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An Overview of Corporate Finance and the Financial Environment

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Chapter 1

An Overview of Corporate Finance and

The Financial Environment


1-1 a. A proprietorship, or sole proprietorship, is a business owned by one individual. A partnership exists when two or more persons associate to conduct a business. In contrast, a corporation is a legal entity created by a state. The corporation is separate and distinct from its owners and managers.

b. In a limited partnership, limited partners' liabilities, investment returns and control are limited, while general partners have unlimited liability and control. A limited liability partnership (LLP), sometimes called a limited liability company (LLC), combines the limited liability advantage of a corporation with the tax advantages of a partnership. A professional corporation (PC), known in some states as a professional association (PA), has most of the benefits of incorporation but the participants are not relieved of professional (malpractice) liability.

c. Stockholder wealth maximization is the appropriate goal for management decisions. The risk and timing associated with expected earnings per share and cash flows are considered in order to maximize the price of the firm's common stock.

d. A money market is a financial market for debt securities with maturities of less than one year (short-term). The New York money market is the world's largest. Capital markets are the financial markets for long-term debt and corporate stocks. The New York Stock Exchange is an example of a capital market. Primary markets are the markets in which newly issued securities are sold for the first time. Secondary markets are where securities are resold after initial issue in the primary market. The New York Stock Exchange is a secondary market.

e. In private markets, transactions are worked out directly between two parties and structured in any manner that appeals to them. Bank loans and private placements of debt with insurance companies are examples of private market transactions. In public markets, standardized contracts are traded on organized exchanges. Securities that are issued in public markets, such as common stock and corporate bonds, are ultimately held by a large number of individuals. Private market securities are more tailor-made but less liquid, whereas public market securities are more liquid but subject to greater standardization. Derivatives are claims whose value depends on what happens to the value of some other asset. Futures and options are two important types of derivatives, and their values depend on what happens to the prices of other assets, say IBM stock, Japanese yen, or pork bellies. Therefore, the value of a derivative security is derived from the value of an underlying real asset.

f. An investment banker is a middleman between businesses and savers. Investment banking houses assist in the design of corporate securities and then sell them to savers (investors) in the primary markets. Financial service corporations offer a wide range of financial services such as brokerage operations, insurance, and commercial banking. A financial intermediary buys securities with funds that it obtains by issuing its own securities. An example is a common stock mutual fund that buys common stocks with funds obtained by issuing shares in the mutual fund.

g. A mutual fund is a corporation that sells shares in the fund and uses the proceeds to buy stocks, long-term bonds, or short-term debt instruments. The resulting dividends, interest, and capital gains are distributed to the fund's shareholders after the deduction of operating expenses. Different funds are designed to meet different objectives. Money market funds are mutual funds which invest in short-term debt instruments and offer their shareholders check writing privileges; thus, they are essentially interest-bearing checking accounts.

h. Physical location exchanges, such as the New York Stock Exchange, facilitate communication between buyers and sellers of securities. Each physical location exchange is a physical entity at a particular location and is governed by an elected board of governors. A computer/telephone network, such as Nasdaq, consists of all the facilities that provide for security transactions not conducted at a physical location exchange. These facilities are, basically, the communications network that links the buyers and sellers.

i. An open outcry auction is a method of matching buyers and sellers. In an auction, the buyers and sellers are face-to-face, with each stating the prices and which they will buy or sell. In a dealer market, a dealer holds an inventory of the security and makes a market by offering to buy or sell. Others who wish to buy or sell can see the offers made by the dealers, and can contact the dealer of their choice to arrange a transaction. In an ECN, orders from potential buyers and sellers are automatically matched, and the transaction is automatically completed.

j. Production opportunities are the returns available within an economy from investment in productive assets. The higher the production opportunities, the more producers would be willing to pay for required capital. Consumption time preferences refer to the preferred pattern of consumption. Consumer's time preferences for consumption establish how much consumption they are willing to defer, and hence save, at different levels of interest.

k. The real risk-free rate is that interest rate which equalizes the aggregate supply of, and demand for, riskless securities in an economy with zero inflation. The real risk-free rate could also be called the pure rate of interest since it is the rate of interest that would exist on very short-term, default-free U.S. Treasury securities if the expected rate of inflation were zero. It has been estimated that this rate of interest, denoted by r*, has fluctuated in recent years in the United States in the range of 2 to 4 percent. The nominal risk-free rate of interest, denoted by rRF, is the real risk-free rate plus a premium for expected inflation. The short-term nominal risk-free rate is usually approximated by the U.S. Treasury bill rate, while the long-term nominal risk-free rate is approximated by the rate on U.S. Treasury bonds. Note that while T-bonds are free of default and liquidity risks, they are subject to risks due to changes in the general level of interest rates.

l. The inflation premium is the premium added to the real risk-free rate of interest to compensate for the expected loss of purchasing power. The inflation premium is the



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