2012年1月20日

企業經濟特質-產業分析(5,6,7)

The textile industry illustrates in textbook style how producers of relatively undifferentiated goods in capital intensive businesses must earn inadequate returns except under conditions of tight supply or real shortage.  As long as excess productive capacity exists, prices tend to reflect direct operating costs rather than capital employed.  Such a supply-excess condition appears likely to prevail most of the time in the textile industry, and our expectations are for profits of relatively modest amounts in relation to capital.
———Warren Buffett’s Letters to Berkshire Shareholders, 1978.
巴菲特:
紡織業以教科書式的方式闡明,在資本密集的行業中,相對無差異化商品的生產者必定將賺取不足的報酬,除非供給吃緊或真正短缺。只要存在產能過剩,價格就傾向反映直接營運成本而非投入資本。這樣的超額供給狀態,看起來可能會在紡織業中盛行一段時間,所以我們只期望得到相對適量的資本投資利潤即可。


筆記:
在前面的文章,我們討論了產業分析中的「產業狀況」,接下來,我們會開始討論產業分析中的「競爭情況」。「產業情況」分析的是產業中所有公司搭上的是順風車或是逆風車;「競爭情況」分析的則是大家在同一台車上是不是打得你死我活。
巴菲特在這裡舉了個打得你死我活的教科書式例子,很不幸的這正好是1978年波克夏的狀況。紡織業是資本密集的行業,它必須投入大量的資金在廠房以及設備,而其生產的產品也是無差異化的產品,例如棉紗、針織布、聚酯纖維等等,也就是說消費者在買衣服時會選擇衣服品牌,但不會指定棉紗或針織布的製造商,這樣的話價格戰就是無法避免的事
所以紡織業製造商為了壓低價格,勢必會繼續投入龐大的資本購買新的廠房和設備,期望以大量且低價的方式和競爭者對抗,製造的量一大,產能就可能過剩,因為做太多但不一定有那麼多人想買;而價格一低,相對也壓低自己的利潤空間,各家廠商為了爭取那微薄的利潤,為了求生存,在這台車上將會打得你死我活也是可以預期的事



