British Airways is considered as one of the largest international airlines of United Kingdom. British airways Plc and many other subsidiaries companies make the whole British Airways group. Currently, British Airways(BA) covers more than 550 destinations. According to the data of the year 2008/09, more than 34 million passengers have travelled through British Airways. British airways main business operating hub location is London's Heathrow airport which serves the company with large geographical area. British Airways is also listed in stock exchange of London. (British Airways, 2010). The following report will analyse and then evaluates both the indicators of the British Airways ie, financial as well as non-financial by making it compare with the performance of other company, which is Dubai based named as Emirates Airlines. Talking about Emirates Airlines, being launched in 1985 and since then shown the signs as of one of the fastest growing airlines of the world's airline industry. Currently, the company covers more than 100 different destinations throughout the world. (The Emirates Group, 2010). Further in the report the evaluation of the performance of both these companies is being done by using ratio analysis and there will also be discussion about the financial performance trend analysis of both the companies in the last few years. This report will also look at the managerial and non financial challenges faced by both of these companies using SWOT analysis, and then talking about the challenges and solutions for those challenges. The last section of this report will discuss and analyses the comment by John Rishton due to adoption of IFRS and also look at the differences between IFRS and US GAAP.
2. Ratio analysis:
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This section compares the performance of British Airways which is UK based company and Emirates Airlines a non UK based company from Dubai (UAE) by doing their ratio analysis. The analysis include the comparison of the various ratios of the two companies such as profitability ratios, working capital efficiency ratio, liquidity ratio, long term financial structure and also the investor's perspective. Further this section also explains the importance of these ratios to different stakeholders by analysing the various trends observed based on the past year's financial performance of the two companies.
2.1 Profitability ratios:
Every single firm functioning is highly concerned to achieve profitability and the tools used to determine this profitability and the company's bottom line are the profitability ratios. These ratios show the company's overall performance and efficiency. These ratios are further categorized into two types: margins and returns ratios. The margin ratios show the firm's ability earn profits at various stages and the return ratios on the other hand measure the overall efficiency of a firm in order to generate returns for its shareholders. The major profitability ratios that are used in the report for the comparison of the performance of the two companies are Gross Profit margin, Net Profit margin, Return on Investment and Return on Equity. Comparing the profitability ratios of the above two companies we found that the profitability ratios of Emirate Airlines are much more stronger and healthier than the British Airways in the previous financial year i.e. 2008-09 (Appendix 1). The return on investment (after tax) which is a very important ratio for any business as it measures the net amount earned by a business from the investment made after all the essential charges and the expenses have been deducted. Calculating this crucial ratio of the two companies it was found that Return on investment for British Airways Plc for the year 2008-09 was negative i.e. -3.4% approximately while on the other hand for Emirates Airlines Plc it was 2.2% which states that the returns of Emirates Airlines Plc are much higher than the British Airways Plc. Also the Return on Equity which is again a very important ratio as it measures the return earned by the equity shareholders of the company was again negative for British Airways Plc i.e. -22.78% and that for the Emirates Airlines Plc it was 59.25% which is again a huge difference more than three times higher than British Airways Plc. Even the Gross Profit for the two companies- British Airways and Emirates Airlines were -2.45% and 6.03% and the Net profit margins were -3.98% and 2.45 % approximately again showing a great difference between the performance and the earnings of the two companies.
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Now the trend analysis of British Airways shows that its profitability ratios declined in the financial year 2008-09 as compared to the previous financial year where the ratios were much higher i.e. Gross profit margin was 9.99%, Net profit margin was 7.92% and on the other hand Return on Investment and Return on Equity were 6.23% and 22.88% respectively. But this year in 2008-09 the situation turned drastically taking the ratios on the negative side that means the company incurred the loss this year rather than earning profit. The major reason behind this was the slump in the numbers passengers travelling due to the rising prices of the airlines as a heavy surcharge was being added to ticket prices due to rising fuel prices and the losses further kept on increasing for the company which resulted in increase in its debt level and the company started with the mergers with other airlines to reduce its load factor.
2.2 Liquidity ratios:
Liquidity ratios are the ones that determine the company's ability to clear off its short term debts and higher the value of these ratios the greater will be the margin these companies possess in order to clear off these debts.
