As a major winter storm barrels through the northeastern United States, publicly traded companies may be looking at their first-quarter profits.
The snow may melt by spring, but we'll be hearing about the storm for months to come as corporate executives blame it for missed earnings and praise it as a boon to their businesses.
Weather has become a boilerplate excuse for executives looking to explain dismal year-over-year growth. It makes sense: A winter storm that paralyzes a major metropolitan area over a weekend can have a big effect on a company's revenue for a quarter.
At the same time, many businesses can benefit from a foot of snow: A home improvement retailer may sell more snow shovels, and cold weather means people crank up the thermostats, which means good things for utilities.