1）Risks of Changes in Global Macroeconomic Conditions
As we conduct businesses on a global scale, our operating results are impacted by economic trends in overseas countries as well as those in Japan.
For instance, a decline in prices of energy and metal resources could have a large impact on our resource-related import transactions and earnings from business investments. Furthermore, the worldwide economic slowdown could affect our entire export-related business, including plants, construction machinery parts, automobiles, steel products, ferrous raw materials, chemical products, and other products.
In Thailand and Indonesia, we have various automobile businesses, including automobile assembly plants, distribution and sales companies and financial services companies jointly established with Japanese automakers. Because automobile sales volume reflects internal demand in each of these countries, economic trends in both Thailand and Indonesia may have a significant bearing on earnings from our automobile operations.
The global economy saw healthy growth as a whole in the past fiscal year. In industrialized nations, while unemployment remained at high levels, moderate economic expansion was driven by pump-priming measures and ongoing quantitative easing. Meanwhile, emerging economies such as China and India enjoyed high rates of growth, underpinned by robust internal demand. That said, some countries tightened monetary policy because of rising inflationary pressures.
(Unless otherwise stated, calculations of effects on future consolidated net income are based on consolidated net income for the year ended March 2011. Consolidated net income, as used hereinafter, refers to “Consolidated net income attributable to Mitsubishi Corporation.”)
(1) Commodity Market Risk
In the course of our business activities, we are exposed to various risks relating to movements in prices of commodities as a trader, an owner of rights to natural and energy resources, and a producer and seller of industrial products of our investees. Product categories that may have a large impact on our operating results are as follows:
We hold upstream rights to LNG and crude oil, and/or liquefaction facilities in Australia, Malaysia, Brunei, Sakhalin, Indonesia, the U.S., including the Gulf of Mexico, Gabon, Angola and other regions. Movements in LNG and crude oil prices may have a significant impact on operating results in these businesses.
Fundamentally, LNG prices are linked to crude oil prices. As an estimate, a US$1/BBL fluctuation in the price of crude oil would have an approximate ¥1.0 billion effect on consolidated net income for LNG and crude oil combined, mainly through a change in equity-method earnings. However, fluctuations in the price of LNG and crude oil might not be immediately reflected in our operating results because of timing differences.
Through wholly owned Australian subsidiary Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd (MDP), we sell around 27-28 million tons of coal per year, mainly coking coal, a ferrous raw material. Fluctuations in the price of coking coal may affect our consolidated operating results through MDP's earnings. MDP's operating results cannot be determined by the coal price alone as they are also significantly affected by fluctuations in exchange rates for the Australian dollar, U.S. dollar and yen, as well as production and sales volumes and production costs.
In addition, as a producer, we are exposed to the risk of price fluctuations in copper and aluminum. Regarding copper, a US$100 fluctuation in the price per MT of copper would have a ¥0.5 billion effect on our net income. However, variables besides price fluctuations can also have an impact. These include the grade of mined ore, the status of production operations, and reinvestment plans (capital expenditures). Therefore, the impact on earnings cannot be determined by the copper price alone. Regarding aluminum, a US$100 fluctuation in the price per MT of aluminum would have a ¥1.0 billion effect on our consolidated net income.
We are engaged in a broad range of trading activities for petrochemical products manufactured from raw materials such as naphtha and natural gas. The prices of petrochemical products are largely determined for each product on an individual basis based on the prices of the above raw materials, supply-demand dynamics and other factors. Fluctuations in the prices of these raw materials may affect earnings from these trading transactions.
We have made investments in manufacturing and sales companies for petrochemicals such as ethylene glycol, paraxylene and methanol in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Venezuela. Our equity-method earnings would be affected by changes in the operating results of these companies due to price movements.
(2) Foreign Currency Risk
We bear some risk of fluctuations in foreign currency rates relative to the yen in the course of our trading activities, such as export, import and offshore trading. While we use forward contracts and other hedging strategies, there is no assurance that we can completely avoid foreign currency risk.
