This section explains items concerning the operations, finances and other subjects that may have a significant effect on investment decisions. Forward-looking statements in this section are based on judgments by management as of December 31, 2013.
The alcoholic beverages business accounts for approximately 54% of sales for the Asahi Group, a considerable portion of which is generated by the Japanese market. Future trends in the Japanese economy may have a significant effect on domestic consumption of alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, a continually declining population, fewer childbirths and the ongoing aging of the Japanese population may affect consumption of soft drinks and food as well as alcoholic beverages, and in turn may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
In the event that consumption tax or liquor tax rates are raised, consumption of alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, or food may decline due to higher sales prices, potentially affecting the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
Beer-type beverage sales constitute an important part of sales for the Asahi Group. The Asahi Group endeavors to increase sales by improving its lineup of products for alcoholic beverages apart from beer-type beverages, while also expanding businesses other than the alcoholic beverages business, including soft drinks and food. Nevertheless, unforeseen circumstances, such as a significant drop in consumption of beer-type beverages due to trends in market demand, may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
The Asahi Group upholds its management principle of delivering the highest quality to customers, and ensures food safety by implementing an uncompromising system of inspection and control throughout the Group. Nevertheless, the food industry currently faces various problems, including fears of radiation contamination, bird flu, BSE, foot-and-mouth disease, residual agricultural chemicals, genetic engineering, and the proper indication of allergy-causing substances. The Asahi Group is strengthening its efforts to proactively identify such risks, and to implement countermeasures before they materialize. Nevertheless, the occurrence of incidents beyond the scope of such measures implemented by the Group may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
The prices of main raw materials used for Asahi Group products fluctuate according to such factors as weather conditions and natural disasters. Rising costs may lead to higher production costs that cannot be passed on to sales prices depending on prevailing market conditions, and may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
With respect to the alcoholic beverage and soft drink sales of the Asahi Group, stagnant markets caused by abnormal weather or variable weather conditions may affect the volume of sales. Furthermore, sudden occurrences of various catastrophes, natural disasters and unforeseeable accidents that could damage production and logistics facilities may result in loss of assets, the reporting of losses on unshipped products, expenditures on facility repairs and opportunity loss due to disruptions in production and logistics, and in turn, affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
The Asahi Group possesses personal information on a great number of customers obtained through sales promotion campaigns, direct marketing and other activities. To prevent such information from being lost, misused or falsified, the Group implements appropriate security measures related to the system and other aspects of information management. Nevertheless, the occurrence of unpredictable incidents, including power outages, disasters, defective software or equipment, computer virus infections and illegal access may present risks including the breakdown, shutdown or temporary disruption of the information system, and therefore, could cause the erasure, leakage or falsification of internal information, including customer information. Such incidents may impede operations and in turn affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
The Asahi Group pursues business operations in Asia and Oceania, mainly in China, as well as in Europe and North America. The Group endeavors to proactively identify risks and to implement concrete and appropriate countermeasures before they materialize. Nevertheless, occurrences of incidents such as those listed below, which are unforeseeable or beyond the scope of prediction, may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
• Unpredictable revisions in the tax system, laws and regulations
• Changes in political and economic factors
• Social and economic disruption caused by the outbreak of epidemics such as SARS or bird flu
• Changes in the market or foreign exchange rates that are beyond prediction
• Social and economic disruption caused by acts of terrorism or war
• Occurrence of natural disasters such as earthquakes
The Asahi Group endeavors to thoroughly implement waste recycling, energy conservation, reduction of CO2 emissions, and the recycling of containers, and complies with the relevant environmental laws and regulations while conducting its businesses. Nevertheless, regulatory revisions that drive significant increases in costs due to investments in new facilities and changes in methods of waste disposal may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
In pursuing its businesses in Japan, the Asahi Group is placed under the regulatory control of various laws, including the Liquor Tax Law, the Food Sanitation Law, and the Product Liability Law. The Group also operates under the control of laws and regulations in other countries in which it operates. Changes in such laws and regulations, or the unexpected introduction of new laws and regulations, may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
To fulfill its corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a company that produces and sells alcoholic beverages, the Asahi Group exercises the utmost care in expressions used in advertisements and information on container labels, and is actively involved in educating the public on responsible drinking to prevent underage drinking and consumption by pregnant and breast-feeding women. Nevertheless, considering that problems related to alcohol have become an international issue, regulations that significantly exceed expectations and result in a decline in consumption may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
In pursuing its businesses, the Asahi Group complies with relevant laws and regulations and makes the utmost effort to ensure employees understand and practice regulatory compliance. Nevertheless, the Group faces risks of litigation in undertaking its businesses both in Japan and abroad. Lawsuits against the Asahi Group and/or the impact of such lawsuits may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
Sudden drops in the value of land, marketable securities, and other assets owned by the Asahi Group, or changes in the business environment, could affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
Retirement benefit liabilities and retirement benefit costs for employees and former employees of the Asahi Group are calculated based on the discount rate used in actuarial calculations and the rate of expected returns on pension assets. Major fluctuations in preconditions, including changes in the market price of pension assets, interest rates and/or pension system, may affect the business performance and financial condition of the Asahi Group.
The Asahi Group pursues business and capital alliances with companies in Japan and overseas to establish bases for growth in line with its medium-term management plan. There is the possibility, however, that these alliances could fail to yield synergies as initially projected due to the impact of changes in the business environment on the Asahi Group, its alliance partners, or companies in which the Group is invested, or other factors. Moreover, changes of this kind in the business environment could cause deterioration in the businesses, management, or financial condition of alliance partners and invested companies. Adverse effects of this type could negatively impact the businesses, operating results and financial condition of the Asahi Group. Furthermore, the need to amortize a substantial amount of goodwill stemming from investment, or to post significant impairment losses caused by slumping business performance at invested companies, could adversely affect the operating results of the Asahi Group.