its incorporation, has been able to provide millions of jobs to Americans before this 2007-2012 recession (Marchewka, 2011). However, this figure has been declining as a result of tough economic times and the presence of stiff competition especially from foreign companies like Toyota and Honda. By 2009, the big three market share had been reduced to a low of 42% and from the projections, this figure is expected to drop even further in the coming years (CAR, 2011). The graph below shows the market share of the big three (Detroit companies) versus international companies between 1986 and 2011 (CAR, 2011).
From the above graph, it is evident that local companies are losing their market share to international companies. This is a clear indication of the stiff competition that is being experienced in the automotive industry currently. As a result of its dynamism, the automotive industry has managed to receive $25 billion in direct investments from foreign companies within the last few years. This has enabled the industry to grow into areas that did not have the tradition of automotive manufacturing. At the beginning of the recession in 2008, the larger manufacturing industry collectively contributed 11.5 % with 2.2% coming from the automotive industry (CAR, 2011). The table below shows the contribution summaries of various industries within the US economy in 2008 (CAR, 2011).
The economic recession that has been experienced since the year 2008 originated from the housing industry. The housing industry had been booming up to sometime in 2006. This was as a result of low lending rates and loose regulations (CAR, 2011). However, as many analysts had suggested, the end of the housing boom came about with stringent effects on the US economy. During the housing boom, vehicles were bought on surplus. This came about as a result of the availability of money. Since the beginning of the 21st century, US automotive industry had been manufacturing an average of 15 million vehicles, with the year 2000 setting up a record of 17.4 million vehicles. The table below shows the annual sale of vehicles between 1992 and 2009 (CAR, 2011).
This increase in sales drove the actors in the automotive industry to boost their level of production. Thus, as a result of availability of funds from sales, investors and 9/11 manufacturer incentives, the automotive industry grew into vast areas of the United States to meet the demand of vehicles from the public. However, as the recession commenced, banks and other lending institutions increased their lending rates. In addition, job security became an issue. Due to this fact, the number of people who could purchase vehicles tremendously reduced leading to a surplus in supply. However, as more stringent measures have been put in place to curb the economic recession, the level of credit availability has been increasing over time. At the same time, manufacturers, suppliers and dealers in the automotive industry have also come up with strategic marketing plans that have been successful in increasing the number unit sales of vehicles in USA. Furthermore, it has been projected that the annual level of sales shall stabilize at approximately 15 million units a year by 2015 (CAR, 2011). These figures thus prove that the automotive industry in USA will regain its vigor and become sustainable in the short run and in the long run.
General Motors (GM)
Until recent years, GM has always been regarded as the worlds largest company by the virtue of its size. However, this title was taken by Wal-Mart several years ago. However, the company has been experiencing some vicissitudes that have affected the manner in which operations are being conducted within its system. To achieve its current status, the company has faced many challenges. This includes the increase in fuel prices, reduction in automobile sales, massive layoffs and buyouts. These factors have reduced the sales of the company by 12% (GM, 2011). At the same time, the company experienced a loss of $39 billion. It took the initiative of the US government via loans and investment plans to revive the company (CAR, 2011).
Incorporated in 1908, GM developed to be the leading multinational automobile maker. The company has its headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. As of 2011, GM was operating in 157 countries and had a workforce of 202,000 employees worldwide. Of the 157 countries that the company is operational in, it manufactures and distributes vehicles in 31 of them under the following brands:
To react to the economic recession that the world has been experiencing since 2008, GM came up with several policies and strategies that managed to enhance its operations. This strategic plan has been essential in boosting its operations. At the close of its financial year in 2011, GM became managed to become profitable once again. The company had a revenue of $150.28 billion, an operating income of $9.287 billion and a net income of $7.585 billion (GM, 2011). All these figures had increased as compared to their counterparts during the period between 2008 and 2010. In addition, at the close of its financial year in 2011, GMs total assets were valued at $144.6 billion. The company also had an equity of $38.99 billion. Given the improvement in the operations of the company and the fact that the automotive industry in USA is improving as a result of the development of a favorable economic climate in USA and the globe, it is expected that the sales of the company will increase in the next coming years. This will in turn prompt the company to boost its production activities to meet the market demand and stand at a competitive edge over its rivals.
