Question

Phonetex is a medium- size manufacturer of telephone sets and switching equipment. Its primary business is government contracts, especially defense contracts, which are very profitable. The com-pany has two plants: Southern and Westbury. The larger plant, Southern, is running at capacity producing a phone system for a new missile installation. Existing government contracts will require Southern to operate at capacity for the next nine months. The missile contract is a firm, fixed- price contract. Part of the contract specifies that 3,000 phones will be produced to meet government speci-fications. The price paid per phone is $ 300.
The second Phonetex plant, Westbury, is a small, old facility acquired two years ago to pro-duce residential phone systems. Phonetex feared that defense work was cyclical, so to stabilize earnings, a line of residential systems was developed at the small plant. In the event that defense work deteriorated, the excess capacity at Southern could be used to produce residential systems. However, just the opposite has happened. The current recession has temporarily depressed the residential business. Although Westbury is losing money ($ 10,000 per month), top management considers this an investment. Westbury has developed a line of systems that are reasonably well received. Part of its workforce has already been laid off. It has a very good workforce remaining, with many specialized and competent supervisors, engineers, and skilled craftspeople. Another 20 percent of Westbury’s workforce could be cut without affecting output. Current operations are meeting the reduced demand. If demand does not increase in the next three months, this 20 percent will have to be cut.
The plant manager at Westbury has tried to convince top management to shift the missile con-tract phones over to his plant. Even though his total cost to manufacture the phones is higher than at Southern, he argues that this will free up some excess capacity at Southern to add more government work. The unit cost data for the 3,000 phones are as follows:



Phonetex is considering another defense contract with an expected price of $ 1.1 million and an expected profit of $ 85,000. The work would have to be completed over the next three months, but Southern does not have the capacity to do the work and Westbury does not have the security clearances or capital equipment required by the contract.
Southern’s manager says it isn’t fair to make him carry Westbury. He points out that Westbury’s variable cost, ignoring labor, is 33 percent greater than Southern’s variable costs. Southern’s manager also argues, “Adding another government contract will not replace the profit that we will be forgoing if Westbury does the telephone manufacturing. See my schedule.”



Required:
Top management has reviewed the Southern manager’s data and believes his cost estimates on the new contract to be accurate. Should Phonetex shift the 3,000 phones to Westbury and take the new contract or not? Prepare an analysis supporting yourconclusions.


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  • CreatedDecember 15, 2014
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