The daimlerchrysler case1

Дата канвертавання17.04.2016
Памер59.08 Kb.


“During the next three years we are going to

fire 26.000 employees and to close six factories”

Dieter Zetsche, DaimlerChrysler CEO, february 2001

DaimlerChrysler A.G. (DC) came to life as a corporation after the merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler in 1998. Since then it has continued producing largely the same products and services the two companies separately produced before. Although the merger was hailed as a breakthrough achievement at first, and the stocks rose high immediately afterwards, the corporation has seen some serious troubles since. Many segments are doing quite well, but there are also areas of serious concern, and the current under-performance of the Chrysler Group is a main irritant for the corporation as a whole. By early December 2000, the time of our investigation of DC, the stock-prices had been falling more or less steadily since January 1999.

DC is the world’s fiftht largest car manufacturer. It produces a broad range of transportation products such as cars, commercial vehicles, aircraft for civil and military purposes, railway systems, as well as services in finance and information technology. On business segments, the breakdown is the following: Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and ‘smart’ cars, Chrysler Group, Commercial Vehicles, Services, Aerospace and others. DC had revenues of 150 billion euros for 1999, compared with 131.8 billion for 1998. In 1999, 52 percent of DC’s revenues were generated in the US, 19 percent from Germany, and 14 percent from other European Union countries.
Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and ‘smart’ cars
This segment’s strength lies in a high level of quality, safety, comfort, as well as innovative design. An example of the latter is the very small ‘smart’ car, introduced in 1998 as an answer to new demands in urban mobility and environmental friendliness. This segment contributed about 24 percent of DC’s revenues for 1999. Audi, BMW, as well as Ford, Lincoln, Volvo and others compete in this segment.
Chrysler Group
This division produces the car brands Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Plymouth, and contributed around 42 percent of DC’s revenues last year. The most important competitors are GM, Ford, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.
Commercial Vehicles
This division produces commercial vehicles under the names Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Sterling, Setra, and Thomas Built Buses, and contributed approximately 17 percent of 1999 revenues. Principal competitors in this segment are IVECO (Fiat), Volkswagen, Ford, Renault, Peugeot / Citroen, Volvo / Scania, and MAN.
The Financial Services Unit is one of the largest financial service providers in the world apart from the banking and insurance sectors. They offer, among other things, customized financing and leasing packages, particularly in connection with the sale of DC’s automotive products and insurances.
This division develops and produces commercial and military aircraft (DC is a partner in Airbus Industrie), satellites, and space infrastructure. The contribution was around 6 percent of total company revenues in 1999. Main competitors are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Dassault, Sikorsky, Westland and others.
This segment, dominated by rail systems, electronics and diesel engines, contributed about 4 percent of DC’s revenues for last year, and competes with Siemens, Alstom, Bombardier, Bosch, TRW, Nippondenso, Caterpillar and Cummins.

The merger of Daimler-Benz and Chrysler, was, in the words of The Economist (25.11.00), a disastrous failure. As of early December 2000, the total value of DaimlerChrysler’s shares were lower than that of Daimler-Benz alone before the takeover, with the share-price down from around $108 per share in January 1999 to the current share-price of around $39. The Chrysler division saw a loss of $500 million in the third quarter of this year, and could lose even more in the fourth. For the first three quarters of 2000, revenues rose 12 percent to about 121 billion while net income (before extraordinary item and a change in accounting methods) slipped 10 percent to 3.6 billion. These results are the consequences of higher unit sales of vehicles coupled with lower gross margins. In the fourth quarter of 2000, however, sales dropped disastrously.

Chrysler used to be known for its solid margins on sales, but as foreign competitors moved in to the minivan / sport-utility segment, margins fell abruptly, and Chrysler started spiraling downwards. The increasing cost of research and development, partly caused by new environmental standards, proved too much for a company that had a limited number of products and mainly produced for the American market. On the 17 of November 2000, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Chrysler Group, because of its high costs and unexpectedly large vehicle discounts on old models that had become hard to sell, would be unable to reach its profit target for 2000, and that it would be likely to report pure losses for the fourth quarter. A leading analyst with Metzler Bank in Frankfurt, Juergen Pieper, argued that Chrysler did most things right but was too slow in reacting to the suddenly increased competition in the auto market (Associated Press, 1.12.00). Until the third quarter of 2000, Chrysler had been a major profit creator in DC, but increasing competition turned this reality around. Sweeping management changes were carried out, and more could be in the making. On a more general level, Chrysler Group was affected by a general downturn in the US car market. However, a November 2000 research report by DC attributed much of Chrysler’s under-performance in the US to under-optimization within the US division itself. One could of course be tempted to speculate whether this announcement was ordered from the German leadership in order to bolster the eventual new strategy for the Chrysler that was then being worked on by Dieter Zetsch following the firing of James Holden as the Chrysler Group’s CEO along with several other top American executives.

The Class Action Lawsuits
In a 30th October 2000 Financial Times interview, DaimlerChrysler’s boss, Juergen Schremmp admitted that the merger never was the merger of two equal companies that it was originally presented to be, but rather a takeover of Chrysler by Daimler-Benz. In the aftermath of this statement, November 2000 saw a number of law-suits being raised against DaimlerChrysler, against the leadership, and against Mr. Schremmp himself. The biggest of these was the one filed by US magnate Kirk Kerkorian, who accused the leadership of Daimler-Benz of unlawfully misleading the then owners of Chrysler, and particularly his own Tracinda Corporation, to believe that the merger was one of “equals”. Kerkorian, previously Chrysler’s largest shareholder with a 13.75 percent stake, argued that the defendants manipulated the Chrysler shareholders and Board of Directors to approve the merger through deceitful statements that it was one of equals. He argued that Daimler’s intentions were to acquire Chrysler, subjugate it, and then reduce it to a de facto division of Daimler, firing its management. Kerkorian claim amounts to $9 billion in damages, and also seeks to reestablish Chrysler as an independent corporation.

Coordination Problems
There have been coordination problems between Daimler and Chrysler entities since the 1998 merger, and lack of post-merger synergy in engineering as well as in research and development. A parallel that can be drawn is the one between BMW and Rover. There are clear analogies between the way BMW recently let their acquisition mismanage its own business without too much interference from the mother organization, and the way Chrysler and its leadership in the latter parts of 2000 were perceived as unable to stem the crisis. There was nonetheless reason to believe that Chrysler’s problems to a greater extent than Rover’s were caused by external factors such as the sudden influx of non-US cars into the US market, a market in which Chrysler traditionally has had a particularly strong position in the sports car / utility segment.
Heavy Competition from Non-US Brands in the US auto market
On the first of December 2000, asserted that Chrysler, and indeed the whole American auto industry, was losing out to foreign competitors because their competitors offered technologically more advanced products. For example, the best low-polluting engines were Japanese. The US cars, on the other hand, suffered from a relative lack of technological innovation.

Earlier, the profit margins on trucks and sport-utility cars, Chrysler’s main source of income, were good, as demand was bigger than supply. This excess demand had largely been tapped by late 2000, and as a consequence, Chrysler’s and other US carmakers started recording losses.

Production Cuts, Lay Offs & Stock Values
In the beginning of December 2000, DaimlerChrysler announced that it was going to drastically cut the production in North American plants by idling or reducing output at 11 of its 13 assembly plants. The planned cut in vehicle production amounted to 146,000 units, representing a reduction of 18.5 percent. According to the then newly appointed Chrysler CEO, Dieter Zetsche, the combination of a saturated market for cars as well as Chrysler’s growing inventories required this urgent action (Associated Press 01.12.00). Similar but not equally serious problems were being experienced by other vehicle producers as well, and GM and Ford also had to idle plants in order to reduce their own growing inventories.

