Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Home » Why America’s Strike Wave is Barely Registering on Wall Street

Why America’s Strike Wave is Barely Registering on Wall Street

by Thomas Burke
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Corporate America is railing against striking workers, claiming unions are demanding too much. Give in, and companies will be less profitable and at a competitive disadvantage, big business has said.

So you’d think companies that faced union action would be put in a difficult financial position — and investors, in turn, would sell their stocks.

But that isn’t happening.

What’s happening: It’s been a big year for labor action. About 4500,000 US workers, from actors to autoworkers, have participated in over 312 strikes, according to Cornell University’s Labor Action Tracker.

A plurality of shareholders — about 30% — surveyed by Public, an investing and research platform for retail traders, said strike action was a potential buying opportunity for fundamentally strong companies.

Public also found that investor interest has risen in three of the most prominent strike-affected companies: Ford, GM, and Stellantis.

Streaming and entertainment companies (Disney, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Comcast, Paramount and CNN parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery) saw 2.5% growth in new investors on Public during the writers strike, which began in May and ended in early October. The average order value per investor also increased by 14.4% during that period.

The S&P 500 auto industry sector is up about 86% year-to-date and the S&P 500 media & entertainment sector is up 57% over the same period.

Why invest in companies affected by strikes: The auto industry and Hollywood, in particular, are coming off a miserable 2022. To be fair, most industries had a bad 2022, when the market lost a fifth of its value.

But cars and streaming had been riding highs during the pandemic, when people wanted their own, private modes of transportation and entertainment. Then, last year, they came crashing back to Earth when people largely resumed their normal lives.

So 2023 has been something of a rebound for those industries. Still, investors continue to worry about their long-term health.

The entertainment industry is paying a lot of money for shows and movies, and it’s unclear how much people really want to watch — and whether the business model will continue to sustain all those shows. Taking a pause in production may have been a necessary correction.

The auto industry was also flush with inventory. Thinning out some of the cars sitting on dealers’ lots may not have been the worst thing.

And it’s not like union members were asking for the moon. Some of their demands were probably never going to happen — a four-day workweek for automakers, for example, has been a nonstarter for companies. But the companies and the unions haven’t been too far apart on pay increases, which both industries can afford (the automakers are scoring record profits this year).

Nothing to sweat for buy-and-hold investors: Even investors who buy index funds and are concerned about the effects of the strike probably can take a deep breath.

Broad index investors have little to worry about. Entertainment and media companies account for just a small part of the market, little more than 2% of the S&P 500, note analysts at Morningstar. Together, Ford and General Motors make up less than 0.25% of the S&P 500.

What you need to know about the Walgreens walkouts

Pharmacy staff at some Walgreens stores locked their gates and walked out Monday, citing harsh working conditions that make it difficult to safely fill prescriptions.

CNN confirmed pharmacy closures at some Walgreens locations in Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts and Oregon, and pharmacy staff and customers are posting to social media that other closures are taking place throughout the country.

Walgreens did not immediately respond to requests for the number of walkouts on Monday, but CNN viewed text messages from regional leaders that asked managers to tally the numbers of walkouts at each store at the request of interim CEO Ginger Graham. The managers were told not to count anyone who called out sick on Monday even though organizers had directed those walking off the job to do just that in order to avoid retaliation.

What’s happening: Pharmacists, technicians and support staff are planning walkouts through Wednesday, an organizer who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution, confirmed to CNN.

Some stores are remaining open with a skeleton emergency crew — an organizer told CNN that Walgreens had asked regional leaders to mobilize and staff the pharmacies on Monday.

Many pharmacies that remained open were severely understaffed as the majority of their employees called out sick. Some stores said they were able to operate only their drive-thru pharmacies Monday and others said they would be closing early due to a lack of staff.

Walgreens told CNN in a statement that “a small number of our pharmacies are experiencing disruptions and we apologize for any inconvenience.” Walgreens said it is “working to return these pharmacies to regular operations as quickly as possible,” adding that the vast majority of pharmacies remain open.

Still, regional Walgreens leadership is struggling to keep some locations functioning on the West Coast. In a text message thread reviewed by CNN, managers reported a flurry of pharmacy closures and asked for extra coverage to stay open. Some managers reported receiving calls encouraging them to participate in the walkouts and others issues warnings to their staff against speaking to the media.

A Walgreens representative said on Monday that the company understands “the immense pressures felt across the US in retail pharmacy right now,” and that they are “are engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members.”

‘Grief and anger.’ US business groups stand up for Israel after attack

Business leaders across the United States have expressed outrage and solidarity with Israel after the deadly surprise attack by Hamas, reports my colleague Matt Egan .

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said Sunday the bank stands with Israel, instructing employees there to work remotely for the foreseeable future, a person familiar with the matter told CNN, as Dimon pledged support for the people of Israel.

“This past weekend’s attack on Israel and its people and the resulting war and bloodshed are a terrible tragedy,” Dimon told all employees on Sunday in a memo obtained by CNN. “We stand with our employees, their families and the people of Israel during this time of great suffering and loss,” Dimon said.

JPMorgan has about 230 to 240 employees in Israel and has asked staff there to work from home for the near future, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.

“All of us at Goldman Sachs are thinking of you and your families in the face of this shocking aggression directed at the people of Israel,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said Sunday in a memo obtained by CNN. “The dynamics in the Middle East have always been difficult and complex. But, these attacks are terrorism and violate our most fundamental of values.”

The Business Roundtable, a trade group representing leading US CEOs, said Monday in a statement to CNN: “We join the US government and global community in condemning the horrific attacks on Israel and stand in solidarity with the Israeli people.”

The US Chamber of Commerce said in a statement on Sunday it “strongly condemns the heinous” attacks.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the people of Israel and stand in solidarity with them as they battle the scourge of terrorism,” the Chamber said.

The business group added that it’s in touch with partners from the Israeli government and the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce to explore ways to provide humanitarian assistance.

Source: CNN

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