The first quarter of earnings to be impacted by the novel coronavirus is on the books. A few US companies—petrochemical makers and others tied to heavy manufacturing—are already stinging from the slowing economy. Earnings at other firms, especially in agriculture, are holding up.
Executives uniformly say the worst is yet to come, however, possibly in the current quarter.
“We did begin to feel the early impact of COVID-19 in some areas of the business,” Chemours CEO Mark Vergnano says in a statement. But the company managed to improve first-quarter earnings by about 10% from the year-earlier period, despite a sales decline due to weakness in fluorochemical demand.
Chemours’s former parent, DuPont, felt the impact as well. The company increased production of Tyvek protective garments by 55% and is now making more than it ever has, but the pandemic hit businesses like materials for the automotive sector. DuPont posted a 10% decline in overall earnings for the first quarter.Dow, DuPont, Grace and Huntsman all had earnings down against the first quarter of 2019 (-39.8%, -10.4%, -23.7%, and -23.5% , respectively). This doesn't bode well for either the rest of the year, nor hiring for 2020.