The Reasons For Choosing The Retail Industry Finance Essay

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This thesis is designed to give long-term investors suggestion on which companys share Morrisons, Carrefour and Lianhua should be invested based on fundamental analysis. In this thesis, there are five parts to help long-term investors evaluate the three companies' external environment, internal environment and potential development in the future. Then, give long-term investors suggestions investing which company has more benefits with few investment risks. Lianhua's largest shareholder is Shanghai Friendship Group Incorporated Company and it owns 34.03% (Annual Report of Lianhua 2011), but the government only owns 25.95% of Shanghai Friendship Group Incorporated Company's share (Annual report of Shanghai Friendship Group Incorporated Company). So Lianhua is not controlled by the government directly and its shares are freely traded (more details about trading rights on Hong Kong share market see Appendix 5). According to the accounting policies written in Morrisons's annual report [1] and Carrefour's annual report [2] , both Morrisons and Carrefour prepared their financial statements based on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).Also, at the beginning of 2005, companies listed on Hong Kong market should follow International Financial Reporting Standards established by The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Lianhua (Chinese company) is listed on the stock market in Hong Kong and Lianhua follows International Financial Reporting Standards [3] . Different accounting standards may influence the result of research, but in this case that problem doesn't apply because all companies work under the same accounting standards.

Situation scheme:

The reasons for choosing the retail industry

According to an article called Retail Industry Information (2011), it described the retail industry is an important part of economy and it includes individuals and companies that engage in selling the finished goods to end users [4] . The competition of the retail industry is very fierce but it is an industry worthy of being invested as this industry is little influenced by rates, inflation and the control of government (Jiang Min, 2011). Also, many European companies are influenced by the financial crisis and European Debt Crisis, but the retail industry is less influenced by these factors when compared with other industries (Johny and Claudiu, 2012). According to an article called Global Retail Industry 2012-2017: Trend, Profit, and Forecast Analysis (2012), it stated that Rising GDP growth, burgeoning population, greater disposable income, and increasing consumer spending are combining to drive the global retail industry and opportunities for retail segment players [5] . So the retail industry is appealing to investors because the retail industry has broad space for growth and it also makes investors have a profitable investment with lower risks. Retail Industry Information (2011) also stated that many U.S. and European retail chains are expanding globally, and opening stores in emerging markets and in countries with thriving economies, also India, China, and Dubai are fertile retail grounds that global retailers are working to cultivate in 2010 [6] . The expansion of the U.S and European retail chains means that the retail industry has a good prospect for development and provides investment opportunities for the investors. Based on fundamental analysis, this research will help long-term investors understand which company's share has the highest value for investors to invest.

The reasons for choosing these three companies

Although these three companies (Carrefour, Lianhua, Morrisons) are in different sizes, their rate of growth is rapid. It means that these three companies have a lot of development in the future. Some investors will consider that they can get some long-term benefits from investing into these companies. Also these three companies follow the same accounting standards (IFRS) [7] . So, investors can get reliable financial information when they compare three companies' financial statements. Then the investors can use the reliable financial information to judge these three companies' operating performance.

Description of the problem

Investors can get the high benefits from long-term investment on shares, but the high interest of investment is along with the high risks. This research aims at providing recommendations to long-term investors that which company's share (Carrefour, Morrisons and Lianhua ) should be invested based on fundamental analysis, in order to help the long-term investors to reduce investment risks and make a profitable investment.

Structure of main part of thesis:

The main question of this thesis is "Which retail company's share (Lianhua, Carrefour and Morrisons) should be invested for long-term investors after the evaluation of the companies' performance by using fundamental analysis?" In order to answer this question, this thesis is divided into 5 parts. Firstly, this thesis will point out the definition of fundamental analysis and the reasons, methods of using fundamental analysis. Secondly, this thesis will examine the whole economic environment and use the PESTEL theory to analyze the external environment where the three companies operate. Thirdly, this thesis uses the SWOT theory to identify the internal and external factors of the three companies. Next, it chooses the PE ratio to help evaluate the three companies' shares and judge whether the three companies' shares are overestimated or underestimated. Lastly, using financial ratio analysis helps to analyze the three companies' operating performance and then conclude whether their performance is healthy or not. In the end, this thesis will give long-term investors suggestions which company's share should be invested.

