Saturday, October 07, 2006

SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis is a method developed to analyse an individual company through a framework. It is much loved by Wall Street and you can usually find it in the Initiation Reports of companies by Wall Street analysts. This pretty much tells you that SWOT analysis is perhaps as useful as a piano is to a monkey who is hungry for bananas. i.e. quite useless. Nevertheless, let's take a look.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats which is basically four aspects of looking at a certain company and see if it is worth investing. The words are probably self-explanatory but as an example, let's see how it works.

Strengths: Usually depicts the company's plus points, like having a high market share, or a competitive edge over its rivals, or the ability to raise prices despite public outcry, with the support from the Government (yup that's the right spelling, also don't forget the capital G).

Weaknesses: The company's minuses, like high operating costs, weak product pipeline, poor branding, poor customer service, zero disclosure to shareholders and/or potential investors, labelled as an ugly duckling on Wall Street (that's pretty bad, because Wall Street doesn't like swans either) etc.

Opportunities: Events that will affect the company positively, like a new market for its products, or potential for the firm to be acquired, or the ability to acquire other smaller competitors, or Gahmen, oops sorry, Government support etc.

Threats: Things that will threaten the company's position. E.g. unfavourable regulatory changes, entry of a formidable new competitor, technological evolution that will render the co's product useless, consolidation between suppliers or clients etc.

So that's how SWOT does it. Systematically analyze four aspects and determine the company's position in each of them. Perhaps the takeaway behind SWOT is not just looking at the four aspects but more to analyse a company using a framework or system. This will help one to see the company is a better light, and hopefully make a better investment decision.

PS: Takeaway literally means "da bao" i.e. taking some good food/good babe back home or taking away an important lesson to be remembered.

See also Expectations vs Reality
and Financial Ratios


  1. Hi! Agree that a company cannot be analyzed simply through 4 aspects. You mnetioned of a system or framework to analyze a company. Could you elaborate?

  2. The four aspects of SWOT is


    SWOT provides a framework for us to look at a company, that is the most important lesson.