Divisional Performance Measures

Divisional Performance Measures



Divisional Performance Measures

Chapter 19 Divisional Performance Measures

1.      Objectives

1.1       Understand the concepts of responsibilities centres in an organization.
1.2       Advantages and disadvantages of decentralization in a sizable organization.
1.3       Explain how to evaluate the performance of the various responsibilities centres.
1.4       Understand the use of return on investment (ROI), residual income (RI) and economic value added (EVA).
1.5       Understand how transfer pricing methods affect the performance of independent units.
1.6       Explain the different transfer pricing methods.
1.7       Determine the optimal transfer price between the selling division and buying division.

2.      Centralization and Decentralization




(a)       Centralized organization is an organization in which top management makes most decisions and control most activities from the central headquarters.
(b)       Decentralization is defined as delegating authority to make decisions.

In general, a divisional structure will lead to decentralization of the decision-making process and divisional managers may have the freedom to set selling prices, choose suppliers, make product mix and output decisions and so on.


Advantages of decentralization


(a)       Size – the process of decentralization breaks an organization up into more manageable units, this enables decision-making to proceed quickly and effectively and, in theory, a closer control to be maintained on the day to day running of a business’s activities.
(b)       Motivation – if managers are made to feel responsible for a particular part of a business then it is generally found that their efforts within that part of the business are improved.
(c)       Quality of decisions – divisional managers know local conditions and are able to make more informed judgements. Moreover, with the personal incentive to improve the divisions’s performance, they ought to take decisions in the division’s best interests.
(d)       Releasing top management – it can free top management from detailed involvement in day-to-day operations and allows them to devote more time to strategic planning.
(e)       Training – Divisions provide valuable training grounds for future members of top management by giving them experience of managerial skills in a less complex environment than that faced by top management.




Disadvantages of decentralization


(a)       Lack of goal congruence – the danger arises that divisional managers will make decisions which, whilst in the best interests of their divisions, are not in the best interest of the company as a whole. This leads to sub-optimal or dysfunctional decisions.
(b)       Cost – It is claimed that the costs of activities that are common to all divisions such as running the accounting department may be greater for a divisionalised structure that for a centralized structure.
(c)       Loss of central control – top management may not aware what is going on in the division. An effective system of divisional reporting should overcome this problem. The reporting system should produce the key figures to monitor divisional performance and motivate the staff.

3.      Concepts of Responsibility Centres

3.1       Nowadays, most sizable organizations are decentralizing as their operations are getting more complex while they have operations globally. Geographical and complicated operations make management more difficult to control and thus managers of business units are responsible for a range of decisions considered by the head office.




(a)       Cost centre – a production or service location, function, activity or item equipment whose costs may be attributed to cost units, e.g. packaging department, administration department, etc.
(b)       Revenue centre – is a centre devoted to raising revenue with no responsibility for production, e.g. sales and marketing departments.
(c)       Profit centre – is a part of business accountable for costs and revenue. It also calls a business centre, business unit or strategic business unit. Profit centre operating revenue is mainly from sales to external sales and internal transfer to other divisions, e.g. wholesale division and the retail division.
(d)       Investment centre - is the responsibility center within an organization that has control over revenue, cost, and investment funds, e.g. subsidiary.

3.3       The following table shows the principal performance measures for each centre:

Types of responsibility

Manager has control over

Principal performance measures

Cost centre

Controllable costs

Variance analysis
Efficiency measures

Revenue centre

Revenues only


Profit centre

Controllable costs
Sales prices (including transfer price)


Investment centre

Controllable costs
Sales prices (including transfer price)
Output volumes

Return on investment
Residual income
Other financial ratios

4.       Financial Performance Measures of Investment Centre

(A)      Return on investment (ROI)




ROI shows how much profit has been made in relation to the amount of capital invested and is calculated as (profit/capital employed) x 100%.


Example 1


Suppose that a company has two investment centres A and B, which show results for the year as follows.










Capital employed






Investment centre A has made double the profits of investment centre B, and in terms of profits alone has therefore been more 'successful'. However, B has achieved its profits with a much lower capital investment, and so has earned a much higher ROI. This suggests that B has been a more successful investment than A.