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is a multinational automaker. The company is based in Detroit Michigan. As a result of its desirable operations in the automotive industry in USA, Ford Motor Company is part of the big three, together with GM and Chrysler. The company is ranked as the second largest company in the US automotive industry. In the global arena, the company is ranked number five in terms of vehicle sales in 2010 (Ford, 2011). Ford Motor Company was founded by Henry Ford in 1903. Other than Ford and Lincoln brands, Ford is also a shareholder of Mazda and Aston Martin. In the year 2008, during the beginning of the recession, Ford sold its Land Rover and Jaguar to Tata Automobiles, a company that is based in India. Later on in 2010, the company sold Volvo to Geely Automobiles. The Ford family owns the majority shares of the company. As such, they are in control of the companys operations.
As stated earlier, Ford was ranked the fifth manufacture of vehicles in the globe. This was after the following companies:
- General Motors
- Hyundai Motor Group
In Europe, Ford Motor Company was ranked at the fifth place in the Automobile industry in terms of revenue earned in 2010. In USA, the company was ranked at 9th place overall with regards to its 2009 sales in comparison to all companies based in the country (Ford, 2011). During 2009, the company had an annual revenue of $118.3 billion. According to the statistics that were released by the company in 2008, Ford had produced over 5 million cars in that year alone. However, this figure declines to 4.18 million. This was as a result of the economic recession that was affecting the economy of the United States; the automotive industry included. At this time, the company was in a huge debt. However, in 2010, the company experienced a turnaround by reporting a $6.6 billion profit. At the same time, the company had reduced its debt from close to $34 billion to $14.5 billion. The company has 90 plants worldwide with a workforce of 213,000 people (Ford, 2011). Ford Motor Company has produced several automobiles under its brand name. At the same time, the company also has other subsidiary brands in which it produces more vehicles under. These include:
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover
At the same time, the company also manufactures trucks, buses, tractors and automobile components. The fact that the company has a wide array of automotive products has played a critical role in ensuring its overall success. Although the company has experienced a lot of difficulties since during this recession period in terms of sales, revenue and so on, Ford Motor Company has come up with sustainable plans and practices that have enabled it to survive these tough times. The future of the company, like that of the automotive industry is bright. It is projected that vehicle sales will increase in the coming years. As such, the company has embarked on major plans to increase its production lines to meet the demand, tastes and preferences of its customers and the market at large.
Analysis of Operations
Both of these companies operate on a global scale (Sign, 2009). Fords major operations are based in the USA. The company has a variety of manufacturing plants within the country. These plants have been influential in its value chain processes ensuring that the vehicles are manufactured in the most efficient manner hence meeting their target market needs and budgets. By mid 2010, the company had sold over 4.6 million vehicles in the United States alone. This figure registered a 17% increase as compared to 2009. According to financial analysts, this increase in sales was as a result of the return of commercial customers most of whom did had fallen out of the market since 2008 as a result of the recession. At the same time, dealership sales had risen by 13% and fleet sales had increased by 32% (Frankel, 2011).
Ford also has prospects in Europe. With its subsidiaries, Ford Britain and Ford Germany, the company has been able to manufacture vehicles that meet the European tastes and preferences. Ford Escort and Ford Cortina, for instance, were manufactured during the 1960s by Ford Germany to meet the German and the larger European market need. However, it should be noted that Ford cars that were manufactured in Europe such as Mondeo, Focus and Fiesta did not have desirable sales in the American market (PMBOK, 2010). However, since 2002, Ford Britain ceased to operate, although there are minimal operations on some of their plants. Ford also has Joint ventures in Turkey, Portugal and Romania. In 2010, Ford was ranked as the fifth automotive company in Europe in terms of sales.
Ford is also operational in Asia Pacific. Its notable markets include Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. The most common brands in New Zealand and Australia are the Falcon and the Commodore (Ford, 2011). These brands are the most common vehicles in Australia accounting for 20% of the automobile sales (Ford, 2011). In New Zealand, Ford emerged to be the second largest company in terms of sales by accounting for 14.4% of the total sales in 2006. In Japan and South Korea, Ford has managed to enter the market through their acquired brands, Mazda and Kia respectively.
In South America, Fords operations were based on rationalization and economies of scale. It is due to this fact that the company never had specific brand(s) for a specific nation. However, in 1987, Ford of Brasil and Ford of Argentina merged with the Volkswagen group in the manufacturing process of Autolatina. The sales and profits of the venture were not desirable. Due to this fact, the project was disbanded in 1995. However, common brands in the region include Mondeo, Focus, Mercosur and Courier (Ford, 2011). In Africa and the Middle East, Fords strongest market was in South Africa and surrounding nations. Sales in the rest of the region mainly originated from trucks.
