Oil drillers. Gas pipelines. Coal. Banks. Pharmaceuticals. Construction and industrial equipment. The defense industry.
Those are among the likely winners of a Donald Trump administration that could take the lid off coal and fracking regulations, begin an extensive repair of the nation’s roads and bridges, rebuild defense, repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform act and kill the Affordable Care Act.
One big loser? Foreign trade could suffer if the president-elect follows through on his plan to renegotiate trade agreements.
Trump joins only a handful of presidents who have entered the Oval Office with a strong background as a business executive or entrepreneur. The correlation between competency in the business world and its transfer to the nation’s chief executive is unclear.
Harry S. Truman, regarded by many historians as a successful chief executive, partnered in an unsuccessful men’s clothing store in Kansas City, Mo., in the early 1920s, leaving him nearly bankrupt. Warren G. Harding made his name as an owner of an Ohio newspaper, then led one of the more scandal-scarred administrations in history. Herbert Hoover made millions in the mining industry, but his business expertise failed to keep America from sliding into the Great Depression on his watch.
Several presidents, from both Roosevelts to John F. Kennedy, were blessed with enough inherited wealth to pursue political careers without bothering to work. Both Bushes were born into comfortable wealth. Each sought to build on it through the Texas oil business, with mixed results. George W. Bush was more successful in the Lone Star State’s professional sports, earning millions by engineering the purchase and sale of the Texas Rangers.
Trump built his $3.7 billion fortune largely through the rough-and-tumble New York City real estate market. His proclamations from the campaign, covering everything from energy to trade to finance, have many Fortune 500 companies waiting for more details. But some generalities are likely to hold true.
“Without a doubt, the obvious beneficiaries are defense, transportation and energy,” said Tim Loughran, a professor of finance at Notre Dame. “If there were more coal companies still on the market, they would be really hot right now.”
John Engler, former Republican governor of Michigan and president of the Business Roundtable, an influential association of chief executives from major U.S. corporations, said Trump will probably unleash initiatives that include building projects.
From the environment to finance to health, “the regulatory gusher that has been flowing out of Washington has been hitting every business in every sector,” Engler said. “I expect there will be almost immediate regulatory relief for beleaguered American business both small and large.”
Engler said a reform of business taxes could produce job growth by allowing U.S. corporations to repatriate and spend hundreds of billions of dollars that are held overseas because of onerous U.S. rates.
“I felt — and the CEOs feel — that fixing our broken tax system is one of the things to really help job growth,” Engler said. Everything from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to wellness restrictions in the Affordable Care Act will be ripe for amending or outright repeal.
He also predicted that a bipartisan effort on infrastructure will emphasize private-sector participation in a Trump administration compared with a more publicly directed program under Hillary Clinton.
On the negative side, health information technology companies that had ramped up under Obamacare were likely to take a hit. Foreign manufacturing, especially in Mexico, could feel negative effects. Japanese automakers who build in Mexico and export into the United States saw their stock prices drop Wednesday. Ford Motor Co., which Trump singled out for criticism for taking jobs to Mexico, was down as well.
Loughran said if Trump is able to change the business tax rules, it could be huge for companies with large overseas cash holdings.
“He wants to encourage U.S. companies to bring the cash home,” Loughran said. “Apple has about $200 billion in cash abroad. They pay that out in a dividend, and that would be colossal.”
Of course, that all goes out the window if Trump’s policies, as some critics suggest, create a recession or deep market instability. The Washington Post Financial staff offers a first glimpse of what industries might expect in a Trump era:
Trump has said he wants to increase the size of the Army and the Marine Corps, build new ships for the Navy and add jets to the Air Force’s arsenal, and modernize the nuclear arsenal. The day after his election, defense stocks jumped, with the major contractors — Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Raytheon — posting large gains.
“Trump’s win is good news for the defense industry, especially when coupled with Republican majorities in the House and Senate,” said Loren Thompson, a defense consultant who advises many of the nation’s top-tier contractors.
Increasing the size of the military will favor BAE Systems and General Dynamics, plus helicopter makers Boeing and Lockheed Martin, in particular, he said. Northrop Grumman, which is building the Air Force’s new bomber, could be a winner, he said, as could General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls, companies that make submarines.
Trump would most likely focus on weapons systems already in development or production, instead of starting new ones, said Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, which would be good news for programs such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, the Littoral Combat Ship as well as building new aircraft carriers.
