12 Major US Companies Losing the Most on China Trade War Fallout

Jon C. Ogg

With the United States raising tariffs on $200 billion of foreign goods coming from China last Friday, and the promise of additional tariffs on other goods from China, a retaliation tariff hike from China means that the trade war has formally begun. While no one ultimately wins in a trade war, and while the outcome acts as an additional tax that consumers and business have to eat, there is strong conviction by President Donald Trump and by the Chinese alike to stick to what each country feels is in its best interest.

American consumers might be prepared for a longer trade war than the hopes had been even just 10 days earlier. And everyone seems to know that China historically has been able to take a view that is decades out, while the United States and other nations whose leaders are elected can be voted out of office every two, four, six or eight years. China’s leadership has no public elections to be accountable to.

Many U.S. companies that get substantial revenues from China saw their shares take a serious hit with the major stock market indexes on Monday. The Dow Jones industrials were down almost 600 points (2.3%) at 25,343, and the S&P 500 was down almost 68 points (2.3%) at 2,813.50 shortly after noon on Monday.

Here are 12 U.S.-based companies that have a rather well-known and well-documented exposure to doing business in China. Price moves shortly after noon were made, along with some basic color on each company.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) is a major loser if tariffs and a trade war persist for too long. Its warning from January proved how much deterioration there was. Apple shares were last seen down 5.1% at $187.00, and the move may be exaggerated due to an antitrust case about its App Store being allowed to proceed.

Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) has many jet sales to China, and there have been concerns that China might target the company specifically at the same time that China would like to get its own jet plane business more prominent on the global scene. Boeing shares traded down 4.1% at $340.18 on Monday morning. Boeing’s drop also can be tied to more potential delays of the 737 MAX fleet being “ungrounded.”

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is a direct player in the global growth, with heavy machinery sales to the world’s growth engine and to countries that also do business with China being critical to their revenue forecasts. Caterpillar shares were last seen down 5.1% at $124.59.

Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE) is very similar to Caterpillar in many ways, including on foreign sales and with China being the world’s growth engine. Deere shares traded down 6.2% at $146.43 on Monday.

General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) sells more cars in China than in any other country in the world, including the United States. Sales volume in China dropped by 17.5% in the first quarter. A 25% tariff on vehicles imported into China had been temporarily suspended while negotiations were continuing, and GM has joint ventures with Chinese carmakers Baojun and Wuling. GM’s stock was down 2.7% at $36.86 in midday trading.

Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) held up better than expected on Monday, but it is a dominant player in China’s $31 billion market for sportswear. Anta and Xtep, two Chinese online retailers, have been boosting investments and making a dent not only in Nike’s business but in that of other foreign sports gear giants like Adidas. Nike’s stock was down almost 2% at $82.30 on Monday, but this had been higher a week earlier as China trade war fears started to escalate.

Ralph Lauren Corp. (NYSE: RL) was taking it on the chin worse than Nike, with its plans from late 2018 including one store per week opening up in China. Ralph Lauren’s clothing coming into the United States also may face tariffs, with its latest annual report signaling that one-third of Ralph Lauren’s products are sourced from China. The company’s 10-K from May 2018 showed that the company has a third-party-owned distribution facility in Tuen Mun, Hong Kong, for its Southeast Asian (and Greater China) sales. That 10-K also showed a special “Import Restrictions and Other Government Regulations” that named China directly. Ralph Lauren shares were down 4.8% at $118.31, and this was a $131 stock just 10 days earlier.

Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) still has lots of growth to see from China, even if there may be as many opportunities elsewhere in the globe on a cumulative basis. It has opened nearly 3,800 stores in China and had plans to double that number over the next four years. Its shares were down 2.4% at $76.52 on Monday.

Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) has started to feel like more of a proxy for the luxury market among Chinese spenders wanting to show their status. Back in late March, CEO Alessandro Bogliolo touted the company’s domestic business in China as an offset to weaker U.S. sales to Chinese tourists. While sales in China were said to be growing nicely and strongly, how likely is that to last if China is against American brands. Its shares traded down 5.3% at $99.29.

United States Steel Corp. (NYSE: X) is no longer even close to being the largest steelmaker, but it takes steel to build just about anything from structures and buildings to most durable goods. And with “United States” in its name, a China retaliation might come with extra pushback. China’s steel industry also might be happy to undercut U.S. Steel and its U.S. competitors in other international dealings in which it competes. Shares of U.S. Steel traded down 6.6% at $14.62 on Monday.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. (NASDAQ: WYNN) owns and operates one of Chinese Macau’s biggest resorts, and Macau is frequently targeted by Mainland China. Its shares also had rallied in 2019 on the hopes of a China trade resolution making it more palatable for Chinese gamblers to gamble in a casino that is a dominant U.S. company by name. Wynn’s stock traded down 4.7% to $140.50 a week earlier, but Monday’s reaction was even worse, with a 6.7% drop to $121.15.

Yum China Holdings Inc. (NYSE: YUMC) was spun out by Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) and it is entirely a China-focused play. If the Chinese citizenry feels bad about America, or if it is encouraged to avoid buying American brands, the good old KFC owner in China will feel the heat. Yum China was down almost 5% at $42.67 on Monday. Yum Brands collects a royalty payment from Yum China now, but its shares were only down 1.5% at $99.87 as the company has become a non-China player for the most part.

You have probably noticed that this list only showed Apple in technology. As far as China is concerned, we consider Apple more of a premium brand more than being the China-dominant technology company. Intel is down less than 3% on the day and they have close to one-fourth of their sales coming from China (and Intel’s shares have lost close to 11% since trade war fears were rekindled). Cisco Systems has also been making more inroads into China, with a 4% drop on Monday that was more like a 6% drop from a week ago. In the additional technology names, the DRAM, flash and ‘other’ memory within semiconductors all have a lot to lose if retaliation upon retaliation occurs — Texas Instruments, NVIDIA, Skyworks, Micron, and just about any other chip and related company you can think of might have something to lose if their chips and products are owned by an American company and those goods are not manufactured in Mainland China or its related economic zones.