I’m seeing some companies reporting weaker-than-expected earnings and blaming tariffs, and it’s just not true.
That’s what CNBC personality-turned White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House on Friday, following the party Trump threw to celebrate the second quarter GDP data.
And it’s a good thing Larry cleared things up. Because to let management teams tell it, the administration’s pedal-to-the-metal protectionist push is set to weigh heavily on corporate bottom lines for some of America’s most storied enterprises.
Last week alone, the likes of General Motors, Harley-Davidson and Whirlpool explicitly cited the tariffs on the way to explaining either earnings misses, guidance cuts or in some cases both and on Monday morning, Caterpillar said it will likely be forced to raise prices to compensate for as much as $200 million in tariff-related costs.
Especially hard hit from the tariffs are America’s farmers, and while some in the agricultural community are apparently prepared to sacrifice their livelihood for Trump’s trade war, most aren’t, including the co-owner of the nation’s largest family-owned pork producer.
“We’ve been asked to be good patriots and we have been, but I don’t want to be the patriot who dies at the end of the war”, Ken Maschhoff, chairman of Maschhoff Family Foods, told CNBC recently, adding that if he “goes out of business, it’s tough to look at my kids and the 550 farm families that look us into the eye and our 1,400 employees.”
Over the weekend, we detailed a new $2.5 million ad campaign launched by nonprofit group Farmers for Free Trade, who seized on a rather unfortunate quotable from Peter Navarro on the way to producing a new video designed to raise awareness of the plight of America’s agricultural community amid the trade frictions.
Well, on Monday, we learned that chicken farmers are now feeling the same squeeze as their dairy-farmin’, apple-growin’, juice-squeezin’, soybean-plantin’, compatriots when Tyson slashed guidance citing … you guessed it: tariffs.
“Although unable to reconcile revised 2018 adjusted earnings per share guidance to GAAP, the company now expects adjusted earnings for fiscal year 2018 to approximate $5.70-6.00 per share”, the company said, in a press release. That’s down notably from previous guidance of $6.55-6.70. Here’s the rationale:
The primary drivers for this fiscal 2018 guidance update are:
- Uncertainty in trade policies and increased tariffs negatively impacting domestic and export prices – primarily chicken and pork
- Increased volatility in the commodity markets resulting in a greater than expected increase in the domestic supply of proteins and lower sales prices
- Sluggish domestic chicken demand due to such pricing of competing proteins
- Pork margin compression driven by an imbalance in supply and demand
- A benefit from tax reform of about $0.77 per share vs. a previous projection of $0.85 cents per share.
So it would appear that between the trade tensions and “sluggish chicken demand”, the gains that would have accrued to the company from the tax cuts have been completely negated and not only that, the initial estimate of those tax-related gains has been revised lower.
“The combination of changing global trade policies here and abroad, and the uncertainty of any resolution, have created a challenging market environment of increased volatility, lower prices and oversupply of protein”, Tom Hayes, Tyson’s president and CEO said, adding that he’s going to “continue to watch these conditions carefully.”
As for Monday, Tom is getting to “watch carefully” as Tyson’s shares plunge by the most since November of 2016.
Now where’s Larry Kudlow to explain how Tom Hayes is lying about the tariffs?