Eaglen acknowledged that “the major defense contractors are part of the establishment he’s railing against.” But she said Trump does not really have a choice but to stick with them. “If he wants to show results, he’s got to live with the contractors he has,” she said. “You have to go with the production lines you have open.”
Eaglen has calculated that his promises could add up to an additional $55 billion in defense spending — “and that’s conservative,” she said. The question, she said, is where does he find the money to pay for it?
— Christian Davenport
Oil and coal
Trump’s win comes as good news for the fossil fuel business, promising fewer regulations, greater access to federal lands and a commitment, however vague, to rebuild the coal industry. But investors in renewable energy firms trembled at the prospect of less commitment to measures that would slow climate change.
Clinton had vowed to implement President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and install 500 million new solar panels nationwide. Trump has no such ambition. Trump has vowed to “bring back coal,” whose main rivals in generating electricity are natural gas generators and wind and solar power producers.
Shares of First Solar, the nation’s largest solar panel maker, initially tumbled more than 8 percent before recovering some of the lost ground. SunPower slid more than 12 percent. Vestas Wind System, a big manufacturer of wind turbines, fell 11 percent.
On the other hand, shares of Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal company that is in bankruptcy, flew up more than 70 percent. Westmoreland Coal jumped about 17 percent.
Trump’s presidency will probably benefit independent oil drillers such as Continental Resources, whose chief executive Harold Hamm has been advising Trump. The new administration is expected to ease regulations on issues such as methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, ozone rules and renewable fuels. And it will open up federal lands to oil and gas drillers, coal minerals mining and timber companies.
— Steven Mufson
Trump made a call for an ambitious infrastructure program — “highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals” — a key part of his acceptance remarks on Wednesday. And corporate America is eager to help.
“Investment in infrastructure serves as a powerful economic engine that creates jobs and promotes economic competitiveness,” Marcia Hale, president of Building America’s Future, said in a statement.
Shares of construction equipment makers Caterpillar and John Deere soared on Wednesday. So did U.S. Steel, whose product would be used in new infrastructure projects. Other commodities such as copper and zinc, as well as cement, would also get a boost from an infrastructure push.
Martin Richenhagen, chief executive of Georgia-based Agco Corp., told Bloomberg News on Wednesday that infrastructure spending “is great for us and our industry.”
And Trump’s enthusiastic comments about infrastructure and easing restrictions on oil and gas projects gave hope to investors in oil and gas pipelines. Shares of Energy Transfer Partners, owner of the Dakota Access pipeline that has been the focus of protests by Native Americans and environmentalists, popped up 14.3 percent.
Calgary-based TransCanada said it would seek Trump administration approval to revive the Keystone XL pipeline that President Obama rejected last November. The company, which has filed a suit under the North American free trade pact, said it was still committed to building the line from Alberta to a pipeline link in southern Nebraska.
A Goldman Sachs report cautioned that the new U.S. infrastructure spending — which Trump has put at from $500 billion to $1 trillion — would not begin until the third quarter of 2017. Moreover, the price tag is a combination of private and public money, so the scope of Trump’s plan depends on how he counts.
— Steven Mufson
For the first time in history, home builders and commercial real estate executives see one of their own entering the White House. And though while they await details, they are optimistic about Trump pushing some type of stimulus their way, in the form of lower tax rates or improvements to roads, bridges, public transit and other infrastructure.
“We feel that the results, as surprising as they are, make sense when you think about the primacy of housing. Every voter is a housing voter,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist at the housing data firm Redfin. Richardson said the portion of Americans who own their own home is at its lowest since 1965, leaving millions of Americans — particularly in areas Trump carried heavily on Election Day — unable to build wealth.
However, the candidate’s rhetoric on immigration could concern builders in cities such as San Francisco, Miami and Trump’s home town of New York.
“If America becomes more isolated and less open, it could actually chill international demand for U.S. luxury housing,” she said, “so he is going to have to square his immigration policy with the reality that foreign buyers are a critical part of the housing market.”
A turn inward on trade or immigration could stem growth for firms in a number of sectors, said Krishna Rao, an economist at the New York housing firm StreetEasy.
But there is also the chance for loosened regulations, something Trump championed as a businessman and a candidate.
“Trump has campaigned on reducing regulation, using housing and energy as flagship sectors that are over regulated,” Rao said. “This could mean that regulations around developers and home builders might be among the first on the chopping block, especially given the president-elect’s conversation about wanting to lift the homeownership rate.”