Comparing the liquidity ratios of the two companies for the previous year 2008-09 we find that the ratios of Emirates Airlines are much sounder than the British Airways Plc stating its ability to meet its short term debts more easily than the British Airways. The current and the acid test ratios of Emirates are 1.09 and 1.02 respectively while those of British Airways Plc are 0.56 and 0.53 so again there is a difference of almost a half. That means the ability of Emirates Airlines to meet its short term debts is double that of British Airways. Although the liquidity ratios of both the companies show a decreasing trend but the difference comes in since the ratios of British Airways are falling at a much higher rate than Emirates Airlines whose showing an almost negligible fall in the ratios. (Appendix 2)
2.3 Working Capital Efficiency ratio:
This ratio tell us about how efficiently the firm utilises its assets by informing about the amount of the income generated by each unit of the working capital employed in an organisation. If the ratio is positive that means the working capital is being managed effectively by an organisation and vice-versa.
Now comparing this ratio of the two companies we find that the working capital efficiency ratio of Emirates stands much stronger than British Airways with Emirates Airlines having a ratio of 44.38 approximately while British Airways on the other hand having a negative ratio i.e. -9.505 approximately. So we can easily find a huge difference between the efficiency with which the resources of these two companies are being managed and utilized.
2.3.1 Average collection period:
Average collection period of an organisation is the another measure that reflects the efficiency of the working capital of an organisation since it tells the quality of debtors and the speed with which the receivables are being collected. Shorter is this collection period the superior/better is the quality of your debtors and vice-versa.
Now looking into the figures of the two companies we find that British Airways beats Emirates Airlines in this ratio since its collection period is far more shorter than Emirates i.e. 22 days approximately while that of Emirates is 61 days approximately so here British Airways stands much ahead than Emirates in terms of getting its receivables cleared thus ensuring a smooth pace of payments to its employees. Since the employees are normally concerned with this ratio in terms of their job security and timely pace of payments. Also the management gives a great importance to the ratio as it is the major determinant of the financial strength of a any business. (Atrill, Harvey &Mc Laney, 1999)
2.4 Financial Structure Analysis Ratio:
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These are the ratios that indicate the financial position of an organisation in the long run by providing the information regarding the mix of funds given by the owners and lenders of the company. In order to ensure a smooth functioning of an organisation there should always be an appropriate mix of these funds in the running of a business i.e. the debt and equity of an organisation managed and balanced effectively in order to finance the firm's assets. (Pandey, 2008)
2.4.1 Debt to Equity Ratio:
This ratio plays a key role in order to determine the financial position of any company as it determines amount of capital provided by the owners and the lenders to the organisation and also measures the company's ability to repay its debts or obligations. Higher the ratio higher will be the threat to the company since it shows it is being financed by the outside creditors or the lenders rather than the internal positive cash flow or the owners. http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/term/82208.html#
Now talking about the two companies we find that the Debt-Equity ratio British Airways in year 2008-09 was 5.25 and that of Emirates it was 1.86 which shows that debt of British airways is much higher than the Emirates Airlines indicating a negative signal to the company. Although in case of both the companies the outsiders have funded more of the assets but the creditor/lender funding of British Airways is much higher than that of Emirates Airlines imposing a threat to the owners or the shareholders as investing in the company will become more risky. Seeing the trend analysis of the two companies we find that although the ratio for both the companies has increased as compared to the previous year where it was 2.6 for British Airways and 1.76 for Emirates Airlines but the rate at which this ratio for British Airways has increased is far greater than Emirates Airlines.
2.5 Investor ratio:
These are the ratios which are intended mainly for the investors in order to determine the performance of any business in terms of investing in it and also help in taking the decision regarding weather to buy, sell or hold the shares of any particular public limited company (Atrill, Harvey & Mc Laney, 1999).