Methodology:

Research Methodology: This project started with studying the book called Doing research: The How and Whys of Applied Research which is written by Nel Verhoeven in 2008. This book involves four steps which are design, collect, analyze and evaluate. This project is written according to these four steps. Step 1: Design Picking a topic Firstly, "How to invest a company's share can gain more profits with lower investment risks?" is a hot issue, so this research chooses the topic about investing a company's share. Secondly, according to request of the teacher from Saxion University of Applied Science, this research chooses three companies which are Carrefour Supermarket, Lianhua Supermarket Holdings Co. Ltd, Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc. Also, according to 4P principles this research identified the "people" is the long-term investors who want to invest a company. The "Problem" is it is hard for the investors to decide which company's share should be invested to gain more profits with lower risks. The next is "Program", which is used to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention. The last one "Phenomenon" is to establish the existence of regularity. Demarcating the research project This research identified the central question is "Which retail company's share (Lianhua, Carrefour and Morrisons) should be invested for long-term investors after the evaluation of the companies' performance by using fundamental analysis?" based on the choosing topic. After that, this research uses five sub questions to discuss a few specific aspects of the central question in more details. In the end, making a time schedule for each part of the project and including some contingency buffer make sure that finish the research before the deadline. Step 2: Collect This thesis used the secondary research to conduct research. A lot of data and information is analyzed by using the secondary research. It contains Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour's annual report and news report, articles about the retail industry, financial newspapers and magazines. The following search engines have been used to identify abstract summaries of relevant articles: Google scholar Scirus BASE, Vascoda Saxion University of Applied Sciences library database Article: The following journals provide some articles. Academy of Management Journal Journal of Management Studies Management Science Journal of Financial Journal of Financial Management Journal of Internet Research There are some reasons to use the secondary research. Firstly, secondary research is a time-saving and cost-saving method to acquire information. Secondly, it is accessible especially in a University Library. Thirdly, there are some resources only being found by the secondary research, for example, official statements of the three companies (Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour). There are several reasons for not choosing the primary research. Firstly, the primary research will take much money to be conducted since the data has to be collected. Secondly, conducting the primary research cost much more time than just acquiring secondary data. Thirdly, some primary researches are not feasible. So the primary research is not an efficient method to gather information as the chosen companies (Lianhua in China, Morrisions in UK and Carrefour in France) are in different countries. Step 3: Analyze This research will use PESTEL theory, SWOT theory, financial ratio theory and Relative Valuation theory to conduct fundamental analysis. PESTEL analysis is used to analyze the external macro environment where a business operates [8] . PESTEL stands for political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental factors [9] . This research will use the PESTEL model to analyze external macro environment of the three companies (Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour). Then long-investors will know how the external environment influences the three companies' further performance in the retail industry and whether investing these three companies can gain more benefits with lower investment risks. "SWOT analysis is a scan of the internal and external environment of a company. The internal analysis can conclude a company's strengths and weaknesses. The external analysis can conclude a company's opportunity and threat." [10] In this research, it will use SWOT model to analyze each company's internal environment including strengths and weaknesses and each company's external environment including opportunity and threat. So SWOT analysis makes long-term investors identify these three companies' competitive advantages and disadvantages over their rivals and it also will point out these three companies' external chances and external threats that affect their performance in the market. Thus, the long-term investors can know the investment risks of investing these three companies. "Financial ratio analysis is the calculation and comparison of ratios which are derived from the information in a company's financial statements. Financial ratio analysis groups the ratios into categories which tell us about different facts of a company's finances and operations. Leverage Ratios show the extent that debt is used in a company's capital structure. Liquidity Ratios give a picture of a company's short term financial situation or solvency. Profitability Ratios use margin analysis and show the return on sales and capital employed. Solvency Ratios give a picture of a company's ability to generate cash flow and pay it financial obligations". [11] The financial statements can be got from three companies' annual reports (Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour). In this research, financial ratio analysis helps investors see the three companies' operation and financial situation. The long-term investors will know each company's financial structure, financial risks and operating performance in the market. Then, the long-term investors can know investing which company will gain more profits with lower investment risks. Step 4: Evaluate After conducting Fundamental analysis covering SWOT analysis, PESTEL analysis, financial analysis of three companies, this research draw the conclusions based on the analyzing results to answer the central question and make the recommendations.

2. Analysis of Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour

2.1 Definition of Fundamental Analysis and the reasons for using it Introduction: In this chapter, it will describe the definition of fundamental analysis and the reasons to use it. It also describes the ways to use the fundamental analysis. And all the information could help the long-term investors have a good overview about the fundamental analysis.