4.3       There is no generally agreed method of calculating ROI and it can lead to dysfunctional decision making when used as a guide to investment decisions. It focuses attention on short-run performance whereas investment decisions should be evaluated over their full life.

(a)       Profit after depreciation as a % of net assets employed

4.4       This is probably the most common method, but it does present a problem. If an investment centre maintains the same annual profit, and keeps the same assets without a policy of regular replacement of non-current assets, its ROI will increase year by year as the assets get older. This can give a false impression of improving performance over time.


Example 2


For example, the results of investment centre X, with a policy of straight-line depreciation of assets over a 5-year period, might be as follows.


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Profit before depreciation








Net profit








NBV – Equipment








This table of figures is intended to show that an investment centre can improve its ROI year by year, simply by allowing its non-current assets to depreciate, and there could be a disincentive to investment centre managers to reinvest in new or replacement assets, because the centre's ROI would probably fall.


Example 3


A further disadvantage of measuring ROI as profit divided by net assets is that, for similar reasons, it is not easy to compare fairly the performance of investment centres.

For example, suppose that we have two investment centres.











Working capital





Non-current assets at cost





Accumulated depreciation










Capital employed




















Investment centres P and Q have the same amount of working capital, the same value of non-current assets at cost, and the same profit. But P's non-current assets have been depreciated by a much bigger amount (presumably P's non-current assets are much older than Q's) and so P's ROI is three times the size of Q's ROI. The conclusion might therefore be that P has performed much better than Q. This comparison, however, would not be 'fair', because the difference in performance might be entirely attributable to the age of their non-current assets.

4.7       The arguments for using net book values for calculating ROI
(a)        It is the 'normally accepted' method of calculating ROI.
(b)        Organisations are continually buying new non-current assets to replace old ones that wear out, and so on the whole, the total net book value of all non-current assets together will remain fairly constant (assuming nil inflation and nil growth).

(b)       Profit after depreciation as a % of gross assets employed

4.8       Instead of measuring ROI as return on net assets, we could measure it as return on gross assets i.e. before depreciation. This would remove the problem of ROI increasing over time as non-current assets get older.






Example 4


If a company acquired a non-current asset costing $40,000, which it intends to depreciate by $10,000 pa for 4 years, and if the asset earns a profit of $8,000 pa after depreciation, ROI might be calculated on net book values or gross values, as follows.



NBV (mid-year value)

ROI based on NBV

Gross value

ROI based on gross value































The ROI based on net book value shows an increasing trend over time, simply because the asset's value is falling as it is depreciated. The ROI based on gross book value suggests that the asset has performed consistently in each of the four years, which is probably a more valid conclusion.


Advantages of ROI


(a)       As a relative measure, it enables comparisons to be made with divisions or companies of different size.
(b)       It is used externally and is well understood by users of accounts.
(c)       ROI forces managers to make good use of existing capital resources and focuses attention on them, particularly when funds for further investment are limited.


Disadvantages of ROI


(a)       Disincentive to invest – The most conventional depreciation methods will result in ROI improving with the age of an asset, this might encourage divisions hanging on to old assets and again deter them from investing in new ones.
(b)       Subject to manipulation – The calculation of Return on Investment can be easily modified based on the analysis objective. It depends on what we include in revenues and costs.
(c)       Lack of goal congruence – for example, it is possible that divisional ROI can be increased by actions that will make the company as a whole worse off and conversely, actions that decrease the divisional ROI may make the company as a whole better off.
(d)       Not suitable for investment decisions – it might be affected by the effect they would have on the division’s ROI in the short term, and this is inappropriate for making investment decisions.


Example 5 – Lack of goal congruence



Division X

Division Y

Investment project available

$10 million

$10 million

Controllable contribution

$2 million

$1.3 million

Return on the proposed project



ROI of divisions at present



It is assumed that neither project will result in any changes in non-controllable costs and that the overall cost of capital for the company is 15%. The manager of division X would be reluctant to invest the additional $10 million because the project’s ROI (20%) is less than that of the existing one (25%). On the other hand, the manager of division Y would wish to invest the $10 million because the return on the proposed project of 13% is in excess of the present return of 9%. Consequently, the managers of both divisions would make decisions that would not be in the best interests of the company.

