ECONOMIC CONDITIONS AND UNCERTAINTIES
We discuss expectations regarding future performance, events and outcomes, such as our business outlook and objectives, in annual and quarterly reports, press releases and other written and oral communications. All such statements, except for historical and present factual information, are “forward-looking statements” and are based on financial data and our business plans available only as of the time the statements are made, which may become out-of-date or incomplete. We assume no obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, future events or other factors, except as required by law. Forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain and investors must recognize that events could be significantly different from our expectations. For more information on risk factors that could impact our results, please refer to “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Form 10-K.
Global Economic Conditions. Our products are sold in numerous countries across North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, with more than half our sales generated outside the United States. As such, we are exposed to and impacted by global macroeconomic factors, U.S. and foreign government policies and foreign exchange fluctuations. Current global economic conditions continue to be highly volatile due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in market size contractions in certain countries due to economic slowdowns and government restrictions on movement. Other macroeconomic factors also remain dynamic, and any causes of market size contraction, such as greater political unrest or instability in the Middle East, Central & Eastern Europe, certain Latin American markets and the Hong Kong market in Greater China, could reduce our sales or erode our operating margin, in either case reducing our net earnings and cash flows.
Changes in Costs. Our costs are subject to fluctuations, particularly due to changes in commodity prices, transportation costs and our own productivity efforts. We have significant exposures to certain commodities, in particular certain oil-derived materials like resins and paper-based materials like pulp, and volatility in the market price of these commodity input materials has a direct impact on our costs. Disruptions in our manufacturing, supply and distribution operations, including freight container and truck availabilities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic may also impact our costs. If we are unable to manage these impacts through pricing actions, cost savings projects and sourcing decisions, as well as through consistent productivity improvements, it may adversely impact our gross margin, operating margin, net earnings and cash flows. Net sales could also be adversely impacted following pricing actions if there is a negative impact on the consumption of our products. We strive to implement, achieve and sustain cost improvement plans, including outsourcing projects, supply chain optimization and general overhead and workforce optimization. If we are not successful in executing and sustaining these changes, there could be a negative impact on our gross margin, operating margin, net earnings and cash flows.
Foreign Exchange. We have both translation and transaction exposure to the fluctuation of exchange rates. Translation exposures relate to exchange rate impacts of measuring income statements of foreign subsidiaries that do not use the U.S. dollar as their functional currency. Transaction exposures relate to 1) the impact from input costs that are denominated in a currency other than the local reporting currency and 2) the revaluation of transaction-related working capital balances denominated in currencies other than the functional currency. In the past three fiscal years, a number of foreign currencies have weakened versus the U.S. dollar, leading to lower earnings from these foreign exchange impacts. In the current fiscal year, foreign exchange impacts have benefited net sales while negatively impacting earnings due to the mix of currencies in which input costs are denominated. Certain countries currently experiencing significant exchange rate fluctuations include Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Turkey as well as the European Union. These fluctuations have significantly impacted our historical net sales, costs and net earnings and could do so in the future. Increased pricing in response to certain fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates may offset portions of the currency impacts but could also have a negative impact on the consumption of our products, which would affect our net sales, gross margin, operating margin, net earnings and cash flows.
Government Policies. Our net earnings and cash flows could be affected by changes in U.S. or foreign government legislative, regulatory or enforcement policies. For example, any future legislative or regulatory changes in U.S. or non-U.S. tax policy, or any significant change in global tax policy adopted under the current work being led by the OECD for the G20 focused on “Addressing the Challenges of the Digitalization of the Economy.” The breadth of the OECD project extends beyond pure digital businesses and is likely to impact all multinational businesses by redefining jurisdictional taxation rights. Our net sales, gross margin, operating margin, net earnings and cash flows may also be impacted by changes in U.S. and foreign government policies related to environmental and climate change matters. Additionally, we attempt to carefully manage our debt, currency and other exposures in certain countries with currency exchange, import authorization and pricing controls, such as Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Argentina and Turkey. Further, our net sales, gross margin, operating margin, net earnings and cash flows could be affected by changes to international trade agreements in North America and elsewhere, including any changes related to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Changes in government policies in these areas might cause an increase or decrease in our net sales, gross margin, operating margin, net earnings and cash flows.
