The Fed says inflation is transitory, but these 10 companies have already said they’ll pass along rising costs to customers

inflation
  • New inflation data showed a 5% jump in consumer prices on a year-over-year basis in May.
  • The increase added to the debate about whether is inflation is actually “transitory,” as the Federal Reserve has claimed.
  • Detailed below are 10 companies that have already said they’re passing rising costs on to consumers.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

The Labor Department released its monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) data on Thursday, revealing a 5% jump in headline consumer prices year-over-year in May, the fastest pace of increase since August 2008.

That came in above the consensus economist estimate of 4.7%.

Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose a more modest 3.8% year-over-year in May but still increased 0.7% month-over-month.

Both figures fanned the flames of an already raging debate among economists and market watchers about the nature of current inflationary trends.

Some, including the Federal Reserve, argue that rising costs are only “transitory” – a result of supply and demand imbalances brought about by the pandemic and rapid reopening.

Others, including Cambridge’s Mohamed El-Erian, claim that inflation could be here to stay and question the Fed’s insistence on maintaining ultra-accommodative policies as the pandemic winds to an end.

Whatever side of the argument investors land on, one thing is clear, dozens of companies are raising prices due to the increasing costs of basic commodities.

From Coca-Cola to Campbell Soup, the majority of these price increases have come from consumer staples companies that are most affected by commodity costs.

Whether or not current price increases will remain over the long-term is clearly up for debate, but for the everyday consumer, the reality is life is now more expensive than it was last year.

Detailed below are 10 companies that have already said they are passing rising costs onto consumers due to inflation.

Campbell Soup Company

On June 9, in Campbell Soup’s third quarter, 2021 conference call, the word “inflation” was mentioned 35 times by execs and analysts.

The company revealed it was “impacted by a rising inflationary environment,” and CEO Mark Clouse said he expects “sustained inflationary pressures through the remainder of the year.”

Campbell’s said it will be raising food prices this summer to offset the rising costs. Although CEO Mark Clouse noted, “we are going to be very thoughtful about it. The last thing we want to do is shut down the growth that we’ve worked fairly hard to have.”

The JM Smucker Company

In JM Smucker’s fourth-quarter, 2021 conference call on June 3, there were 10 mentions of inflation, and CEO Mark Smucker said the company would be raising prices to offset rising costs.

“Broad-based inflation is impacting many of the commodities, packaging materials, and transportation channels that are important to our business. We are mitigating the impacts through a combination of higher pricing inclusive of list price increases, reduced trade and net revenue optimization strategies, as well as continued cost management,” Smucker said.

Stanley Black & Decker

In Stanley Black & Decker’s first quarter 2021 earnings presentation on April 28, in a slide entitled “Commodity Inflation Update,” the company said steel, resin, base metals, electrical components, and batteries have pushed incremental inflation costs up for 2021 by $160 million vs. January guidance.

The slide showed Black & Decker’s plans to increase prices to offset costs.

Whirlpool

In an interview with Yahoo Finance in April, Whirlpool’s CFO Jim Peters said the company was seeing price increases and would pass the costs onto consumers.

“We took price increases in every region of the world, that range from 5% to 12%,” Peters said. “Those are driven by commodity cost increases, and it’s something we have done historically.”

The company said in its first-quarter conference call that the price increase actions “will offset the impact of global supply constraints and rising input costs.”

Kimberly-Clark

Kimberly-Clark said it would be raising prices on products like Scott toilet paper and Huggies diapers by “mid-to-high single digits” in late March.

Then, in the company’s April 23 first-quarter earnings call, execs said they saw “sharp rises in input costs.”

Michael Hsu, Kimberly-Clark’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the company was “moving rapidly, especially with selling price increases to offset commodity headwinds.”

Honeywell

Honeywell’s CEO Darius Adamczyk announced that “inflation is taking hold” and affecting his business’ bottom line in the company’s first-quarter 2021 conference call on April 23.

The CEO said, “there’s no doubt about it. We knew it. We see it.” Honeywell announced it would be “quickly taking action” on pricing to stay ahead of the problem.

The Clorox Company

Clorox’s VP of Investor relations Lisah Burhan told investors in the company’s third-quarter 2021 results on April 30 that the company has seen “significant resin price inflation.”

In order to “manage those rising costs,” Clorox announced “pricing action” effective in July. “As we’ve mentioned, we’ll manage inflationary pressures holistically using all the tools in our toolbox,” Burhan said.

Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble COO Jon Moeller told analysts in an April 20 earnings call that “this is one of the bigger increases in commodity costs that we’ve seen over the period of time that I’ve been involved with this, which is a fairly long period of time.”

The company said it will begin “the process of implementing price increases on its Baby Care, Feminine Care, and Adult Incontinence product categories in the United States to offset a portion of the impact of rising commodity costs,” noting that the “exact amount of the price increase will vary by brand and sub-brand in the range of mid-to-high single-digit percentages and will go into effect in mid-September.”

