This study highlights the importance of economic profits (EVA) and their long-term effects on shareholder value (MVA). South African companies listed on the JSE were analysed and it is evident that the relative measure of internal performance (spreads) can be used to rank companies in terms of value creation. Individual companies and sectors were also placed on a financial strategy matrix, which evaluated companies according to spreads and cash management. The sales growth less the SGR percentage was used to indicate cash management. Statistical tests (regression analysis) were done on the data to test the validity of the financial strategy matrix model. The results showed that there is a positive relationship between spreads and shareholder value, but sales growth less the sustainable growth rate does not contribute significantly to shareholder value.