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新關稅會來嗎?百思買和美泰等大型零售商已經做好準備

大公司在關稅加征前的舉措,包括建立庫存以及與供應商談價格。中小型公司的日子就沒那么好過。

圖片來源:MARK RALSTON—AFP via Getty Images

談到中國輸美商品的關稅問題,美國公司已經明白,唯一可以確定的,是未來會有更多的不確定性。

12月3日,美國股市連續第二天下滑,因為美國總統唐納德·特朗普再度威脅,將在12月15日對中國輸美價值約1600億美元的商品加征15%的關稅——此前的關稅加征已經在實施。聰明的投資人對于公司高管的一些謹慎言辭非常關注,在過去幾周里,這些高管們已經在業績預測中納入了關稅影響,并與供應商重新談判商業協議。

有些公司的日子好過一些。全美零售聯盟(National Retail Federation)的首席執行官馬特·舍說,大型零售商因為采購體量大,可以對供應商施壓要求降價,以此來緩和關稅影響,但中小型公司就不具備這樣的靈活度。

“我們能夠控制的那些事情”

大公司可以采取一系列的舉措,比如在新關稅到來前建立更多庫存、與供應商談價格,這些供應商會害怕丟失主要客戶而妥協。

Yeti Holdings公司的首席執行官馬特·瑞恩特耶斯,在10月31日的一次電話會議中將此總結為一句話“繼續關注那些我們能夠控制的事情”。首席財務官保羅·卡邦認為,這些關稅“仍然像是一個移動的靶子”,但他同時也說,這家酒具零售商已經采取了措施,包括在12月15日前增加庫存,并從供應商處要求獲得更低的價格。公司也削減了一些其他項目,比如營銷插頁和包裝。

百思買也宣布了類似的舉措——它也是被中國商品關稅影響最廣泛的零售商之一。

“我們的處境,沒有任何先例,許多事情在不斷變化中。”百思買的首席執行官科利·巴里在11月26日的電話會議中說。該公司在今年最后一季度的產品售價提高將只涉及“有限數量”的產品。

有些公司比如玩具制造商美泰和鞋類連鎖公司Boot Barn Holdings,表達出了信心,他們能夠消化這種影響——至少現在。

“價格妥協”

“我們許多商家在讓中國伙伴作出價格讓步方面,做得挺成功。”Boot Barn的首席財務官格雷格·哈克曼在10月30日說到,同時他也說公司產品的漲價不會早于明年2月。“這樣一來,我們認為加征關稅對當前財政年度的影響可以忽略。”

關稅的沖擊早已納入Boot Barn的全年預測中。

美泰的首席執行官葉農·克雷茨在10月29日對投資者說,今年不會有任何實際的影響,但在未來保持靈活度將是關鍵。

“我們確實有一些緩解因素或可采取的行動。”他說,包括漲價和更換供應商以及產品品類。他說美泰還能“過渡到一個不同的生產架構”。

有好幾家公司,包括時尚鞋類制造商Steven Madden和折扣零售商Dollar Tree,都提到他們準備把生產遷出中國。

節假日的力量

公司要應對的是加征關稅對他們自己成本的影響,但他們無法自信地為消費者的行為作出安排。有一種風險是,在制造業萎縮時仍能讓經濟繁榮的美國購物者,可能會開始收縮開支,如果關稅導致產品價格上漲的話。

為期5天的感恩節假日周末,銷售很強勁,據全美零售商聯盟的數據,購物者平均支出361.90美元,比去年上升16%。該機構的首席執行官舍在11月29日的一次采訪中警告說,新關稅可能會澆滅這股勢頭。

他說,“12月25日的新一輪關稅將可能是自損的行為,我們希望能夠避免,讓銷售高昂的勢頭延續到下一季度和2020年。”(財富中文網)

作者:Jonathan Roeder, Donald Moore, 彭博社

譯者:宣峰

When it comes to tariffs on Chinese imports, U.S. companies have apparently learned their lesson: The only certainty is there will be more uncertainty.

Stocks slid for a second day on December 3 as U.S. President Donald Trump ratcheted up his threat to put tariffs of 15% on $160 billion of Chinese goods as of Dec. 15—on top of the duties already in effect. Investors would have been wise to heed the cautious words of corporate chieftains, who over the past few weeks were already baking the estimated impact into their forecasts and renegotiating their deals with suppliers in preparation.

Some companies will have an easier time of it than others. Matt Shay, chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, said large retailers may have the scale to pressure suppliers for discounts to mitigate any damage, but small and mid-sized companies won’t have the same flexibility.

“What We Can Control”

Company playbooks include a range of actions, from building up inventory ahead of the new tariffs to negotiating lower prices from suppliers that are loathe to lose the business of a major customer.

Matt Reintjes, CEO of Yeti Holdings, summed it up on an Oct. 31 conference call as “remaining focused on what we can control.” Chief Financial Officer Paul Carbone acknowledged the duties “remain a bit of a moving target,” but said the drinkware retailer has taken measures including stocking up on merchandise ahead of Dec. 15 and negotiating lower costs from suppliers. It’s also trimming back on things like marketing inserts and packaging.

Similar moves were announced at Best Buy—which is among retailers most exposed to China tariffs.

“There just really isn’t a precedent for where we are right now and there are a lot of moving pieces,” CEO Corie Barry said on a Nov. 26 call. The company saw a “limited number” of price increases in its latest quarter.

Some companies, like toymaker Mattel and footwear chain Boot Barn Holdings, have expressed confidence in their ability to negate any impact—at least for now.

“Cost Concessions”

“Many of our larger vendors have been successful with getting cost concessions from their Chinese partners,” Boot Barn CFO Greg Hackman said on Oct. 30, adding that any price increases wouldn’t come until February at the earliest. “As such, we believe that the impact of tariffs for the current fiscal year will be negligible.”

The brunt of any duties is already included in Boot Barn’s full-year forecast.

Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, speaking to investors on Oct. 29, said that while any impact isn’t expected to be material this year, being nimble will be key going forward.

“We do have several mitigating factors or actions that we can take,” he said, including price increases and changes to suppliers and product assortment. He said Mattel could also “transition to a different manufacturing structure.”

A number of companies, from fashion footwear maker Steven Madden to discount retailer Dollar Tree, have also said they’re working to move production out of China.

Holiday Strength

Companies may be prepared for how the tariffs will affect their own costs, but they can’t plan as confidently for consumer behavior. There’s a risk that American shoppers, who have kept the economy humming even as manufacturers scale back, could start to tighten their purse strings if tariffs lead to price increases.

Sales were strong over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with shoppers spending an average $361.90, the NRF reported, a 16% jump from a year earlier. Shay, the group’s CEO, warned in a Nov. 29 interview that the new tariffs could sap that momentum.

“We would put the Dec. 15 round of tariffs in that category of potential self-inflicted wounds we hope we avoid so we can continue this momentum into the season and into 2020,” he said.

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