LUBIN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
Pace University
Prof. P.V. Viswanath
Fin 320 ADVANCED FINANCIAL ANALYSIS Spring 2001

40838: Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:25 to 3:25 p.m. at the New York campus, Rm W515
26103: Tuesdays and Thursdays 5:30 to 7:20 p.m. at the New York campus, Rm W619
Email: pviswanath@pace.edu Tel: (212) 346-1817
Webpage: http://www.pviswanath.com
CourseInfo: http://courseinfo.pace.edu

Office W486, Pace New York
Office hours: Tues. and Thurs 3:35 pm to 5:35 pm in New York; Wednesday, 4:45 to 5:45 pm in Pleasantville; and by appt.
   

Course Objectives

The primary objective of this course is to provide the student with the theoretical background and analytical tools necessary for sound financial decision-making. Other objectives include: 1) preparing students for more advanced work in finance and investments; 2) an appreciation of financial and economic reasoning to provide the capability to read and understand advanced finance materials; 3) the ability to apply the lessons of finance in a practical context.

Since this is an advanced course in Finance, you will be expected to do a lot of reading on your own.  Class meetings will be an opportunity to discuss the issues raised in the relevant textbook chapters, and to engage in exercises designed to improve understanding of finance concepts.  Here are two examples of how this will be done.  One, I will assign very recent Wall Street Journal articles, which you will read and comment on.  Two, you will use the Trading Room (W404) and other resources to research and report on a selected company; you will analyze and apply the various principles you will learn in the course, to this company.  

I hope that this statement of objectives has already clued you in to the fact that this is a serious course.   I will assume that each one of you is eager to learn, and is willing to put in the necessary time and effort to that end.  If that is not your goal, you will be disappointed with this course because the work load is not light.  On the other hand, for those who are willing to work at it, the end results should be worth it.  So make up your mind, beforehand, what it is that you are looking for.    

When you have completed this course successfully, you will be familiar with:

When you have completed the course successfully, you should be able to do the following (time permitting):

Course Text

We are using the second edition of this textbook, which is a big improvement over the first edition.  This text is very good for anybody wishing to learn the practice of corporate finance; this is why I have chosen the book.  To a great extent, I expect that we will use the book as a manual, using it in applications whenever we need it. I look upon this course as an opportunity to teach and to learn. The way I see it, there are three players in this course: the teacher, the students and the textbook.  I hope we will all be ready to capitalize on the different interactions possible between these three players. 

The first step, however, is to read the book thoroughly, if critically. You should read each text-book chapter before we begin it, while we are working through it, and also after we complete it; as discussed above, class sessions are meant to complement the text, rather than substitute for it. 

Computer Use and E-mail Policy:

In this course, you will need to use the computer and the Internet a lot.  If you are uncomfortable with using the computer, or are unwilling to learn, you should not take this course. Due to the nature of the course, I cannot entertain any excuses regarding difficulty or inability to access the Internet.

You should also obtain a Pace e-mail address as soon as possible, so that I can send you e-mail. Any student's Pace e-mail address can be obtained by going to the Contact Pace section of the main Pace Home Page (the default password is the studentís Pace Identification Number).  More information about e-mail address, etc. can be obtained from the DoiT website.  Even if you have another e-mail address where you wish to get your e-mail, you should still get a Pace e-mail address.  Once you have your Pace e-mail account and password, you can go to the Pace University Student E-Mail Server at http://stmail.pace.edu and have your e-mail forwarded to your preferred e-mail address.  You can find information on how to have your mail automatically forwarded at http://www.pace.edu/DoIT/forward/The only way that I can communicate with you is through your Pace e-mail account.  Hence, it behooves you to get your Pace account information as soon as possible.

Check your e-mail and the FIN 320 website on a regular basis.  This will enable you to get the maximum from the course. I am available for consultation by e-mail at pviswanath@pace.edu. I check my e-mail practically every day, and, in most cases, you should get a speedy response to any questions.  

We will also be using CourseInfo as a gateway for some aspects of the course.  Please log in to CourseInfo at the earliest opportunity.    Your login id for CourseInfo will be your email ID, and your password will be your 9-digit social security number.  More information on how to log in to CourseInfo can be obtained at the Login Procedure webpage.  You will be instructed during the course of the term about further details pertaining to CourseInfo.  