2.1.1 Definition of Fundamental Analysis:

Fundamental analysis is used to investigate the fundamentals of the three companies (Carrefour Supermarket, Lianhua Supermarket Holdings Co., Ltd, Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc) to determine whether the company is worthy of being invested. The article introduction to fundamental analysis (2012) stated that there are two ways to conduct fundamental analysis, which are quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis [12] .The quantitative analysis is to study the three companies' financial statements to evaluate the company's financial performance. When examining the company's financial performance, it can use financial ratio theory (trend analysis and vertical analysis) to compare a company's current performance with its historical performance and its competitors' current performance. The qualitative analysis will give the investors a more deep insight of the three companies. Graham, B., Dodd and D.L.F (1934) also stated that the qualitative analysis will be used to evaluate the performance of a company, the scenario of the industry and economic environment a company operates.

2.1.2 The reasons for choosing fundamental analysis:

There are many reasons for choosing fundamental analysis. Firstly, fundamental analysis is very helpful for long-term investment based on long-term trend as it predicts long-term demographic, technological or consumer trends, so long-term investors can choose the right industry groups or companies. Secondly, good fundamental analysis helps investors identify companies that represent a good value and disclosure a company's valuable assets, a strong balance sheet, stable earnings, and staying power. Thirdly, the key revenue and profits drivers will be known by the investors after fundamental analysis. The fundamental analysis also makes investors understand the key value drivers and companies within an industry. A company's stock price is affected by its industry group. Lastly, fundamental analysis makes the investors have a deep understanding of a company's business and better position themselves. [13] Also, the technique analysis focuses on analyzing the short-term trend of a company's shares price. The technique analysis predicts a company's shares price whether increase or decrease in a short period. As this thesis aims at giving long-term investors suggestions, so this thesis chooses to use fundamental analysis to help long-term investors choose which company's share should be invested.

2.1.3 The ways for conducting fundamental analysis

According to an article called Fundamental Analysis (2012), it described that fundamental analysis combines economic, industry, and company analysis to derive a shares' current fair value and forecast future value [14] . At the company level, fundamental analysis will examine a company's financial data, management, business concept and competition (Fundamental Analysis, 2012). Analyzing a company's financial data mainly contains earnings, growth, and value in the market (Ken Little, 2012). Analyzing the qualitative factors of a company includes the analysis of the management team, the analysis of the business model, the analysis of the competitive edge and the analysis of corporate governance policies (Fundamental Analysis of Stocks: Qualitative Factors of the Company, 2012) [15] . At the industry level, fundamental analysis will examine the supply and demand of the products in the market (Fundamental Analysis, 2012) [16] . The factors sustainability of industry, growth of industry, company's market share of industry, amount of competing companies and regulations surrounding the industry will be analyzed (Fundamental Analysis of Stocks: Qualitative Factors of the Industry, 2012) [17] . For national economy, fundamental analysis may rely on economic data to evaluate the present and future growth of the economy (Fundamental Analysis, 2012) [18] .

2.1.4 Conclusion:

This chapter told long-term investors the definition, the reasons and methods of fundamental analysis. It shows why this thesis uses fundamental analysis to help long-term investors to analyze a company's share before their investment. This chapter helped the long-term investors know how to use the fundamental analysis to decide whether the retail industry is worthy of being invested and it also helped long-term investors know how to analyze the shares of Lianhua, Carrefour and Morrisons.

The current economic factors influencing the retail industry and the PESTEL Analysis of three companies

Introduction: The retail industry is an important part of economy and it includes individuals and companies that engage in selling the finished goods to end users (Retail Industry Information, 2011) [19] . Also, the retail industry is influenced by economic factors. Besides, the global economy is slowing down, with a likely slower growth in 2012 than that of 2011 in many global leading markets is written in an article called Global Economy Outlook (2012) [20] . So this chapter will analyze the economic factors that influence the retail industry in details. In this chapter, it also uses the PESTEL model to analyze external macro environment of the three companies (Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour). Then it helps long-term investors know how the external macro environment influences the three companies.