Like Ford, GM also has its fair share of the global market. In terms of sales, GM is the leading manufacturer of automobiles in USA and the second largest in the world after Toyota. However, most of its sales are concentrated within the United States. It should however be noted that GM is operational in 157 countries worldwide. In the American market, ford operates with its four main brands; Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet. Due to the huge market share that the company has on the automotive industry of USA, the federal government invested in the company during its downturn after the financial crisis to ensure that its operations are sustainable in the long run. President Obama acknowledged the operations of the company and from the government investments, ensured that GM would produce high quality cars that are efficient, environmental friendly, affordable and safe. This will meet the present and future needs of the market and will give the company a new look that will enable it to be sustainable in the future (GM, 2011). In 2008, ford managed to manufacture almost 3 million vehicles earning 22.1% of the industrys revenue.
GM also has strong operations in Asia Pacific. In China, the company locally manufactures its own vehicles under the marquee, Wuling, as a result of a joint venture that it has with SIAC Motors since 1997 (GM, 2011). Buick and Cadillac are also present in the Chinese market. In 2010, the sales of GM vehicles in the Chinese market increased by 28.8% resulting to the sale of 2,351,610 units. In Japan, the company is operational under dealership shops under the name Isuzu or Saturn.
In Africa, GM has had a long history in Egypt. The company has been operational in the country since 1920 up to 1950s when it withdrew. In South Africa, the company has been operating under the name General Motors South Africa since 1913 (GM, 2011). GM also has a strong hold in East Africa where it operates under the name General Motors East Africa. Its plant is located in Nairobi, Kenya where assemblies of Isuzu pick-up trucks and buses are conducted. The plant serves Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Burundi and Rwanda (GM, 2011).
General Motors had an annual income of 150.28 billion in 2011 compared to 135.5 billion in 2010. At the same time, the company had an operating income of 9.287 billion and a net income of 7.585 billion in 2011. This was an increase from 7.477 billion and 4.688 billion in operating income and net income respectively in 2010. In 2011, GM total assets were valued at 144.6 billion. The company has an equity of 38.99 billion. The increases in the above figures are a clear indication of the increase in sales and operations of the company as a result of its strategic plan and improvement in the overall economic condition of the United States and the world.
Z Score Analysis: Z = 0.012T1 + 0.014T2 + 0.033T3 + 0.006T4 + 0.009T5.
The fact that the results of the Z score analysis are below 1.8 indicate that there is a high likelihood of GM falling into bankruptcy within the next two years.
Ford Motor Company had an annual global income of $128.2 billion in 2011 from $119.2 in 2010. The company also had an operating income of $5.3 billion. Its net income in 2011 had increased to $20.2 billion from 6.5 billion in 2010. In 2011, the total assets of the company were valued at $179.2 billion, an increase from $165.8 in 2010. It is clear that from these results, the operations within the company are improving and yield to more success.
Z Score Analysis: Z = 0.012T1 + 0.014T2 + 0.033T3 + 0.006T4 + 0.009T5
The table below shows the ratio analysis of the two companies in 2011.
|Quick:||C.A. – Inventory-Other||0.89||0.72|
|Debt to total assets:||Total debt||0.017||0.52|
|Times earned interest:||EBIT||96.87||1.95|
|Working capital||Current Assets – Current Liabilities||11,315,000||5,322,000|
|Average collection period:||Receivables||24.16||12.01|
|Sales per day|
|Average payable period:||Payable||6.06||39.91|
|cost good sold|
|Fixed assets turnover||Sales|
|Total assets turnover:||Sales||1.04||0.72|
|Gross margin:||Cost of good sol||0.82||0.88|
|Net margin:||Net income||0.06||0.16|
|Return on total assets:||EBIT – Taxes||0.07||-0.02|
|Return on equity:||Net income||0.24||1.34|
In the course of its operations, General Motors has managed to gain a lot of factors that have acted as its strengths. It is due to this fact that the company has managed to stand on a competitive edge over its rivals. One major strength of GM is its organization structure and culture. GM has a decentralized organization structure that is hierarchical (Human Resources, 2011). This structure coupled by desirable leadership skills from the executive and managers have ensured that the company operates in an effective and efficient manner. At the same time, this structure has managed to facilitate communication within the organization in all directions. Thus, the views, ideas and opinions of employees from all levels have always been respected.