(B)       Residual Income (RI)




RI is a measure of the centre’s profits after deducting a notional or imputed interest cost or cost of capital charge.
(a)       The centre’s profit is after deducting depreciation on capital equipment.
(b)       The imputed cost of capital might be the organization’s cost of borrowing or its weighted average cost of capital (WACC).





Example 6 – RI calculation


A division with capital employed of $400,000 currently earns an ROI of 22%. It can make an additional investment of $50,000 for a five-year life with nil residual value. The average net profit from this investment would be $12,000 after depreciation. The division’s cost of capital is 14%.

What are the residual incomes before and after the investment?



Before investment

After investment




Divisional profit ($400,000 x 22%)



Imputed interest
(400,000 x 14%)
(450,000 x 14%)





Residual income





Advantages of RI


(a)       Achieve goal congruence – there is a greater probability that managers will be encouraged, when acting in their own best interests, also to act in the best interests of the company.
(b)       More flexible – RI can apply a different cost of capital to investment with different risk characteristics.


Disadvantages of RI


(a)       Absolute measure – it means that it is difficult to compare the performance of a division with that of other divisions or companies of a different size. To overcome this deficiency, targeted or budgeted levels of RI should be set for each division that are consistent with asset size and the market conditions of the divisions.
(b)       Residual income is an accounting-based measure, and suffers from the same problem as ROI in defining capital employed and profit.

(C)      Economic Value Added (EVA)




EVA is an alternative absolute performance measure. It is similar to RI and is calculated as follows:

EVA = net operating profit after tax (NOPAT) less capital charge
Capital charge = WACC x net assets

4.18     Economic value added (EVA®) is a registered trade mark owned by Stern Stewart & Co. It is a specific type of residual income (RI). However, there are differences as follows:
(a)        The profit figures are calculated differently. EVA is based on an economic profit which is derived by making a series of adjustments to the accounting profit.
(b)        The notional capital charges use different bases for net assets. The replacement cost of net assets is usually used in the calculation of EVA.
4.19     There are also differences in the way that NOPAT is calculated compared with the profit figure that is used for RI, as follows:
(a)        Costs which would normally be treated as expenses, but which are considered within an EVA calculation as investments building for the future, are added back to NOPAT to derive a figure for 'economic profit'. These costs are included instead as assets in the figure for net assets employed, ie as investments for the future. Costs treated in this way include items such as goodwill, research and development expenditure and advertising costs.
(b)        Adjustments are sometimes made to the depreciation charge, whereby accounting depreciation is added back to the profit figures, and economic depreciation is subtracted instead to arrive at NOPAT. Economic depreciation is a charge for the fall in asset value due to wear and tear or obsolescence.
(c)        Any lease charges are excluded from NOPAT and added in as a part of capital employed.
4.20     Another point to note about the calculation of NOPAT, which is the same as the calculation of the profit figure for RI, is that interest is excluded from NOPAT because interest costs are taken into account in the capital charge.



Example 7 – EVA calculation


An investment centre has reported operating profits of $21 million. This was after charging $4 million for the development and launch costs of a new product that is expected to generate profits for four years. Taxation is paid at the rate of 25 per cent of the operating profit.

The company has a risk adjusted weighted average cost of capital of 12 per cent per annum and is paying interest at 9 per cent per annum on a substantial long term loan.

The investment centre's non-current asset value is $50 million and the net current assets have a value of $22 million. The replacement cost of the non-current assets is estimated to be $64 million.

Calculate the investment centre's EVA for the period.


Calculation of NOPAT


Operating profit


Add back development costs


Less: one year’s amortization of development cost ($4m/4)




Taxation at 25%




Calculation of economic value of net assets


Replacement cost of net assets ($22m + $64m)


Economic value of net assets




Calculation of EVA
The capital charge is based on the WACC, which takes into account of the cost of share capital as well as the cost of loan capital. Therefore the correct interest rate is 12%.