In addition, dividends received from overseas businesses and equity in earnings of overseas consolidated subsidiaries and equity-method affiliates are relatively high in proportion to our consolidated net income. Because most of these earnings are denominated in foreign currencies, which are converted to yen solely for reporting purposes, an appreciation in the yen relative to foreign currencies has a negative impact on consolidated net income. In terms of sensitivity, a 1 yen change relative to the U.S. dollar would have an approximate ¥2.5 billion effect on consolidated net income.
Regarding our investments in overseas businesses, an appreciation in the yen poses the risk of lowering shareholders’ equity through a negative effect on the foreign currency translation adjustments account. Consequently, we implement various measures to prevent increased exposure to foreign currency risk on investments, such as by hedging foreign currency risks with respect to new large investments. However, there is no assurance that we can completely avoid these risks.
(3) Stock Price Risk
As of March 31, 2011, we owned approximately ¥1,400.0 billion (market value basis) of marketable securities, mostly equity issues of customers, suppliers and Affiliated companies. These investments expose us to the risk of fluctuations in stock prices. As of the same date, we had net unrealized gains of approximately ¥500.0 billion based on market prices, a figure that could change depending on future trends in stock prices.
In our corporate pension fund, some of the pension assets managed are marketable stocks. Accordingly, a fall in stock prices could cause an increase in pension expenses by reducing pension assets.
(4) Interest Rate Risk
As of March 31, 2011, we had gross interest-bearing liabilities of approximately ¥4,257.6 billion. Because almost all of these liabilities bear floating interest rates, there is a risk of an increase in interest expenses caused by a rise in interest rates.
However, the vast majority of these interest-bearing liabilities are corresponding to trade receivables, loans receivable and other operating assets that are positively affected by changes in interest rates. Because a rise in interest rates produces an increase in income from these assets, while there is a time lag, interest rate risk is offset. For the remaining interest-bearing liabilities exposed to interest rate risk without such offsets, commensurate asset holdings such as investment securities, property and equipment generate trading income as well as other income streams such as dividends that are strongly correlated with economic cycles. Accordingly, even if interest rates increase as the economy improves, leading to higher interest expenses, we believe that these expenses would be offset by an increase in income from the corresponding asset holdings.
However, our operating results may be negatively affected temporarily if there is a rapid rise in interest rates because increased income from commensurate asset holdings would fail to offset the effects of a preceding increase in interest expenses.
To monitor market movements in interest rates and respond flexibly to market risks, we established the ALM (Asset Liability Management) Committee. This committee establishes fund procurement strategy and manages the risk of interest rate fluctuations.
We extend credit to customers in the form of trade credit, including accounts receivables and advance payments, finance, guarantees and investments due to our various operating transactions. We are therefore exposed to credit risk in the form of losses arising from deterioration in the credit of or bankruptcy of customers. Furthermore, we utilize derivative instruments, primarily swaps, options and futures, for the purpose of hedging risks. In this case, we are exposed to the credit risk of the counterparties to these derivative instruments.
To manage this risk, we have established credit and transaction limits for each customer as well as introduced an internal rating system. Based on internal rules determined by internal ratings and the amount of credit, we also require collateral or a guarantee depending on the credit profile of the counterparty.
However, there is no guarantee that we will be able to completely avoid credit risk with these risk hedging strategies. We reduce transactions and take measures to protect our receivables when there is deterioration in the credit condition of customers. We also have a policy for dealing with bankrupt customers and work to collect receivables. However, failure to collect receivables and other credit could affect our operating results.
We bear country risk in relation to transactions and investments with overseas companies in the form of delays or inability to collect money or conduct business activities due to socioeconomic conditions in the countries where they are domiciled.