The Chrysler Group struggled hard to stem its losses and restore the deteriorated investor confidence. In mid November 2000, the DC share fell to a three year low, dropping to only $37.90 per share. At the first of January 2000, the share price was around $74 while one year before that, in January 1999 it reached as high as $108. In the last 19 months, the stock has lost over half its value, while the Dow Jones Stoxx auto index has fallen only 20 percent. This meant that the performance of DC on the stock exchange was disastrous compared to the sector average. According to Newsmaker (28.11.00), many would-be investors considered a price of 35 Euros ($30.5) to be the first buying opportunity. Should the price fall that low, DC would be close to trading below its book value of 37 billion Euros. This would be quite grim compared to the sector average of trading at 1.6 times book value, and indicated exactly how dire straits DC were in.

Before the details of Chrysler restructuring, to be announced in the first quarter of 2001, were known, and before the effect of the restructuring was known, the cautiousness among investors was considered likely to remain. Deutsche Bank, DC’s largest shareholder with a 12 percent stake, among others, expressed concerns over the corporation’s strategy to grow in volume instead of concentrating on a premium brand strategy, believing it would be likely to help bring down the value of the company even further (Reuters 23.11.00).
Schremmp, Sinking Share Prices & Sinking Profits in the Chrysler Group
The stock performance of DC lead to widespread criticism, and reached a new high at the end of November 2000, as leading German and US shareholders called for Schremmp to resign. The Germans generally argued that Schremmp and the previous DaimlerChrysler management paid too much for Chrysler, negatively’s affecting shareholder value, and that Schremmp had been following economically unhealthy policies. Some of these wanted DC to dump the loss-making Chrysler. The American stockholders were strongly dismayed by Schremmps admission that the merger between the two companies from Daimler’s side always was intended as a takeover, and not as the purported “merger of equals” (Financial Times, 30.10.00). DC’s chief executive, Juergen Schremmp, received loads of sharp criticism, but received support from some analysts who pointed to the fact that it would be premature to evaluate a merger only two years after it happened when the average life cycle of a modern car lasts six to eight years, and where it takes about three years to build a new product (something that indicates that current problems could have old roots). Nevertheless, it was estimated that his credibility, by late October 2000, had fallen to the lowest level possible (Newsmaker 28.11.00). The fact that there appeared to be no natural successor at that point, made a number of analysts conclude that Schremmp might be given from a few months to half a year to rectify the current troubles of DC

The DC boss, for his part, was quoted as saying that: “Originally Chrysler was supposed to make a $3.79 billion profit in 2000. In July the expectation was reduced to about $3.03 billion. In October to about $2.11 billion. And now we are talking about less than two billion, and I fear we haven’t yet seen the end”, while the then recently installed Chief Executive of Chrysler, Dieter Zetsche, called the situation for Chrysler Group “absolutely dramatic” (Reuters 25.11.00).

