PROFITS BEFORE LOWER PRICES:
More and more companies are using the pandemic to increase their wealth and line their shareholders’ pockets as they boast to their investors of record profits and healthy balance sheets. These corporations have a choice: they can reward themselves with lucrative stock buybacks and bigger CEO bonuses — or they can pass their success onto their customers with lower prices. As Accountable.US continues to document, too many companies are choosing to profiteer rather than do right by consumers and the economy.
While Republicans in Congress continue to play the blame game on inflation challenges, they’re letting their big corporate donors off the hook for the outsized role they play. Much like how Congressional Republicans are exploiting the struggles of working families and small businesses navigating a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, it’s clear many corporations are taking advantage of this moment for their own selfish gain.
- 3M saw its earnings per share increase by 14% in 2021, yet it still “implemented big price increases” in its fourth quarter. The company went on to use those price increases to spend over $5.6 billion on dividends and stock buybacks.
- After cashing in over $1 billion from the federal government for its COVID-19 vaccine and seeing a 42% increase in its net earnings compared to 2020, Johnson & Johnson is still shamefully jacking up its prices for consumers in 2022.
- Thanks to price hikes on its customers, Levi Strauss “achieved strong results, including multi-decade record revenues and profitability” in 2021, resulting in a 57% increase in stock buybacks and a 64% increase in dividends.
- Levi Strauss (January 26): CFO Harmit Singh admitted it himself: Levi’s “Americas revenue grew 12% in the fourth quarter” due in part to “increased price.” Those price increases helped the company generate a record gross margin in 2021 as it spent $88.4 million on stock buybacks and $104.4 million on dividends.
- 3M (January 25): After hiking prices on its consumers, 3M saw its 2021 net income increase by $472 million year-over-year to over $5.9 billion — a nearly 9% increase. Despite the company’s financial success, they’re still leaving the door wide open to hike prices on working families…again.
- Johnson & Johnson (January 25): Even after the company saw its net earnings increase by 42% year-over-year to a total of over $20.8 billion, the pharmaceutical giant will be increasing prices on working families this year.
CORPORATE GREED IN ACTION
- Levi Strauss CFO Harmit Singh: “We achieved strong results, including multi-decade record revenues and profitability…despite heightened supply chain challenges and product costs. This was the result of the unique strength of our brands and our ability to leverage our pricing power to more than offset inflationary pressures while also reinvesting in our growth.’”