The major investor ratios are the Earning per Share (EPS), Earning/Dividend Yield and the Price earning (P/E) ratio. Earnings per share represent the returns/profits earned by the investors per share. The EPS for the investors in British Airways was negative in the year 2008-09 i.e. -32.6 pence whereas it was 59 pence in the previous year i.e. 2007-08 so we can see that the returns to the shareholders reduced drastically in 2008-09. Earning/dividend yield shows the amount of profits distributed among the shareholders in terms of dividends. The earning yield of shareholders of British Airways owners was only 5 pence per share equivalent to only 1.91% in the year 2007-08, these dividends were paid in July 2008 in the subsequent financial year i.e. 2008-09 and were also accounted in this year only in the balance sheets and there was no dividend declared in the year 2008-09 itself which was again very disappointing to shareholders giving a negative impact to the company. Then comes the P/E ratio which was 3.97 in the year 2007-08 but went to negative i.e. -4.31in the consecutive year 2008-09.
The following paragraphs will cover the changes and the financial pressures recently faced by the airline sector. According to keynote report, Factors like increase in the prices of oil during first half of 2008 which seriously affected the operating costs of airlines, then the impact of global recession made the condition even worse as affecting the number of passengers and thus decreased the demand for air travel globally. In response the different airlines companies have abandoned those routes which were unprofitable and also cut down the un-necessary costs (Keynote, 2009).
In such a difficult phase of the airline sector, the companies must understand that how its' customers are rephrasing value and their reaction in the period of recession, instead of cutting down on the budget which they have planned for the market research. Now we will discuss specifically about the British airways and Emirates airlines, also will consider the different financial and managerial challenges that are faced by the above two companies. SWOT analysis is used as tool to clarify the difference between the both the airlines.
3. SWOT analysis
British airways made a strong brand identity as United Kingdom's leading airlines because of trust and loyalty being showed by it's customers. Strong brand identity also brought advantages of economies of scale. There is being a new subsidiary launched by British airways named as, Open Skies, which offers only business class for the traffic between U.S and major European countries. British airways has got huge capacity for it's air planes because of it's main operating base hub ie, at Heathrow airport and With the proposed merger with Iberia, British airways is aiming to become second largest airline company after Air France of Europe. British airways offers different loyalty programmes for it's customers as to make sure the again travel from their airlines only.
On the other side Emirates airline has made it's brand strong in the marketplace using different advertisements and many sponsorships. One of the main strengths of emirates airline is having its' focus on diversified market and the entrance into the cargo shipping proved very beneficial for the company. Emirates airline has made it's corporate culture by listening and identifying the needs of it's customer. Emirates also has low cost, which is around 30% less than its' European competitors. With the opening of emirates terminal 3 at Dubai international airport recently and the continuous ability to renew with improvement in the service gives the emirates airline the strength edge over it's competitors. Tim Clark who is the president of emirates airline, stated that the past results of the airlines have exceeded above expectations despite of the increase in jet fuel prices for emirates airlines from US$1.68 upto US$2.78 per gallon by the end of the year (Vedder, pp.48-52, 2008).
With the opening of new terminal 5 at Heathrow airport by the British airways, the company faced problems with training of staff, which led in flights being cancelled, complains of missing luggage. Moreover the rising fuel prices led to increase in ticket prices. The slowdown of both the UK and US economies has affected British Airways as the company has become very vulnerable to financial instability. The bankruptcies in the US banking sector decreased the number of premium booking passengers in British airways heavily. The route of Heathrow and New York is having huge traffic of passengers and forms an important part of British airways earning. Therefore, the drop in the bookings of premium class affected the profitability of the company. British airways also suffered from increased in non fuel costs like from staff and the landing charges.
For emirates airlines, there is some weakness also associated with it, like it is not being successful in all of it's diversification and approaches, which has emerged as a weakness of the company. Analysts have blamed the company for too much emphasizing on high end acquisitions and diversifications in spite of getting the type of results from such decisions. As U.S is a major market for the airline industry and emirates airline does not cater to many places in the U.S., which is also a weakness for the company (Knorr and Eisenkopf, 2009).
If British airways will fully acquire the Iberia airlines with currently 13% share, then it will be in the list of the world's biggest airlines having approximated combined stock market capitalisation worth of EUR 5.5 billion. There is an opportunity for the British airways to expand more in emerging markets like Middle East Region, India, and China. Another opportunity for British Airways is to now improve the operating conditions of its terminal 5 at Heathrow airport. The company should focus on minimum cost of travelling to fulfil customer needs. With the increase of fuel efficient aircrafts of British airways it can minimize the environmental damage, as protection of environment is emerged as an important issue throughout the world. The company should also see an interest of customers towards new places and develop new routes wherever possible.