The operations at GM are vision driven. To achieve this, the company came up with a new business model in 2010 that aimed at building and designing the best vehicles in the world with a revolutionary Volt technology that is aimed at revolutionizing the industry and ensuring that the company remains at a competitive edge over its rivals. Finally, the organization culture of the organization is based on teamwork and consumer satisfaction. It has been the tradition of employees of GM to work together as a team to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization as well as their personal and career goals and objectives. Other strengths of the company include a strong brand name that has managed it to attract and maintain consumer loyalty among customers from all around the globe. The fact that the company operates globally is also a huge strength. This ensures that the company has a large market exposure. According to its financial results in 2010, GM managed to have a net profit of $4.7 billion by earning a revenue of $135 billion. This made the company to be ranked at the top of the US automobile industry and second worldwide after Toyota (Human Resources, 2011).
GM however is still experiencing one huge threat; debt. During the economic recession, the companys operations were almost paralyzed. As a result, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2009. However, the US government, amongst other investors invested in the company via loans and direct investments. Thus, although the market has turned around and the company was profitable in 2010, if it does not maintain proper financial management, its operations may cease to be sustainable in the long run.
Ford motor company on the other hand also has several factors that act as its strengths. Despite that the Ford family is the majority shareholder of the company and thus control its operations, the company has exhibited a world-class corporate management from its executive and managers. This has enabled the company to come up with strategic plans that have enabled it to remain as one of the leading companies in the industry. Ford also has a reputable brand name and marketing strategy. The company is also operational all around the world. In 2010, Ford was ranked as the second best automobile company in USA behind GM and fifth globally (Ford, 2011). This success has been sustained by the huge product line that the company has. Ford has over 90 plants in the world. Each plant is responsible of manufacturing automobiles that fit the market description of every region. This therefore ensures that Ford Motor Company is able to satisfy the needs of its customers worldwide.
The major weakness that Ford is currently facing is the rise in manufacturing costs. This has come about as a result of an increase in costs of production due to the economic recession that commenced in 2008. Due to this fact, the cost of raw materials, fuel and labor have increased. At the same time, the number of commercial customers has reduced. This has made the company to run into debts. However, the company has come up with a strategic plan that has turned it into profitability and reduced its debt tremendously.
Since both of these companies operate in the same economic environment, they face similar opportunities and threats. As per the end of 2009, the economic crisis in the United States had begun to decline. Due to this fact, the number of commercial customers has increased. The sales figures of these two companies have been increasing since 2010. At the same time, the ease at which commercial customers get access to credit has also increased. This has made the industry to become lucrative once more. Therefore, to ensure that they benefit from the favorable economic conditions currently and the projected growth of the automobile industry in USA and the rest of the world, these companies need to come up with strategic production and marketing plans. At the same time, they need to invest in research and development to keep with consumer, market and environmental requirements.
The major threats that these companies face is the stiff competition that they are experiencing in their domestic market. This competition comes from international companies such as Toyota and Honda. As a result of this stiff competition, the market share of the big three had been reduced to a low of 42% with future projections indicating that this figure may even go lower (PMBOK, 2010). Therefore, to ensure that they regain their competitive edge and reputable performance, GM and Ford motor company needs to come up with proper marketing strategies and improve on the quality of their brands to match up to the needs of their customers.
To become the leader in the automotive industry in the United States and the world at large, GM and Ford Motor Company have always come up with strategic plans that ensure that their operations are effective and efficient in the short run and in the long run. This ensures that both of these companies have a clear understanding of the trends within the market and come up with responsive mechanisms that will ensure that they are able to benefit from the prevailing economic situation and at the same time, meet the needs and desires of the customers (Human Resources, 2011).
As a result of the economic recession that commenced in 2008, Ford Motor Company has come up with a business strategy that has enabled it to come reduce its debt. Due to the efficiency of the plan, the company has managed to enter into profitability since 2010. The company always operates on the notion that the challenges it meets provides it with an opportunity to add value in its operations. Through its research and development programs, the company has been able to come up with innovative ideas that have been able to meet the market demands. As a In the last five years, the company has put all its efforts and resources into developing products that meet the demands of the market and to utilize the economies of scale. As a result, the company has put a lot of emphasis in the manufacture of fully sized family cars that are safe, fuel efficient, environmental friendly and portray a smart design. These new designs have been essential in improving the sales and the market share of Ford within the United States, Europe and Asia Pacific. As a result of their remarkable sales, Ford emerged to be profitable for three years in a row in 2011. The future projections of the company indicate that its revenues will increase especially after the introduction of new models of Ford Focus, Mondeo, Fusion and Escape.