Drop in Mercedes-Benz Quality as Well?
In late November 2000 news broke that DC not only faced problems within the Chrysler unit, but also with regards to the Mercedes-Benz brand. Internal DC reports had concluded that the corporation had been underestimating the so-called Quality Early-Warning System from the corporation’s car dealers. Dealers were becoming increasingly critical of the quality of new Mercedes-Benz cars. Particularly technical problems emerged as a major area of discontent among dealers. Although problematic, analysts did not at the time expect this do influence the share price significantly.
Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s Downgrade DC’s Debt Ratings
The first of December 2000 saw a downgrade in DC’s long term debt ratings by Moody’s Investors Service, and the short-term debt ratings were expected to reach an even lower level. The long-term debt rating was lowered to ‘A2’, the sixth highest level, from ‘A1’, and is on review for a further downgrade to ‘A3’. For short-term debts, the ratings were down from ‘A2’ to ‘A3’. They came the same day DC announced its intentions to cut unit production in Chrysler plants by 18.5 percent. The downgrading came as Moody’s predicted sales of Chrysler’s ‘backbone’ vehicles to fall significantly from 1999’s levels over the next two years, as competition from abroad tightened, according to Reuters. Standard & Poor’s effected a similar downgrading. In total, the effect of these downgradings were regarded as likely to increase DC’s cost of debt, and because of lower short term debt rating, it was expected that the corporation would be prevented from speculating and taking advantage of the offerings in the commercial paper market, a market in which loans of 270 days and shorter are available.
Cultural Differences & Trans-Atlantic Clashes
As lawsuit after lawsuit were established against the German part of DC’ leadership by American shareholders, the German side of the corporation started defending themselves by directing charges against the US leadership. According a DC supervisory board member, the previous management of Chrysler Group held back information prior to the merger in 1998. The member also claimed that the entire leadership philosophy at old Chrysler resulted in hidden problems on all levels so that important management potential could not be utilized (FT Market Watch, 1.12.00). However, accusations have been seen as unreasonable by some analysts on the grounds that all necessary information more or less was out in the open and easy for Daimler to see prior to the merger.

It has been suggested that the reason why DC shed its US executives was the fact that the Americans had a hard time getting along with the German side of the corporation and vice versa. Particularly, it has been argued that Schremmp tried to push the ‘Daimler’ way of doing things upon Chrysler, and not paying too much attention to the other side, and that the lack of cooperation in R&D followed from Daimler’s fear of getting their ‘superior’ or at least more prestigious Mercedes-Benz cars “contaminated” by using the same components and procedures as the Chrysler models (, 01.12.00).

Fig.1: Profitability

Sector Average2





(year ended 31.12.99)

Gross Margin/ Sales




Operating Margin




Net Profit Margin




Fig.2: Financial Strength

Sector Average





(year ended 31.12.99)

Quick Ratio




Current Ratio




Debt to equity




Fig.3: Management Effectiveness

Sector Average





(year ended 31.12.99)

Return on Assets




Return on Investment




Return on Equity




Fig.4: Growth Rates

Sector Average





(year ended 31.12.99)

Sales Increase




Earnings/Share (EPS)




EPS (Sept-Nov 2000)

- 5.54%


- 91.56%

Fig.5: The development of DC’s shareprice from Jan to Oct 2000 relative to sector averages3

Fig.6: The development of DC’s share price on the NYSE 4


  1. Identify the strengths and weaknesses of DC as per early December 2000.

  1. In your opinion, what were the most salient obstacles to growth and success in DC at this point in time? Justify your reasoning.

  1. Would you invest in DC now?

  1. You are a senior banker in a large bank. To what extent will you emphasize DC’s recent downgrading on the debt-ratings in assessing whether or not you would want to give DC long or short terms loan respectively? To what extent will you look to others factors?


The corporation’s annual and quarterly statements, indicate that DC, by early December 2000 was in a reasonably good financial health and that it displayed good growth figures in many segments. However, the fact that the combined worth of the corporation had fallen to less than the worth of Daimler-Chrysler alone before the merger, hints to the possibility that there were more dirt and hidden corpses in DC than had been revealed at that stage. More specifically, there is reason to suspect DC of having employed creative accounting, and that they in so doing were able to camouflage a good deal of negative information whilst performing profit smoothing. In late November 2000, Schremmp declared that DC expected an operating profit for 2000 to end up at about $8.93 billion at the year’s end, even expecting a positive result from the US operations. This is only about 7.5 percent lower than the results for 1999, further strengthening the suspicion that prime examples of creative accounting and profit smoothing are likely to be found in DC’s 2000 interim reports.

