International Finance DQ 4/5

BLADES, INC. CASE: Assessment of Government Influence on Exchange Rates

CASE STUDY FOR DISCUSSION 1A

 

Recall that Blades, the U.S. manufacturer of roller blades, generates most of its revenue and incurs most of its expenses in the United States. However, the company has recently begun exporting roller blades to Thailand. The company has an agreement with Entertainment Products, Inc., a Thai importer, for a 3-year period. According to the terms of the agreement, Entertainment Products will purchase 180,000 pairs of “Speedos,” Blades’ primary product, annually at a fixed price of 4,594 Thai baht per pair. Due to quality and cost considerations, Blades is also importing certain rubber and plastic components from a Thai exporter. The cost of these components is approximately 2,871 Thai baht per pair of Speedos. No contractual agreement exists between Blades, Inc., and the Thai exporter. Consequently, the cost of the rubber and plastic components imported from Thailand is subject not only to exchange rate considerations but to economic conditions (such as inflation) in Thailand as well. Shortly after Blades began exporting to and importing from Thailand, Asia experienced weak economic conditions. Consequently, foreign investors in Thailand feared the baht’s potential weakness and withdrew their investments, resulting in an excess supply of Thai baht for sale. Because of the resulting downward pressure on the baht’s value, the Thai government attempted to stabilize the baht’s exchange rate. To maintain the baht’s value, the Thai government intervened in the foreign exchange market. Specifically, it swapped its baht reserves for dollar reserves at other central banks and then used its dollar reserves to purchase the baht in the foreign exchange market. However, this agreement required Thailand to reverse this transaction by exchanging dollars for baht at a future date. Unfortunately, the Thai government’s intervention was unsuccessful, as it was overwhelmed by market forces. Consequently, the Thai government ceased its intervention efforts, and the value of the Thai baht declined substantially against the dollar over a 3-month period. When the Thai government stopped intervening in the foreign exchange market, Ben Holt, Blades’ CFO, was concerned that the value of the Thai baht would continue to decline indefinitely. Since Blades generates net inflow in Thai baht, this would seriously affect the company’s profit margin. Furthermore, one of the reasons Blades had expanded into Thailand was to appease the company’s shareholders. At last year’s annual shareholder meeting, they had demanded that senior management take action to improve the firm’s low profit margins. Expanding into Thailand had been Holt’s suggestion, and he is now afraid that his career might be at stake. For these reasons, Holt feels that the Asian crisis and its impact on Blades demand his serious attention. One of the factors Holt thinks he should consider is the issue of government intervention and how it could affect Blades in particular. Specifically, he wonders whether the decision to enter into a fixed agreement with Entertainment Products was a good idea under the circumstances. Another issue is how the future completion of the swap agreement initiated by the Thai government will affect Blades. To address these issues and to gain a little more understanding of the process of government intervention, Holt has prepared the following list of questions for you, Blades’ financial analyst, since he knows that you understand international financial management.

 

BLADES, INC. CASE: Assessment of Potential Arbitrage Opportunities

CASE STUDY FOR DISCUSSION 1b

 

Recall that Blades, a U.S. manufacturer of roller blades, has chosen Thailand as its primary export target for Speedos, Blades’ primary product. Moreover, Blades’ primary customer in Thailand, Entertainment Products, has committed itself to purchase 180,000 Speedos annually for the next 3 years at a fixed price denominated in baht, Thailand’s currency. Because of quality and cost considerations, Blades also imports some of the rubber and plastic components needed to manufacture Speedos from Thailand. Lately, Thailand has experienced weak economic growth and political uncertainty. As investors lost confidence in the Thai baht as a result of the political uncertainty, they withdrew their funds from the country. This resulted in an excess supply of baht for sale over the demand for baht in the foreign exchange market, which put downward pressure on the baht’s value. As foreign investors continued to withdraw their funds from Thailand, the baht’s value continued to deteriorate. Since Blades has net cash flows in baht resulting from its exports to Thailand, deterioration in the baht’s value will affect the company negatively. Ben Holt, Blades’ CFO, would like to ensure that the spot and forward rates Blades’ bank has quoted are reasonable. If the exchange rate quotes are reasonable, then arbitrage will not be possible. If the quotations are not appropriate, however, arbitrage may be possible. Under these conditions, Holt would like Blades to use some form of arbitrage to take advantage of possible mispricing in the foreign exchange market. Although Blades is not an arbitrageur, Holt believes that arbitrage opportunities could offset the negative impact resulting from the baht’s depreciation, which would otherwise seriously affect Blades’ profit margins Holt has identified three arbitrage opportunities as profitable and would like to know which one of them is the most profitable. Thus, he has asked you, Blades’ financial analyst, to prepare an analysis of the arbitrage opportunities he has identified. This would allow Holt to assess the profitability of arbitrage opportunities very quickly.

E-ACTIVITIES FOR DISCUSSION 2

e-Activities

1. Go to The Economist’s Website, located at http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index, and explore the Big Mac Index. Focus on what it tells you about PPP and the relative prices between Thailand and the U.S. in particular. Be prepared to discuss.

Select a Fortune 500 company that is of interest to you. Use the Internet and the following links to research the manner in which translation exposure could affect the company in question.

 Yahoo! Finance, located at http://finance.yahoo.com/

 X-Rates, located at http://www.x-rates.com/table/?from=thb

 CoinMill.com, located at http://coinmill.com/THB_USD.html

 “Industry Analysis: Recreation” article, located at http://www.valueline.com/Stocks/Industries/Industry_Analysis__Recreation.aspx

Focus on the location of most of the company’s foreign subsidiaries and the major currencies that the company must use on a daily basis. Consider the key tools that are available for the selected company to minimize translation exposure when the company repatriates earnings at the end of the fiscal year. Be prepared to discuss.

 
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