Description: Other companies may be handing out their quarterly dividends, but not Westjet; at least not this quarter. Though the board had declared a dividend of 14 cents a share at an October meeting, the company is now bypassing the cash payment that was scheduled for December 31. Westjet has been purchased by Onex, and the deal is to close December 18, before the payment date. Onex intends to take the company private by de-listing the shares on the TSX.
Date: December 11, 2019
1) How would you respond to this move if you were a Westjet shareholder?
2) What does taking the company private do for Onex? Why do you think that Onex is making this move?
3) Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, discusses the three important dates around dividends in Chapter 11. What are those three dates?
Description: November was a bad month for Canadian employment with Canada losing over 70,000 jobs, while our neighbour to the south added over a quarter million. For Canada, this was our worst result in ten years. Financial Post Columnist Jack Mintz offers “that propping up consumer demand by running deficits and distributive tax policies is not the answer to improving our stagnant growth”
Date: December 12, 2019
1) What do you think of Professor Mintz’s opinions on what is wrong with the Canadian economy?
2) Have you been keeping up with news of trends in our economy this term? If so, how do you accomplish this?
3) Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach, talks about the importance of \understanding the client’s business as part of the planning process (see chapter 3. How would an auditor take into account these type of broad economic issues like employment increases or decreases in identifying areas of risk for an audit?
Description: With many out doing their Christmas shopping, fears of personal debt are often around the corner. The Toronto Star offered four tips to keep you out of trouble. Number one is decide what to spend, then cut that number in half.
Date: December 2, 2019
1) Have you developed a budget for your Christmas gift spending?
2) Which of the four tips do you find the most useful?
3) Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, shows us in the Accounting Matters inset box on page 535 that household debt in Canada was at 163% of household income when the text was published. Check the web to see if you can find if the rate has gone up or down since then.
Description: Oh no – food prices are heading up. A family of four is predicted to have to spend an additional $500 on their food purchases in 2020. Unpredictable weather is the culprit, creating uncertainty in food production for farmers in Canada and elsewhere.
Date: December 5, 2019
1) How much do you budget for food as part of your student costs?
2) What do you think this price uncertainty will do to the Canadian economy?
3) Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, has an appendix containing a specimen set of financial statements for Sobeys Inc., a major Canadian food retailer. What lines of the financial statements are most likely to be impacted by the rising prices in 2020?
Description: Popular Ottawa-area coffee chain Bridgehead has been purchased by Second Cup for close to $10 million. Bridgehead has a history of supporting fair trade in the coffee business. The intent is that Bridgehead will be able to keep its own identity under the new ownership, allowing the brand to expand outside of the Ottawa region.
Date: December 5, 2019
1) Have you ever been to Bridgehead for a coffee? What did you like about it?
2) Why do you think Second Cup acquired Bridgehead?
3) What method would Second Cup use to account for this investment? (See page 654 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making for a hint).
Description: Sardine giant Connors Brothers in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, has entered corporate restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. Production at the plant continues, good news for suppliers and the up to 800 employees. This is the last plant in North America that still processes the tiny sardines.
Date: November 29, 2019
1) Why do you think the fish plant would own the municipal water supply?
2) Look online for information on Canada’s Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. What does a court-supervised restructuring mean?
3) On page 737 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, you can read about another large seafood company, Clearwater Seafoods Incorporated. This section notes that although Clearwater reported a large loss in 2015, it generated significant cash flow from operations. Can you explain how this could happen?
Description: Imported directly from the United States: that appears to be one way to describe the increasing popularity of retail sales in Canada on the day after the American Thanksgiving. This Black Friday trend is replacing Boxing Day as the landmark retail event for Canadian consumers. Meanwhile, other citizens in a number of cities worldwide were holding protests against the consumerism they see evident in Black Friday. France is talking of banning Black Friday in order to cut back on waste. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-nov-29-2019-1.5378009/we-can-t-shop-our-way-out-of-this-why-all-those-black-friday-deals-are-costly-for-the-environment-1.5378014
Date: November 29 , 2019
1) Where were you on Black Friday?
2) If you were an executive at a retailer, how would you handle the conflict between generating revenue versus sustainability in answering the Black Friday question?
3) Pages 10-11 of Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making explains the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility. How could the triple bottom line help companies address sustainability while maintaining profitability?
Description: It may not be a surprise: complaints against telecom companies in Canada have hit record levels. The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) said complaints were up 35 per cent for the year ended July 31. Bell Canada was at the top – or should that be the bottom? – with 30% of the complaints.
Date: November 28, 2019
1) What do you think of your phone service provider? Do you have complaints?
2) What could an accountant do to attach a cost to these customer complaints?
3) On page 8 of Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making you can read how Bell Canada uses complex systems to both control and evaluate its managers. How might these customer complaints fit into the control and evaluation process?
Description: When Henry Ford and others brought in the eight-hour work day, it seemed like a great deal for workers. But many knowledge workers would be happy to see their day stop when eight hours had been clocked. Freelance writer Lizzie Wade offers an interesting perspective in such an environment, questioning if a knowledge worker can do it all in a five-hour day.
Date: November 21, 2019
1) What do you think of the author’s arguments for a five-hour work day for certain creative occupations like writing?
2) What are some of the challenges faced by people who work from a home office versus people who go to an office to work?
3) On page 16 of Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, there is a section on the accounting profession in Canada. How do you think the profession would respond to the five-hour day?
Description: In last week’s Wiley Accounting Weekly Updates you would have seen a story on the new Apple credit card. This week it’s Google hitting the news, with its announcement that it will be moving into chequing accounts. Google is adopting a strategy of putting its banking partners up front in this venture, differentiating it from Apple with its ads that the Apple credit card was “designed by Apple, not a bank.” Apple’s approach was not well received by its banking partner Goldman Sachs.
Date: November 13, 2019
Source: thestar.com; wsj.com
1) Why do you think the big tech companies are so interested to move into financial services?
2) If you were an accounting executive at a financial institution, what strategies might you recommend to deal with the threat posed by the tech companies entering their world?
3) P13-8B on page 755 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making asks the question “Why do you think Microsoft has paid out dividends while Google has not”? What do you think?