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Advising Boeing And Airbus On Foreign Exchange Risk Finance Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Finance
Wordcount: 2914 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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BOEING: Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company. Being a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, it is a top US exporter. It provides tailored services that include “commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems.” (Boeing, 2010). The company has it corporate offices in Chicago and also employs more than 159,000 people across the United States and in 70 countries, also has nearly 12000 commercial jetliners, in service worldwide, which is roughly 75 percent of the world fleet. (Boeing, 2010).

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AIRBUS: Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer owned by European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company (EADs), a global leader in aerospace defense and related services. Having its headquarters in Toulouse, France, it has fully owned subsidiaries in the United States, China, Japan and Middle East. It has it spare part centers in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Washington, Beijing and Singapore, training centers in Toulouse, Miami, Hamburg, and Beijing (Airbus, 2011). The company has 150 field service offices around the world and employs a total work force of 119,000 and has presence on every continent (Airbus, 2011).

The major competitor of Airbus is Boeing Company.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE RISK: Foreign exchange risk is defined as the risk that an investor will have to close out a long or short position, in a foreign currency at a loss due to an adverse movement in exchange rates. It is also known as “currency risk” or “exchange-rate risk.” (Investopedia, 2010). Simply put it is the effect that fluctuations in foreign currencies or exchange rates that affect the business entity.

It is evident that large corporations like Boeing and Airbus that have operations in many countries are exposed to foreign exchange risks. It mainly arises due to difference in the currencies in which the company bears its operating or production costs and the currency in which the company receives payments from its clients.

Boeing being a US company, it reports its financial transactions in US dollars. The input & output is priced in US dollar which is a globally accepted currency. So even if it does trading in other countries, it receives payments in US dollars. Hence it is exposed to low forex risk. Airbus being a French company, it reports its transactions in Euros. Input or output is been priced in Euro in the domestic market, while in the world market is been priced in dollar which is globally acceptable currency and this exposes the company to high forex risk because Euro is not a global currency.

We summarize it through following table:


Currency of Costs

Currency of Revenue



US Dollar

US Dollar

Match between currencies.



US Dollar (assume – 60%)

Euros (assume – 25%)

Others (assume – 15%)

Mismatch of currencies.


TRANSACTION EXPOSURE: “Transaction exposure measures changes in the value of financial obligations incurred before a change in exchange rates but to be settled after the change”.(Hagelin, 2003). It is the risk of changes in exchange rates between the time that a good is sold and the time that payment is received in foreign currency.

For Airbus: As explained above the currency costs of Airbus are in Euros while cost of revenues is mostly in US dollars and some in Euros. This mismatch is clear from the annual report of the company according to which the operations of the group are mainly concentrated in different countries such as China, United States, India and Middle East; hence the payments are done in US dollars. This explains that Airbus has a high transaction exposure towards US dollar. Any fluctuations in the rate of US dollar against the Euro would affect the profit margin of the group. The long term contracts that must be honored at future rates are the other causes of transaction risk to the Euro. Though sometime the profits are being locked in by using long term contracts for e.g. for spare parts, there is an opportunity cost involves as the value of Euro or the price of commodities may increase. (Chester Chronicle, 2008)

For Boeing: The cost of revenues as well as production, are denoted in US Dollars. Hence there is a perfect match. So even if the company has operations in many parts of the world such as Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, and UK, the transaction exposure is less. Even if there is dissimilarity in the currency when Boeing sells its product to the different countries, the value is adjusted depending upon the country’s currency. The exposure arises due to variation in the currency rate, mainly of US dollar with other currencies. The danger here would be that the currency of the other country may strengthen or weaken to the corresponding US dollar. (Kascey, 2011).

Consider the USD depreciates by 30%. The US currency would be under-valued, so this would lessen the profit margin of Boeing from payments received. But it would also reduce its cost of production. Thus this would hugely benefit for Boeing. On the other hand it would be very problematic for Airbus, as it would affect only the revenues and not the production costs. The decreased profits would cause a huge problem for Airbus.

However, if USD value appreciates 30%, it would be of tremendous benefit to Airbus as the profits would be enhanced because of overvalued US dollars. Boeing would have to face the problems of increased cost of production but they would be backed off by the fact that payments would also be received in appreciated currency.

TRANSLATION EXPOSURE: It is the risk that when the results of foreign subsidiaries are consolidated into the parent’s currency, translational gains or losses will result between reporting dates. The effects of translation risk are normally seen in the income statement and balance sheet.

