By A Wall Street Journal Roundup
This is what some of the world's corporate leaders have said recently on issues ranging from China to the chip shortage.
Tractor Supply Co. CEO Hal Lawton:
"We are seeing significant growth in our millennial shoppers," Mr. Lawton said. "This demographic has long resisted many of the traditional generational norms, things like, household formation and homeownership. But the pandemic has shocked this generation and accelerated their embracement of these types of activities. ... The most robust homeownership growth is in the millennial cohort, with the growth coming in suburban and rural areas. We believe the growth in this customer segment has staying power." (April 22)
American Express Co. CEO Stephen J. Squeri:
"We're seeing people that are younger are getting back at a much higher level. Their overall T&E [travel and entertainment] spending is probably about 85% to 90%, and almost 100% back to where they were in 2019 in restaurants. And then, when we look at older people, as they get vaccinated, we're seeing sequential growth month-on-month as we look at their growth. And so if you look at just people over 45, you're seeing an 11% increase in their overall T&E spending month-to-month. That's only going to get better for us as we move along." (April 23)
Citigroup Inc. CEO Jane Fraser:
"We're pretty optimistic about the U.S. in particular. Over the next few years, there's a lot of unspent savings out there with consumers, huge amount of liquidity in the market. Corporate balance sheets are broadly healthy. And then, you've also got a lot of dynamism from digitization that's changing consumer behaviors and driving investment."
International Business Machines Corp. CEO Arvind Krishna:
"The spend environment overall is improving," Mr. Krishna said. "Now, that said, I do have to acknowledge there are some differences by geography and industry. When you look in the underlying results, you can see the Americas was stronger....We do sense a bit of caution in Europe, and you can see that in the numbers."
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO David Solomon:
"We think that we're going to have very, very robust economic growth in the second half of 2021 into 2022, as vaccines continue to accelerate, as we come out of the pandemic, as we move forward. There's no question that there is meaningful consumer pent-up demand. Consumers have reasonable liquidity and savings, higher than they did going into the pandemic."
"There's no question, given the monetary and fiscal actions, that there's an increasing risk of inflationary activity," he said. "The question is how much, how quickly and how we respond to that."
JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Piepszak:
"While a strong recovery seems in motion, we're also prepared for more adverse outcomes, given remaining uncertainties around the impact of new virus strains and the health of the underlying labor markets. So, for now, we remain cautious and are still weighted to our downside scenarios."
Coca-Cola Co. CEO James Quincey:
"As markets start to open, it's worth remembering it's not an on/off switch. There's a phasing of how markets tend to reopen. That's true of the U.S. So, for example, in the U.S. the fountain volumes were still negative in March because whilst people are going out to restaurants, and there's more mobility, it's not back to what it was. The occupancy levels of offices are nowhere near 100%, and so reopening is not an on/off switch. There's a rebuilding, and there's a series of phases of reopening. And so that's a very important factor, and it's somewhat unpredictable."
Delta Air Lines Inc. CEO Ed Bastian:
"Consumer confidence in air travel continues to increase, with the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. rapidly accelerating and predictions of herd immunity as soon as this summer. We said throughout the pandemic that one of the most important objectives was to restore confidence in air travel. We are now seeing more normal booking behavior, as customers make plans for spring and summer travel. In fact, our daily net cash sales in March were twice what they were in January."
Halliburton Co. CEO Jeff Miller:
"The world is reopening, and even though some regions still experience lockdowns, overall economic and demand recovery continues to build. Oil demand is increasing globally. Oil inventories are down near their five-year averages. And OPEC+ actions continue to support commodity prices. The first quarter strengthened our confidence about how this transition year will play out."
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CEO Brian Niccol:
"What we're definitely seeing is people want to be back in our dining rooms," Mr. Niccol said. "It's great to see the lines again in our dining rooms...Consumer sentiment is definitely one where they want to get back out to socialize and get back into the dining rooms and have that in-dining experience."
Otis Worldwide Corp. CEO Judy Marks:
"Pricing is very competitive globally, but there are certain markets where we believe we can have some targeted pricing increase to offset that additional $15 million to $20 million of [commodity] headwinds. In a few countries not to be named, but where we think that price will come through, and we'll be able to offset that." (April 26)
Albertsons Cos. CEO Vivek Sankaran:
"While food at home inflation is still at recent high levels and could be sustained at these levels for some time, we have planned our business assuming inflation of 1% to 2% this fiscal year. And we expect a rational competitive environment to prevail.
"If it goes beyond that 3% to 4%, then here's what's going to happen. We are going to have difficult conversations on how much we can accept, because we're not going to pass through all of it. And we're going to have difficult conversations up and down the supply chain if it gets to a place where it's going to exceed that 3% to 4%." (April 26)
Procter & Gamble Co. Chief Operating Officer Jon Moeller:
"This is one of the bigger increases in commodity costs that we've seen over the period of time that I've been involved with this, which is a fairly long period of time. That's not all bad. When commodities move significantly, and obviously they affect everyone," he said, "the industry is pushed to price. When they move modestly, it can be much more difficult in that regard."
Whirlpool Corp. CEO Marc Bitzer:
"In the first quarter, global semiconductors and resin shortages amplified existing supply constraints and thus impacted our product availability. Further, we are faced with rapidly rising inflationary pressures primarily in steel and resins. To address these issues, we swiftly responded with necessary actions to protect margins and product availability. We announced significant cost-based price increases in various countries across the globe, ranging from 5% to 12%."
Netflix Inc. Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters:
"Our [pricing] spread has been growing wider, and I think that that's part of that story. We're really trying to find a set of plan types with the right kind of features. And we know folks are -- some folks have gigantic TVs at home, and some folks are watching on their mobile phone. Some folks are approaching the service as an individual, some folks are approaching it as a family. So, just so many different needs out there. And so, we're really going to try and match those feature sets at the right price points to that really wide group of folks."
Nasdaq Inc. CEO Adena Friedman:
"The way I look at the crypto markets and the overall cryptocurrency economy is that it's...still in a very early stage. And that's great because I think we've seen this really elegant construct come into the ecosystem in terms of what the blockchain and what you can do with it. You're seeing now some really interesting and tangible applications of it that have been more geared up until recently towards retail. But now, you're starting to see institutional players recognizing that this is a construct that really could become part of mainstream commerce."
BlackRock Inc. CEO Larry Fink:
"In our dialogues with our clients world-wide, [crypto] is not a major question that is being asked. It is not a major conversation related to how does that fit into their portfolio...And so if somebody really wanted to build a big deep dialogue related to this, they're probably going to go to another source, and that is just not a large foundation of the conversation we're having now."
Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk:
The first quarter "had some of the most difficult supply chain challenges that we've ever experienced in the life of Tesla. Insane difficulties with supply chain with parts--over the whole range of parts. Obviously, we've heard about the chip shortage. This is a huge problem." (April 26)
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. CEO C.C. Wei:
"In January of this year, TSMC announced that capacity support for automotive customers is our top priority. Since then, we have worked dynamically with our other customer to reallocate our wafer capacity to support the world-wide automotive industry. However, the shortage further deteriorated due to the unexpected snowstorm in Texas and the fab manufacturing disruption in Japan. Together with our productivity improvement, we expect the automotive component shortage from semiconductors to be greatly reduced for TSMC's customer by the next quarter."
AutoNation Inc. CEO Mike Jackson:
On how long the chip shortage will impact vehicle inventory: "I think you have to ask me in a year, I think that's what it's going to take. The headline is: We have far more demand than supply. Shipments are pretty good though. They just go right out the door as they come in...And if [the car companies] could produce more, we would sell more."
Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk:
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