Capital charge (12% x $89m)






Advantages of EVA


(a)       Real wealth for shareholders. Maximisation of EVA® will create real wealth for the shareholders.
(b)       Less distortion by accounting policies. The adjustments within the calculation of EVA mean that the measure is based on figures that are closer to cash flows than accounting profits.
(c)       An absolute value. The EVA measure is an absolute value, which is easily understood by non-financial managers.
(d)       Treatment of certain costs as investments thereby encouraging expenditure. If management are assessed using performance measures based on traditional accounting policies they may be unwilling to invest in areas such as advertising and development for the future because such costs will immediately reduce the current year's accounting profit. EVA recognises such costs as investments for the future and therefore they do not immediately reduce the EVA in the year of expenditure.


Disadvantages of EVA


(a)       Focus on short-term performance. It is still a relatively short-term measure, which can encourage managers to focus on short-term performance.
(b)       Dependency on historical data. EVA is based on historical accounts, which may be of limited use as a guide to the future. In practice, the influences of accounting policies on the starting profit figure may not be completely negated by the adjustments made to it in the EVA model.
(c)       Number of adjustments needed to measure EVA. Making the necessary adjustments can be problematic as sometimes a large number of adjustments are required.
(d)       Comparison of like with like. Investment centres, which are larger in size, may have larger EVA figures for this reason. Allowance for relative size must be made when comparing the relative performance of investment centres.

5.      Transfer Pricing

5.1       Transfer pricing is used when divisions of an organisation need to charge other divisions of the same organisation for goods and services they provide to them. For example, subsidiary A might make a component that is used as part of a product made by subsidiary B of the same company, but that can also be sold to the external market, including makers of rival products to subsidiary B's product. There will therefore be two sources of revenue for A.
(a)        External sales revenue from sales made to other organisations.
(b)       Internal sales revenue from sales made to other responsibility centres within the same organisation, valued at the transfer price.


Transfer pricing


Transfer prices are a way of promoting divisional autonomy, ideally without prejudicing the measurement of divisional performance or discouraging overall corporate profit maximisation.

Transfer prices should be set at a level which ensures that profits for the organisation as a whole are maximised.


Criteria of a good transfer pricing policy


There are four specific criteria that a good transfer pricing policy should have:
(a)       Provide motivation for divisional managers
(b)       Maintain divisional autonomy and independence
(c)       Allow divisional performance to be assessed objectively
(d)       Ensure the divisional managers make decisions that are in the best interests of the divisions and also of the company as a whole (i.e. goal congruence, which is most important among all).


General rules


The limits within which transfer prices should fall are as follows.
(a)       The minimum. The sum of the supplying division’s marginal cost and opportunity cost of the item transferred.
(b)       The maximum. The lowest market price at which the receiving division could purchase the goods or services externally, less any internal cost savings in packaging and delivery.

5.5       The minimum results from the fact that the supplying division will not agree to transfer if the transfer price is less than the marginal cost + opportunity cost of the item transferred (because if it were the division would incur a loss).
5.6       The maximum results from the fact that the receiving division will buy the item at the cheapest price possible.


Example 8


Division X produces product L at a marginal cost per unit of $100. If a unit is transferred internally to division Y, $25 contribution is foregone on an external sales. The item can be purchased externally for $150.

  • The minimum. Division X will not agree to a transfer price of less than $(100 + 25) = $125 per unit.
  • The maximum. Division Y will not agree to a transfer price in excess of $150.


The difference between the two results ($25) represents the savings from producing internally as opposed to buying externally.

5.8     Transfer Pricing Methods

(A)      Market-based approach

5.8.1    If an external market price exists for transferred goods, profit centre managers will be aware of the price they could obtain or the price they would have to pay for their goods on the external market, and they would inevitably compare this price with the transfer price.
5.8.2    Advantages:
(a)        Divisional autonomy – In a decentralised company, divisional managers should have the autonomy to make output, selling and buying decisions which appear to be in the best interests of the division's performance. (If every division optimises its performance, the company as a whole must inevitably achieve optimal results.)
(b)       Corporate profit maximization – In most cases where the transfer price is at market price, internal transfers should be expected, because the buying division is likely to benefit from a better quality of service, greater flexibility, and dependability of supply. Both divisions may benefit from cheaper costs of administration, selling and transport. A market price as the transfer price would therefore result in decisions which would be in the best interests of the company or group as a whole.