For Airbus: It deals mainly in aerospace, defense and commercial services. The Airbus commercial contributes 59% to the Company’s revenue in 2009. (Airbus Annual report, 2009)

The Company has a huge translation exposure, owing to the fact that it reports its earning in Euros. Transactions of its foreign subsidiaries, in foreign currencies other than the Euro are translated into Euro at the prevailing foreign exchange rate as at transaction date. It is mainly to the US Dollar as the trading in the industry and international markets is basically in US Dollar while the company reports its earnings in Euros.

The translation risk of the company is evident in 2008 when the company had a decrease of 1% in revenue of €43.265 million due to an unfavorable impact of the US Dollars. Furthermore, in 2007, their chairman- Mr. Louis Gallois in his estimation said “every Euro appreciation of 10 cents against the USD is a cost of €1B to the company based on the fact that Airbus costs are denominated in Euros while the major share of its revenues are in USD. Airbus also holds a substantial US Dollar denominated assets that are subjected to translation risk.” (http://hedgecurrencyrisk.com/36/foreign-exchange-risk-can-be-huge-fortunately-it-can-be-managed/).

For Boeing: It deals in commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, performance based logistics and training. Of this, commercial airplanes contribute 49.8% of the company’s revenues (Boeing Annual report, 2009).

Boeing does not have any translational exposure. This is only because the company’s trading in international markets is mainly in US Dollars and the company reports financial data in US Dollars only.

ECONOMIC EXPOSURE: It is the change in the net present value of future cash flows of the firm as a result of unanticipated changes in real exchange rates. It gives an idea of the potential volatility of the company.

For Airbus: Economic exposure of the company is substantially important due to the geographical locations of company’s operations. The operating costs are mainly in the Euros and in some other currencies in small portions. The earnings are in US dollars in majority. So if the Euro depreciates by 30% against the USD, its operating costs would relatively go down and it would gain cost advantage. Also its reported profits in Euros would increase due to exchange rate. And if the Euro appreciates by 30% against the USD, it will be facing a huge economic exposure as the operating costs would increase substantially and the reported earnings in Euros would also be less.

For Boeing: With 82% of the employees of the company based in America and remaining 18% employees in other locations like India, New Zealand etc, majority of operating costs are in US dollars. So Boeing Company would pay employees mainly in USD while a little portion in other currencies also. The Boeing Company receives its revenue in USD only. Because of this match, any increase or decrease in USD would accordingly increase or decrease both the operating costs as well as profits. Hence the exposure is small and easily manageable, as they are already in USD denomination.

COMPARISON CHART: From the above explanation, the exposures of the 2 companies can be summarized by the following table:






Small & Easy to manage

Does not exist.

Small but Manageable


Big & Very Difficult to manage

High & Difficult to manage.

Huge. Very difficult to manage

INTERNAL HEDGING: “Internal hedging means using techniques available within the company or group to manage exchange rate risk. These techniques do not operate through the foreign exchange market and therefore they avoid associated costs. However, this does not mean they are costless.”


MATCHING RECEIVABLES AND PAYABLES: There is no problem if the receivables and payables are in the same currency. If the receivables and payables are in different currencies (mismatch) then there is a risk involved in it. (Joseph, 2000).

Airbus operations in US would insulate its risks, as the cost of operations in USD is matched by payment in USD; gained from various services and selling various products in US itself. Fluctuations in other currencies will be negligible as the company will not have to pay operating costs in USD with Euro. In order to provide insulation towards risk in various other countries Airbus can obtain revenue in domestic currencies to pay operating costs in different currencies, payables and receivables for example. As a result of this economic risk can be minimized. (Joseph, 2000) However, this matching of receivables and payables will succeed only to a certain extent. As Airbus would have to borrow Euros with the currency received from other countries in order to bear the operating costs in its own parent company- France.

In case of Boeing, this is not required as the company already has a perfect match between the currencies of its trade receivables and payables.

CENTRALIZED AND DECENTRALIZED TREASURY FUNCTION (MULTILATERAL NETTING): Airbus with its centralized treasury function utilizes multilateral netting, which is one of the forms of internal hedging against foreign exchange exposure, in order to reduce risk.

