There are a number of potential risks and uncertainties which could have a material impact on the group’s long term performance.
Much of the group’s business is focused on selling products which are technologically advanced or employ technologically advanced processes in their manufacture. In most cases these products are subject to continuous improvement as new technology is developed. The group is exposed to the risk that if it does not keep up with changes in the market place its products will no longer be competitive. This is both a threat and an opportunity since Johnson Matthey can gain business as well as lose it. The group’s strategy to meet this risk is to invest significantly in research and development to maintain or achieve leadership positions in those markets which offer sufficient added value to justify the long term investment required.
The group’s results are also impacted by the status of patents. These include patents which the group itself registers and maintains, as well as the risks arising from new third party patents and the benefits that arise from the expiry of third party patents. All the group’s divisions have significant registered intellectual property. The Fine Chemicals Division supplies active pharmaceutical ingredients to generic manufacturers and can benefit when third party patents expire. If actual patent lives differ from the expectations of the relevant group business, such as by being extended or successfully challenged, this can affect the group’s results. The group has established policies both to monitor its existing patent portfolio and those of third parties, taking appropriate action as necessary in respect of infringement.
Much of the stimulus for the development and growth of Johnson Matthey’s products arises from new legislation governing the environmental or health impact of its customers’ products in different jurisdictions worldwide. This is most significant for Emission Control Technologies where historic and future growth depends on global tightening of emissions limits. Legislation is also relevant for some of the group’s other businesses. Process Technologies and Catalysts and Chemicals manufacture products to remove contaminants or to produce particularly pure chemicals. Colour Technologies is supported by legislation phasing out lead, cadmium and other heavy metals from glass and ceramic glazes. The development of the fuel cells industry is also impacted by clean air regulations and the drive towards zero emissions within both local and national legislation.
Whilst the group has benefited considerably from the development of such legislation its growth could be adversely affected if the pace of legislative change slowed significantly. Johnson Matthey monitors the development of legislation globally and coordinates its development work to ensure it can achieve greatest advantage from each new requirement. Regular reviews are undertaken at the business and group level to monitor growth and to investigate other areas of potential if legislation slows.
Johnson Matthey operates in over 30 countries around the world including within Africa, Asia and Latin America. While benefiting from the opportunities and growth in these regions the group is exposed to the economic, political and business risks associated with such international operations. The group encounters different legal and regulatory requirements including those for taxation, environmental, operational and competitive matters. It is exposed to the effect of political risk which can include sudden changes in regulations, expropriation of assets, imposition of trade barriers and wage controls, limits on the export of currency and volatility of prices, taxes and currencies. The group is exposed to possible natural catastrophe risk, for example through major earthquake or flood, and possible terrorist action. Management monitors such risks, maintaining adequate insurance cover and amending business procedures as appropriate to mitigate any exposure while remaining in compliance with local and group requirements.
Johnson Matthey is committed to providing the highest level of protection to the environment and to safeguarding the health and safety of its employees, customers and communities. Shortcomings in any area of EHS can have devastating effects on people’s lives and on the planet. In addition, the failure to maintain the required high standards in EHS could damage the group’s reputation, result in financial penalties, cause disruption to the business and potentially result in temporary or permanent closure of sites.
The environmental laws of various jurisdictions impose actual and potential obligations on the group to remediate contaminated sites, both those currently owned and, also in some cases, those which have been sold. The group incurs costs annually in meeting these obligations and also maintains provisions for potential liabilities. If existing provisions are inadequate to cover any liabilities or the associated costs arising from environmental obligations this could materially impact the group’s results.
All the group’s manufacturing facilities are required to operate in accordance with the group’s EHS policies which include comprehensive guidance on, inter alia, occupational safety, environmental protection and health management and are set out on the company’s website at www.matthey.com. The group EHS management system supplements these policies and details additional guidance and requirements on matters including community relations, process risk management and product stewardship.Continue