In early January 2003, the senior-management committee of Queensland Food Corp was to meet to draw up the firm’s capital budget for the new year. Up for consideration were 11 major projects that totaled over $20.8 million. Unfortunately, the board of directors had imposed a spending limit of only $8.0 million; even so, investment at that rate would represent a major increase in the firm’s asset base of $65.6 million. Thus the challenge for the senior managers of Queensland Food Corp was to allocate funds among a range of compelling projects nominated for consideration.
Queensland Food Corp, headquartered in Brisbane, Australia, was a producer of high-quality ice cream, yogurt, bottled water, and fruit juices. Its products were sold throughout two states (Queensland, New South Wales) and two territories (ACT and Northern Territory). (See Exhibit 1 for map of the company’s marketing region.)
Exhibition 1 (See Attached)
Exhibition 2 (See Attached)
Most members of management wanted to expand the company’s market presence and introduce more new products to boost sales.
The capital budget at Queensland Food Corp was prepared annually by a committee of senior managers who then presented it for approval by the board of directors. The committee consisted of five managing directors, the president Chief Executive (CEO), and the chief finance officer (CFO). Typically, the CEO solicited investment proposals from the managing directors. The proposals included a brief project description, a financial analysis, and a discussion of strategic or other qualitative consideration.
As a matter of company policy, investment proposals at Queensland Food Corp were subjected to two financial tests, payback and internal rate of return (IRR). Financial tests were considered hurdles and had been established in 2001 by the management committee and varied according to the type of project:
Exhibition 3 (See Attached)
In January 2003, the estimated weighted-average cost of capital (WACC) for Queensland Food Corp was 10.5 percent. In describing the capital-budgeting process, the CFO, Tony Austin, said, “We use the sliding scale of IRR tests as a way of recognizing differences in risk among the various types of projects. Where the company takes more risk, we should earn more return. The payback test signals that we are not prepared to wait for long to achieve that return.”
At the conclusion of the most recent meeting of the directors, the board voted unanimously to limit capital spending in 2003 to $8.0 million.
Exhibition 4 (See Attached)