2.2.1 The economic factors influencing the retail industry:

The global economic recession which begins 2008 has big influence on the profitability of the retail industry (Diana Wicks, 2012). The global economic recession also influence other factors like consumer trend and access to credit, which is essential to the growth of the retail industry (Diana Wicks, 2012). Low sales lead to low profitability and then it will slow down the growth of the retail industry (Diana Wicks, 2012). The retail industry is influenced by consumer spending greatly and retail sales have close relationship with liquidity and preservation of capital (Christina Pomoni, 2011). The recent slowdown of real estate, increase in energy prices, tight credit lines and general market uncertainty makes a general slowdown of consumer-driven economic growth (Christina Pomoni, 2011). The retail industry can find some silver linings from the cloudy environment and one positive effect of slower global growth is that it will dampen the price of commodity (Global Economic Outlook, 2012). It will help the retailers make an improvement on the cost side of the ledger (Global Economic Outlook, 2012). At the same time, Global Economic Outlook (2012) said that a lot of countries including US, Japan, Several western European countries and many leading emerging markets are seeing higher retail price inflation and the stagnant input price suggests possibility of improved profit margins, even in the context of slow top line growth. [21] After shrinking by 0.2% in the first three months of 2012, the UK economy returned to recession (UK economy in double-dip recession, 2012). There was a decrease in production industries and construction by 0.4%, 3% respectively, while the services sector including retail increased by 0.1 % (UK economy in double-dip recession, 2012). Under the frustration of European debt and weak economy of its trade partners, the growth rate of Chinese GDP will slow down, but Chinese consumption trend still maintains positive as domestic people's income still continues increasing in china and Chinese government continue launching new policies to expand domestic demand(Rizhong Li,2012). The retail sales have fallen to the second lowest level on record in the three largest euro zone economies (German, France and Italy) and also there was a biggest drop in sales due to the presidential elections since the survey begins in 2004 in France (Eurozone retail sales fall to lowest level since 2008, 2012).

2.2.2 PESTEL model for Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour:

PESTEL analysis (political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental factors) is used to identify and analyze the key drivers of change in the business environment (Finn Orfano, 2011). PESTEL analysis allows the companies to assess the current environment and potential changes (Finn Orfano, 2011). PESTEL analysis contains political factors, economic factors, social factors, technological factors and legal factors. Political factors can be known that how the government policy influence the company, for example, tax policy, trade restrictions and tariffs and inter-country relationships, political trends, types of government, war, terrorism, treaties and currency (Renee O'Farrell, 2012). Economic factors can be known the monetary impact on the company and the examples include exchange rates, interest rates, inflation, import/export levels, consumer confidence, capital markets and job growth rates (Renee O'Farrell, 2012). Social factors can be known that factors caused by society's changing tastes, preferences and demands and the examples include disposable income, age distribution, population growth rate, education, diversity, living standards and cultural attitudes(Renee O'Farrell, 2012). Technological factors are research and development, new innovations and advancements, transportation, communications and the Internet (Renee O'Farrell, 2012). Environmental factors include climate change, climate and weather, as well as attitudes toward the environment (Renee O'Farrell, 2012). Legal factors refers to the country in which the company does the company, include antitrust law, consumer law, employment law, health and safety law, and corporate law (Renee O'Farrell, 2012).

2.2.3 PESTEL analysis for Lianhua:

Political: Chinese government pays much attention to the development of the retail industry (Haiyan Lin, 2011). Since 2009, Chinese government has the policy about created funds for the development of the service industry and rural logistics (Haiyan Lin, 2011). And this will create many opportunities for the development of local companies. As a Chinese local company, Lianhua get a lot of help and support from Chinese government which provides a broad space for the development of Lianhua in the future. Economic: Although the GDP growth of China is estimated to drop from 11.9% in 2007 to 8.2%in 2012(Economist,2008), Chinese domestic demand still remains strong in the next following years as Chinese overall wage growth will lead to the increase of consumption (Aaron Back and Esther Fung, 2011). As a Chinese local company, the strong demand of Chinese domestic market provides a good opportunity to increase the profits of Lianhua in the future. Social: Consumer Confidence Index fluctuated significantly because of food safety incidents (Li Hongfei, Li Ning and Zhang Wenhuan¼Œ2012). But Lianhua has established food safety department and food inspection center and set up long-term food safety supervision mechanism (The Standard Finance, 2011), which will make Lianhua have the competitive advantages in the retail markets. This will be a good sign for long-term investors to investing Lianhua. Technological: Lianhua Supermarket Holdings Co., Ltd integrated the OMS( Operations Management System) of all supermarkets under the "Lianhua" and "Hualian" brands to ensured consistency and accuracy of data and unified flow in business, logistics, information and capital with shared information (Ma Xinsheng, 2012). The adoption of information system consolidation enhanced ability of outlet operations and information management, which provide an effective platform for Linahua's whole operation. The effective operation make Linahua save cost which helps Lianhua gain competitive advantages over its competitors on cost-saving. Environmental: The Chinese government is promoting environmentally friendly and asking the supermarket to reduce package (Promoting Environmentally Friendly Enterprise in China, 2009). The Office for National Statistics (2010) has found that the percentage of consumers using reusable bags has risen and that those cut down the number of plastic bags from the supermarket. Lianhua follow this legislation and do not supply free plastic bags. This cut down Lianhua's overall cost and is helpful for Lianhua's image of corporate responsibility. Legal: According to the Low Pay Commission Report, there has leaded an increase in the minimum wage of 19.7% Report (Chengji Yin, 2012). The increasing wages will make an increase of operating costs of Lianhua, which will decrease the profits.

