Skip to main content

Management discussion
International Business Machines Corporation and Subsidiary Companies

Market risk

In the normal course of business, the financial position of the company is routinely subject to a variety of risks. In addition to the market risk associated with interest rate and currency movements on outstanding debt and non-U.S. dollar denominated assets and liabilities, other examples of risk include collectibility of accounts receivable and recoverability of residual values on leased assets.

The company regularly assesses these risks and has established policies and business practices to protect against the adverse effects of these and other potential exposures. As a result, the company does not anticipate any material losses from these risks.

The company’s debt, in support of the Global Financing business and the geographic breadth of the company’s operations, contains an element of market risk from changes in interest and currency rates. The company manages this risk, in part, through the use of a variety of financial instruments including derivatives, as explained in note L, “Derivatives and Hedging Transactions.”

To meet disclosure requirements, the company performs a sensitivity analysis to determine the effects that market risk exposures may have on the fair values of the company’s debt and other financial instruments.

The financial instruments that are included in the sensitivity analysis comprise all of the company’s cash and cash equivalents, marketable securities, short-term and long-term loans, commercial financing and installment payment receivables, investments, long-term and short-term debt and all derivative financial instruments. The company’s portfolio of derivative financial instruments generally includes interest rate swaps, foreign currency swaps and forward contracts.

To perform the sensitivity analysis, the company assesses the risk of loss in fair values from the effect of hypothetical changes in interest rates and foreign currency exchange rates on market-sensitive instruments. The market values for interest and foreign currency exchange risk are computed based on the present value of future cash flows as affected by the changes in rates that are attributable to the market risk being measured. The discount rates used for the present value computations were selected based on market interest and foreign currency exchange rates in effect at December 31, 2008 and 2007. The differences in this comparison are the hypothetical gains or losses associated with each type of risk.

Information provided by the sensitivity analysis does not necessarily represent the actual changes in fair value that the company would incur under normal market conditions because, due to practical limitations, all variables other than the specific market risk factor are held constant. In addition, the results of the model are constrained by the fact that certain items are specifically excluded from the analysis, while the financial instruments relating to the financing or hedging of those items are included by definition. Excluded items include short-term and long-term receivables from sales-type and direct financing leases, forecasted foreign currency cash flows and the company’s net investment in foreign operations. As a consequence, reported changes in the values of some of the financial instruments impacting the results of the sensitivity analysis are not matched with the offsetting changes in the values of the items that those instruments are designed to finance or hedge.

The results of the sensitivity analysis at December 31, 2008, and December 31, 2007, are as follows:

Interest Rate Risk

At December 31, 2008, a 10 percent decrease in the levels of interest rates with all other variables held constant would result in a decrease in the fair market value of the company’s financial instruments of $353 million as compared with a decrease of $155 million at December 31, 2007. A 10 percent increase in the levels of interest rates with all other variables held constant would result in an increase in the fair value of the company’s financial instruments of $327 million as compared to an increase of $137 million at December 31, 2007. Changes in the relative sensitivity of the fair value of the company’s financial instrument portfolio for these theoretical changes in the level of interest rates are primarily driven by changes in the company’s debt maturities, interest rate profile and amount.

Foreign Currency Exchange Rate Risk

At December 31, 2008, a 10 percent weaker U.S. dollar against foreign currencies, with all other variables held constant, would result in a decrease in the fair value of the company’s financial instruments of $1,007 million as compared with a decrease of $1,000 million at December 31, 2007. Conversely, a 10 percent stronger U.S. dollar against foreign currencies, with all other variables held constant, would result in an increase in the fair value of the company’s financial instruments of $1,007 million compared with an increase of $1,000 million at December 31, 2007.

Previous
|Next
Back to Top