Trading Nation

Companies are talking less and less about Trump

Key Points
  • Trump has been mentioned on 32 S&P 500 earnings calls since the beginning of April.
  • That compares to mentions on 72 earnings calls in the same time period three months prior.
  • The decline in "Trump" mentions may reflect good news for corporate America.
Companies are talking about Trump a lot less
Companies are talking about Trump a lot less

While there's no shortage of news out of the Trump administration, mentions of the president have begun to fade from corporate earnings conference calls.

From the start of April up to Thursday, a period the encompasses the bulk of first-quarter earnings season, "Trump" has been mentioned on 32 companies' earnings calls, according to a CNBC analysis of FactSet data.

That compares with 72 companies' mentions in the same time period three months prior, although that is still substantially higher than the 11 companies that mentioned the then-candidate in the quarter before that.

For context, "Obama" was mentioned on 21 S&P 500 earnings calls from the beginning of April to May 10 in 2009, and 24 mentions on the earnings calls most recently after his first presidential win. In other words, Trump mentions are still running ahead of that of his predecessor, but Obama-talk remained more stable.

On recent earnings calls, some executives even appeared to diminish Trump's influence.

Referring to pledges to dismantle trade deals like NAFTA, Kansas City Southern CEO Patrick Ottensmeyer commented that "You're seeing some of the campaign rhetoric die down," going on to say a bit sardonically that "all of those farmers and all of those Midwestern red states who voted for President Trump are very interested in making sure that international markets and particularly Mexican markets remain open for their products."

In Constellation Brands' early April earnings call, the CEO of the alcohol beverage company went on a bit of tangent when asked about Hispanic consumers: "The Trump factor has diminished somewhat, and therefore consumer confidence among Hispanics has probably increased a bit with all of the latest rhetoric, which is — you know, he wasn't able to get ACA repeal and replace though, that's brought a lot of uncertainty around what they are or are not going to be able to do relative to tax reform," and rather than a wall at the Mexican border, "maybe they'll put a couple of fences up and this and that."

Demand for beer aside, it is indeed the case that Trump's agenda appears to be going slower than many anticipated. And the potential tax reduction that many corporations have been excited about appears to be solidly on the back burner.

The fewer mentions of Trump, then, could reflect diminished political optimism. Of course, it may also be an indication that most companies have better things to talk about.

"Right now, companies are focused on the fact that they're doing pretty well," Gina Sanchez, CEO of Chantico Global, said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation."

Indeed, 76 percent of companies have beaten earnings estimates, with earnings per share growth on track for 15 percent, according to RBC Capital's U.S. markets strategy team.

"It's kind of like when retail companies stop talking about the weather – it suggests that maybe they're just simply focusing on the nuts and bolts of their businesses," Boris Schlossberg of BK Asset Management said Wednesday on "Trading Nation."