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Balancing financial goals vis-à-vis sustainable growth

The concept of sustainable growth can be helpful for planning healthy corporate growth. This concept forces managers to consider the financial consequences of sales increases and to set sales growth goals that are consistent with the operating and financial policies of the firm. Often, a conflict can arise if growth objectives are not consistent with the value of the organization’s sustainable growth. Question concerning right distribution of resources may take a difficult shape if we take into consideration the rightness not for the current stakeholders but for the future stakeholders also.

To take an illustration, let us refer to fuel industry where resources are limited in quantity and a judicial use of resources is needed to cater to the need of the future customers along with the need of the present customers. One may have noticed the save fuel campaign, a demarketing campaign that deviates from the usual approach of sales growth strategy and preaches for conservation of fuel for their use across generation. This is an example of stable growth strategy adopted by the oil industry as a whole under resource constraints and the long run objective of survival over years.

Incremental growth strategy, profit strategy and pause strategy are other variants of stable growth strategy. Sustainable growth is important to enterprise long-term development. Too fast or too slow growth will go against enterprise growth and development, so financial should play important role in enterprise development, adopt suitable financial policy initiative to make sure enterprise growth speed close to sustainable growth ratio and have sustainable healthy development.

The sustainable growth rate (SGR), concept by Robert C. Higgins, of a firm is the maximum rate of growth in sales that can be achieved, given the firm’s profitability, asset utilization, and desired dividend payout and debt (financial leverage) ratios. The sustainable growth rate is a measure of how much a firm can grow without borrowing more money.

After the firm has passed this rate, it must borrow funds from another source to facilitate growth. Variables typically include the net profit margin on new and existing revenues; the asset turnover ratio, which is the ratio of sales revenues to total assets; the assets to beginning of period equity ratio; and the retention rate, which is defined as the fraction of earnings retained in the business.

SGR = ROE x (1- Dividend payment ratio)

Sustainable growth models assume that the business wants to:

1) Maintain a target capital structure without issuing new equity;

2) Maintain a target dividend payment ratio

3) Increase sales as rapidly as market conditions allow.

Since the asset to beginning of period equity ratio is constant and the firm’s only source of new equity is retained earnings, sales and assets cannot grow any faster than the retained earnings plus the additional debt that the retained earnings can support. The sustainable growth rate is consistent with the observed evidence that most corporations are reluctant to issue new equity. If, however, the firm is willing to issue additional equity, there is in principle no financial constraint on its growth rate

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