5.8.3    Disadvantages:
(a)        The market price may be a temporary one, induced by adverse economic conditions, or dumping, or the market price might depend on the volume of output supplied to the external market by the profit centre.
(b)       A transfer price at market value might, under some circumstances, act as a disincentive to use up any spare capacity in the divisions. A price based on incremental cost, in contrast, might provide an incentive to use up the spare resources in order to provide a marginal contribution to profit.
(c)        Many products do not have an equivalent market price so that the price of a similar, but not identical, product might have to be chosen. In such circumstances, the option to sell or buy on the open market does not really exist.
(d)       There might be an imperfect external market for the transferred item, so that if the transferring division tried to sell more externally, it would have to reduce its selling price.

(B)       Cost-based approach

5.8.4    Cost-based approaches to transfer pricing are often used in practice, because in practice the following conditions are common.
(a)        There is no external market for the product that is being transferred.
(b)       Alternatively, although there is an external market it is an imperfect one because the market price is affected by such factors as the amount that the company setting the transfer price supplies to it, or because there is only a limited external demand.
5.8.5    Disadvantages:
(a)        It can lead to bad decisions, for example, they don’t include opportunity costs from lost sales.
(b)       The only division that will show any profit on the transaction is the one that makes the final sale to an outside party.
(c)        It provide no incentive for control of costs unless transfers are made at standard cost.

(a)       Total cost plus pricing


Total cost plus pricing


It involves the determination of the total cost per unit for the supplying division. This cost would include both fixed and variable elements. Such a total cost per unit would then be used to evaluate each unit of product internally transferred.

(b)       Variable cost plus pricing


Variable cost plus pricing


It entails charging the variable cost (marginal cost) that has been by the supplying division to the receiving division. The problem is that with a transfer price at marginal cost the supplying division does not cover its fixed costs.

(C)      Negotiated transfer pricing


Negotiated transfer pricing


In some cases transfer prices are negotiated between the managers of the supplying and receiving divisions. Information about the market prices and marginal or full costs often provide an input into these negotiations.

5.8.9    Advantages:
(a)        Encourage the management of the selling division to be more conscious of cost control.
(b)       Benefit the buying division by purchasing the product at a lower cost than that of its competitors.
(c)        Provide the basis for a more realistic measure of divisional performance controllable by the divisional mangers through negotiations.
5.8.10  Disadvantages:
(a)        The agreed transfer price can depend on the negotiating skills and bargaining power of the managers involved, the final outcome may not be close to being optimal.
(b)       They can lead to conflict between divisions and the resolution of such conflicts may require top management to mediate.
(c)        They are time-consuming for the managers involved, particularly where a large number of transactions involved.

(D)      Dual-rate transfer pricing


Dual-rate transfer pricing


It uses two separate transfer prices for supplying division and receiving division. For example, the supplying division may receive the full cost plus a mark-up on each transaction and the receiving division may be charged at the marginal cost of the transfers.


Examination Style Questions

Question 1 – ROI and other measurements
Pace Company (PC) runs a large number of wholesale stores and is increasing the number of these stores all the time. It measures the performance of each store on the basis of a target return on investment (ROI) of 15%. Store managers get a bonus of 10% of their salary if their store’s annual ROI exceeds the target each year. Once a store is built there is very little further capital expenditure until a full four years have passed.

PC has a store (store W) in the west of the country. Store W has historic financial data as follows over the past four years:






Sales ($000)





Gross profit ($000)





Net profit ($000)





Net assets at start of year ($000)





The market in which PC operates has been growing steadily. Typically, PC’s stores generate a 40% gross profit margin.


