There has been no shortage of opinions on President-elect Donald Trump. Turns out, corporate executives have a few things to say about what his policy proposals will mean for their companies moving forward as well.
While there is still a great deal of uncertainty over how many of the Trump campaign's promises — such as corporate tax reform, a repeal of Obamacare and a wall between the U.S. and Mexico — will become legislation, the general tone was rather optimistic. Here's what we've gleaned earnings calls, corporate events and investor days since the election.
Amy Campbell, Director of Investor Relations at Caterpillar Inc., told attendees of the Robert W. Baird Global Industrial Conference that while it's still early, there are some positive signs for the firm in Trump's proposals:
"It's really early, I think, to certainly quantify that [Trump winning the U.S. election] in any way and what it would be. Certainly, infrastructure spend, which is very needed in the U.S., would be great for Caterpillar equipment sales. I think more coal-friendly policies certainly – I mean, we've seen a real decline in the coal business – would be positive for Caterpillar sales...I think broadly, if you step back and Caterpillar is more about policy than about kind of a particular party, but we certainly support tax reform, which seems to be something that's on the table.
We certainly support smart regulations that are good for business and good for the environment. And we also are very strong advocates for free trade as well. And we'd hope that we continue to have, I think, a pro-trade. We think that's really best for the world economies and we certainly compete around the globe."
Thomas Williams, CEO of Parker Hannifin Corp., said many of Trump's proposals should be helpful for the firm:
"We have to design our strategies obviously to win in any kind of political environment because we can't control this. So, we're going to work on what we can control, which is a lot of what I talked about earlier. That being said, I think a lot of the things that President-Elect Trump is thinking about, whether it's tax reform, regulatory reform, infrastructure, are all things that would help Parker. So, I think this is a positive first sign. Time will tell, but I think we're designed to win in whatever the environment turns out to be, but this probably will be helpful for us."
Union Pacific Corp.
Robert Knight, CFO at Union Pacific Corp., says his firm is optimistic, but there are reasons for concern when it comes to relations with Mexico:
"I don't have any silver bullet answers to that [Trump's implications on his company], but I would just say that we're optimistic and would be hopeful that the commentary around growth is certainly we support that...I know there's some concern out there, we've seen it, as if you look at our franchise in and out of Mexico, the 12% of our volume either originates or terminates in Mexico...And for this economy to grow and prosper and continue to have commerce sort of implies to me that we're going to continue to have a healthy cross border exchange and a healthy cross border environment. I can't imagine anything deterring that.
So I personally am confident or believe that there'll be some rationalization around trade. And I'm sure there'll be some attention given to that, but some rationalization, but not some let's throw the baby out with the bathwater kind of approach to it, would be my view. And I think as it relates to all the other topics, we're going to watch it as closely as we can and continue to make sure that we're communicating effectively in Washington, as we do today, making sure that regulators understand the impacts of any decisions that they make, and we will no doubt continue to do that effort. But I guess broadly said, I'm not pessimistic about where this is going to go."
By Julie Verhage