Currency rate fluctuations
Changes in the relative values of non-U.S. currencies to the U.S. dollar affect the company’s results. At December 31, 2008, currency changes resulted in assets and liabilities denominated in local currencies being translated into fewer U.S. dollars than at year-end 2007. The company uses a variety of financial hedging instruments to limit specific currency risks related to financing transactions and other foreign currency-based transactions. Further discussion of currency and hedging appears in note L, “Derivatives and Hedging Transactions.”
In 2008, the company’s revenue increased 4.9 percent as reported and 2.3 percent adjusted for currency. In the first nine months of 2008, revenue increased 9.6 percent as reported and 3.7 percent adjusted for currency. This currency benefit reversed in the fourth quarter, as revenue declined 6.4 percent as reported and 1.0 percent adjusted for currency, driven from the company’s operations in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. The company maintains currency hedging programs for cash planning purposes which mitigate, but do not eliminate, the volatility of currency impacts on the company’s financial results. In addition to the translation of earnings, the impact of currency changes also may affect the company’s pricing and sourcing actions. For example, the company may procure components and supplies in multiple functional currencies and sell products and services in other currencies. Since the company operates in a very competitive environment, it believes that some of this currency-based cost advantage is passed on to the client in reduced price. Therefore, it is impractical to precisely quantify the impact of currency on these transactions and on consolidated net income. However, the company estimates that the maximum effect of currency, before taking pricing or sourcing actions into account, and net of hedging activity, contributed approximately no more than 21 percent of the growth in total earnings per share in 2008. This hypothetical upper limit assumes that no currency benefit was passed through to clients in pricing actions or mitigated through sourcing actions.
For non-U.S. subsidiaries and branches that operate in U.S. dollars or whose economic environment is highly inflationary, translation adjustments are reflected in results of operations, as required by SFAS No. 52, “Foreign Currency Translation.” Generally, the company manages currency risk in these entities by linking prices and contracts to U.S. dollars and, as needed, by entering into foreign currency hedge contracts.