Coca-Cola

In mid-April, Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincey told CNBC’s Sara Eisen on “Squawk on the Street” that the company would be increasing prices to offset rising costs.

“We are well-hedged in ’21, but there’s pressure built up for ’22, and so there will have to be some price increases,” Quincey said.

“We intend to manage those intelligently, thinking through the way we use package sizes and really optimize the price points for consumers,” he added.

Reynolds Consumer Products

Reynolds Consumer Products revealed that a three-step price increase is already underway on some of its most popular products last month.

“Price increases have been implemented, and a second-round is underway, with plans for a third-round to be implemented in the third quarter,” Michael Graham, Reynolds chief financial officer, said during the company’s first-quarter earnings call on May 8.

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JM Smucker CEO says he’s seeing widespread inflation and the company is passing some price increases onto consumers

Mark Smucker

  • JM Smucker’s CEO, Mark Smucker, sees inflation “across the board” and is passing some price increases onto consumers.
  • The CEO added JM Smucker’s name to a growing list of consumer staples companies raising prices.
  • The firm revealed an 8.1% year-over-year drop in revenue in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings release Thursday.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

JM Smucker’s CEO Mark Smucker says he’s seeing widespread inflation and the company is passing some price increases onto consumers.

“We have been seeing inflation over the past year across the board,” Smucker said in an interview with CNBC’s Sara Eisen.

The CEO added that he believes rising costs are “manageable” because the company has been able to pass costs onto consumers.

“This is something that we deal with on a regular basis. Our products (prices), in many cases, are based on commodities so we have been very successful over the years in ensuring that we can pass along price increases to our consumers, partnering with our retail customers to do that in the most equitable and fair way,” Smucker said.

Smucker went on to explain that the current “inflationary environment” affects everyone, but his company has the ability to navigate the rising tides.

JM Smucker revealed an 8.1% year-over-year drop in revenue in its fiscal year 2021 fourth-quarter earnings release on Thursday. The company did manage to beat revenue and non-GAAP EPS estimates, but it expects sales for the fiscal year 2022 to decrease between 2% and 3%.

JM Smucker missed analyst estimates for GAAP earnings per share by $0.24 in the quarter as well, earning just $1.35 per share.

The company is the latest in a line of consumer staples firms that have announced price increases.

Clorox said during its quarterly earnings call on April 30 that it plans to increase prices for some of its Glad brand products due to higher material and shipping costs.

Whirlpool also raised its prices between 5% and 12% in April with CEO Mark Bitzer citing raw material cost increases in steel, plastics, and oil.

Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Kimberly Clark, and Honeywell have also announced price hikes recently.

Despite falling sales, JM Smucker stock is still up roughly 17% in the past six months, and shares traded up 0.83% on Thursday as of 1:33 p.m. ET.

JM Smucker stock chart
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Stock market returns between May and October are historically meager, but rotating into these 2 sectors could help investors beat the S&P 500, CFRA says

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 20, 2019 in New York City
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on November 20, 2019 in New York City

  • “Sell in May” is a Wall Street saying that reflects the meager stock market returns from May-October.
  • But CFRA’s Sam Stovall says investors should rotate into specfic sectors, not retreat entirely from the market.
  • He says historically consumer staples stocks and health care stocks have outperformed the S&P 500 from May to October.
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“Sell in May and go away,” is the old adage on Wall Street that suggests investors take gains from the historically strong period from November to April and sit on the sidelines from May to October, a period when market returns tend to dwindle.

According to CFRA’s Sam Stovall, the price return for the S&P 500 from November through April has recorded the highest average price change of any rolling six-month period. Since 1946, the S&P 500 returns have averaged 6.8% from November to April, compared to a 1.6% gain from May-October.

With May around the corner, investors may be tempted to take profits and come back to the market in November, but the CFRA chief investment strategist recommends investors instead rotate into specific sectors from now until October.

Stovall recommends consumer staples and health care to carry investors through this historically sleepy period.

Since 1990 (as far back as S&P Dow Jones has sector-level data), while the overall market was eking out an advance of 2.2% from May-October, the S&P 500 consumer staples and health care sectors recorded average price gains of 4.6%, Stovall said.

“Indeed, a 50% exposure to the S&P Equal Weight 500 consumer staples and health care sectors in the M-O period following the top 10 four-month beginnings since 1990 saw the defensive sectors outpace the broader index by a more than 4:1 margin and beat the benchmark in seven of these 10 years,” said the chief investment strategist. “So should history repeat, and there’s no guarantee it will, embracing a more defensive posture in the coming six months may prove to be a prudent strategy.”

Also, the frequency of the S&P 500 posting a gain during the May-October period of “seasonal softness” is 65% since 1946, further suggesting that investors should remain invested, but rotate into sectors that historically have posted the best gains.

“History reminds us that ‘the Rules rule’ and that investors may still be well served by rotating defensively after such a jack-rabbit beginning,” said Stovall.

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