Though polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job, one group of elites seems enthusiastic about the new White House occupant: CEOs of companies with big business before Trump’s administration.
In corporate earnings calls since the election, top executives from the fossil fuel, defense contracting, border security and pharmaceutical industries have said they are looking forward to potentially lower corporate taxes, less regulation and — in some cases — more government largesse.
The leader of oil colossus Chevron, for instance, praised Trump in an earnings call just a few weeks after the firm poured $500,000 into Trump’s inaugural committee. The CEO of the company — which spends millions lobbying the federal government on issues like environmental rules and climate policy — specifically lauded Trump’s promise to slash government regulations in an earnings call only days after scientists said 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history.
“I've been very pleased with the agenda that the Trump administration has,” said Chevron CEO John Watson during the January 27th earnings call, just a few days before Trump issued an executive order forcing agencies to eliminate regulations. “We've seen an avalanche of regulation over the last decade and putting a much, much more balanced cost-benefit framework in place to assess the value of those regulations freeing up infrastructure pipeline, all of that is quite positive for our business, for the country, job creation and a lot of things.”
Coal-focused companies also seem bullish on the Trump presidency.
The chief financial officer of insurance brokerage Arthur J Gallagher & Co. told investors this week that “if the Trump policies to favor coal are successful, you could have coal plants actually producing more.”
CNX Coal Resources CEO Jimmy Brock told investors that “hopefully [with] the Trump administration, we can keep the existing coal fleets, those power plants that are running today, we can maintain those.”
Meanwhile, Alliance Resource Partners’ CEO Joe Craft told investors, “the Trump administration does appreciate the value that coal-fire electricity brings to the nation,” and added that “as you look at the Trump policies, I think we will start seeing more emphasis on allowing for the oil and gas producers to export their product.”
On tax policy, the CEO of defense contractor United Technologies noted that his firm keeps billions of dollars offshore, and he spotlighted the potential corporate benefits of the changes being championed by Trump’s Republican colleagues in Congress.
“We’ve got about $6 billion of cash sitting overseas that we can’t bring back to the U.S. very cost-effectively, so we look at this as a huge opportunity to again drive growth in the business,” said CEO Greg Hayes, whose subsidiary, Carrier, received lucrative tax breaks after Trump pressured the company to keep some jobs in Indiana.
With Trump pressing forward with initiatives to block refugees and build a wall at the southern border, Unisys CEO Peter Altabef said his firm — which focuses on security technology — is optimistic about new business.
“There is some uncertainty about what will happen in certain federal agencies about their pipeline in terms of new contracts,” he told investors. “I think in general though, the areas of our focus are areas where you are, I think, less likely to see that and more likely to see actual focus and attention, and perhaps growth. So, clearly, on things such as border security, which is our largest client in the federal government, I would say we'd become increasingly bullish about that... We feel bullish that our focus is increasingly the focus of the new administration. ”
Trump has slammed pharmaceutical companies, and proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act have roiled the healthcare economy, but at least one major drug company is predicting big benefits from Trump's presidency.
“We're very, very optimistic that the Trump administration is wanting to and will focus on preserving and enhancing the competitive marketplace as a way to balance value and the economics of health care in general,” said Celgene CEO Mark Alles. “There's a lot of attention of course about ‘repeal and replace.’ We have to see how that plays out. But there are a number of things we're excited about. We think it's going to be a pro-innovation, a pro-industry policy environment.”