Warren Noble Ball III

A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of requirements for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at The University of Mississippi.

Oxford, Mississippi

May 2017

Approved by:

        Advisor: Dr. Victoria Dickinson

       Reader: Dr. Mark Wilder


  1. Glenwood Heating vs. Eads Heaters            1
  2. Molson Coors Brewing Company           18
  3. Golden Enterprises Inc.           30
  4. Pearson PLC           39
  5. Graphic Apparel Corporation           48
  6. Northwest, Delta, & United           57
  7. Rite Aid Corporation           61
  8. Merck Inc. & GlaxoSmithKline PLC           71
  9. State Street Corporation           78
  10. Groupon Inc.           83
  11. Construct Inc.           90
  12. ZAGG Inc.           94
  13. Johnson & Johnson          101


            The completion of this thesis is due mostly in thanks to ACCY 420, a class designed by the Patterson School of Accountancy and taught by Dr. Victoria Dickinson that gives accounting students a structured process for designing their theses on purposeful accounting topics. During my Junior and Senior years, there was a whirlwind of activity surrounding accounting students: accounting classes step into a new realm of difficulty, internship recruiting begins, and eventually my peers and I departed for multi-month internships. All of that activity left us with far less time to work on our theses than students in other academic arenas.

Luckily, ACCY 420 provided us with an effective process to write our theses. During both semesters of our Junior year, this class would meet once a week, beginning every other week with a new case study addressing an ambiguous situation or problem in financial reporting. In these case studies, we were presented with more complex accounting problems than normally encountered in standard accounting classes. Each case required a large amount of background detail on the company (or companies) being studied in the case and the solution was usually never cut-and-dry. That lack of a “right” answer was perhaps the most helpful part of the class: whereas tests always have one right answer, my peers and I often found that we had come to different conclusions on how to handle certain situations in the case, which was good exposure to how problems are tacked in the real world.

As far as knowledge gained from this class, I feel that ACCY 420 was beneficial for me in multiple areas as I prepare to move into the real world. The first and most obvious area that I improved in was knowledge of financial reporting as well as the process of reporting those findings using technical skills (Excel) as I wrote my professional reports. As I said before, ACCY 420 presented my classmates and I with contextualized problems that were not so easily solved; there were not only multiple variables in the problem, but also multiple approaches on what those variables meant and how they affected the final solution. Encountering more difficult problems forces you as a student to truly understand the accounting concepts behind the problem; otherwise, you have no groundwork to solve the problem with. In this sense, ACCY 420 absolutely enhanced my understanding of accounting principles in the areas our case studies pertained to. Also, reporting my findings in a professional manner meant using some of the tools in Excel that have always evaded me. As I later found out in my internship, Excel will be my best friend in the coming years, so I was thankful for this class’ introduction to its usefulness.

However, my favorite part of the ACCY 420 experience (the part that I believe is most important moving forward in my career) is working on complicated problems with other people, all of whom exercise their critical thinking in different ways. The critical thinking process can be difficult when you are dealing with a problem alone that you do not fully understand; with a team, I was able to bounce ideas off of my teammates and see the problem from other points of view that may have never even crossed my mind. Then, after discovering each person’s point of view, we worked together to come to a common agreement on the correct solution, which can also be a process if people are adamant about their answer being the right one. Ultimately, it was this human element of ACCY 420 that I enjoyed the most and believe is the most applicable to my future. No matter how easy or complicated the problem, accounting is a team effort in every aspect and requires as much social skill as it does technical skill. As I move forward into a career in accounting, I will remember the different team dynamics encountered in ACCY 420 and the lessons I took from those experiences.

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