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How the biggest companies in America are impacted by COVID-19

  • How the biggest companies in America are impacted by COVID-19

    The fast-moving novel coronavirus has case numbers climbing by the hour. President Trump on May 3 revised death toll projections to 100,000 (up from the 60,000-70,000 number he predicted in days prior), lining up more closely with coronavirus task force estimates as deaths in the U.S. crossed 67,000 the same day. With the pandemic comes financial calamity: More than 30 million Americans to file unemployment claims in six weeks between March and April due to business closures and reductions in the workforce. With no end in sight, jobless rates could approach 50 million for a final unemployment rate of 32%—nearly one in three Americans. By comparison, the jobless rate peaked at roughly one in four Americans—about 25%—during the Great Depression.

    As the reality of the pandemic began to set in, the stock market plunged into freefall, followed by a period of historic volatility. Millions of workers were furloughed or laid off, and small businesses across the country are now teetering on the precipice of disaster, as their customers are stuck at home in an unprecedented societal shutdown.

    In the center of it all is America’s vast and sprawling network of businesses. While small businesses are receiving much of the attention, the country’s major corporations employ millions of people—and many of them are under incredible strain and facing an uncertain future. Holding company Berkshire Hathaway, which owns a large portfolio of businesses including Geico and Duracell, reported a $49.7 billion loss in the first quarter; and clothing and accessories retailer J. Crew on May 4 announced it had filed for bankruptcy.

    To find out how the biggest companies in the U.S. are adjusting to COVID-19's impacts, Stacker mined 2018 employment data from Statista. Keep reading to find out what’s happening to them and how they’re responding to the pressure.

    Related: 25 IPOs that bombed on their first day

  • #50. Schlumberger

    - Employees: 100,000
    - Revenue: $32.8 billion

    Schlumberger is an energy products and services company that employs more than 100,000 people and does business across 120 countries—that’s a difficult beast to reign in during a health crisis. The company has developed an outbreak management plan, which is available for download on its website, and has also created an app dedicated to managing the virus. Schlumberger announced a 2020 first-quarter loss of $7.4 billion.

  • #49. Abbott Laboratories

    - Employees: 103,000
    - Revenue: $30.6 billion

    One of the few companies that stand to benefit from the crisis is Abbott Laboratories. The company recently made headlines when President Trump publicly praised it for developing a quick COVID-19 test, although it turns out that only around 5,500 are ready for release. Abbott shares rose by 16.7% in April 2020.

  • #48. Caterpillar

    - Employees: 104,000
    - Revenue: $54.7 billion

    Blue-chip bellwether company Caterpillar is struggling with a significant virus-related slowdown. It was already grappling with a stumbling economy in China and trouble in the commodities market when the virus began to spread. It recently released terrible retail sales numbers that revealed a drop of 11% for the three months ending in February. That news was followed by an announcement April 30 of layoffs to reduce operational costs.

  • #47. Lockheed Martin

    - Employees: 105,000
    - Revenue: $53.8 billion

    Defense contractor Lockheed Martin has not suffered a significant disruption to its operations, and in fact on April 30 secured a $6.1 billion deal to produce an undisclosed number of missiles for the U.S. Army. The Pentagon, in fact, has increased payments to defense contractors, which companies like Lockheed have then passed onto struggling suppliers in the form of advance payments.

  • #46. General Dynamics

    - Employees: 105,600
    - Revenue: $36.2 billion

    General Dynamics provides critical platforms for the U.S. military. The Pentagon has taken action across the defense industry to insulate companies like General Dynamics from economic upheaval associated with the outbreak, however revenues for the first quarter of 2020 were posted at 5.4% below expectations.


  • #45. Intel

    - Employees: 107,400
    - Revenue: $70.8 billion

    The first two Intel employees—both construction workers—tested positive for coronavirus in late March and early April, respectively. Intel did not close its facilities in response, although it did report that it’s cleaning them more thoroughly and more frequently.

  • #44. Honeywell International

    - Employees: 114,000
    - Revenue: $41.8 billion

    Honeywell donated $2 million worth of equipment to crisis managers in Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to have originated. Stateside, the company ramped up production of face masks, a critical piece of personal protection equipment (PPE) that has been in short supply.

  • #43. Tyson Foods

    - Employees: 121,000
    - Revenue: $40.1 billion

    As part of a preemptive measure, Tyson Foods changed its policy to no longer punishes workers for taking sick days (although it wasn't offering paid sick leave). Company executives on April 27 published a full-page ad in the New York Post, Washington Times, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette claiming "the food supply chain is breaking." The ad further stated that employees would not be subject to co-pyas, co-insurance, or deductibles for coronavirus testing. Close to 900 workers at the Logansport, Indiana, food plant (about 40% of the workforce there) tested positive for COVID-19 and forced a 14-daty shutdown of the plant, which was scheduled to reopen the first week of May.

  • #42. Best Buy

    - Employees: 125,000
    - Revenue: $42.9 billion

    Best Buy closed all of its retail locations in response to the coronavirus crisis and, in a massive and sweeping change, moved to a business model based solely on curbside pickup and deliveries. It began by keeping stores open for limited hours with no more than 15 customers allowed inside at one time, but by late March, it became clear that that plan was unsustainable.

  • #41. American Airlines Group

    - Employees: 128,900
    - Revenue: $44.5 billion

    The travel industry was hamstrung by a steep drop in demand as self-quarantining becomes the norm. American Airlines in April announced it was slashing its summer schedule by 60% and postponed the opening of new routes. Major U.S. airlines including American now all require passengers to wear masks, among other safety precautions.


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