Donald Trump tweets about a company, and its shares quake at his wrath.
The president now is aiming at auto companies, trying to bludgeon Ford F, -3.28% , General Motors GM, -1.99% , and Toyota TM, -0.07% into expanding small-car production in the U.S. — reversing decades-old trends of moving manufacturing of mostly lower-priced, often-unprofitable cars to Mexico, even as Mexican presidents past and present flip The Donald the bird.
Stop quaking. Trump’s Twitter TWTR, +0.48% missives have no lasting effect on stocks. I created a list of affected companies , generated by Yahoo Finance, then deleted the privately owned ones. This left 37 public companies Trump has tweeted nastygrams about since 2012. Trump has been wrong on 29 of them. In fact, if you shorted 100 shares of each of these 37 companies on the day Trump slammed them, you’re down 37% as of Thursday’s close. Sad!
What does this tell us? Investors and CEOs should pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The tweeter-in-chief can huff and puff, but he can’t blow your house down. Investors don’t care what he tweets, and the record shows they’re right.
It’s amusing to see the breadth of businesses Trump is wrong about. He’s wrong about tech. Wrong about media, liberal and otherwise. Wrong about wind power. Wrong about Coca-Cola KO, -0.74% , Warren Buffett, and ESPN. Wrong about Hollywood. Wrong about markets and policy. Wrong about cell phone companies.
And, atop all this wrongness, is Trump’s pan of Facebook’s FB, +0.99% 2012 initial public offering (“hard to believe it could be worth that much”), which came with unsolicited marital advice for founder Mark Zuckerberg — “Get a prenup!”
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Maybe because I went to high school with the paparazzo who got the famous shot of Trump’s first two wives squaring off on the ski slopes, the thought of the first three-times-married president doling out both marital and stock advice in the same 140 characters is hilarious
Lawyers, by the way, say Zuckerberg didn’t really need a pre-nuptial agreement to protect himself from a divorce, because he got rich before he got married, which was right after the deal. Shareholders got rich later: Facebook shares are up 247%.
Trump was bearish on Apple AAPL, +0.05% in 2014 — “I sold my Apple” — because it didn’t match Samsung’s 005930, +1.27% big-screen phones, until it did. Apple shares since then are up 66%. Trump was bearish on Amazon.com AMZN, +0.31% — “Jeff Bezos…no-profit company” — in December 2015. The stock is up 25% since.
Trump was wrong about American Airlines Group AAL, +3.51% , panning its USAirways merger in 2013. Since then, American Airlines shares have gained 241%.
He’s been wrong about the New York Times Co. NYT, +0.00% (up 4% since Trump called them a “dying paper” in 2016). Wrong about Gannett GCI, +0.83% and Tegna TGNA, +0.09% the since-split-up publishers of “boring” USA Today, which have doubled in value since Trump tweeted in 2012 that he cancelled his subscription to the newspaper. (Trump overlooked Gannett’s thriving TV business. Which is not, like, really smart! I worked for Gannett at the time — I made a ton).
Trump was wrong about Walt Disney DIS, +0.02% , shares of which have doubled since drawing Trump’s ire in 2013 for apologizing after ESPN announcer Brent Musburger got a little too honest on-air about the hotness of the girlfriend of the University of Alabama quarterback. Trump was wrong about Microsoft MSFT, +0.93% , where he claimed unhappy investors were scheming to fire chairman Bill Gates in 2013, when the stock was 90% lower. Trump was wrong about JP Morgan Chase JPM, +0.84% shares of which are now 51% higher, for complaining that it settled lawsuits too easily.
This litany of wrongs goes on with Alphabet GOOG, -0.42% , which Trump accused of suppressing negative news about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. With Procter & Gamble PG, -0.64% , Trump knocked it for moving its beauty business to Singapore in 2012, which P&G did for the eminently sensible reason that Asia was its fastest-growing market. P&G stock is up 36% Charter Communications CHTR, +7.36% was another miss. Trump in 2012 tweeted that the company gives bad service (“They are a disaster.”) Sure, a disaster whose shares have quadrupled since. And T-Mobile US TMUS, +4.33% shares are up 96% since Trump said the same about the company in 2015.
Want more? Trump was wrong about S&P Global SPGI, +0.57% , which has tripled since Trump knocked the bond-rating agency for downgrading U.S. bonds in 2011, responding to the mostly Republican fiscal indiscipline — on which President Trump now plans to double down. If Trump gets what he wants on taxes, look for more feuding with S&P.
He was wrong about Boeing BA, +1.05% , criticizing the company in early December about the price of the next-generation Air Force One airplane. He was wrong about Lockheed Martin LMT, +1.58% — shares rose in the days after he knocked the company over the cost of F-35 fighters on Dec. 22 and closed Thursday up about 1%. (Lockheed said Tuesday that it will not change its prices.)
Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Trump has been wrong about the auto industry too. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles FCAU, +0.73% shares are up 235% since Trump’s 2012 prediction that the company would move Jeep production to China after that year’s election (wrong about that, too). But score one for Trump with Ford — down 22% since Trump hit the company in 2015 about Mexico, saying “the U.S. is getting killed.”
Toyota Motor 7203, -0.89% shares didn’t move much after Trump’s tweet earlier this month about plans for a Corolla plant in Mexico, and General Motors, thought to be Trump’s favorite automaker, is up 7% since he attacked them, half-accurately, on Jan. 3 over making Chevrolet Cruze hatchbacks south of the border (the more popular Cruze sedans come from Ohio). The reality is that there’s no discernible Trump effect on car stocks, except in the media’s eyes.
Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for U.S. NO WAY! Build plant in U.S. or pay big border tax.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2017
Finally, Trump was even wrong the bonds of Vattenfall, sponsor of a wind-power project Trump contends ruins views from one of his Scottish golf courses. “Who would be stupid enough to invest?” Trump tweeted in May 2015. Answer: People who like a 15% capital gain. Plus 6.875% interest.
Really, none of this should be a yuuuge surprise, given that Trump and his team have been lying about everything from voters to the size of the president’s….crowds. But what is surprising, and counter to the hype, is the quantitative proof that the market’s Big Blond Wolf is breath-deprived. Lockheed, for one, is apparently reasoning that if a company is solidly built, Trump can blow all he wants. Other companies, take heed.