Breeden Electronics USA is a start-up division of a German company. It plans to produce two products, both electronic signaling devices. Herman Klein, the division president, has asked his controller, Marlene Baer, to compute several breakeven sales figures as they assess the sales level that is necessary to meet the profit target established by the parent company. Baer must conduct several breakeven analyses and consider the impact on profit if production exceeds sales. This is the first in a series of three cases that can be used to explore the evolution of cost systems. The main issues of the three cases are as follows: in the A case, the company uses a traditional costing system. The main questions relate to breakeven analysis and the effect of inventory buildup on profit. The B case (UVA-C-2200) introduces the definition of activities, costing those activities, and computing product cost based on their use of the activities. The revised product costs are not dramatically different, but analyzing what causes the differences is important to discovering where ABC can provide valuable information. The C case (UVA-C-2201) takes place after the end of the year, when profits have been reduced by the need to take care of a growing and increasingly complex packing and shipping activity. The controller defines a new activity (order handling), computes the cost per order, and begins to revise the data on product profitability and to develop new data on customer profitability. Having discovered the high cost of handling each order, the controller now has good reason to work on activity-based management: making that process more efficient, and perhaps more customer friendly. The three cases can be used in three classes, or the A and B cases together in one class and the C case in a second class.
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia