Sunday, November 6, 2011

Foundations of Financial Management, by Stanley B. Block and Geoffrey A. Hirt

Yes, yes, I am aware that this is hardly what one would call a typical leisure book.   But I found it in the house (presumably a text book that one of the kids was unable to sell back to the college book store) and thought it might be fun.    Since it is a text book, I took some liberties -- that is, I didn't do the homework problems, and I skimmed many of the sections that were quite familiar to me, or overly burdened with detail that I studied long ago and wasn't interested in repeating.

Overall this is a surprisingly pleasant book.   There are many examples using well known firms and their data, and many (mostly) topical sidebars (even for this 2005 edition).

The transparencies used as graph overlays to help explain annuities and present value were great.

One complaint though:  very early on in the book, at page 11, the authors damaged the credibility of their subjective comments (although I continued to trust their statement of accounting fact).   They gave an example of two alternatives for the financial manager of a firm to consider in orchestrating earnings per share (EPS).   In alternative A, the EPS would be $1.50 in period one and grow to $2.00 in period two.   In alternative B, the EPS would be $2.00 in period one, dropping to $1.50 in period two.

The authors pointed out that the total earnings are equal.  They asserted that alternative B is "clearly superior because the larger benefits occur earlier."   Bah humbug!    Imagine what happens to a publicly traded firm who's EPS drops by 25% from period to period.   It would be a disaster and the financial manager who took this advice would be apt to find herself an unemployed former CFO.

(Newer editions are available.)

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