Century Aluminum SWOT Analysis / Matrix

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SWOT analysis is a vital strategic planning tool that can be used by Century Aluminum managers to do a situational analysis of the firm . It is a handy technique to map out the present Strengths (S), Weakness (W), Opportunities (O) & Threats (T) Century Aluminum is facing in its current business environment.

The Century Aluminum is one of the leading companies in its industry. Century Aluminum maintains its prominent position in market by carefully analyzing and reviewing the SWOT analysis.  SWOT analysis an immensenly interactive process and requires effective coordination among various departments within the organization such as – marketing, finance, operations, management information systems and strategic planning.

The SWOT Analysis framework facilitates an organization to identify the internal strategic factors such as -strengths and weaknesses, & external strategic factors such as - opportunities and threats. It leads to a 2X2 matrix – also known as SWOT Matrix.

The Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats (SWOT) Analysis / Matrix enables the managers of the Century Aluminum to develop four types of strategies:

  • SO (strengths-opportunities) Strategies
  • WO (weaknesses-opportunities) Strategies
  • ST (strengths-threats) Strategies
  •  WT (weaknesses-threats) Strategies
Century Aluminum swot analysis / matrix

SWOT Matrix Strategies Objective

The primary purpose of SWOT matrix is to identify the strategies that a firm can utilize to exploit external opportunities, counter threats, and build on & protect Century Aluminum strengths, and eradicate its weaknesses.

Step by Step Guide to Century Aluminum SWOT Analysis

Strengths of Century Aluminum – Internal Strategic Factors


As one of the leading firms in its industry, Century Aluminum has numerous strengths that help it to thrive in the market place. These strengths not only help it to protect the market share in existing markets but also help in penetrating new markets. Based on Fern Fort University extensive research – some of the strengths of Century Aluminum are –

  • Strong Brand Portfolio – Over the years Century Aluminum has invested in building a strong brand portfolio. The SWOT analysis of Century Aluminum just underlines this fact. This brand portfolio can be extremely useful if the organization wants to expand into new product categories.
  • Successful track record of developing new products – product innovation.
  • Highly skilled workforce through successful training and learning programs. Century Aluminum is investing huge resources in training and development of its employees resulting in a workforce that is not only highly skilled but also motivated to achieve more.
  • High level of customer satisfaction – the company with its dedicated customer relationship management department has able to achieve a high level of customer satisfaction among present customers and good brand equity among the potential customers.
  • Strong dealer community – It has built a culture among distributor & dealers where the dealers not only promote company’s products but also invest in training the sales team to explain to the customer how he/she can extract the maximum benefits out of the products.
  • Strong distribution network – Over the years Century Aluminum has built a reliable distribution network that can reach majority of its potential market.
  • Reliable suppliers – It has a strong base of reliable supplier of raw material thus enabling the company to overcome any supply chain bottlenecks.
  • Highly successful at Go To Market strategies for its products.


Weakness of Century Aluminum – Internal Strategic Factors


Weakness are the areas where Century Aluminum can improve upon. Strategy is about making choices and weakness are the areas where a company can improve using SWOT analysis and build on its competitive advantage and strategic positioning.

  • The company has not being able to tackle the challenges present by the new entrants in the segment and has lost small market share in the niche categories. Century Aluminum has to build internal feedback mechanism directly from sales team on ground to counter these challenges.
  • There are gaps in the product range sold by the company. This lack of choice can give a new competitor a foothold in the market.
  • Not very good at product demand forecasting leading to higher rate of missed opportunities compare to its competitors. One of the reason why the days inventory is high compare to its competitors is that Century Aluminum is not very good at demand forecasting thus end up keeping higher inventory both in-house and in channel.
  • Financial planning is not done properly and efficiently. The current asset ratio and liquid asset ratios suggest that the company can use the cash more efficiently than what it is doing at present.
  • Limited success outside core business – Even though Century Aluminum is one of the leading organizations in its industry it has faced challenges in moving to other product segments with its present culture.
  • Days inventory is high compare to the competitors – making the company raise more capital to invest in the channel. This can impact the long term growth of Century Aluminum
  • The marketing of the products left a lot to be desired. Even though the product is a success in terms of sale but its positioning and unique selling proposition is not clearly defined which can lead to the attacks in this segment from the competitors.