2.2.4 PESTEL analysis for Morrisons:

Political: Currently, the large supermarket chains expanded their activities to supply financial services including credit cards, loans and deposits in Europe (Financial Services Authority, 2010). So the supermarkets are forced to follow the legislation and regulations enacted by the Financial Services Authority in 2010. Thus, it makes a change in Morrisons's financial services or regulation, which will affect Morrisons's profitability. Economic: UK faced economy weakness, weak consumption, rising consumption and debt crisis in Europe in 2011 (Diao Qian, 2011). It will have a big influence on Morriosons's sales as the poor economic situation make people become uncertainty about their future, so more people spend less money in the supermarket and when consumers buy the daily essentials, they prefer to buy cheap products (Edward Garner, 2011). In this situation, it frustrates Morrisons's sales and profit. Social: Edward Garner, director at Kantar Worldpanel¼ˆ2011¼‰ said that shopper trade down to cheaper products and retailers with a "low-price message are the driving force in the market. The changes of people's trend influence Morrisons market share. According to the data from BBC News, it shows that the market share of Morrisons decreased from 12.8% in 2011 to 12.3% in 2012. Technological: Morrisons applied the advanced technology on driving store productivity, tackling indirect procurement and revamping its operation system (Olivia Midgley, 2012). Morrisons adopted the advanced technology to improve its operational efficiency. In the long run, the improvement of operational efficiency will reduce Morrisons's operational cost. This will make Morrisons have the competitive advantages over its competitors. Environmental: Environmental issues become serious and urgent in recent years, each company should obligate its responsibility to protect environment (Oxford University Press, 2012). Morrisons conducts its social responsibility of protecting environment by reducing waste throughout its direct supply chain. Morrisons will use its unique vertical integration business model to minimize waste during manufacturing, distributing and selling its products (Annual Report of Morrisons, 2011). This system will benefit Morrisons's business financially and environmentally. This system not only helps Morrisons save cost of operation, but also protects the environment, which build a good public image for Morrisons. Legal: Food Retailing Commission forced to use standard pricing in UK (R.YUVARANI, 2011). So retailers can not to change the prices without any notice and it should not demand the payment from suppliers. And Morrisions operates in a fair competition environment and Morrisons do not worry about its competitors using illegal methods to win its current customers.

2.2.5 PESTEL analysis for Carrefour:

Political: The European Commission published the new Animal Health Strategy based on the principle that "prevention is better than cure" (European Commission, 2012). According to this policy, Carrefour should focus on precautionary measures, disease surveillance, controls and research, which will need Carrefour to increase the level of system to make sure food safety. Economic: The emerging markets provides many opportunities such as their high market size and a large number of potential consumers for Carrefour to increase its turnover as the emerging markets are growing faster and it emerges new segments and needs when the GDP per capita increases(Hellal Mariem, 2011). Although the new emergent markets are interesting, there still exist some risks for Carrefour to invest in. In these emergent markets, the emergent markets have a lower GDP per capita ($8,300 in Brazil and 6800 in China) than the developed countries ($29,600 in France or $30,100 in UK) (Hellal Mariem, 2011). Social: The price of products has big influence on the consumers' decision-making process for mass commodity goods influenced by the financial crisis and European debt crisis (Josep-Francesc Valls, María José Andrade, Raquel Arribas, 2011). Consumers are sensitive to the price of products and prefer to buy products with lower price (Josep-Francesc Valls, María José Andrade, Raquel Arribas, 2011). Carrefour launched Discount range in 2009 to meet a fundamental consumer need to optimize people's purchasing power without comprising on the brand's quality (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011), which will make Carrefour attract more customers. Technological: There are a whole range of iPhone TM and Android TM apps available and designed to make shopping easier (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011). Carrefour adopted new "Mes courses" (My Shopping) application to allow its customers shopping whenever and wherever they want by using their iPhone TM, which makes customers easily and quickly get access to the products they want (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011 ). There are over 700,000 downloads of the Carrefour mobile apps in France (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011), which is a good sign for Carrefour to increase sales. Environmental: Recently, the retail industry has been influenced by the growing desire to protect the environment and people are more likely to buy environmentally friendly products (Oxford University Press, 2012). So, Carrefour's Quality Line specifications contains the criteria like Animal stocking density, equipment to improve comfort at all rearing stages as well as transport and slaughtering conditions (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011). The Carrefour's international Central purchasing department also banned all products made with natural fur and all animal testing for its cosmetic product (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011). Legal: As Carrefour is an international supermarket and it is influenced by legal environment where it operates (Hellal Mariem, 2011). Some countries' legal barriers may hinder the expansion of the retail industry (Hellal Mariem, 2011). Carrefour has met some tax disputes in Brazil, Argentina, France, Belgium and Spanish, and it has disputes with its current and former employee (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011). These disputes curb Carrefour's expansion and frustrate its profits.

