By Bob Bryan
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump
Businesses are nervous about the US presidential election.
Based on executive commentary during their firm’s quarterly conference calls, a lot of CEOs and CFOs have a sharp eye on the contest between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.
As we’ve noted before, companies typically find a seemingly non-economic event — Brexit, the weather, and so on — to help pin down just why they did not meet expectations or why they could have done better.
While this may or may not be a legitimate explanation for lackluster numbers, it is certainly a popular one. Consumer sentiment has remained resilient, though a number of business have noted some slowing in various industry surveys over the last few weeks.
We went through the earnings calls of firms reporting their financial results and found that many of them pegged consumer uncertainty or business uncertainty for their results.
We’ve got a partial list of some of the companies — from steel makers to investment banks to mattress makers — that have cited this excuse in just the last week.
We’ve included a description of the company and the commentary from their earnings call below. Check them out:
Company Description: Restaurant and food brands that owns Dunkin’ Donuts stores.
Executive Commentary: “What is driving franchisees towards the lower end is several factors, and I’ve described it, put it together as uncertainty, as uncertainty over the general election, Senate, obviously, the House, and local elections.
And it was interesting earlier this year — and I have a feeling I’ve said this on an earlier earnings call — I was with some franchisees in one state that I won’t name. And I’ve said to them, look, you’re going to open one store this year, why don’t you open two? And their response was uncertainty, regulation, we don’t know where the minimum wage is going. There was just so much uncertainty,” said CEO Nigel Travis
LaSalle Hotel Properties
Company Description: A hotel operator with 46 properties across the US.
Executive Commentary: “We are looking to November and December on paper, I would think they would be better than October. We are worried about the election impact that it has not just in DC, but potentially elsewhere. When we look at our pace for the quarter, it has mixed messages,” said CEO Mark Barnello.
Company Description: PulteGroup is the third largest homebuilder in the US
Executive Commentary: “My experience from spending a number of years in the field in our operations is anytime we’re this close to the end of an election cycle. I think the general public is trying to calculate and figure out what the impact will be of a change in power moving from one side of the political power grid to the other. What that will do to their earning power potential? What that will do to job growth? What that will do to the stock market, et cetera?
My general sense is that folks maybe pause and wait and see. We actually — as you saw from our sign-up growth in our absorption paces, we’re quite happy — very happy, in fact, with what we saw in the third quarter. So, I don’t know that we saw any kind of noticeable impacts. I think I probably speak for the collective country and say I think it will be nice once this election cycle is over in a few short weeks,” said CEO Ryan Marshall.
Company description: Sonoco is a maker of packaging such as cans and boxes for consumer products.
Executive Commentary: “Really what I was trying to say is that as I look around there is probably no reason for the malaise that I see in the economy because I think things are actually pretty good. Not only here but certainly improving in Europe, Asia has some issues but there is a significant amount of uncertainty in the marketplace and that’s more domestic relative to the certain the election and what’s going to happen after that,” said CEO Jack Sanders.
Company Description: An Indiana-based steel producer.
Executive Commentary: “However given the election year it’s really not dependent upon who may win the election but it’s just trying to understand which administration will be in place. And so there has been some pullback and the expectation is that that construction will start in 2017. So we believe that there could be some pent-up type of construction projects available coming into the first half of next year,” said CEO Theresa Wagler.
Group 1 Automotive
Company Description: The third-largest automotive dealer in the US, based in Houston, TX.
Executive Commentary: “And I think there’s some factor that will gain some clarity after we get a presidential election outcome, and then we’ll see what the mood of the public is, because so much of consumer confidence are psychological and most experts would contend that the current electoral process is creating some distraction,” said CEO Earl Hesterberg.
Company Description: Danaher produces industrial equipment from automotive tools to dental radiography machines.
Executive Commentary: “There is a number of sources of uncertainty in the market today whether that’s the election uncertainty in the U.S., the Brexit uncertainty throughout Europe, the questions around turns in some of the high growth markets or previously known as high growth markets as I sometimes say around places like Latin America, the Middle East, Russia and particularly those markets with a good deal of commodity exposure and certainly those with a high degree of industrial exposure. So, it’s hard not to be appropriately concerned with some of that sources of uncertainty,” said CEO Tom Joyce.
Company Description: A casual dining chain with more than 170 locations across the US.
Executive Commentary: “While we are encouraged by the improving trend to start October, I would like to reiterate that it is only 18 days in and over that period we have seen continued choppiness in our daily sales. Additionally, this year Christmas Eve and Christmas Day moved to a Saturday and Sunday as compared to a Thursday and Friday of last year, which could have a negative effect on comp sales for the quarter. Not to mention some of the expected softer days around the presidential elections and debates,” said CFO Greg Levin.
Canadian Pacific Railway
Company Description: One of the largest rail operators, especially freight trains, in North America.
Executive Commentary: “But I think one of the things that I give a lot of thought to is what is going to happen in November for the election. And that could have big, big impacts both plus and minus and we are just going to have to see how that shakes out. I mean it has got impacts on freight, it has got impacts on environmental issues and there is a lot of things that can swing with what takes place in the election. I’m not picking a candidate, I am not telling you what the outcome is going to be, I am not that smart, but there is more to come on that,” said CEO Hunter Harrison.
Company Description: The maker of Sleep Number and Comfortaire mattresses and bedding accessories.
Executive Commentary: “It’s highly correlated with the distractions associated with things like the Olympics or we certainly saw with the conventions and now with this very unusual election uncertainty that we are experiencing,” said CEO Shelly Ibach when asked about macro factors impacting consumer sentiment.
Company Description: One of the world’s largest investment banks.
Executive Commentary: “Currently markets are constructive but both markets and investor sentiment will be impacted by some major events on the near-term horizon, including the upcoming U.S. election, the outcome of Fed policy action, and the Italian referendum to name a few. Closure around some of these risk events will be an important factor for investor conviction and corporate confidence,” said CFO Jonathan Pruzan.
Bank of America
Company Description: One of the world’s largest retail and investment banks.
Executive Commentary: “What we noticed in commercial in the quarter was lower industry growth this quarter, and I think that really reflected a slow-down in closed, actually books closed acquisition financing for us which probably may be different for peers depending on the timing of transactions. And then uncertainty around the election and then I think some lingering concerns around certain countries or regions. That’s what I think impacted the third quarter,” said CFO Paul Donofrio.
Company Description: A global marketing and corporate communications firm with subsidiaries such as BBDO.
Executive Commentary: “I think the thing that’s made this fourth quarter a little crazy is the general election. And uncertainty with what the outcome is going to be and clients who have the ability in a little growth environment to hold back on projects have been waiting to put this behind us. And hopefully, it will be soon,” said CEO John Wren.
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Source:: Business By Insider