On the other hand for emirates airline the opportunity lies in which, it can use it's well developed infrastructure business to go into the new emerging markets where internet adoption is not very well developed. Same as for the British airways, there is also an opportunity for emirates to introduce new routes by observing the interest of customers. As also Dubai and the middle-east region is more advancing for tourism and commercial purpose enables emirates airline to grow. Emirate airline does no pay income tax so this also gives a tax benefit to it. This saves around $250 million of money per year. Also due to close proximity of Dubai from Indian and Pakistan gives a chance to the airline to access hugely available cheap labour. The benefit of cheap labour in the emirates airline can be seen from the figure as from the total operating budget of the company, the cost of labour accounts upto 18% which is very less as compared to Lufthansa airline having 27% and united airlines with 29% of cost of labour (TypePad, 2009).
The current threat to British airways is from current economic slowed down, increased fuel prices and weaker pound. The global recession has severely affected air transportation. The travel and tourism industry is moving towards including more green practices. There is pressure from European Union on all the airlines companies to limit carbon emissions Across EU. After the events of 11 September 2001, the security measures have been more tighten by the airline companies. There is also strong competition from low cost airlines, cruise and rail transport that constitutes a bigger share in travel market. Low cost carriers are increasingly looking for new routes for customers with affordable ticket price. Another matter of concern for British Airways is the trade union power. The trade union already did many strikes in august 2004 and 2005. Cost of fuel is also can be at risk as the political situation in Iraq is supporting the rise of oil prices, which will result in add up of another £100 million to the cost of British Airways (Euromonitor international, 2009). Whereas, there is severe threat on emirates airlines also from it's competitors naming Qatar airways and Etihad airways. Due to political instability in middle-east could lead to have a negative impact on emirate airline. Although the cargo commercial and passenger segments of emirates airlines have managed to achieve their targets, but increasing oil prices affected last quarter net income. As more desire of commodity trading affected oil prices due to brokers were not revealing the actual figure of shortage of raw material (Smith, 2010).
There are some of the challenges still left out to be tackle by the BA at the time of developing its climate change programme. As the company operate in environment which is uncertain and political environment is just a part of whole environment but it gives challenges like of changing climate. BA has taken various initiatives to face & solved these challenges right from developing in-depth understanding on how to face these challenges, keeping debate with government and asking for their cooperation. (British Airways SWOT Analysis, 2006).
BA had to face many threats from competition besides the security threats like after the incidence of 9/11 terrorist attack, as its been considered as amongst the world most profit making airlines so for them to lead the industry the competition becomes more stiff for that they not only have to face threats like escalating fuel cost but also have to operate with low cost. BA has been helped by keymetric with 2006 transformational online programs to save nearly about 38 millions.
Operating profit has gone down to 80 percent which shows sheer and utmost decrease due to the weak customer confidence and thus reducing the traffic volumes. Challenges are mainly face due to the so many cost which has become hot air balloon and going high, if busted will not beneficial for the company. The cost balloon include so many costs like right from fuel cost, employee cost, cost of engineering, landing fees and besides this, also includes more operations costs due to delay in shifting to terminal 5 like, cargo handling costs, trucking charges, cost of ground equipments, IT and strong euro rate etc. Whereas, Emirates airlines firstly penetrated the market by launching it' s routes to the places in west Africa like in Nigeria and Ghana altogether. To sustain in to the market and feel the presence in these two countries there is also a challenge to be able to handle many multilingual issues and the problems with double byte sites. As emirates is present internationally, to manage it's data which is globally spread through internet, the company took the decision of spreading out SDL Tridion's content for management solution. With such a decision enabled the Emirates, to cater to wider and variety of audience. Now the customers from all over the world can access to common information available to them (Simon, 2007).