2.2.6 Conclusion¼š

For Lianhua Lianhua will have a better development environment in the future as Chinese government has the policy for the development of the retail company in China (Haiyan Lin, 2011). But the legislation of Chinese government to increase 19.7% of minimums wages (National Minimum Wage, 2012) increase the administration cost of Lianhua. Also the Consumer Confidence Index fluctuated dramatically because of the food safety accident (Li Hongfei, Li Ning and Zhang Wenhuan¼Œ2012), but Lianhua has established the food safety department to gain the competitive advantages in the Chinese supermarkets (The Standard Finance, 2011), which benefits for the long-term investors' investment. Although Lianhua is influenced by the decrease of the GDP, the personal income growth leads to an increase of consumption (Economist, 2008), which will increase the sales of Lianhua and make long-term investors have the profitable investment. For Morrisons Financial crisis and European debt crisis (Financial Services Authority, 2010) have influence on the sales and profits of Morrisons as people prefer to buy low-price product in the supermarket (Edward Garner, 2011). This situation decreased 0.5% market share of Morrisons (Edward Garner, 2011) which will decrease the benefits of long-term investors and increase long-term investors' investment risks. But the advanced technology can help Morrisons gain competitive advantages over its competitors as the improvement of operational efficiency (Olivia Midgley, 2012), which is beneficial for long-term investors. Also Morrisons used unique vertical integration business model to protect environment (Annual Report of Morrisons, 2011), which not only helps Morrisons save cost and build good public image, which will decrease the long-term investors' investment risks. In addition, the Food Retailing Commission provides a good competition environment for Morrisons (R.YUVARANI, 2011), which will decrease the long-term investors' investment risks. For Carrefour The expansion of Carrefour is influenced by the tax disputes in Brazil and Spanish¼ˆHellal Mariem, 2011¼‰. For long-term investors, legal problems are uncertainty factors for Carrefour's expansion, so investing into Carrefour may be very risky. The strong demand of emerging market attracts Carrefour's attention and Carrefour has successfully entered into some emerging market¼ˆHellal Mariem, 2011). The entry into emerging market will bring more opportunity for Carrefour the increase of sales, which will win more interests for the long-term investors in the future. But there still have some potential risks such as the lower GDP in Brazil (Hellal Mariem, 2011) which will increase the long-term investors' investment risks. Also, Carrefour's Quality Line Specifications ensured its product safety and protect the animals (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011), which will make a good image of Carrefour. Besides, Carrefour can adopt Iphone TM and Android TM technology, which can help Carrefour increase its sales as there are over 700,000 download in France (Peng Qi, 2012). This will help long-term investors gain more benefits in the future.

The strengths, weaknesses and core competence of Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour

Introduction¼š In this chapter, it will use SWOT analysis to help the long-term investors indentify the three companies' internal strength, weakness and external opportunity, threat. A SWOT analysis is a tool used to measure a company's strengths, Weaknesses, opportunities and Threats (Liz DiPardo, 2012). Strengths are internal factors favorable for the business plan (Liz DiPardo, 2012). Weaknesses are internal factors harmful for the business plan (Liz DiPardo, 2012). Opportunities are external factors potentially help improve the business (Liz DiPardo, 2012). Threats are external factors that potentially harmful to the business plan (Liz DiPardo, 2012). SWOT analysis is used to help a company investigate new opportunities and solutions to the problems, help the company make the right decision, find new changes and revise its plans (Val Renault, 2012). The advantages of SWOT analysis contains that it just used a little time for the managers to understand how the business runs and anyone with a basic understanding of business can perform this analysis (Jennifer Uhl, 2012).

