What do PayPal,
and Tinder owner
all have in common? They are among the several S&P500 companies saying that trimming their workforces should provide a boost to their financials this year.
At least 27 U.S. companies with market capitalizations of $10 billion or more have mentioned positive effects from layoffs since the start of the latest profit-reporting season in January, according to Barron’s analysis of earnings call transcripts on Sentieo, a financial analytics platform. If not already delivered in the past quarter, corporations estimated a boost to earnings, margins, or free cash flow from layoffs in the year ahead.
Consider investment banking giant Goldman Sachs Group (ticker: GS). Chief Financial Officer Denis Coleman, on Jan. 23 while discussing the fourth quarter earnings, said the bank exercised a head count reduction earlier this year, letting go of 3,200 employees, and “we expect to benefit in 2023 north of $200 million associated with that.”
The credit bureau company,
(EFX), on Feb. 9, said it plans to cut over 10% of its employees and contractors in 2023. The actions, among others, will drive an estimated spending reduction of about $200 million in 2023, CEO Mark Begor said.
Among technology companies,
‘s (WDC) CEO David Goeckeler, last month, said the hard disk seller had reduced its quarterly adjusted operating expense by over $100 million since the close of the fiscal year 2022 by lowering head count among other actions.
(SNAP) said it continues to wind down various operations to take $450 million out of the cost base. Investors will see the full benefit of this reduction in the first quarter, which ends in March, Chief Financial Officer Derek Andersen said, citing the current reduced head count, down 20% from the peak in the second quarter.
(PYPL), a fintech company, last week, said it has identified an additional $600 million of cost savings for 2023 on top of the previously planned $1.3 billion due to “the very difficult decision to reduce our head count by 7% as we continue to improve our processes.”
Other companies in the list of about 27 include healthcare firm
(NWSA), the owner of Barron’s and The Wall Street Journal, and insurance brokerage
Marsh & McLennan
These are just the companies who have talked about layoffs on their earnings calls. Overall some 380 companies have laid off employees this year just within the tech industry, according to Layoffs.fyi, though not all have discussed the benefits to the bottom line.
Spotify Technology (SPOT)
for instance, denied quantifying savings from the head count reduction when an analyst asked in a fourth-quarter call discussing earnings. The streaming music service company announced plans to cut about 6% of its workforce across the company in January.
Sadly, for tech employees specifically, more layoffs could be in the cards, according to Savita Subramanian, head of U.S. equity & quant strategist at BofA Global Research. Subramanian, in a note this month, said tech has more costs to cut given the 20% excess hiring over the past three years.
That’s “too high relative to real sales growth,” she noted. “Tech is still too bloated even after layoffs.”
BofA calculated that announced layoffs would represent an estimated 1.7 percentage point average operating lift, defined as cost savings as a percentage of 2022 sales for growth companies.
Lower costs can be big drivers of earnings and revenue. An announcement on cost savings can please investors, even if the fundamentals of those companies have worsened overall.
For instance, despite a broader advertising pullback, investors have cheered
‘s (META) stock partly due to CEO Mark Zuckerberg lowering the capital expenditure outlook and telling analysts the company would remove some layers of middle management. Meta stock is up 44% this year.
Outside of tech,
‘s (FDX) stock was recently upgraded by both Citi analyst Christian Wetherbee and BofA Securities analyst Ken Hoexter to Buy from Hold on increasing signs of cost control despite falling shipping volumes given the weakening economy. The logistics company announced a plan to reduce management head count by 10%. Hoexter estimated 40 cents quarterly earnings per share tailwind. The stock is up 22% this year.
“The playbook was easy for Wall Street this earnings season,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at brokerage OANDA told Barron’s. “Announce cost-saving measures and layoffs and your share prices will rally.”
If only it were so easy for the workers.
Write to Karishma Vanjani at firstname.lastname@example.org