Course Requirements

Class Attendance and Participation

Attendance at ALL class sessions is mandatory.  I will circulate an attendance sign-up sheet; it is your responsibility to sign it.  The sign-up sheet may be circulated at any time during the class period, and may even be circulated twice in one class session.  If you do not sign the attendance sheet whenever it is distributed, you will be considered absent.  On occasion, I conduct classroom exercises, or assign additional work. If you miss a class session during which we have such a classroom exercise, or additional work is assigned, your grade will be adversely affected for this reason as well.  In any case, you should consult fellow students on what was done during the class time that you missed, and collect handouts for that day's session. You should also bring a calculator to all class meetings.

I also require that you read the Wall Street Journal and/or the business section of the New York Times on a regular basis. Exam questions will frequently be based on current newspaper and magazine articles that are related to course material. Hence you should cultivate and improve your ability to read newspaper articles critically.  If you do not already subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, get in touch with me as soon as possible.

There are two other reasons why you should try to attend as regularly as possible. One, attendance and classroom participation counts for a substantial portion of the grade. By participation, I mean answering questions and making intelligent comments. Two, I will, at times, give bonus quizzes in class; doing well in them can help you substantially.

Assignments and Working with Teams

Assignments are a critical part of the course.  The main purpose of these assignments is to make sure that you understand the material, and to prepare you for the exams.  There are several assignments; one assignment will be due almost every week.  You may only submit assignments as part of a group, unless advised otherwise by me.  Hence you should form your groups immediately.  Each group may consist of three to five members. I expect you to form your own groups. (However, if need be, I will assign students to groups, depending upon the need, as I perceive it.)  By the beginning of the second week of classes, each group should give me a filled-out copy of the Team Contract.  The team contract should be filled out in full, and should be signed by all team members.  

Although assignments will be turned in by the group as a unit, I expect all members of a group to participate equitably in the work involved.  I also expect each member of the group to work on each project; this is also in your own interests because the assignments are useful preparation for the exams. You may also use groups for joint learning and study: that is up to the members of each group. Groups may also want to assign members on a rotating basis to keep track of whatever is posted on the Web. However, each student is separately responsible for the material that is put up on the Web. Failure of the designated group member to fulfill his/her duties will not absolve any group member of the responsibility to keep up-to-date vis-a-vis class activities on the Web, or off.

Academic Integrity

Any student taking this course is presumed to agree to abide by the statement on academic integrity, as described on pages 62-63 of the 2000-2002 Undergraduate Catalog.  It is your responsibility to get a copy of this catalog, which can be obtained from Lubin Undergraduate Academic Advisement.

Exams

There will be a midterm exam and a final. Exams are closed book, but I will allow you to bring in one 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper containing whatever material you wish (two sides). For example, you may want to write out formulas on these sheets. More details on the nature of the exams can be found on the FAQ page.  If you miss an exam without being excused, I cannot give you any credit for that exam.  University policy allows make-ups only for serious personal illness or death in the family, for which documentation may be required.  You can look at past exams and solutions on my website. Get in touch with me regarding any question you may have regarding the exams, or the course in general.

In-Class Quizzes

I reserve the right to give unannounced quizzes in class, from time to time. These will be in the nature of ten or fifteen minute quizzes, and will typically be on material that has been covered in the previous couple of classes. Doing well in these quizzes could help you make up for lower grades in other exams or assignments. Consequently, it will be to your benefit to attend class regularly, to read the text and webnotes, and to make sure you understand the material.

Discussion Board (WebBoard):

I have set up a FIN320 Discussion Board, called WebBoard, for out-of-class discussion. WebBoard participation will count for 5 percent of your grade. In order to get credit for a posting, you do not have to post on a brand new thread (topic); it can be a posting which responds to another posting on an existing thread, as long as there is sufficient content in your posting.  In order to maximize the topicality of your posting, you should read the Wall Street Journal on a regular basis. Before you post, however, make sure to read my Discussion Board Netiquette hints and suggestions.

In order to access and use Web Board , you must log in at the Web Board website. Initially, you will be asked to login as a New User and to create a personalized profile.  Logging in and creating your User Profile will automatically make you a registered user of the Web Board.  However, you will need to do this within the first two weeks of the course.  After that, you will need to approach me personally in order to be a registered user.  Registering on Web Board within the first two weeks of the course will count as one posting.

