By John M. Campbell

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Professionals often felt that poor price forecasts dominate sound technical analysis. Some erroneously believe the poor forecasting performance of future prices eliminates the need for good technical work. This section outlines some general industry investment results, and then summarizes the underlying causes. The next section then develops a general approach that tries to overcome these defects. Four examples of input predictions for actual investment opportunities are reviewed: production profiles, field developments information, plant cost estimation, and price forecasting.

The optimal approach for getting the best estimate of variability is to prepare the variability estimates initially. The tools, with examples, for estimating variability are analyzed in some detail since this is the basic for the notion of risk. Chapter 7 addresses the basic issues in building time-series models in general, with application to three of the main components of investment decision-making: product prices, inflation, and exchange rates. These are elements of the business environment from earlier figures that flow into specific investment appraisal.

Royal Dutch Shell undertook a major study of their North Sea design and operation standards in the late 1980's. 5) They concluded that design considerations underestimated the impact of operating costs, significantly reducing the value of the project. Selection of the wrong alternative reflects the failure to recognize that more than one option exists for each project. Too many evaluations recommend a scheme which only yields a profit when every one or the great bulk of their estimates is correct.

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