PROFITS BEFORE LOWER PRICES:
While Republicans in Congress play the blame game on inflation challenges, they are conveniently letting their big corporate donors off the hook for the outsized role they play. Much like 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.
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 pass their success onto their customers with lower prices — or they can reward themselves with lucrative stock buybacks and bigger CEO bonuses. As Accountable.US continues to document, too many companies are choosing to profiteer rather than do right by consumers and the economy.
- From The Guardian: Twenty-four of the top oil and gas corporations have made nearly $174 billion in profits this year. As Big Oil rakes in billions and showers its CEOs and shareholders with more money, working families have been bearing the brunt of higher gas prices. In the 3rd quarter of 2021 alone, 24 of these same top oil and gas corporations made over $74 billion.
- Build-A-Bear reported that it had a record-breaking year — going as far as introducing a share repurchase program of up to $25 million in effect through November 2023, after they admitted to “strategically increas[ing] prices on highly sought after products.”
- BestBuy reported nearly half a billion dollars in profit during its 3rd quarter, as CFO Matt Bilunas admitted that their prices for appliances have increased for consumers. Meanwhile, CEO Corie Barry named “appliances, home theater and mobile phones” as the “biggest contributors” to its increased quarterly sales. That same quarter, BestBuy spent $405 million on stock buybacks and $172 million on dividends.
After “passing along higher cost to the customer,” Kroger saw its third quarter 2021 operating profit increase by $76 million over the prior year — contributing to a staggering $1 billion spent on buying back company stock this year.
PVH Corporation, owner of brands like Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, reported a 22.1% increase in gross profit year over year due to the “pricing power we are able to achieve through strength in product.”
ICYMI from Bloomberg: “Fattest Profits Since 1950 Debunk Wage-Inflation Story of CEOs”
EARNINGS CALLS HIGHLIGHTS
- Kroger (December 2): Kroger spent $297 million buying back company stock in its third quarter. In 2021, it has spent $1 billion buying back company stock after announcing a 17% increase to its dividend.
- Allbirds (November 30): In its third quarter, Allbirds’ gross profit increased 36% to $33.9 million compared to the third quarter of 2020 and its gross margin expanded 120 basis points from the third quarter of 2020 to 54.1%.
- BestBuy (November 23): Best Buy CEO Corie Barry reported record Q3 financial results including nearly half a billion in profits on over $11.9 billion in sales. The company also noted that despite supply chain and logistics challenges they achieved their “fastest small product delivery times ever” during the 3rd quarter of this year.
CORPORATE GREED IN ACTION
- PVH Corporation CEO Stefan Larsson: “‘Our third quarter earnings significantly exceeded our guidance, led by our international businesses, and we achieved overall stronger than expected margin performance across brands. This reflects the strength of our global iconic brands, Calvin Klein and TOMMY HILFIGER, and the pricing power we are able to achieve through strength in product, consumer engagement, and consumer experience in the digitally led marketplace.'”
- Build-A-Bear Workshop CEO Sharon Price John: “I’m pleased to reiterate that the Board of Directors has authorized a share repurchase program of up to $25 million in effect through November 30, 2023, and a special cash dividend of $1.25 per share to be paid on December 27, 2021, to all shareholders of record as of December 10. We believe that the multiyear, multimillion dollar buyback program is reflective of the Board’s confidence in this company. And again, given the record breaking year, the special dividend is intended to immediately return value to our shareholders.”
- Five Below President and CEO Joel Anderson: “We also achieved the highest average store sales for our third quarter in our history. Operating profit grew 75% leading to earnings per share of $0.43. New store growth and performance continued to be strong in the third quarter. We opened 52 new stores across 24 states, bringing our new store openings to 154 at the end of the third quarter.”