The Group's multinational operations expose it to a variety of financial risks. In the course of its business, the Group is exposed to foreign currency risk, interest rate risk, liquidity risk and credit risk. Financial risk management policies are set by the Board. The Group's treasury function provides a centralised service to the Group for funding, foreign exchange, interest rate management and counterparty risk. Treasury activities have the objective of minimising risk and treasury operations are conducted within a framework of policies and guidelines reviewed and authorised by the Board.

In accordance with its treasury policy, the Group does not use or hold deriviative financial instruments for trading or speculative purposes. The Group may however use derivative instruments, for risk management purposes only, by specialist treasury personnel. The use of financial instruments, including derivatives, is permitted when approved by the Board, where the effect is to minimise risk for the Group. There has been no significant change during the financial year, or since the end of the year, to the types or scope of financial risks faced by the Group.

Liquidity risk

Liquidity risk is defined as the risk that the Group might not be able to settle or meet its obligations on time or at a reasonable price. Liquidity risk arises as a result of mismatches between cash inflows and outflows from the business. This risk is monitored on a centralised basis through regular cash flow forecasting, a three-year rolling strategic plan, an annual budget agreed by the Board each December and a quarterly re-forecast undertaken during the financial year. To mitigate the risk, the resulting forecast net debt/cash is measured against the liquidity headroom policy which, at the current net debt/cash levels, requires committed facilities (plus long term loans in excess of one year) to exceed net debt by 50% (minimum facilities of £75m).

As at 31 December 2018, the Group had a revolving credit committed borrowing facility of £230.0m (2017: £230.0m) which, together with net cash of £36.2m (2017: £39.6m), resulted in available funds of £266.2m (2017: £269.6m). The Group also uses uncommitted short-term bank facilities to manage short-term liquidity but these facilities are excluded from the liquidity headroom policy. The Group manages longer-term liquidity through its committed bank facilities and will, if appropriate, raise funds on capital markets.

As at 31 December 2018 the Group's principal committed bank facility of £230.0m had a maturity date of 3 April 2022 (3.3 years to maturity) and had drawings of £nil (2017: £nil).

Cash management pooling, netting and concentration techniques are used to minimise borrowings. As at 31 December 2018, the Group had gross cash of £38.5m (2017: £41.0m).

Credit risk

Credit risk primarily arises because a counterparty may fail to perform its obligations. The Group is exposed to credit risk on financial assets such as cash balances, derivative financial instruments and trade and other receivables.

The Group's credit risk is primarily attributable to its trade receivables. The amounts presented in the balance sheet are net of appropriate allowances for doubtful receivables. An allowance for impairment is made where there is an identified loss event which, based on previous experience, is evidence of a reduction in the recoverability of cash flows. The quantitive analysis of credit risk relating to receivables is included in note 13.

The credit risk on liquid funds and derivative financial instruments is limited because the counterparties are banks with high credit-ratings assigned by international credit-rating agencies.

The Group has no significant concentration of credit risk, with exposure spread over a large number of counterparties and customers. Further disclosure of the Group's financial instrument risk management activities is set out in note 17.

Interest rate risk

Interest rate risk arises on borrowings and cash balances (and derivative liabilities and assets) which are at floating interest rates. Changes in interest rates could have the effect of either increasing or decreasing the Group's net profit. Under the Group's interest rate management policy, the interest rates on each of the Group's major currency monetary assets and liabilities are managed to achieve the desired mix of fixed and variable rates for each major net currency exposure. The major interest rate risk is to UK rates but exposures also exist to rates in the USA, Europe and Sweden. Measurement of this interest rate risk and its potential volatility to the Group's reported financial performance is undertaken on a monthly basis and the Board uses this information to determine, from time to time, an appropriate mix of fixed and floating rates.

As at 31 December 2018, 0% of gross debt and 0% of gross cash were at fixed rates (2017: 0% of gross debt, 0% of gross cash).

Currency risk

Bodycote has operations in 23 countries and is therefore exposed to foreign exchange translation risk when the profits and net assets of these entities are consolidated into the Group accounts.

Ninety-two per cent of the Group's sales are in currencies other than sterling (including EUR 39%, USD 34% and SEK 6%). Cumulatively over the year, sterling rates moved such that the sales for the year were £7.7m lower than if sales had been translated at the rates prevailing in 2017.

It is Group policy not to hedge exposure for the translation of reported profits.

The Group's balance sheet translation policy is not to actively hedge currency net assets. However, where appropriate, the Group will still match centrally held currency borrowings to the net assets. The Group principally borrows in sterling but also maintains debt in US dollars, euro and Swedish krona, consistent with the location of the Group's assets. The Group recognises foreign exchange movements in equity for the translation of net investment hedging instruments and balances.

Transactional foreign exchange exposures arise when entities within the Group enter into contracts to pay or receive funds in a currency different from the functional currency of the entity concerned. It has been Group policy to hedge exposure to cash transactions in foreign currencies when a commitment arises, usually through the use of foreign exchange forward contracts. Even though approximately 92% of the Group's sales are generated outside the UK, the nature of the business is such that cross border sales and purchases are limited and immaterial for the Group.

Market risk sensitivity analysis

To represent management's best estimate of a reasonable range of potential outcomes, the Group has measured the estimated charge to the income statement and equity of either an instantaneous increase or decrease of 1% (100 basis points) in market interest rates or a 10% strengthening or weakening in sterling against all other currencies from the applicable rates as at 31 December 2018, for all financial instruments with all other variables remaining constant. This analysis is for illustrative purposes only. The sensitivity analysis excludes the impact of market risks on net post employment benefit obligations.

Interest rate sensitivity

The interest rate sensitivity analysis is based on the following assumptions:

  • changes in market interest rates affect the interest income or expense of variable interest financial instruments;
  • changes in market interest rates only affect the income statement in relation to financial instruments with fixed interest if these are recognised at their fair value; and
  • changes in market interest rates affect the fair value of derivative financial instruments designated as hedging instruments.

Under these assumptions, a one percentage point fall or rise in market interest rates for all currencies in which the Group has variable net cash or net borrowings at 31 December 2018 would reduce or increase profit before tax by approximately £0.3m (2017: £0.4m increase). There is no significant impact on equity in the current or previous year.

Currency sensitivity

Taking the 2018 sales by currency, a 10% weakening/strengthening in the 2018 cumulative average rates for all currencies versus sterling would have given rise to a +£74.4m/-£66.2m movement in sales respectively.  The impact on headline operating profit is affected by the mix of losses and profits in the various currencies. However, taking the 2018 operating profit mix, a 10% weakening/strengthening in 2018 cumulative average rates for all currencies would have given rise to a +£15.7m/-£12.6m movement in headline operating profit.

Counterparty risk

Counterparty risk encompasses settlement risk on derivative financial instruments and money market contracts and credit risk on cash, time deposits and money market funds. The Group monitors its credit exposure to its counterparties via their credit ratings (where applicable) and through its policy, thereby limiting its exposure to any one party to ensure there is no significant concentration of credit risk. Group policy is to enter into such transactions only with counterparties with a long-term credit rating of A-/A3 or better. However, acquired businesses occasionally have dealings with banks with lower credit ratings. Business with such banks is moved as soon as practicable.