Opportunities for Century Aluminum – External Strategic Factors

  • Lower inflation rate – The low inflation rate bring more stability in the market, enable credit at lower interest rate to the customers of Century Aluminum.
  • The new technology provides an opportunity to Century Aluminum to practices differentiated pricing strategy in the new market. It will enable the firm to maintain its loyal customers with great service and lure new customers through other value oriented propositions.
  • Government green drive also opens an opportunity for procurement of Century Aluminum products by the state as well as federal government contractors.
  • New environmental policies – The new opportunities will create a level playing field for all the players in the industry. It represent a great opportunity for Century Aluminum to drive home its advantage in new technology and gain market share in the new product category.
  • Organization’s core competencies can be a success in similar other products field. A comparative example could be - GE healthcare research helped it in developing better Oil drilling machines.
  • The market development will lead to dilution of competitor’s advantage and enable Century Aluminum to increase its competitiveness compare to the other competitors.
  • New trends in the consumer behavior can open up new market for the Century Aluminum . It provides a great opportunity for the organization to build new revenue streams and diversify into new product categories too.
  • New customers from online channel – Over the past few years the company has invested vast sum of money into the online platform. This investment has opened new sales channel for Century Aluminum. In the next few years the company can leverage this opportunity by knowing its customer better and serving their needs using big data analytics.

Threats Century Aluminum Facing - External Strategic Factors

  • New technologies developed by the competitor or market disruptor could be a serious threat to the industry in medium to long term future.
  • As the company is operating in numerous countries it is exposed to currency fluctuations especially given the volatile political climate in number of markets across the world.
  • Intense competition – Stable profitability has increased the number of players in the industry over last two years which has put downward pressure on not only profitability but also on overall sales.
  • Imitation of the counterfeit and low quality product is also a threat to Century Aluminum’s product especially in the emerging markets and low income markets.
  • The company can face lawsuits in various markets given - different laws and continuous fluctuations regarding product standards in those markets.
  • Rising pay level especially movements such as $15 an hour and increasing prices in the China can lead to serious pressure on profitability of Century Aluminum
  • New environment regulations under Paris agreement (2016) could be a threat to certain existing product categories .
  • Growing strengths of local distributors also presents a threat in some markets as the competition is paying higher margins to the local distributors.

Limitations of SWOT Analysis for Century Aluminum

Although the SWOT analysis is widely used as a strategic planning tool, the analysis does have its share of limitations.

  • Certain capabilities or factors of an organization can be both a strength and weakness at the same time. This is one of the major limitations of SWOT analysis . For example changing environmental regulations can be both a threat to company it can also be an opportunity in a sense that it will enable the company to be on a level playing field or at advantage to competitors if it able to develop the products faster than the competitors.
  • SWOT does not show how to achieve a competitive advantage, so it must not be an end in itself.
  • The matrix is only a starting point for a discussion on how proposed strategies could be implemented. It provided an evaluation window but not an implementation plan based on strategic competitiveness of Century Aluminum
  • SWOT is a static assessment - analysis of status quo with few prospective changes. As circumstances, capabilities, threats, and strategies change, the dynamics of a competitive environment may not be revealed in a single matrix.
  • SWOT analysis may lead the firm to overemphasize a single internal or external factor in formulating strategies. There are interrelationships among the key internal and external factors that SWOT does not reveal that may be important in devising strategies.

Weighted SWOT Analysis of Century Aluminum

In light of the above mentioned limitations of the SWOT analysis / matrix, corporate managers decided to provide weightage to each internal strength and weakness of the firm. Organizations also assess the likelihood of events taking place in the coming future and how strong their impact could be on company's performance.

This method is called Weighted SWOT analysis. It is better than doing simplistic SWOT analysis because with Weighted SWOT Analysis Century Aluminum managers can focus on the most critical factors and discount the non-important one. It also solves the long list problem where organizations ends up making a long list but none of the factors deemed too critical.

Limitation of Weighted SWOT analysis of Century Aluminum

This approach also suffers from one major drawback - it focus on individual importance of factor rather than how they are collectively important and impact the business holistically.

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SWOT Worksheet & Template

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References / Citations & Bibliography

  • M. E. Porter, Competitive Strategy(New York: Free Press, 1980)
  • A. D. Chandler, Strategy and Structure (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1962)
  • O. E. Williamson, Markets and Hierarchies(New York: Free Press, 1975);
  • L. Wrigley, Divisional Autonomy and Diversification (PhD, Harvard Business School, 1970)
  • R. E. White, Generic Business Strategies, Organizational Context and Performance: An Empirical Investigation, Strategic Management Journal7 (1986)