— Jonathan O’Connell
Only two months ago, the private prison industry was reeling. The Justice Department had announced a plan to end the use of the private facilities for its federal inmates. Stocks of the corrections companies nose-dived. The presumed next president, Clinton, used the debate stage to advocate for an even broader move away from the facilities at the state level.
But the election of Trump has quickly revived the fortunes of one of America’s most controversial industries. Though Trump does not mention private prisons or immigrant detention as a part of his official platform, he had pitched himself to voters as a tough-on-crime “law-and-order” candidate.
Investors are now betting heavily that, in Trump’s administration, the private facilities will be an essential component in a mass-scale deportation plan. They also say that Trump, given his background in private business, could push to undo the Justice Department plan. Trump’s new attorney general — Rudolph W. Giuliani is one name that has surfaced — could take that step fairly easily, by continuing and extending contracts with the private companies rather than letting them expire without renewal, as the current plan calls for.
In the hours after Trump’s victory, the United States’ two largest private prison companies — CoreCivic and the GEO Group — saw their stocks soar like few others on Wall Street. Shares of CoreCivic, known until last month as Corrections Corporation of America, jumped 43 percent Wednesday and maintained those gains on Thursday. (Still, the price is down from the start of the year.) GEO’s shares bumped up 21 percent.
During the Obama administration, the detention of immigrants has become an increasingly important part of the business model for GEO and CoreCivic. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency holds more than 60 percent of its 400,000 annual detainees at private facilities, and nine of the 10 largest detention centers are private.
Analysts expect that the use of immigrant detention could skyrocket under Trump, and his election strongly signals that ICE will not reduce its reliance on the private sector.
— Chico Harlan
Wall Street breathed a sigh of relief after the surprise election of Trump. For more than a year, the industry has been preparing for a high-stakes battle with progressive lawmakers, particularly Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). If Democrats gained control of the Senate and Clinton took the White House, legislation to curtail the industry’s influence — and potentially hamper its profits — was likely to be among Congress’ top priorities. High-frequency traders, for example, feared a proposal backed by Democrats to charge a “transaction tax” for the thousands of trades they make in a blink of an eye.
Much of that agenda now appears to be off the table. With the election of Trump, Wall Street can go on the offensive, industry analysts say. Instead of defending itself from new regulations, big banks can fight to soften the rules put in place after the 2008 financial crisis through 2010’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. Trump said during the presidential campaign that he would dismantle much of the law, though he has not offered specifics.
Among many of the industry’s targets may be weakening Dodd-Frank rules that forced financial institutions to hold more capital and undergo yearly “stress tests” to prove they could withstand another severe economic downturn without taxpayer help. Community and regional banks will probably renew their push to be exempted from many of these new regulations, arguing that their slice of the industry does not pose the same risks as big Wall Street banks. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established under Dodd-Frank and has been a major target of Republican lawmakers, could also be weakened, analysts say.
— Renae Merle
Trump’s win could also bring a victory for brokers and financial advisers. Earlier this year, the Obama administration introduced rules that limit the advice financial professionals can give to retirement savers by requiring them to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. The rule, which is set to go into effect in 2018, has long been a target of Republicans and other critics, who call it burdensome and costly.
One of Trump’s campaign advisers has said that he would move to repeal the rule, which has faced multiple challenges in court. Many firms would welcome the chance to stick with the status quo if the regulation is eliminated, says Michael Wong, an investment services analyst for the fund research firm Morningstar. Still, some firms may be benefiting from the rule, which has motivated them to move some clients into fee-based accounts, where costs add up to a percentage of the assets invested, Wong says. Those can be more lucrative — and come under less scrutiny — than commission-based accounts, where advisers are paid based on the type of product they sell.
— Jonnelle Marte
As the owner of more than a dozen hotels around the world, Trump is no stranger to the hospitality business — and insiders are hoping that’s good news for the entire industry.
“I am confident that he will be a valuable ally in advancing some of our industry’s key priorities,” Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, wrote the day after the election.
In the short term, hotel owners and investors will probably see their coffers grow if Trump delivers on promises to end the Affordable Care Act, bust unions and curb minimum-wage increases, says Sean Hennessey, CEO of consulting firm Lodging Advisors.
“But,” he added, “the real question is, will the economy grow under Trump? That’s the long-term focus.”