Aviation industry requires huge sums of investment to operate and it adds risk to the return as well. The main money source of income for firms is shareholder. BA secures its position in the world aviation through focusing its aim towards its prospective shareholders and product betterment with handing cost efficiently. BA aims to achieve unique culture in airline by focussing towards customer and their requirements. BA believes that, differentiating their strategy from their competitors will bring the huge market. After being loosed the battle in to the business class which has been collapsed, after their position has been taken over by Silver Jet Airlines as a business class leader. But after this move in the aviation industry, British Airways took some good decisions like purchasing of Lavion Paris Airline, which was a quiet successful for BA (Business sale news, 2008). British Airways is always prepared to the change according to the environment and that also shows in their course of planned action. BA has released the Terminal 5 which was going through good functioning with 6 million passengers (BBC news, 2008).
Emirates on the other hand, had find out a niche for itself as a route for success and not in the way of following others. Unlike BA, emirates was not very much affected by 9/11 incident and also with decline of profit levels, seat factors the company managers didn't shake and through their belief in their company and dedication took them out in such a crisis situation and thus, they were remained profitable. Whereas, other airlines were reducing and laying off their workforce so as to cut down the cost but, emirates didn't do this and their unique working paid off (Sull, pp.221-226, 2009).
6. Financial Reports:
A financial report is created annually as part of an annual report, and is a record of the financial activities a business performs, presented in a concise and structured manner, however some companies may produce interim reports, every three or six months. The usual elements of a financial report include the Balance Sheet, Income Statement which is referred to as the 'Profit and Loss' account under UK GAAP, statement of retained earnings and statement of cash flows. It is then often required by law that these financial reports are thoroughly examined by an independent auditor to ensure all information presented is accurate and truthful.
7. Users of Financial Reports:
These reports are used for a wide range of purposes. Internal users of these reports are firstly the managers and owners of the company themselves, they require these reports in order to make important decisions regarding the running of the company, and its' continued operations. The employees of a company may also find these useful in making collective bargaining agreements with management. External users of these accounts include financial institutions such as banks, in order to evaluate whether loans should be extended or fresh working capital should be granted. These reports are also of great use to prospective and current investors to assess the viability of investing or continuing to invest in the company. Financial statements are also required by the government in order to calculate taxes.
These financial reports, as seen in part a, are then used to calculate a range of ratios that give an even clearer picture of the company's performance. These ratios are paramount to business decisions made by the management, and also play a huge part in decisions made by creditors whether to lend money (see 2.4.1 above) and investors whether or not to invest (see 2.5 above). However the information recovered from these reports is only as good as the information given to create them. Creative accounting can help the creator of accounting documents adjust things in order for the company to look more favourable to its shareholders and investors. This gives a false image of the company, making it seem more attractive, but continuous bad practice such as this leaves them frowned upon and likely to fail as a company.
8. Adopting IFRS in UK - British Airways:
While examining the statement given by the Chief Financial Officer of British Airways, John Rishton claims "The new accounting rules will minorly impact our income statement", however by looking at the income statements prepared under both sets of rules for the financial year ending March 31, 2005, referred to as the profit and loss account under UK GAAP, it is immediately clear that there is a change in figures. Under UK GAAP rules the profit before tax made is £415 million, however by calculating the profit before tax using IFRS rules this amount increases to £513 million. This is a huge difference of £98 million, which cannot be described as a 'minor impact'. The taxation under UK GAAP is also higher than under IFRS rules, £149 is deducted from the UK GAAP profit amount and only £121 million is taken from the IFRS profit, even though that profit figure is larger. This leaves British Airways with a profit for the period of £266 million if calculated using UK GAAP, but a much higher profit of £392million using IFRS. This is a massive difference of £126 million, which is positive for the company as it appears that it is far more profitable, however could be misleading for investors as this may not be the actual case (British Airways Investor Relations, 2010).
