Description: About a month ago, this blog addressed Loblaws plans to cut costs by laying off 500 administrative staff. This week Loblaws took another step down the cost-cutting road by announcing that it would close 22 money losing stores. But, it’s not a total retreat. The company also announced it was starting up a delivery service for online orders. It seems that the grocery business is bracing for change with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.
Date: November 15, 2017
1) In Appendix B, Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making contains specimen financial statements for Loblaw’s competitor Sobeys. Take a look at those financial statements. What jumps out at you in your initial review?
2) How would a CEO decide which stores to close? How could accounting information help with this decision?
3) What do you think may be some of the rewards and challenges in moving into the e-commerce field in a grocery chain?
Description: In the same week Loblaws announced that it was starting up a delivery service for online orders, it also surprised us with another future looking move by stating an intention to purchase Tesla’s electric trucks. The trucks are expected to hit the road in 2019 and will help move the giant grocer ahead in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Walmart also announced that it will be adding Tesla trucks to its fleet. The Tesla truck battery will store 98% of the kinetic energy from the truck’s braking process.
Date: November 17, 2017
1) What do you think about this move by Tesla into the heavy truck line?
2) What do you think may have prompted Loblaws and Walmart to commit to these Tesla trucks?
3) How do you think more businesses could be encouraged to pursue vehicles that do not burn carbon-based fuels?
Description: Not that long ago Bombardier appeared in some trouble and was cutting staff. But this week Bombardier disclosed plans to hire 1,000 additional workers over the next 18 months. And it’s not just Bombardier with good news for Quebec workers. Aerospace Montreal, an industry promoter, predicted over 30,000 aerospace jobs would need to be filled over the next several years.
Date: November 17, 2017
1) In Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, contains an interesting comparison of Bombardier and two other companies in terms of their operating cycles. Check out “Keeping an Eye on Cash” on page 240 and determine the differences between the three organizations.
2) Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making, also contains a chapter-opening vignette on how WestJet accounts for its aircraft. Go to the start of chapter 9. How does Westjet depreciate its aircraft?
3) Would you be interested in an accounting career in the aerospace industry in Montreal given the growth prospects? Why or why not?
Description: If you are a dedicated points saver, you are probably carrying an array of plastic cards in your wallet or apps or your phone to ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities to earn free stuff from participating merchants. This week you may have welcomed the announcement that Loblaws and Shoppers Drug Mart are going to make your life a little easier by combining their PC Plus and Optimum programs in February 2018. Some observers had been expecting something like this ever since Loblaws acquired the pharmacy chain a couple of years ago.
Date: November 8, 2017
1) Are you a dedicated points saver for PCPlus, Optimum, or both? How does the programs help you with your living expenses as a student?
2) How would a company like Loblaws account for unredeemed points on their financial statements?
3) Where can you read about Loblaws and its acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making?
Description: It takes a while to bring two giants together. The planned merger of agricultural companies Agrium and Potash Corp has been ongoing for over a year. The latest hurdle has been cleared by Agrium’s sale of an Idaho phosphate producer for $100 million dollars, a move which was designed to ease the approval of the merger by American regulators.
Date: November 7, 2017
1) Why do you think we are seeing this large merger in the agricultural industry?
2) What are some of the accounting considerations that will need to be examined in this merger?
3) What chapter of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making would assist you in accounting for one firm acquiring another?
Description: Decorated in the famous blue, Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue, New York City, has opened a cafe. Now you too can have your breakfast at Tiffany’s, a notion made famous by Audrey Hepburn’s classic 1961 film. Breakfast doesn’t come cheap at $29 a plate. Or you can sit down for afternoon tea at $49 a shot.
Date: November 10, 2017
1) If you were visiting New York, would you be willing to plunk down $29 for breakfast at Tiffany’s on a student budget?
2) Do you think that this cafe will attract a steady stream of business?
3) Would managing costs be different in a high end restaurant like this versus in much less expensive breakfast cafe?
Description: This past week a study revealed that only 5% of Canadian tech companies have been founded by females. A similar 5% have a female CEO with females representing only 13% of the executive team. Further, 53% of these tech companies had no female executives. About a month ago, the Canadian Security Administrators released a study showing that in the broader economy, 62 % of companies had female representation as part of the executive team, illustrating a disconnect between the tech industry and other Canadian firms.
Date: November 2, 2017
1) Why do you think this discrepancy exists between tech firms and other companies?
2) What advantages could tech companies garner by bringing more females into the executive suite?
3) What might be some strategies to address this discrepancy?
Description: New Brunswick forestry companies are being hit with a duty of almost 21% on softwood lumber exports to the United States following a decision by the U.S. Commerce Department. It appears some parts of the forestry industry are blaming New Brunswick’s Auditor General for their misfortune, noting that the U.S. government relied on Kim MacPherson’s 2015 report in making this decision. While forest companies are calling for more study to dispute the AG’s reports on New Brunswick’s market for Crown wood, private woodlot owners are saying the problem is that the government has not implemented the Auditor General’s recommendations.
Date: November 3, 2017
1) Why has New Brunswick been hit with these duties while the neighboring Maritime provinces have not?
2) Do you think that a study disputing the Auditor General’s findings would undermine confidence in the Office of the Auditor General?
3) On page 284 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making you can see problem P5-10A dealing with various financial statement numbers of a major forestry company, Canfor Limited. How would the financial statement numbers presented in that problem be impacted by a duty similar to the one imposed on New Brunswick’s forestry companies?
Description: Canada’s Competition Bureau has launched an investigation into alleged price-fixing in Canada’s bread industry. Experts appeared surprised by the news, given the recent deflationary trends in the bread and rolls category. But the investigation reportedly stretches back as far as 2001, so it will be interesting to see what emerges.
Date: November 1, 2017
1) Are you a regular purchaser of bread? Have you noticed any price trends in your own grocery shopping?
2) What would be the ethical considerations around price fixing?
3) Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making discusses the terms profit margin and gross margin. Why do you think margins are so slim in the grocery business?
Description: Household debt. Inflation. A recession. All these are among the things that could trouble the governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz. But among the list of things that could keep him up at night, CTV news says Governor Poloz fears a cyber attack focused on the financial system as possibly number one. Such an attack could quickly undermine confidence in the financial system – a system which operates on confidence. There were at least 8 high profile cyber attacks on banks in 2016, with one bank in Bangladesh losing $81 million in an electronic theft.
Date: October 26, 2017
1) Have you ever been hacked? What happened?
2) How could a cyberattack undermine confidence in the banking system?
3) In Chapter 7 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision Making you can learn about various application controls. Which application controls could a bank employ to prevent or detect a cyberattack?