When And How Far Should One Go


Diversification today most executives and boards realize how difficult it is to add value to businesses that aren’t connected to each other in some way. Yet too many executives still believe that diversifying into unrelated industries reduces risks for investors or that diversified businesses can better allocate capital across businesses than the market does-without regard to the skills needed to achieve these goals. Because few have such skills, diversification instead often caps the upside potential for shareholders but doesn’t limit the downside risk. As managers contemplate moves to diversify, they would do well to remember that in practice, the best-performing conglomerates in the United States and in other developed markets do well not because they’re diversified but because they’re the best owners, even of businesses outside their core industries.


Diversification is a form of corporate strategy whereby a company seeks to increase profitability through greater sales volume obtained from new products and/ or new markets. Diversification can occur either at the business unit level or at the corporate level. At the business unit level, it is most likely to expand into a new segment of an industry that the business is already in. At the corporate level, it is generally very interesting entering a promising business outside of the scope of the existing business unit.


Like any other structure, this structure has also lot to offer which needs to be analyzed-


The argument that diversification benefits the shareholders by reducing volatility was never compelling. At an aggregate level, conglomerates have underperformed more focused companies both in the real economy (growth and returns on capital) and in the stock market. Even adjusted for size differences, focused companies grew faster.

From the above graph, it can be viewed that a higher % of conglomerates tend to provide returns in the range of 8% to 18% as compared to focused companies. On the contrary, there are much lesser % of conglomerate companies that offer negative returns and also high growth rate returns.

The answer to these patterns is that in conglomerates there are businesses that offer high returns and others which offer lower returns. Thus the returns are averaged out. But in the case of focused companies, those which are performing companies perform either tend to outperform or underperform as compared to its peers. This is because of the fact that the capital that is invested in these companies is focused and thus there is little leeway available for them to maneuver as compared to the conglomerates which tend to readjust their capital as per the situation.