Brexit Uncertainty and its Adverse Impact on U.K. Companies

While the English economy is hearty in 2019, seceding from the European Union – Brexit – would greatly impact business activity. Executives voice concern about the prospects of falling sales and rising operating costs. CreditRiskMonitor recommends that risk professionals track financially distressed U.K. companies, a few of which we detail below.

CreditRiskMonitor is a leading web-based financial risk analysis and news service designed for credit, procurement, supply chain and financial professionals. Subscribers include those employed by more than 35% of the Fortune 1000 and many other large corporations internationally. A few features of the CreditRiskMonitor service include:

  • Credit coverage spanning more than 56,000 companies worldwide
  • The FRISK® score, which identifies financial stress and failure risk with 96% accuracy
  • News alerts, financial ratio analysis, and credit agency ratings and evaluations

Looking Forward

Brexit was announced back in June of 2016 and no decision has been made about the path of its withdrawal. Companies have been most worried about potential disruption to trade and logistics. Effectively, the three options are available to the government include making a deal (modest impact to supply chains), no deal (significant impact to supply chains) or a second referendum (reconsideration of Brexit). 

In April 2019, no proposal received a majority vote. Therefore, the U.K. and the EU agreed to extend their deadline until Oct. 31 for making a decision. Economists from BNP Paribas, one of the largest international banks, stated that “a deal (and likely a softer Brexit) still seems more likely than not…” according to a recent Reuters report

A soft Brexit would limit the disruption to supply chains – yet consensus shows that many industries will still be negatively affected. Broadly speaking, companies in the sectors of consumer goods, industrial goods and basic materials will be challenged. Some companies will handle the consequences of Brexit, but financially distressed operators may not be as capable.

Distressed Companies

CreditRiskMonitor provides timely warnings to professionals about the financial risk level within their portfolio of commercial suppliers and customers. The FRISK® score is based on a "1" (highest risk)-to-"10" (lowest risk) scale. The model identifies if a business is financially distressed when a score falls into the high-risk “red zone,” as shown in the chart below:


Debenhams plc, a large English retail chain, had a FRISK® score of “1” prior to its filing for Administration. Management mentioned material concerns related to Brexit: “…the direction of Brexit negotiations will also affect confidence and, therefore, willingness to spend.” In fact, U.K. store traffic experienced an immense decline in the most recent fiscal year, which caused a squeeze on operating cash flow. This outcome is an example of how political risk has caused disruption and even led to corporate failure. Fortunately, the FRISK® score on Debenhams provided subscribers with 12 months advanced notice to adequately adjust exposure:

Debenhams plc FRISK® score

Venator Materials plc, a manufacturer of titanium dioxide and other chemical products, currently maintains a FRISK® score of “2.” In the last fiscal year, almost half of the company’s sales were to European customers. Management publicly voiced their thoughts on the specter of Brexit: “40% [of sales come] from continental Europe...Brexit could have a negative impact on our future operations, operating results and financial condition.” Venator has already posted net losses in four of the last five fiscal years, so its performance should be monitored going forward.

Chamberlin plc, an iron castings and engineering company, also maintains a FRISK® score of “2.” The company reported record debt in its most recent fiscal quarter, which pushed its total debt-to-EBITDA above five times. Its creditworthiness will be pressured should operating profit deteriorate any further.

Bottom Line

Brexit uncertainty has reduced business confidence in the U.K. and future operating performance will be affected, regardless of which way the final decision goes. CreditRiskMonitor’s FRISK® score covers more than 1,200 U.K. companies and tens of thousands around the world, conveniently allowing you to monitor all of your risk in one place.

About CreditRiskMonitor

CreditRiskMonitor is a financial news and analysis service designed to help professionals stay ahead of public company risk quickly, accurately and cost-effectively. More than 35% of the Fortune 1000, plus thousands more worldwide, rely on our commercial credit reporting and predictive risk analytics for assessing the financial stability of more than 57,000 global public companies.

At the core of CreditRiskMonitor’s service is its 96%-accurate FRISK® score, which is formulated to predict public company bankruptcy risk. One of four key components calculated in the FRISK® score is crowdsourced subscriber activity. This unique system tracks subscribers' patterns of research activity, capturing and aggregating the real-time concerns of what are essentially the key gatekeepers of corporate credit. Other features of CreditRiskMonitor’s service include timely news alerts, the Altman Z”-Score, agency ratings, financial ratios and trends. CreditRiskMonitor’s network of trade contributors provides more than $2 trillion on their counterparties every year, giving them visibility into their biggest dollar risks.