Multilateral netting is found commonly in Enterprise Wide Risk Management (EWRM) where the parent company’s subsidiaries would report the forecasted payments and receipts in the foreign currencies and estimated current exposures to them. After taking internal hedging into account the central treasury calculates the net exposure of the company towards each currency. And it makes use of external hedging to hedge residual exposures. In order to have exchange controls as well as clear understanding of taxation in their respective countries; multilateral netting requires subsidiaries of the group to have a standardized budget reporting periods. The savings gained through the implementation of EWRM information system are also important and are enough for the cost to offset. (Aucoin, 1990).

The main advantage of EWRM also includes reducing the capital costs by managing the volatility of earnings. This is made possible through internal rate risk and external hedge of dangerous exposures towards foreign exchange. ERM maximizes the portfolio effect and even helps organizations to exploit natural hedges as stated in capital asset pricing model. (Aucoin, 1990).

Hence multilateral netting is applicable to Boeing. As multilateral netting is most commonly found in EWRM, by managing the volatility of earnings it reduces the capital costs. Thereby the risk of Boeing is also reduced.

CURRENCY OF INVOICING: The choice of currency which international trade is invoiced is of high implication for Airbus and Boeing due to the nature of their products and services. In trying to avoid foreign exchange risks, both companies adopt currency of invoicing by choosing which currency to be used in international trade. The strategy would be helpful to both companies only when properly planned.

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Assume Boeing just got a contract with British airways to build five 747s and one is to be delivered each year for the next 5 years. We assume the rate to be 10 million per plane. If Boeing can negotiate and adjust the terms of the invoice, it can shift, share or diversify the currency risk involved in this transaction; which would be an added advantage to the company.

To transfer the risk, Boeing can invoice the transaction in USD, then it has eliminated currency risk for itself, however, it has shifted it to British Airways. Assume $ =$1.80, then British Airways has an $18 million account payables and Boeing has an $18 million account receivables.

To share the currency risk between both companies, British Airways can share the risk by invoicing 50% of the transaction in USD and the other 50% in British Pound (BP), i.e. $7.5m +£5m for each planes.

The risk can even also be reduced by diversification through the payment of the transaction in various currencies based on the negotiation between the two companies. By so doing, Boeing has managed the currency risk.

Airbus in similar situation can do the same but this time the currency involved will be Euro and British Pounds or several other currencies in case of diversification. (http://spruce.flint.umich.edu/~mjperry/466-13.htm).

ASSET AND LIABILITY MANAGEMENT: Asset and liability management (ALM) is basically a technique of risk management designed so as to earn an adequate return while maintaining a comfortable surplus of assets beyond liabilities. Boeing and Airbus do use this risk management technique to address foreign exchange risk and even operational risk and it also includes hedging where they can hedge against movements in fuel prices.

Boeing and Airbus can manage their asset and liability in such a way as to:

Increase their overall earnings

Ensure efficient use of their capital and assets

Manage the associated risk in a cost effective way. (http://www.investorwords.com/285/asset_liability_management.html).

LEADING AND LAGGING: Leading is an internal hedging technique that is the acceleration of payment of company’s obligation (e.g., payment to suppliers) before the due date while lagging, also internal hedging techniques, is the delay of payment of a company’s obligation past its due date. (http://www.angelfire.com/ca/finrisk/Leading.html)

For example, when Airbus or Boeing expects the currency (Euro) or (USD) respectively to appreciate in value, they may accelerate (leading) this obliged payment and realize the payment before the currency appreciates. In the same manner, when the value of the currency is expected to decrease in value, they may delay (lagging) payments so as not to make a loss in the transaction. (Victor P and Yann S, 2003).


In conclusion, we say that Foreign Exchange Risks depend upon the currency of costs and currency of revenues. Any difference within them is going to expose the company to Forex risks. The Forex risk that BOEING is exposed to is less mainly owing to the match between its input and output pricing currencies. While AIRBUS is exposed to huge risks as there is variation in the currencies of its costs and revenues. Also BOEING has Maintenance Contracts with companies and contracts with its Government to supply Military Planes due to which its risks have a backup from their Government in case of Financial Crisis. However AIRBUS doesn’t have any such backing from its Government. This coupled with the high risks that it is exposed to; pose a grave threat for the company in case of financial crisis. The Internal Hedging mentioned above though useful for the companies are subjected to their effective and timely. And Airbus would be better naturally hedged against the risks by converting to report its financial transactions in US dollars than Euros.


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