Don’t Always Trust Product Support Enterprise Financial Data

Jul 23
2010

Recently General Motors (GM) reported their 2009 new-condition light vehicle sales warranty expenditures. In calculating the warranty expense per vehicle sold, the results were $357. Utilizing this per vehicle cost in calculating the average price per vehicle sold to the dealer network, this would indicate that GM sold each of their vehicles at an average price of $14,300…appears to be a very low number relative to all its major competitors…and common sense.

With US sales about 35% of GM’s overall unit sales and the average US vehicle sold to dealers at around $23,000, GM is implicitly indicating that the average price of the remaining light vehicles sold in the EU and Asia would be about $9,000 each…not likely. The warranty expenditures have a material impact on overall earnings for GM, thus this “cost conflict” is important.

It may be that GM, currently controlled by the Federal Government is applying “creative” financial accounting, similar to that of the Federal Government has been employing for decades…but that is another story.

Lesson Learned: When performing financial analysis of a Product Support Enterprise (PSE), warranty is an OEM’s cost incurred by the PSE, always validate the results by employing a secondary calculation for at least a selected group of costs that are material….a bit more work, but important in delivering accurate results.

The “Miracle” of COTS Products

Jul 09
2010

The Department Of Defense and its research organizations have always been touted as working on the “bleeding edge” of a multiple array of technologies. This is often true, leading to more effective (i.e. lethal) mission capabilities, but rarely are these initiatives more efficient (i.e. cost per outcome) in completing a mission.  See Undersecretary Carter’s comments regarding this issue here.

When we move to the COTS product world, the employment of COTS products in the processes of everyday life has resulted in both improvements in effectiveness and efficiency. In a recent article in the Journal of the American Enterprise Institute,  a striking comparison of what could be purchased in 1964 and today with the same purchasing power (price as a % of average salary) was illustrated below based upon an average one month salary.

1964:
 A moderately priced Radio Shack stereo system.

2010:
Panasonic Home Theater System, Insignia 50″ Plasma HDTV, Apple 8GB iPod Touch, Sony 3D Blu-ray Disc Player, Sony 300-CD Changer, Garmin Portable GPS, Sony 14.1-Megapixel Digital Camera, Dell Inspiron Laptop Computer, TiVo High-Definition Digital Video Recorder.

Also note that a personal computer in 1978, the Radio Shack Model 1, with 4K of RAM, a tape recorder as a data storage device, a green screen and little application software cost $600, or equivalent to about $3,000 today.

The above are stunning testimonials as to the value of COTS products and the inevitable greater and greater employment by DoD. Though our enemies have the same access to COTS products, it is the Acquisition corps that has to use their prowess at COTS product integration in developing solutions for the Warfighter. The US is second to none when it comes to integration and our enemies will never be able to duplicate our COTS products integration efforts resulting in our remaining the most efficient and effective military force of all time .

US Second-To-None For Product Support Prowess

Jun 14
2010

Americans have been bombarded by the Main Stream Media (MSM) touting the demise of US manufacturing base, and in turn the demise of the demand for the resources (parts, maintainers, tech support, and others) employed during the processes of the Product Support stage of the lifecycle of a capital good….but the MSM is a foolish bunch that is clueless regarding our true manufacturing might, and in turn our true Product Support prowess which is second-to-none in the world and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Here are some facts about the US manufacturing sector from a recent article from Barrons:

“The U.S. economy is the largest and most productive on the planet. With just 4.6% of the global population, the U.S. accounts for roughly one-quarter of global output, generating more output in a year than the next three largest economies (Japan, China and Germany) combined. America’s economy is three times the size of China’s; the per capita income of China is only about 10% of that of the U.S.

The United States is a manufacturing superpower; we’re still in the business of making stuff, despite incessant reports to the contrary. We shouldn’t equate the demise of Detroit with the death of U.S. manufacturing. The U.S. makes more goods in a year than any other country, although America’s share of global manufacturing output was roughly 17.5% in 2008, down from 22.4% in 1990 and about 20.5% in 1980.

Many U.S. manufacturers have held their own the past few decades, even in the face of stiff competition from Japan, Germany and China. China’s share of global manufacturing has increased sharply over the past decades, hitting 17.2% in 2008, close to the U.S. number. However, the Chinese figure includes mining and quarrying, and electricity, gas, and water supply, in addition to manufacturing, and most of China’s gains came at the expense of Japan, South Korea, Mexico and others — not the U.S.

The largest exporter in the world is neither Germany nor China. It’s the U.S., despite annual trade deficits and all the chatter about U.S. companies not making anything the world wants to buy.”

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