The US Companies Getting Hurt the Most by Trump’s Trade War

US President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a lunch meeting with Harley Davidson executives

US President Donald Trump speaks at the beginning of a lunch meeting with Harley Davidson executives. | Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

President Donald Trump said he wanted a trade war, and American companies have started seeing how it would affect them. Harley-Davidson, the iconic motorcycle manufacturer based in Milwaukee, was one of the first to be hit by retaliation from the European Union.

Harley executives reacted swiftly. In a June 25 SEC filing, the company said 31% EU tariffs on its bikes would raise prices an average of $2,200. As a result, Harley will move part of its production out of the U.S. by the end of 2019.

But Harley is not the only brand getting hurt by Trump’s trade war. Here are the other companies that became victims of administration policies on trade.

1. Mid Continent Nail

  • How it lost: Tariffs forced Mid Continent to raise prices and get hammered on the nail market.

You may not have heard of it, but Mid Continent Nail is a major employer in Missouri. Since Trump put foreign steel tariffs into effect, Mid Continent had to raise its prices by 20%.

That led to orders dropping by half in June, sales VP George Skarich said. The company responded by laying off 60 employees, and it may let go of another 200 workers.

Skarich, who voted for Trump, was dismayed by the president’s actions in office. “He ran on ‘Make America Great Again,’ and the point was to defend and protect jobs in the United States,” Skarich said.

2. Boeing

Paul Ryan sits with the Boeing CEO at the company plant in Washington

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) (L) speaks during a town hall with Boeing Company CEO Dennis Muilenburg and Boeing employees at the company’s plant on August 24, 2017 in Everett, Washington. | Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

  • How it lost: Boeing’s deals with China are at risk, and the stock price fell accordingly.

Boeing aircraft deals in China make up an increasingly significant chunk of the company’s revenue. However, the escalating trade war threatens that side of the company business.

Take, for example, the $37-billion deal Boeing made with a state-backed company late in 2017. After the trade war commenced in 2018, the Chinese Premier said the country would hold talks with Airbus, a warning sign for Boeing.

Between May 26 and June 25, Boeing stock dropped a total of 8%.

3. Tesla

  • How it lost: China’s electric car tariff will sting, but a larger boycott would be worse.

In response to U.S. tariffs, China said it would tax electric car imports beginning July 6. That’s one way to get Tesla’s EVs costing more.

However, a more pronounced retaliation by Beijing — say, a boycott of U.S. cars  — would hurt the automaker much more. It wouldn’t be the first time China did that and succeeded.

4. Caterpillar

  • How it lost: Despite improved sales, Caterpillar became another stock market casualty.

While business at Caterpillar has been great, investors expect all that to change with trade war in the air. That’s how the company became the Dow’s biggest loser from June 12-19.

In fact, Caterpillar stock fell 13% in the run-up to the tariffs’ start date.

5. Cummins

2017 Ram 5500 with a Cummins diesel engine| Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

  • How it lost: Just talk of a trade war hit Cummins stock in late spring.

In some cases, companies don’t have to wait for explicit retaliation from foreign countries. Cummins, the engine manufacturer, felt the burn of Trump’s trade war without knowing how it will shake out.

In the 30 days following May 25, the company’s stock dropped nearly 10%, with the majority coming in the week when Trump rhetoric peaked (around June 22).

6. Harley Davidson

  • How it lost: With the EU’s retaliatory tariffs, Harley execs started offshoring US production immediately.

Harley-Davidson had trouble before Trump started his trade wars. That’s why the company closed its Missouri plant and laid off 800 workers in early 2018 — even after taking a hue tax cut.

But with 31% tariffs on their bikes, the Wisconsin-based company decided it couldn’t compete in Europe. Another major round of layoffs will follow, and that doesn’t count the deep cuts at Harley’s suppliers.

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