Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of firm size and foreign operations on the exchange rate exposure of UK non-financial companies from January 1981 to December 2001. Design/methodology/approach – The impact of the unexpected changes in exchange rates on firms’ stock returns is examined. In addition, the movements in bilateral, equally weighted (EQW) and trade-weighted and exchange rate indices are considered. The sample is classified according to firm size and the extent of firms’ foreign operations. In addition, structural changes on the relationship between exchange rate changes and individual firms’ stock returns are examined over three sub-periods: before joining the exchange rate mechanism (pre-ERM), during joining the ERM (in-ERM), and after departure from the ERM (post-ERM). Findings – The findings indicate that a higher percentage of UK firms are exposed to contemporaneous exchange rate changes than those reported in previous studies. UK firms’ stock returns are more affected by changes in the EQW, and US$ European currency unit exchange rate, and respond less significantly to the basket of 20 countries’ currencies relative to the UK pound exchange rate. It is found that exchange rate exposure has a more significant impact on stock returns of the large firms compared with the small and medium-sized companies. The evidence is consistent across all specifications using different exchange rate. The results provide evidence that the proportion of significant foreign exchange rate exposure is higher for firms which generate a higher percentage of revenues from abroad. The sensitivities of firms’ stock returns to exchange rate fluctuations are most evident in the pre-ERM and post-ERM periods. Practical implications – This study provides important implications for public policymakers, financial managers and investors on how common stock returns of various sectors react to exchange rate fluctuations. Originality/value – The empirical evidence supports the view that UK firms’ stock returns are affected by foreign exchange rate exposure.
- exchange rate exposure
- determinants of exchange rate exposure