At the time of our analysis of the corporation, Schremmp envisaged more technical coordination, joint purchases and cooperation between DC different divisions to develop. He furthermore said he believed this could easily lead to significant improvement in it’s profitability over the next few years (Reuters, 1.12.00). It was probably about time that DC started to reap the potential synergy effects inherent in the 1998 merger.
Let us now turn to the enclosed tables of profitability, financial strength (liquidity & solvency), management effectiveness (also comprising profitability measures) and rates of growth in sales & earnings per share.
Focusing on the ratios for gross margin, operating margin and net profit margin we see that the previous twelve months, December 1999 to November 2000, as compared to the whole of 1999, show significant decreases.
The gross margin is down by 7.6 %, [only 63.3% of sector average6]

the operating profit is down by a massive 22.2%, [only 62.9% of sector average]

whilst the net profit margin is down by 12.9% [only 66.8% of sector average]
Contrasting the absolute values of DC’s ratios with the sector average, highlights weaknesses in the corporation’s performance, and explains at least part of the reason why potential stock-buyers had been reluctant to pay much for DC stocks; its profitability ratios do not compare well with those of other performers in the sector.
Financial Strength (Liquidity & Solvency)

Contrary to the findings above, the measures of DC’s financial strengths do not indicate very serious problems. DC had a notable growth in its debt to equity ratio, but it was still reassuring positioned beneath that of the sector as a whole. Looking to the ratios more specifically, we note that:

The quick ratio is down from 1.40 to 1.27 representing a 9.3 % fall. The sector average of 1.19 as well as the literature, suggests that this is within the ‘safe zone’. The current ratio of 1.66 is only slightly down from 1999 result of 1.63, and is also fairly close to the sector average of 1.87. A little bit more worrisome is the debt to equity ratio where last year saw a jump from 1.79 to 2.08, representing a 16.2 % increase. These figures along with other external factors such as an increasingly competitive auto market may have been a contributing factor to Moody’s November 2000 downgrade of the corporation’s debt ratings.

Management Effectiveness & Profitability
The profitability ratios that are closely attributed to management effectiveness, for example return on assets, return on investment, and return on equity, all show a distinct negative pattern of development. Although not catastrophical, they indicate that all was not well in the ‘mighty’ DC
The return on equity, one of the basic measures for stockholders’ satisfaction, is down to 12.85% from 14.21% a reduction of 9.6%. Compared to the sector average of 19.79%, it is obvious why DC experienced such a sharp fall in its stock value. As of early December 2000, it provided only around 65% of the average return in the sector.
The return on investment is even more disappointing, showing a plunge of 18%. DC’s return on investment, at 4.18% is only a little over half the sector averages, standing at 8.07%. This result calls into question DC’s investment policy, and substantive changes might have to be made there.
The return on assets is, similarly, bad news. Down 11.3% to 2.60% it is less than half the sector average of 5.45% (!).

