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1 RISK MANAGEMENT: PROFILING AND HEDGING To manage risk, you first have to understand the risks that you are exposed to. This process of developing a risk profile thus requires an examination of both the immediate risks from competition and product market changes as well as the more indirect effects of macro economic forces. We will begin this chapter by looking at ways in which we can develop a complete risk profile for a firm, where we outline all of the risks that a firm is exposed to and estimate the magnitude of the exposure. In the second part of the chapter, we turn to a key question of what we should do about these risks. In general, we have three choices. We can do nothing and let the risk pass through to investors in the business – stockholders in a publicly traded firm and the owners of private businesses. We can try to protect ourselves against the risk using a variety of approaches – using options and futures to hedge against specific risks, modifying the way we fund assets to reduce risk exposure or buying insurance. Finally, we can intentionally increase our exposure to some of the risks because we feel that we have significant advantages over the competition. In this chapter, we will consider the first two choices and hold off on the third choice until the next chapter. Risk Profile Every business faces risks and the first step in managing risk is making an inventory of the risks that you face and getting a measure of the exposure to each risk. In this section, we examine the process of developing a risk profile for a business and consider some of the potential pitfalls. There are four steps involved in this process. In the first step, we list all risks that a firm is exposed to, from all sources and without consideration to the type of risk. We categorize these risks into broad groups in the second step and analyze the exposure to each risk in the third step. In the fourth step, we examine the alternatives available to manage each type of risk and the expertise that the firm brings to dealing with the risk. Step 1: A listing of risks Assume that you run a small company in the United States, packaging and selling premium coffee beans for sale to customers. You may buy your coffee beans in
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2 Columbia, sort and package them in the California and ship them to your customers all over the world. In the process, you are approached to a multitude of risks. There is the risk of political turmoil in Columbia, compounded by the volatility in the dollar-peso exchange rate. Your packaging plant in California may sit on top of an earthquake fault line and be staffed with unionized employees, exposing you to the potential for both natural disasters and labor troubles. Your competition comes from other small businesses offering their own gourmet coffee beans and from larger companies like Starbucks that may be able to get better deals because of higher volume. On top of all of this, you have to worry about the overall demand for coffee ebbing and flowing, as customers choose
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This note was uploaded on 12/01/2011 for the course FINANCE 350 taught by Professor Aswath during the Summer '10 term at NYU.

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