(a)     Discuss the past financial performance of store W using ROI and any other measure you feel appropriate and, using your findings, discuss whether the ROI correctly reflects Store W’s actual performance.                                                                                                                              (8 marks)
(b)     Explain how a manager in store W might have been able to manipulate the results so as to gain bonuses more frequently.                                                                                                   (4 marks)

PC has another store (store S) about to open in the south of the country. It has asked you for help in calculating the gross profit, net profit and ROI it can expect over each of the next four years. The following information is provided:

Sales volume in the first year will be 18,000 units. Sales volume will grow at the rate of 10% for years two and three but no further growth is expected in year 4. Sales price will start at $12 per unit for the first two years but then reduce by 5% per annum for each of the next two years.

Gross profit will start at 40% but will reduce as the sales price reduces. All purchase prices on goods for resale will remain constant for the four years.

Overheads, including depreciation, will be $70,000 for the first two years rising to $80,000 in years three and four.

Store S requires an investment of $100,000 at the start of its first year of trading.

PC depreciates non-current assets at the rate of 25% of cost. No residual value is expected on these assets.


(c)     Calculate (in columnar form) the revenue, gross profit, net profit and ROI of store S over each of its first four years.                                                                                                             (9 marks)
(d)     Calculate the minimum sales volume required in year 4 (assuming all other variables remain unchanged) to earn the manager of S a bonus in that year.
(4 marks)
(Total 25 marks)
(ACCA F5 Performance Management December 2008 Q1)

Question 2 – Transfer Price
Hammer is a large garden equipment supplier with retail stores throughout Toolland. Many of the products it sells are bought in from outside suppliers but some are currently manufactured by Hammer’s own manufacturing division ‘Nail’.

The prices (a transfer price) that Nail charges to the retail stores are set by head office and have been the subject of some discussion. The current policy is for Nail to calculate the total variable cost of production and delivery and add 30% for profit. Nail argues that all costs should be taken into consideration, offering to reduce the mark-up on costs to 10% in this case. The retail stores are unhappy with the current pricing policy arguing that it results in prices that are often higher than comparable products available on the market.

Nail has provided the following information to enable a price comparison to be made of the two possible pricing policies for one of its products.

Garden shears
Steel: the shears have 0·4kg of high quality steel in the final product. The manufacturing process loses 5% of all steel put in. Steel costs $4,000 per tonne (1 tonne = 1,000kg).

Other materials: Other materials are bought in and have a list price of $3 per kg although Hammer secures a 10% volume discount on all purchases. The shears require 0·1kg of these materials.

The labour time to produce shears is 0·25 hours per unit and labour costs $10 per hour.

Variable overheads are absorbed at the rate of 150% of labour rates and fixed overheads are 80% of the variable overheads.

Delivery is made by an outsourced distributor that charges Nail $0·50 per garden shear for delivery.


(a)     Calculate the price that Nail would charge for the garden shears under the existing policy of variable cost plus 30%.                                                                                                              (6 marks)
(b)     Calculate the increase or decrease in price if the pricing policy switched to total cost plus 10%.    (4 marks)
(c)     Discuss whether or not including fixed costs in a transfer price is a sensible policy.
(4 marks)
(d)     Discuss whether the retail stores should be allowed to buy in from outside suppliers if the prices are cheaper than those charged by Nail.                                                                    (6 marks)
(20 marks)
(ACCA F5 Performance Management June 2010 Q4)

Question 3 – ROI and RI
Brace Co is split into two divisions, A and B, each with their own cost and revenue streams. Each of the divisions is managed by a divisional manager who has the power to make all investment decisions within the division. The cost of capital for both divisions is 12%. Historically, investment decisions have been made by calculating the return on investment (ROI) of any opportunities and at present, the return on investment of each division is 16%.

A new manager who has recently been appointed in division A has argued that using residual income (RI) to make investment decisions would result in ‘better goal congruence’ throughout the company.


Each division is currently considering the following separate investments:


Project for Division A

Project for Division B

Capital required for investment

$82.8 million

$40.6 million

Sales generated by investment

$44.6 million

$21.8 million

Net profit margin



The company is seeking to maximise shareholder wealth.


Calculate both the return on investment and residual income of the new investment for each of the two divisions. Comment on these results, taking into consideration the manager’s views about residual income.           (10 marks)
(ACCA F5 Performance Management June 2010 Q4b)



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Divisional Performance Measures


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