Growth rates
The growth rates of DC both contain reasonably good news (if your perspective is long) and bad news (if your perspective is short). The corporation saw solid increases in sales as a whole, but the Chrysler Group contributed to a tangible backlash for the latter half of 2000. The growth rate of the 01.12.99 to 01.12.00-period is marginally higher, by early December 2000 standing at 14.04%. This result is still less than the sector average of 21.04%, but remains a respectable result, particularly as the merged corporation had limited time to optimize its workings.
The perhaps single most worrisome result found in the analysis of DC, along with the disproportionately low profitability ratios and the recent downgradings in debt ratings by Moody’s and Standard & Poors, is the development in the earnings per share from September to November 2000. Whilst the sector, generally facing a slight downturn, recorded an average of –5.54%, DC’s earnings per share plummeted spectacularly with a –91.56% decrease (!). This development is an obvious reflection of Chrysler Group’s under-performance and reflects their slumping sales.
Buying stocks?
As of early December 2000, there does not seem to be any forthcoming good news for DC in the short term, and the chances of a growth in share prices are therefore small.
Daimler-Benz paid $36 billion for the 1998 merger with Chrysler, but as of early December 2000, the merged company is worth not more than $38 billion, less than the value of Daimler-Benz alone before the merger (!). This might indicate that DC, as the boss Juergen Schremmp had it, was highly undervalued, but it could also reflect hidden rotting structures within the corporation or imminent problems about to surface. There appears to be a certain risk of DC shedding the Chrysler Group if the poor results are to continue for much longer. A move like that might lead to chain reactions that in turn would make the value of the DC shares uncertain in the short term. However, building upon the corporation’s inherent expertise, its products and brand names, and the significant amounts of funds being channeled into research and development, it has a high likelihood of muddling through the crisis without losing its course, achieving better results and more stability in the long term.
At the beginning of December 2000, Merrill Lynch analyst Stephen Reitman was quoted by CBS (1.12.00) as saying “The outlook for the fourth quarter and 2001 is extremely unclear and it is still way too soon to anticipate what sort of recovery if any would be seen in 2002”. After investigating DC, this judgement seems a reasonable one. Buying stocks in DC at this point in time, should be for someone willing to wait up to a couple of years to make money on them. Personally, we think it would be wiser to follow the development in DC, and particularly the development of Chrysler Group, another three to five months into 2001. This is likely to prove a crucial period for Chrysler, for the mother-corporation as a whole and certainly for the development of the share price.

What is the solution to Chrysler’s problems?
Cost reduction and production cuts might help to stem the tide of recession in Chrysler, but the creation of new, high quality innovative cars could do more, particularly in the long run, to solve Chrysler’s serious end-of-2000 problems. By early December 2000, they are, perhaps for the first time, really facing competition in the US market from reasonably priced and innovative foreign models, some ironically coming from Mercedes-Benz, and it has been a while since Chrysler had innovative cars on offer. The need for cost cuts was acknowledged in DC’s third quarterly report 2000. Here, the corporation announced “comprehensive cost cutting programs in all divisions”, and a “review of all processes along the automotive chain”. Concerning the question of a lack of innovative products, the report declared that “a variety of new and attractive products should positively influence unit sales and revenues”.
Skewed planning processes and unrealistic expectations about the demand for Chrysler’s aging product line have been seen as major contributors to DC’s crisis, and no “quick fixes” has, as of early December 2000, yet been identified.
It is the opinion of the authors that DC, at the beginning of December 2000, is far from having fully exploited the latent synergy effects inherent in the 1998 merger with Chrysler. The lack of synergy might be reflect the relatively short time that has passed since 1998. The time needed for adjusting two large auto producing cultures such as the German Daimler-Benz and the American Chrysler, might be yet another year or two. We have to take into consideration the fact that car producers need a long time to develop new products, and that some of the problems experienced at this point in time could be attributed to “mistakes” committed before the merger, as well as to “birth pains”. Cultural differences have probably also played a role in the under-performance of Chrysler. Despite this, the corporation shows sufficient signs of health to give it a fairly good prognosis. It should have the power to turn the situation around, seeing Chrysler return to profitability, and end up with a long run situation where the latter is kept in the corporation instead of being sold off cheaply. It appears equally likely that if Chrysler’s state of affairs does not improve significantly by the end of the second quarter of 2001, and possibly before that too, we will see DaimlerChrysler shedding its American de facto sub-division, and thus at least temporarily giving up what Juergen Schremmp, according to Der Spiegel, has identified as “the potential of our position as a global auto concern”.

1 Case written by Martin Holst Andreassen, with the collaboration of Oriol Amat, Department of Economy and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

2 All figures for Sector Averages from

3 Graph taken from DC’s third interim report 2000

4 Graph taken from (figures in USD)

5 Teaching note prepared by Martin Holst Andreassen, with the collaboration of Oriol Amat, Department of Economy and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

6 All figures for Sector Averages from

База данных защищена авторским правом © 2016
звярнуцца да адміністрацыі

    Галоўная старонка