To respond to the harsh economic time, General Motors has modified its operations to meet the market demand. To achieve this, the company re-branded itself as General Motors Corporation in 2009. To bring out a new look, the company developed a new vision that is spearheaded by a strategic business plan to deliver the desired results to its customers. GM is currently focusing on manufacturing world-class vehicles; a core area in its current business strategy that aims at focusing its operations in mature and emerging markets globally. GM has come up with a new technology, the volt, which is expected to change the look of its current brands. This technology was revealed in its new brand, Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle that was released in November 2010. Initially, the brand was supposed to available only in 7 states. However, by the end of 2011, it is expected that the brand shall be available nationwide. At this time, it is too early to state whether this new brand is successful or not, but the fact that GM has been profitable since 2010 provides a positive outlook of the brand. The Volt technology has enabled GM to maintain its excellence as a leader in terms of technological advancements in the automotive industry.
Since the begging of the recession in 2008, GM operations had been declining. To ensure its sustainability, the company embarked on a reorganization program on 10th June 2009. A new organizational structure was announced. At the top level of management of GM is the board of directors that is headed by the Chief Executive Officer, Daniel F. Akerson (GM, 2011). The Board of Directors are responsible in for formulating strategic plans and making key decisions for the company. To assist in managing the company is GM Corporate Officers also led by the CEO, Daniel F. Akerson. This team is comprised of qualified personnel who possess vast experiences in management. As a result of proper management, GM has managed to survive the tough economic crisis that is present in the world. At the close of the 2010 financial year, GM had become profitable once more and still is up to the present moment. To ensure that the company meets the needs of the market and stand at a competitive edge over its rivals, the company has come up with new products and enhanced its existing ones through its research and development programs. Chevrolet Volt, an electric car is an example that has revealed the technological superiority of GM in the industry and managed to boost its sales.
Daniel Akerson has been the CEO of GM since its reorganization in 2009 up to the present moment. At the same time, all the Board Directors and Corporate Officers still hold their offices since 2009. This stability in management has ensured that the company operations are systemic, predictable, efficient and sustainable. Akerson has managed to lead GM during tough economic times. In 2010, he led GM into having a $23 billion IPO. This is the largest in the world. He has also spearheaded several programs that will ensure the long-term sustainability and global growth of the corporation. Prior to joining GM, Akerson was the managing director at Carlyle Group based in Washington DC where he was responsible of managing assets worth over $50 billion. He has also served as the CEO of several companies in the telecommunication industry including MCI and Nextel. He is also affiliated with other institutions as a board member. Akerson graduated with BSc in Engineering from U.S. Naval Academy and an MSc. In Economics from London School of Economics.
The top-level management in Ford Motor Company comprises of an Executive Chairman, William Clay Ford Jr., the President and the CEO, Alan R. Mulally and a Board of Directors and Executives (GM, 2011). Also of great importance is the Ford family that is the majority shareholder of the company. Fords management has been effective especially in ensuring its sustainability through the recession. The company underwent a reorganization process and as of 2009, it has been profitable and managed to reduce the debt bulk that it had accrued due to its poor performance since the beginning of the 2000s. With a new different business strategy of focusing on the manufacture of smart, efficient and environmental friendly family vehicles, the company has come up with innovative ideas that have managed it to gain a considerable proportion of the market share within the united stated and the world at large. At the same time, with the help of the concept of succession management, Ford has been able to come up with a new plan and vision that will enable it to utilize its economies of scale much more efficiently and be sustainable in the long run.
The automotive industry in USA has been experiencing tough times especially since the begging of the 21 century. The leaders of this industry, GM and Ford are the ones that have experienced much of the effects of the recession due to their large market share. As a result, their operations have declined drastically since the beginning of the 21st century up to 2009 when both of these companies underwent a reorganization phase. Since then, the operations of the companies have become more sustainable and they have turned into profitability. Given their current trends and the status of the American and global economy, GM and Ford operations are expected to be sustainable in the short run and in the long run.
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Ratio Analysis of Ford and GM in the last 5 years
Latest Full Context Quarter Ending Date
Gross Profit Margin
Pre-Tax Profit Margin
Revenue to Assets
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Return on Invested Capital
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SG&A as % of Revenue
R&D as % of Revenue
Receivables per Day Sales
Days CGS in Inventory
Working Capital per Share
Cash per Share
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Free Cash Flow per Share
Tangible Book Value per Share
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