Another major affect the adoption of IFRS had on British Airways was that to the value of its net assets, in accordance with IAS 19. Under IFRS, at March 31, 2005 the company's net assets dropped from £2.7 billion to £1.4 billion, this is a massive reduction of £1.3 billion, almost half the original amount. The main cause of this was due to the fact that under IFRS rules the pension deficit had to be moved to the balance sheet, mainly due to moving the pension deficit on to the balance sheet. 'Previously it was fully disclosed as a Note to the Report and Accounts.' (British Airways Investor Relations, 2010), and 'As per the current tax law of UK GAAP, accounts figures showing contributions to and all those changes that occur in pension schemes value are considered as irrelevant for tax, relief is given on a paid & sometimes as deferred basis'(HM Revenues and Customs, 2010). However, the effect of this huge amount to the balance sheet is reduced as there is another dramatic change, this time in the form of the shareholders equity being reduced from £2.5 billion to £1.2 billion, Before March 31,1998, when the acquisition of a business is done the goodwill was used to set off against the reserves, 'but under IFRS 1, while on transition such goodwill is not recognized and also neither on the disposal of investment, the goodwill being transferred to the income statement or if the investment becomes impaired' (BA Debt Holders, 2005). These few changes in financial figures alone are drastic enough to completely invalidate John Rishtons' statement that adopting the IFRS will have minor effects on the company. The cost of training staff alone, to allow them to produce and interpret accounts following these new international standards is going to be huge. When the company itself is worth £2.8 billion and making an annual loss this year alone of £401 million, these changes of figures in their millions and billions cannot be described as minor.
9. Limitations of financial analysis and use of global Accounting Standards:
With countries all over the world with their own specific accounting rules and regulations, it produces a limitation to financial analysis for global companies and also huge barrier for globalization. International differences in accounting practices discourage the companies seeking to go international and also the investors who are looking to enter different stock markets worldwide. With use of one set of global accounting standards, there would be a huge saving for international companies as they would only have to produce one set of financial reports for all those countries which they have invested in. That would 'minimize the chance of misunderstanding of different accounting systems and helps in making better decisions' and will also help in reducing the 'excuses for non- disclosure taking the advantage of based on national perceptions of secrecy.' (Roberts et al, 2008). The International Accounting Standards board has adopted the International Financial Reporting Standards and there is at present 'more than 100 countries which either requires or in the process of adoption of IFRSs' (IASB, 2010). Appendix 3 below shows the scale of which these standards are in use worldwide. The EU adopting the standards in 2005, has made the IFRS a great candidate, and 'the IFRS is emerged as being most widely accepted accounting model throughout the different countries of the world' (IAS plus, 2003).
10. US GAAP (Generally accepted accounting principles) vs IFRS:
However there are still a few countries including U.S. who are unwilling to adopt these standards. The IASB has been working closely with US FASB 'since the year 2002, with the view of achieving the convergence of IFRS and US GAAP. For both the IASB and FASB, the priority remains to have common set of global standards which must be of high quality' (IASB, 2010).
There are many differences between the US GAAP and IFRS, to begin with the US GAAP are rules based with precise rules to follow, whereas the IFRS is mainly principles based which allows judgment to exist while creating accounts. US GAAP also permits the use of LIFO, whereas IAS 2 prohibits this. IAS 38 allows companies to revaluate intangible asset trades in active markets however SFAS 142 under US GAAP does not permit this. Another difference is how both sets of standards treat Research & Development. US GAAP believe it should be treated as an expense whereas under IFRS this amount is capitalized. The FASB refused to adopt the capitalization method as they believe that 'the selective capitalization can be applied to only those costs which are incurred after the specific conditions being fulfilled and the calculated capitalized amount would not show the total costs which were being used to produce future benefits, also the amount showing the periodic amortization of capitalized costs would not represent a matching of costs and the benefits' (EY, 2009). 'Under both the accounting models, the depreciation of long lived assets should be on a systematic basis' (EY, 2009), however with deprecation equaling cost over useful life, this can vary as we are the ones that judge what the 'useful life' is to an extent, and also there are various methods of deprecation, be it by straight line or reducing balance which can vastly vary results calculated. It will not be until 2011 where the SEC decides whether or not the US will adopt IFRS, continual work to harmonize both standards is under way however these will then still alter from the IFRS adopted by other countries and therefore still propose difficulties.
In concluding the above discussion, through ratio analysis it is found that the Emirates airlines, is having better financial performance than the British airways. In the further sections which discuss about the SWOT analysis of both companies and challenges ahead for both the companies can be summarized as they need to work more on customer engagement, develop such policies which will reduce their cost. The last section of the above report concludes that Mr. John has undermined the impact of adoption of change to different accounting policies.