Marriott Corporation has three divisions – lodging, contract services and restaurants – with dissimilar operations. The company uses three separate hurdle rates for the three divisions to value the proposed projects. It is believed that this strategy is more appropriate that using a single firm-wide discount rate because the operations of the three divisions differ drastically. However, the company has to ensure that the company uses an appropriate discount rate for each division. Therefore, we calculate the appropriate cost of capital for Marriott as well as for each of the three divisions. A detailed analysis is presented about the appropriate calculation inputs for each of the three divisions and various assumptions, made while performing the calculations, are justified.
1) Are the four components of Marriott's financial strategy consistent with its growth objective? The first component of the strategy is to manage rather than own the hotel properties. This objective mitigates the investment needed to launch new hotels, as the general partner is not required to make significant investments. Although it may be argued that such a strategy could decrease the profit margins, the growth prospects are certainly easily achievable because of less limitation on the resources required. The second objective is an important characteristic of modern corporate finance. It believed that focusing on maximizing shareholder value should be the underlying aim of every corporation, leading to stable growth and healthy profits. With regard to the third objective, Miller and Modigliani claimed that the use of debt, in the presence of corporate taxes, could increase the value of a company through the value added by debt tax shield. In modern finance, it is commonly believed that debt can increase the value of a corporation. However, a company should be careful about high debt levels because of the distress costs associated with high debt. As stated by Marriott, a corporation should aim to optimize its debt at the most beneficial level. The repurchase of undervalued shares might not always be consistent with the growth objective. The repurchase program could make sense if the shares are believed to be highly undervalued and the company does not have more attractive investment opportunities to utilize its cash. However, the strategy could also hinder growth if the company is foregoing highly profitable investment opportunities in order to take advantage of slight under pricing in its shares.
2) How does Marriott use its estimate of its cost of capital? Does this make sense? Marriot evaluates its investment opportunities using the discounted cash flow approach, which requires an estimate of the cost of capital. Technically, the cost of capital for each investment should be commensurate with the amount of risk inherent within the investment. Thereby, if a company has ten different prospective investments, it could have ten different cost of capital estimates for the investments. However, it is impractical for companies to estimate a separate cost of capital for each investment opportunity. Usually, a company operates in a uniform line of business and has investment opportunities with similar risks. Therefore, it is normal for companies to use a single firm-wide cost of capital. However, companies with multiple divisions often use separate cost of capitals for the divisions because each division has separate operations and risks. Marriott Corporation has three separate divisions and employs three separate hurdle rates – one for each division. This treatment is consistent with theory as long as the hurdle rates adequately compensates for the risk inherent in each division’s investment and risk does not vary significantly across investments within a division.
3) What is the weighted average cost of capital for Marriott Corporation as a whole? What risk-free rate and risk premium do you use to calculate the...
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