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Machinery makers face a continuing trade war threat

4 months ago by Jon Marino in Markets

The US-China trade war is creating continuing headaches, and makers of machinery and industrial equipment may next feel the pain of the lingering policy beef. 

John Deere ($NYSE:JD) warned on the company's last earnings call that the ongoing trade war between Presidents Donald J. Trump and Xi Jinping could cool sales - and their job postings in China, which never grew to more than a few dozen, have almost completely leveled off, possibly as a result of the spat.

A number of American companies chose to trim job postings in China over the last 18 months, as the trade war has tightened, but there is growing evidence that US companies are restoring hiring and operations there. 

Last month the Wall Street Journal reported Deere may turn to US operations and sales amid an increasingly tough international market, but judging by the job postings, it has found scant reasons to start hiring more in America, either - job postings are down 58%, according to the company's data.

Between its reliance on trade-war-sensitive materials for production, and its dependence on farmers who are disproportionately impacted by the continuing policy beef, Deere is between a rock and a hard place. Last month, Wells Fargo analysts downgraded Deere and which will report earnings next month, and Caterpillar, which announces results October 23. Analysts tracked by Zacks Investment Research are expecting EPS of $2.82. 

Deere may be sweating the trade war, and Caterpillar could be doing the same - just a bit less so. Executives cautioned on competitive pricing in China, but the company's job postings haven't declined this year - just like the stock, Caterpillar ($NYSE:CAT) job postings have grown single-digits so far this year. 

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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