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The key to putting a ready mix company on track lies in analyzing the company's strengths, according to William B. Allen, president of Allen & Associates, a consulting firm in Memphis, Tenn. Done correctly, analyzing a ready mix company's strengths allows an owner to see specifically where money is being made and lost. Analyses conducted by most owners or outside parties are either qualitative, quantitative, or both. A qualitative analysis is designed to identify components of a substance or mixture. This means examining both external and internal factors affecting a ready mix company. A quantitative analysis is designed to determine the amounts of a substance's components. In the ready mix business, this means using numbers to examine where a company has been and where it is today. In conjunction with the quantitative analysis, the company also undergoes a fiscal physical--a look at the company's financial health. The numbers analyzed by most bankers and creditors often don't tell a ready mix company's whole financial story. When compared to other businesses, a ready mix company often looks financially worse than it really is. To alleviate this discrepancy, Allen devised his own program for analyzing ready mix companies. First, Allen separates fixed costs and variable costs. Contribution and profit summaries are then developed through a format Allen has. Then, the company's break-even point is determined. Once these calculations are complete, Allen normalizes the historical financial data, then analyzes the company's balance sheets and ratios. After comparing these numbers to available industry data and standards, future cash flows can be developed and the company's intrinsic value determined. Finally, Allen is able to summarize the company's strengths and weaknesses.