Portfolio is defined as the range of investment held by the organization.

Portfolio analysis is a systematic way to analyze the products and services that make up an organization’s business portfolio.

In other words, portfolio analysis is a method of categorizing a firm’s products according to their relative competitive position and business growth rate in order to lay the foundation for sound strategic planning.

Portfolio analysis method is a technique of strategy examination at the corporate level.

Following are the techniques for portfolio analysis:

  1. Boston Consulting Group(BCG) Matrix
  2. General Electric Matrix (GE nine cell matrix)
  3. Hofer’s Matrix (Product life cycle )
  1. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Matrix: It is developed by Boston Consulting It uses relationship between market share and market growth to balance the portfolio.                                     

Market growth rate: The projected rate of sales growth for the market being served by a particular business.

Relative competitive strength: The market share of a business divided by the market share of its largest competitors.

BCG matrix is divided into four cells which give the information of relative competitive position of business (SBUs) for comparing the relative strength of businesses in the firm’s portfolio in terms of position in respective market.

  • Stars (High growth-High market share): Stars are businesses in rapidly growing markets with large market shares. These businesses represent the best long-run opportunities (growth and profitability) in the firm’s portfolio. They acquire substantial investment to maintain (and expand) their dominant position in a growing market.
  • Cash cows (Low growth-High market share): They are businesses with a high market share in low growth markets or industries. Because of their strong competitive positions and their minimal reinvestment requirements, these businesses often generate cash in excess of their needs.
  • Dogs (Low growth-Low market share): Low market share and low market growth businesses are the dogs in the firm’s portfolio.  Facing mature markets with intense competition and low profit margins, they are managed for short-term cash flows (e.g. through ruthless cost cutting) to supplement corporate level resource need.
  • Question Marks: They are businesses whose high growth rate gives them considerable appeal but whose low market share makes their profit potential uncertain. They are cash guzzlers (consume excessively) because their rapid growth results in high cash needs, while their small market share results in low cash generation.

Strategic option for making portfolio

  • Build: Allocate more resources to Star and Question Marks to gain and sustain market share.
  • Hold: Allocate present level resources to Cash Cows to defend market share
  • Harvest: Allocate   less   resource   to   weak   cash-cows. Eventually withdraw them from the market.
  • Divest: Do not allocate resources to Dogs. Liquidate them.

Limitation of BCG Matrix:

The BCG Matrix produces a framework for allocating resources among different business units and makes it possible to compare many business units at a glance. But BCG Matrix is not free from limitations, such as-

  • BCG matrix classifies businesses as low and high, but generally businesses can be medium also. Thus, the true nature of business may not be reflected.
  • Market is not clearly defined in this model.
  • High market share does not always leads to high profits. There are high costs also involved with high market share.
  • Growth rate and relative market share are not the only indicators of profitability. This model ignores and overlooks other indicators of profitability.
  • At times, dogs may help other businesses in gaining competitive advantage. They can earn even more than cash cows sometimes. 
  • This four-celled approach is considered as to be too simplistic.

b. General Electric (GE) Nine Cell Matrix: Developed by McKinsey &Company at General Electric, the GE matrix shows a 9-cell business screen useful to make a strategic choice on the basis of industry attractiveness and  competitiveness.


  • Industry Attractiveness (Long-term market attractiveness): It refers to the subjective assessment based on the broadest possible range of external opportunities and threats beyond the strict control of management. The high/medium/low portfolio shows how attractive the industry is to invest or divest or in between that depends on the log-term attractiveness.
  • Competitive or business position: It refers to the subjective assessment of how strong a competitive advantage created by a broad range of the firm’s internal strengths and weakness is Strong/Average/Weak determine the competitiveness or business position of a firm.
  1. Business in high priority cells is suggested to invest more.
  2. Business in medium priority cells is suggested to invest selectively.
  3. Business in low priority cells is suggested to divest and close down.

Advantages of GE Nine Cell Matrix:

  1. It used 9 cells instead of 4 cells of BCG
  2. It considers many variables and does not lead to simplistic conclusions
  3. High/medium/low and strong/average/low classification enables a finer distinction among business portfolio
  4. It uses multiple factors to assess industry attractiveness and business strength, which allow users to select criteria appropriate to their situation 

Limitation of GE matrix:

  1. It can get quite complicated and cumbersome with the increase in businesses
  2. Though industry attractiveness and business strength appear to be objective, they are in reality subjective judgments that may vary from one person to another
  3. It cannot effectively depict the position of new business units in developing industry
  4. It only provides broad strategic prescriptions rather than specifics of business policy. 

c. Hofer’s Product-Market Evolution Matrix: Developed by Hofer, a 15-cell matrix is used to study interactions between the competitive position and stages of product/market evolution. The circle in the figure represents the size of the industry. The competitive positions are described in terms of strong, average and weak and stages of product/market evolution are explained in terms of development, growth, shake-out, maturity, saturation and decline. 


  • Strategic business unit”A” seems to be a potential”Star”. It holds a large market share; it is in the stage of life cycle development and has a strong competitive position on the market. As such, unit”A” represents a potential candidate in the competition for corporate resource competition.
  • Unit”B” is very similar to unit”A”. Nevertheless, investments in unit”B” must take into account the fact that although it has a strong market position, its market share is quite small. Consequently, the cause for which market share has such a small value must be identified. Furthermore, a strategy that may contribute to the increase of market share must be developed, thus accounting for the future necessary investment.
  • Unit”C” has a small market share, its salient feature resides in the fact that it holds a competitively weak position and it entered a small market whose development is underway.  A strategy that may increase the market share and develop the competitive position must be elaborated so that the future investments are accounted for. For the unit”C” a strategy residing in the elimination from the market must be applied, so that the investment for the first two units may be favourised.
  • Unit”D” is characterized by a strong competitive position on the market and it holds a large market share. In this case, it is recommended that investments be made with a view to maintaining the current position on the market. On the long run, it will become a “Cash Cow”. Unit”E” together with unit”F” are included into the “Cash Cow” category and they should be capitalized on because of great cash flows that they generate.
  • Unit”G” is included into the “Dogs” category and the management thereof is recommended, with a view to generating short-term cash flows in as much as it is possible.  Nevertheless, on the long term the strategy of limitation or liquidation on the market must be selected.

Advantages of Hofer matrix:

  1. Used to identify developing winners.
  2. Illustrates how businesses are distributed across the stages of industry evolution.  This helps to predict how the portfolio will develop in the future.
  3. Market life-cycle represents one of the main factors that contribute to the adoption of strategic decisions at the level of the SBU.

Limitation of Hofer matrix:

  • This model does not focus on all the relevant factors that influence the level of attractiveness on the market.
  • Product life cycle is not same to all types of products.