COVID-19 Pandemic Disclosures. Our net sales, net earnings and cash flows may be impacted by the U.S. and foreign government policies to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, such as movement restrictions or site closures. The Company’s priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be protecting the health and safety of our
18 The Procter & Gamble Company
employees; maximizing the availability of products that help consumers with their health, hygiene and cleaning needs; and using our employees’ talents and our resources to help society meet and overcome the current challenges. Because the Company sells products that are essential to the daily lives of consumers, the COVID-19 pandemic has not had a materially negative impact to our consolidated net sales as positive and negative impacts during fiscal 2021 have largely offset each other. We have experienced a significant increase in demand and consumption of certain of our product categories (fabric, home cleaning and hygiene products) primarily in North America, caused in part by changing consumer habits, pantry stocking and retailer inventory replenishment, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to increases in net sales. At the same time, net sales have been negatively impacted due to the economic slowdown and restricted consumer movements in certain markets in Asia Pacific and Europe, in certain channels, such as professional and in certain categories, such as shave care. In the future, the pandemic may cause reduced demand for our products if it results in a recessionary global economic environment. Demand in certain countries in Latin America, Asia Pacific, and IMEA may be particularly susceptible to recession. It could also lead to volatility in consumer access to our products due to government actions impacting our ability to produce and ship products or impacting consumers’ movements and access to our products. The resumption of normal economic activity as we emerge from the pandemic in certain markets, including North America, could also result in reduced demand due to consumption decreases and consumer pantry destocking (particularly, in home cleaning and hygiene products). We believe that over the long term, there will continue to be strong demand for categories in which we operate, particularly our products that deliver essential health, hygiene and cleaning benefits. However, the timing and extent of demand recovery in certain markets in Asia Pacific, IMEA and Latin America, the resumption of international travel, the timing and impact of potential consumer pantry destocking and product demand volatility caused by future economic trends are unclear. Accordingly, there may be heightened volatility in net sales, net earnings and cash flows during and subsequent to the duration of the pandemic. Our retail customers are also being impacted by the pandemic. Their success in addressing the issues and maintaining their operations could impact consumer access to and, as a result, sales of our products.
Our ability to continue to operate without any significant negative impacts will in part depend on our ability to protect our employees and our supply chain. The Company has endeavored to follow actions recommended by governments and health authorities, including on vaccine administration, to protect our employees worldwide, with particular measures in place for those working in our plants and distribution facilities. We have also worked closely with local and national officials to keep our manufacturing facilities open due to the essential nature of the majority of our products. While we have been able to broadly maintain our operations, we experienced some disruption in our
supply chain in certain markets in Asia Pacific and IMEA in the first months of the pandemic due primarily to the restriction of employee movements, as well as increased transportation and manufacturing costs. We intend to continue to work with government authorities and implement our employee safety measures to ensure that we continue manufacturing and distributing our products during the pandemic. However, uncertainty resulting from the pandemic could result in an unforeseen disruption to our supply chain (for example, a closure of a key manufacturing or distribution facility or the inability of a key material or transportation supplier to source and transport materials) that could impact our operations.
Because the pandemic has not had a material negative impact on our operations, on the demand for our products or the resulting net sales and net earnings, it has also not negatively impacted the Company’s liquidity position. We continue to generate operating cash flows to meet our short-term liquidity needs, and we continue to maintain access to the capital markets enabled by our strong short- and long-term credit ratings. We have also not observed any material impairments of our assets or a significant change in the fair value of assets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For additional information on risk factors that could impact our results, please refer to “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Form 10-K.