2.3.1 SWOT analysis for Lianhua, Morrisons and Carrefour:

2.3.2 Lianhua:

Strengths: Lianhua Supermarket Holdings Co., Ltd centralized procurement for previous Lianhua and Hualian supermarkets (Aastocks Finance, 2012). Increased centralized procurement from quality suppliers will enhance barging power and gross profit margin. Thus, Linahua will gain competitive advantages over its competitors. Lianhua Supermarket Holdings Co., Ltd integrated the OMS¼ˆOperating management system¼‰of all supermarkets under the "Lianhua" and "Hualian" brands to ensure consistency and accuracy of data and unified flow in business, logistics, information and capital with shared information (Aastocks Finance, 2012). All of these will enhance ability of outlet operations and information management which laying solid foundation for further business growth. Lianhua adopts management technology including purchasing technology, logistic technology and information technology, and this management technology helps Lianhua decrease its cost by 10% for its whole operation (Li Woke, 2012). The decrease of cost will help the Lianhua gain competitive advantages over its competitors as Lianhua can set lower price of products than its competitors. The profitability of Lianhua kept a stable increase from 2007 and 2011¼ˆSee appendix 1.1¼‰The increase tendency of the past five years shows that Lianhua have the competence to gain more profits in the competitive markets for long-term investors. Weaknesses: Lianhua had a highly leverage from 2007 to 2011, it means most of Lianhua's asset were supported by debt and Lianhua should pay a lot of interest every year (See appendix1.2). As Lianhua will pay fixed interest for its creditors annual year, the profit of Lianhua will be influenced. Then, the benefits for long-term investors will be influenced. Opportunities: Income of urban citizens grew by 14.1% from 2010, and after deducting price factors, increased by 8.4% in real terms (Report on the work of the Government, 2012). The increase of people's income is an opportunity for Lianhua as people have more money in hand. With the development of further urbanization, higher resident income levels and improvements in the social security system in China, there will be ample room for the development of the retail industry (Report on the work of the Government, 2011). Consumer Confidence Index fluctuated significantly because of food safety incidents (Li Hongfei, Li Ning and Zhang Wenhuan¼Œ2012). It is an opportunity for Lianhua as Lianhua has established food safety department and food inspection center and set up long-term food safety supervision mechanism (The Standard Finance, 2011) Threats: As some global retailers entered into the markets of China, the competition is very fierce (Zhang Yi, 2005). The entry of international retail companies into Chinese market may decrease the market shares of Lianhua, which may lead a decrease to Lianhua's sales and profits which may increase the long-term investors' investment risks.

2.3.3 Morrisons:

Strengths: Morrisons offer fresh things and has the space lab (UK Retailers, 2011). The fresh product is a competitive advantage. The fresh products not only can attract more customers but also help Morrisons create brand awareness. Morrisons has consistent financial performance, For example, its profit margin increased from 1.99% in 2007 to 3.99% in 2011(See appendix1.1 ). Morrisons builds a strong position in the market of UK. Morrions still can hold 12.8% market share in the UK after impressive sales as some consumers choose to buy discounters such as Aldi and Lidl (Ben Sillitoe, 2011). Weaknesses: Morrisons had a limited liquidity during 2007 and 2011, although its current ratio, quick ratio and cash ratio was improved year to year during the five years (See appendix1.2). Opportunities: According to a market research, it stated that online sales are anticipated to increase by 67% during 2010 and 2014 (Retail Markets Today and Tomorrow, 2011). So this would be a opportunities as Morrisons plan to invest kiddicare.com for £70m and FreshDirect for £32m to launch the e-commerce activities in the coming two years (Annual report of Morrisons, 2011) Threats: According to news called The Economy of the UK, GB, British Isles (2012), it described that the UK faces struggles to recover from the 2008 financial crisis [22] . Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) made a report and ranked UK as the slowest growing economy in the G7, with the exception of Japan [23] . Morrisons is a local supermarket in the UK and it mainly operates in UK's market, so the slow growth of economy in UK has a big influence on its financial standings The decrease in people's income and the increase in unemployment harm the spending power of the consumers and affect the buying behaviors of consumers, which will frustrate the sales of Morrisons, especially non-food items¼ˆBen S.Bernanke, 2011). It may be a threat for Morrisons as people spend less money in the supermarket which will influence Morrisons's sales.

