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What CEOs are saying on earnings calls this month

Amy Scott Jul 30, 2018
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People walk by the New York Stock Exchange in the financial district of Manhattan in 2012.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

It’s report card time for U.S. companies. Every three months, corporate executives from publicly traded companies sit down with their shareholders to share their quarterly earnings. They tell their investors how much money they made and what they expect for the year ahead.

This time around, it’s happening in the midst of a trade war, which began in March when the Trump administration imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. China and the European Union lobbed back their own taxes on a string of imported American goods. It means many companies are paying more to make their products or risk losing overseas sales.

In earnings calls this month, executives from Tyson Foods, Harley-Davidson, Whirlpool, GM and Ford warned their investors of lower profits in the coming months.

Many said they’d raise prices to eke out a profit. So far, they are relatively confident American consumers can afford to pay more, said Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist at S&P Global Ratings.

“We have that nice tax package that helps kind of cushion some of that blow from higher prices at the mall. So I think businesses can feel that they can pass on some of those component costs to the consumer and still not really dent the demand for their products,” she said.

But, Bovino added, uncertainty over where the trade war is headed could weigh on future growth.

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