We take appropriate risk hedging measures that involve, in principle, hedges via third parties through such means as taking out insurance, depending on the nature of the project. Furthermore, we have established a Country Risk Committee, under which country risk is managed through a country risk countermeasure system. The country risk countermeasure system classifies countries with which we trade into six categories based on risk money in terms of the sum total of the amount of investments, advances, and guarantees, and the amount of trade receivables, net of hedges, as well as creditworthiness by country (country rating). Country risk is controlled through the establishment of risk limits for each category.
However, even with these risk hedging measures, it is difficult to completely avoid risks caused by deterioration in the political, economic, or social conditions in the countries or regions where our customers, portfolio companies or we have ongoing projects. Such eventualities may have a significant impact on our operating results.
5）Business Investment Risk
We participate in the management of various companies by acquiring equity and other types of interests. These business investment activities are carried out with the aim of increasing our commercial rights and deriving capital gains. However, we bear various risks related to business investments, such as the possible inability to recover our investments and exit losses and being unable to earn the planned profits. Regarding the management of business investment risk, in the case of new business investments, we clarify the investment meaning and purpose, quantitatively grasp the downside risk of investments and evaluate whether the investment return exceeds the minimum expected rate of return, which is determined internally according to the extent of the risk. After investing, we manage risk on an individual basis with respect to business investments to achieve the investment goals set forth in the business plan formulated every year. Furthermore, we apply exit rules for the early sale of our equity interest or the liquidation of the investee in order to efficiently replace assets in our portfolio.
While we follow strict standards for the selection and management of investments, it is difficult to completely avoid the risk of investments not delivering the expected profits. Therefore, we may incur losses resulting from such actions as the withdrawal from an investment.
6）Risks Related to Specific Investments
Investment in and Operations with
Mitsubishi Motors Corporation
Following requests from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC), we injected equity totaling ¥140.0 billion in MMC from June 2004 through January 2006 by subscribing to ordinary and preferred MMC shares. We cooperate with MMC developing business at sales companies mainly outside of Japan and across the related value chain. Our risk exposure to MMC proper was approximately ¥130.0 billion as of March 31, 2011. Our risk exposure in connection with investments in businesses, finance, trade receivables and other related business was approximately ¥240.0 billion as of March 31, 2011. Our total MMC-related risk exposure, including both the aforementioned risk exposure to MMC proper and our risk exposure to related business, was thus around ¥370.0 billion as of March 31, 2011.
For the year ended March 2011, MMC posted consolidated sales of ¥1,828.5 billion, operating profit of ¥40.3 billion and a net profit of ¥15.6 billion.
7）Risks Related to Compliance
We are engaged in businesses in all industries through our many offices around the world. These activities subject us to a wide variety of laws and regulations. Specifically, we must comply with the Companies Act, tax laws, Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, anti-monopoly laws, international trade-related laws, environmental laws and various business laws in Japan. In addition, in the course of conducting business overseas, we must abide by the laws and regulations in the countries and regions where we operate.
We have established a Compliance Committee, which is headed by a Chief Compliance Officer, who is at the forefront of our efforts to raise awareness of compliance. This officer also directs and supervises compliance with laws and regulations on a consolidated basis.
Notwithstanding these initiatives, compliance risks cannot be completely avoided. Failure to fulfill our obligations under related laws and regulations could affect our businesses and operating results.
8）Risks from Natural Disasters
A natural disaster, such as an earthquake, heavy rain or flood, which damages our offices, facilities or systems and affects employees could hinder sales and production activities.
We have established adequate countermeasures, having prepared an employee safety check system; disaster contingency manual for business contingency plan (BCP) execution; earthquake-proof measures for buildings, facilities or systems (including backup of data); and introduced a program of disaster prevention drills. However, no amount of preparation of this sort can completely avoid the risk of damage caused by a natural disaster. Accordingly, damage from a natural disaster could affect the Company’s operating results.
The Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 did not result in any significant damage to the Company’s offices. However, this natural disaster may lead to an economic downturn, deterioration at many companies, and lower stock prices and have other consequences. The Company’s operating results may be affected by losses on sale or write-downs of shareholdings or financial instruments, or deterioration in the credit condition of customers.