You can also participate on WebBoard through email.  To do this, go to WebBoard, click on More... from the menu on top, and select Mailing Lists.  This will allow you to get Web Board postings by e-mail, as well as to post by e-mail.  If I need to make announcements outside class, I will post them on WebBoard.  Hence, if you are not sure that you will be checking WebBoard on a regular basis, I recommend that you turn on the Mailing Lists option.  You can find more information on participating through e-mail from the WebBoard help facility.

What can you post to the WebBoard? For example, you can post

and so on and so forth.  Since WebBoard is web-based, you can include weblinks in your posting. You may find it worthwhile to browse various on-line magazines, such as Financial Analysts Journal; newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Barron's etc; magazines such as Fortune, Money, the Economist, Business Week, etc; In addition, you can find a multitude of other links at my Finance webpage.  You can also look at examples of some WebBoard discussions from previous terms at my website.

Web Board also contains a Chat room. I will be announcing times when I will be available for consultation in the Chat room. You may also use the chat room to conference with team members.

In order to employ the bells and whistles of Web Board, you will find it useful to know a minimal amount of HTML. For some useful links in this area, visit my home page at the Student Interests link. You may also contact the Computing Resource Center of the Division of Information Technology at 914-773-3642 (in Pleasantville) or 212-346-1698 (in New York) for more information. The Computing Resource Center in Pleasantville is located on the 2nd floor of Willcox Hall, and on the second floor of the Pace Plaza building in New York. However, you do not need to know any HTML to use WebBoard and post messages.

You will graded on your Web Board postings in terms of the following points:

Web Board postings are meant to be in the nature of discussions; so I would recommend that you read the other participants' postings and respond to them, rather than make isolated postings that are unrelated to what the other participants are saying. 

Study Aids

Practice Problems

In addition to the course requirements discussed above, you may want to try your hand at the problems at the end of each chapter. Some of these problems will be discussed in class; however, none of these problems are expected to be handed in, although you may come to see me if you need help with any problem.  As pointed out in the Text section of the syllabus, solutions to end-of-chapter problems are available on the web.  A password to access the site can be obtained from the CourseInfo site.

I have also prepared a list of practice problems, some of which appeared in exams in previous years.  These have been generated by me, for the most part.  Exam questions are more likely to be similar to these problems than to the end-of-chapter problems.

Media Articles

On my webpages, you will find recent media articles.  From time to time, I will add to this list.  There are several reasons why you should look regularly at these pages.  

 In addition to using these articles for classroom discussion, we will also be discussing them on Web Board.  The password, necessary to access the Media Articles section will be announced in class, and can also be found at the CourseInfo website. In case of emergency, you can contact me for the password.

Grades

Your final grade will be determined as follows:
 

Factor  Impact on grade
Midterm 30%
Final 40%
Projects 20%
Classroom participation and Attendance 5%
WebBoard participation 5%

Letter grades will be assigned as follows:  

Course Grade Quantitative Class Score
A, A- 90%-100%
B+, B, B- 80%-89.99%
C+, C, C- 70%-79.99%
D+, D 60-69.99%
F 0-59.99%

Note that the minimum and maximum quantitative scores for plus and minus refinements to the letter grades will be at my discretion. These will be partly determined by the distribution of student scores within each letter grade category.   I place a high value on effort; at my discretion, I will raise your grade one notch if I feel that you have tried hard to satisfy all the requirements of the course.

Prerequisites:

Students must have satisfied all prerequisites for this course, viz. FIN 301, MAT 104, MAT 117, ECO 105 and ACC 204. I will presume complete familiarity with all topics taught in these courses. To get an idea of what I expect you to know, you can look at my Fall 1996 syllabus for FIN 301. To assure yourself that you are ready, you may want to attempt the assignments that I gave my FIN 301 class.

Data Cards

On the index card handed out in class, please fill in the information requested below, making sure to number the item that you are responding to.  Leave space on the top right hand side for a photograph.

  1. Name
  2. Home and Work Phone number; Fax number, if any
  3. Email address, other than at pace.edu (for my convenience).  (Note that I will send you email only to your Pace email address)
  4. Functional expertise/interest in business administration (e.g. accounting, finance, personnel administration)
  5. Work experience, if any (provide particulars of what your duties were)
  6. Previous knowledge of finance (if any)
  7. Interests outside of business management (such as languages, music, etc.)
  8. What spreadsheet program do you know? Where did you learn it, and when?
  9. When did you take FIN 301?

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