How Corporate Executives View the Post-Coronavirus Economy
Every quarter CEOs and CFOs across industries provide Wall Street analysts a quarterly snapshot of their company’s performance.
Earnings calls get deep in the numbers, but they’re also full of perspective on current affairs, filtered through the lens of an industry or specialty. And, over the past several weeks, thousands of executives hosted their first earnings call in a post-COVID-19 era.
From banks, to semiconductors, to chocolate bars, leaders of America’s iconic companies tell a story checkered with unprecedented challenges, opportunities and contemplations about lasting changes to society. Like a mosaic, when viewed in their entirety, their observations form a big-picture view of the U.S. economy as it currently stands.
Satya Nadella: CEO, Microsoft
“We have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning to sales and customer service to critical cloud infrastructure and security, we are working alongside customers every day to help them stay open for business in a world of remote everything.” — April 29
Harley Finkelstein: COO, Shopify
“First and foremost, we are seeing (businesses) find ways to operate under today's constraints through creativity, grit and determination. Their stories have been incredibly inspiring from pivots by tailors and distilleries now making face masks and hand sanitizers, to an 84-year-old grandmother in Italy, who has taken her pasta-making course online.” — May 6
Michele Buck: CEO, The Hershey Company
“The Hershey Company has more than 125 years of experience managing through tough, fast-moving and unprecedented moments in time; two World Wars, economic depressions and recessions, and other momentous events. Each time we planned, we took action, we learned and adapted.”
This moment in time is no different. It calls for us to be our best working together with compassion and understanding to do what's best for our global society.” — April 23
Vasant Prabhu: CFO, Visa
“One-fifth of U.S. payments volume is in drugstores along with Walmart, Costco and Target. This is the only category still growing — up approximately 20 percent in April, and essentially all this growth is coming from online spending — up over 100 percent in the last two weeks of April, assisted by the adoption of curbside pickup and delivery.” — April 30
Joey Wat: CEO, Yum! China Holdings
“Approximately 99 percent of our stores are open, with some stores offering delivery and takeaway only or operating with shortened hours.
Nevertheless, the recovery is not guaranteed nor linear. Volume has not yet returned to pre-outbreak levels. There remain differences across regions and brands as the country gets back to work. Social distancing, telecommunicating and reductions in travel may become the new normal.” — April 29
Warren Buffett: CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
“I know America is going to move forward over time … we learned this on September 11, 2001, and we learned it a few months ago in terms of the virus. Anything can happen in terms of markets, and you can bet on America, but you got to have to be careful about how you bet, simply because markets can do anything.” — May 2
Dara Khosrowshahi: CEO, Uber Technologies
“I won't sugarcoat it. COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on rides with the business down globally around 80 percent in April. Still, there are some green shoots driving restrained optimism. We’ve seen week-on-week growth globally for the past three weeks. This week is tracking to be our fourth consecutive week of growth.” — May 7
Josh Silverman: CEO, Etsy
“In early April, the CDC changed its guidelines to recommend that Americans wear fabric face masks and we saw a tremendous surge of demand for fabric face masks right away on our site. In fact, it was like waking up and discovering that it was Cyber Monday, except that everyone in the world wanted just one product … our message to our sellers has been singular, which is we have your back.” — May 7
Jeff Bezos: CEO, Amazon
“Under normal circumstances, in this coming Q2, we’d expect to make some $4 billion or more in operating profit. But these aren’t normal circumstances. Instead, we expect to spend the entirety of that $4 billion, and perhaps a bit more, on COVID-related expenses getting products to customers and keeping employees safe.” — April 30
Reed Hastings: CEO, Netflix
“We're in the same uncertainty that everyone else is. The thing we are certain of is the internet is growing. It's a bigger part of people's lives, thankfully. And people want entertainment. They want to be able to escape and connect, whether times are difficult or joyous.” — April 21
Jamie Dimon: CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“In times of need, banks have always been the lender of last resort to their customers. And obviously, you’ve got to be a disciplined capital provider because undisciplined loans are bad. So, you take your calculated risks. We’re making additional loans. We’re adults. We know that if the economy gets worse, we’ll bear additional loss, but we do forecast all of that so we know we can handle really, really adverse consequences … we want to do our job. If we can help the country get through this, everybody’s better off.” — April 14
Arne Sorenson: CEO, Marriot Hotels
“This is by far the most significant crisis ever to impact our business. We’re a company that is 92 years old and has weathered the Great Depression, World War II, and numerous natural disasters around the world, that is saying something.
To state the obvious, we are operating in a very challenging environment. However, the glimmer of good news is that overall negative trends appear to have bottomed in most regions around the world.” — May 11
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