2.3.4 Carrefour:

Strengths: The strategy of Carrefour aimed at achieving organic, sustained, profitable growth in excess of the broad market growth rate. The strategy has two levels which are client-oriented and culture transformation. For client-oriented, it means getting to know our customers better in order to serve them better. For culture transformation, it means increasing agility, execution quality and competitiveness.¼ˆAnurag Bhargava, Gaurav Tripathi, Nirvan Rustagi and Yudhvir Singh, 2011) Carrefour owns a lot of supermarkets in different areas and countries like Europe, Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia and in the Dominican Republic, some shops in North Africa and other parts of Asia, which can balance its profits (Annual Report of Carrefour, 2011). It owns different formats of stores in different markets to balance its profits. It owns hyper markets, supermarkets, hard discount and convenience stores (Retail Business Review, 2012). Weaknesses: Carrefour has a declining profit margin from 2007 to 2011. The profit margin declined from 3.16% in 2007 to 0.64% in 2011(See appendix1.1). Carrefour's selling and administrative expenses increased a lot from 2007 to 2011(See appendix1.1). Carrefour did not have a good leverage from 2007 to 2011(See appendix1.2). Opportunities: Retail Industry Information (2011) also stated that "many U.S. and European retail chains are expanding globally as the economy in their home country is recovering, opening stores in emerging markets and in countries with thriving economies, also India, China, and Dubai are fertile retail grounds that global retailers are working to cultivate in 2010" [24] . Expanding in emerging market bring more opportunities for Carrefour in the global market. Carrefour is the leading retailer in terms of organic product sales in France (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011). And "The organic food trend of today is growing ever-stronger, and not just for vegetables even though at one point organic purchases totally over 40% of all organic buys" (Carl Copeland,2012). So this will benefit Carrefour's sales. Threats: As the economy do not recover absolutely, customers lack confidence in shopping (Clemons, E.K., 2008). People will spend less money in the supermarket, so the sales of Carrefour will be influenced to some extent. Prices and quantities of materials are strongly influenced by global demand but also by policies in the countries and prices for many raw materials have increased significantly over the past few years (Niels Frank and Rainer Ladermann, 2011). It is a threat for Carrefour as the increasing material price has already led a decrease of Carrefour's net income by 1.3% from 2010 to 2011 (Annual report of Carrefour, 2011).

2.3.5 Conclusion:

Lianhua adopted modern management technologies to improve company's operational efficiency to control cost on its normal operation, which will benefit the long-term investors' investment (Li Woke, 2012). In addition, long-term investors can trust Lianhua's ability of gaining more benefits for them according to Lianhua's stable increase in its profits from 2007 to 2011¼ˆSee appendix 1.1). But the high leverage of Lianhua (See appendix1.2) may increase the long-tern investors' investment risks as Linahua has heavy burden to repay its debt. The growth of income of urban citizen and development of further urban citizen provides Lianhua a good opportunity to increase its sales and profits (Report on the work of the Government, 2012), so it makes the long-term investors have fewer investment risks. The continuous improvement of Morrisons's profit from 2007 to 2011 proves that Morrisons's ability of gaining profits (See appendix1.1), which will decrease the long-term investors' investment risks. Besides, Morrisons has gained a competitive advantage by offering fresh products (UK Retailer, 2011), so it can benefit the long-term investors' investment. And online sales are anticipated to increase by 67% in 2014 is an opportunity for Morrisons to launch the e-commerce activities, which is beneficial for the sales of company Retail Markets Today and Tomorrow, 2011). But the debt crisis in Europe (The Economy of the UK, GB, British Isles, 2012), the decrease in people's income and the increase in unemployment in UK¼ˆBen S.Bernanke, 2011) will have a negative effect on the development of Morrisons in the future, which will increase the long-term investors' investment risks Increased selling and administration expenses of Carrefour had negative influence on Carrefour profit margin and Carrefour's profits had a decrease trend from 2007 to 2011 (See appendix1.1), so it will increase the long-term investors' investment risks. In addition, customers lack confidence in shopping as the economy do not recover in Europe (Clemons, E.K., 2008), which will have negative influence on Carrefour's sales in the future and increase the investors' investment risks. Although the entry into emerging markets exist a lot of uncertainty factors, the expanding in emerging market will bring more market shares for Carrefour in the global market (Retail Industry Information, 2011),which will benefit the long-term investors. To conclude, although Carrefour has different formats of stores in different supermarkets to balance its profits and opening stores in emerging market provide the opportunity for the global development, the threat of Financial Crisis and Europe Debt Crisis have influence on the Carrefour's sales. Also the decreasing profit and increasing administration cost from 2007 to 2011 is not beneficial for the long-term investors and the highly leverage and limited liquidity will increase the long-term investors' investment risks. However, both Lianhua and Morrisons performed better on their solvency than Carrefour and they kept their profit on increasing trend during 2007 and 2011. And the higher income of Chinese citizens and further urban development provides Lianhua more opportunities to develop in the future which is beneficial for long-term investors. And the expected increase of online shopping provides Morrisons an opportunity to increase sales. But the decreased people's income and increased unemployment in UK will increase the long-term investors' investment risks. So investing Lianhua will help long-term investors make a profitable investment with lower investment risks according to SWOT analysis.
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