Over the years, we had the option of making large capital expenditures in the textile operation that would have allowed us to somewhat reduce variable costs.  Each proposal to do so looked like an immediate winner.  Measured by standard return-on-investment tests, in fact, these proposals usually promised greater economic benefits than would have resulted from comparable expenditures in our highly-profitable candy and newspaper businesses.
———Warren Buffett’s Letters to Berkshire Shareholders, 1985.
巴菲特:
多年來,我們可以選擇在紡織公司投入大量的資本支出以使我們稍微降低變動成本,每個這樣做的提案看起來都像個立即的贏家。事實上,以標準的投資報酬率測試來衡量,這些提案通常允諾了巨大的經濟利益,甚至比我們高獲利的糖果與新聞事業以相同支出產生的結果還多。
筆記:
固定成本:不會隨著產量或業務量變化而變化的成本;例如:廠房設備、租金、固定薪資等等。
變動成本:會隨著產量或業務量變化而變化的成本;例如:製造成本、運費、銷售獎金等等。
紡織公司通常會投入大量的資本支出,購買高效率的新穎設備 ( 固定成本 ) ,然後提高生產效率,降低製造成本 ( 變動成本 ) ,以期望能提高獲利。
這樣的資本支出案通常會經過投資報酬率的計算,舉個簡單的例來說:假設您花了100萬元買了一套新機器設備,使得每1個產品的製造成本能從原來的10元下降到8元,而這產品賣12元,每個月都可以賣10萬個。更換設備前,您本來1個月是賺20萬,5個月只能賺100萬;換了新設備後,就變成1個月賺40萬,5個月賺200萬,這多出的100萬還剛好抵銷了您一開始買下設備的錢,第6月個開始您就可以享受翻倍的獲利。
這樣的提案看起來非常美妙,但是現實世界真的會如此進展嗎?
But the promised benefits from these textile investments were illusory.  Many of our competitors, both domestic and foreign, were stepping up to the same kind of expenditures and, once enough companies did so, their reduced costs became the baseline for reduced prices industrywide.  Viewed individually, each company’s capital investment decision appeared cost-effective and rational; viewed collectively, the decisions neutralized each other and were irrational (just as happens when each person watching a parade decides he can see a little better if he stands on tiptoes).  After each round of investment, all the players had more money in the game and returns remained anemic.
———Warren Buffett’s Letters to Berkshire Shareholders, 1985.
巴菲特:
但這些紡織投資所允諾的利益只是幻覺。我們許多國內外的競爭者,全都增加相同類型的資本支出,一旦足夠的公司這樣做,它們降低的成本變成整個產業降低價格的底線。個別公司來看,每家公司的資本投資決策看起來有成本效力且是理性的;全體來看,這決策互相抵消而且是不理性的 ( 就好像去看遊行隊伍的每個人,都決定踮腳看多一點所發生的一樣 ) 。在每一輪的投資過後,所有玩家放到遊戲中的錢更多,而報酬仍然很衰弱
筆記:
先前計算的美妙投資報酬率,在現實生活中會如何進展呢?其實當您買了新設備,別人也會用同樣的考量買下新設備;當很多人都買了新設備,大家的製造成本都降低了,便開始有人進行削價競爭,它的目標是賣更多的產品以便爭取市場佔有率,有的廠商當然會不甘示弱,價格戰便開打了。
同樣用先前的例子來說:當大家都買了新設備後,他們的製造成本降到跟您差不多的位置,也就是8元,這產品本來賣12元,每個月大家都可以賣10萬個,但是有人開始覬覦您的市場,他開價10元準備搶奪您的市場,您奮力抗戰,也開價10元,您運氣很好,這價位嚇阻了別人做進一步的動作。結果,沒買新設備前您本來1個月是賺20萬,花了100萬買新設備後,還是賺20萬,感覺就好像做了白工。
Thus, we faced a miserable choice: huge capital investment would have helped to keep our textile business alive, but would have left us with terrible returns on ever-growing amounts of capital.  After the investment, moreover, the foreign competition would still have retained a major, continuing advantage in labor costs.  A refusal to invest, however, would make us increasingly non-competitive, even measured against domestic textile manufacturers.  I always thought myself in the position described by Woody Allen in one of his movies: “More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads.  One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction.  Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
———Warren Buffett’s Letters to Berkshire Shareholders, 1985.
巴菲特:
因此,我們面臨一個痛苦的選擇,大量的資本投資有助於我們的紡織事業活下去,但卻會使我們因持續成長的資本額而產生的報酬率很糟糕。而且投資過後,國外競爭者仍然保有主要且持續的勞工成本優勢。然而若拒絕投資,將使我們逐漸地不具競爭力,即使是與國內紡織製造商相比也是。我總是覺得自己是在Woody Allen在他的一部電影中所描述的立場:「比起歷史上的任何一刻,人類面臨一個十字路口,一條路通往失望和徹底絕望,另一條通往完全滅絕,請祈禱我們有這智慧能正確地選擇。」
筆記:
產業內的競爭是所有生產者最不願意見到的事,然而卻是所有消費者最樂意見到的事。因此我們偶爾會見到生產者會私下聚在一起,聯合起來壟斷市場,控制價格,以免競爭造成所有生產者的利益變少;然而,消費者也知道生產者會進行聯合壟斷,因此消費者也會聯合起來進行反抗,例如是制定「反壟斷法」。
在反壟斷法的規範下,生產者便不容易進行聯合壟斷行為,因此生產者就得乖乖面對產業的競爭,這就造成生產者的投資報酬率降低。用前一篇紡織業的例子來說明,假設您一開始是投資100萬元買設備,您本來1個月是賺20萬,再投資100萬元買新設備後,因為競爭激烈,還是賺20萬。您一開始每年的資本報酬率是240% ( 20萬*12個月 / 100萬 );買新設備後,每年的資本報酬率卻變成120% ( 20萬*12個月 / 200萬 ) 。競爭使您的投資越多,報酬率卻越低。
上面這還算是競爭不太激烈的狀況下,我們應該再看看競爭激烈的狀況:當國內有廠商開價10元搶您市場,您雖然用10元反擊成功,但是國外有廠商卻挾持著便宜的勞工成本,它用8元搶您市場 ( 這正好是您買了新設備後才勉強達成的生產成本 ) ,您該怎麼辦?用8元硬拼嗎?但開價8元您就完全沒賺到錢了 ( 甚至還有可能虧錢 ) 。還是再買新設備,想辦法把製造成本進一步降到6元?但萬一國外低成本製造廠也持續跟進買新設備怎麼辦?
在這種無差異化產品的產業之中,各公司很容易打得你死我活,當您運氣很不好,正好在這艘船上,船底破了一大堆洞,大家在船上不是忙著補破洞就是忙著把其他人推下水。當您專心補破洞時,其他人可能趁機把您推下水;當您專心把別人推下水時,其他人會更用力把你推下水,而且你們之間還被要求不能聚在一起討論解決方案。但願大家有足夠的智慧能正確地選擇。



author:Frank Lin (林志鴻)

1 意見:

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