Hotel bookings are directly tied to the country’s economic health, Hennessey said, and a number of factors, including the stock market, the nation’s unemployment rate and the strength of the dollar, will probably have a direct impact on hotel bookings and profits.
Experts say there could also be other drawbacks. Trump has been vocal about his plans to clamp down on immigration and ban certain ethnic and religious groups — measures that would disproportionately hurt hotels, which rely heavily on “low-skill” foreign workers.
— Abha Bhattarai
The health-care industry benefited from the Affordable Care Act: More people bought insurance, and those newly insured people had greater access to medical care and drugs. The uncertainty about what comes next — and how the transition will work — leaves many companies treading water.
It faces a host of unknowns under Trump, who promised a repeal of President Obama’s signature health-care law but has given few details on what would replace it.
Pharmaceutical and biotech stocks bounced upward, as investors anticipated relief from the intense scrutiny of drug prices. Meanwhile, hospitals and some health insurers that did well under the law saw their shares plunge.
“These health organizations are like large ships, and you can’t turn them on a dime,” said Benjamin Isgur, a leader in the PwC Health Research Institute. “I think what the industry is concerned about is a partial repeal that takes away customers and doesn’t replace them with anyone.”
Pharmaceutical companies saw a bright spot in the outcome. Public anger about high drug prices stoked worries about political reforms that might threaten their business model. Investors see a Trump presidency and a Republican Congress as a bulwark against government action to rein in prices. The wild card may be Trump, who has expressed support for Medicare to bargain on drug prices.
— Carolyn Johnson
Americans wake up Wednesday to find a drug policy landscape radically altered. California, Massachusetts and Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, while voters in a handful of Southern and deeply conservative states embraced medical marijuana with open arms.
More than 1 in 5 Americans now live in states where the recreational use of marijuana is, or soon will be, legal.
“This is the most momentous Election Day in history for the movement to end marijuana prohibition,” said Rob Kampia of the Marijuana Policy Project, which supported legalization initiatives.
But jubilation over marijuana’s ballot wins was quickly tempered by the uncertain future marijuana faces under a Trump Justice Department.
“The prospect of Donald Trump as our next president concerns me deeply,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “His most likely appointees to senior law enforcement positions — Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie — are no friends of marijuana reform, nor is his vice president.”
Regardless of what happens at the state level, marijuana remains illegal for all uses under federal law. The Obama administration has officially adopted a policy of noninterference with state marijuana laws.
The Justice Department’s position has been that as long as state legalization efforts did not threaten certain federal priorities — such as keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors, preventing driving while under the influence of drugs and keeping marijuana grow operations out of federal lands — it would exercise “prosecutorial discretion” and direct its limited law enforcement resources to other drug priorities, such as dealing with the opiate epidemic.
Some congressional observers are skeptical that there will be any appetite in a new Trump administration for quashing marijuana reform. “Go against millions of supporters, against states’ rights, against where the public is?” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D.-Ore.). “It would be the beginning of tremendous problems for the Trump administration that they don’t need.”
— Christopher Ingraham
For journalists and news operations, Trump as a candidate was aggressively antagonistic, threatening costly lawsuits and vowing to “open up” libel laws “so when they write purposely negative articles, we can sue them and win lots of money,” he told one rally crowd.
One of his first public postelection decisions was to refuse press access for his first meeting with President Obama, a sign that hostilities could continue.
“Forget the press, read the Internet,” Trump said last month. He said most of the “crooked” mainstream media “won’t be around much longer,” which he called “good news.”
Trump also raised the profile of right-wing news and opinion outlets. Breitbart News Network, whose former head Stephen Bannon became Trump’s campaign chairman, plans to expand in the United States and launch in Germany and France.
Trump’s unprecedented campaign spurred cable news networks to record-high ratings and boosted ad revenue, and a similarly must-watch presidency could help extend that streak.
CBS chief Leslie Moonves said of Trump in February: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
Trump’s protectionist, pro-tariff platform could spark a trade war with China and scuttle Hollywood investments in the country, one of the world’s biggest film markets.
Trump could also seek “retribution” against Hollywood and parts of the media industry that he said were against him, said BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield, who called the president-elect “an unquantifiable risk for the sector overall.”
Trump has pledged to squash big-media mergers, including the $85 billion deal between telecom giant AT&T and CNN and HBO owner Time Warner, saying it would concentrate “too much power in the hands of too few.” He has said other mergers, including Comcast-NBCUniversal, “destroy democracy.”
— Drew Harwell
The retail industry has long pushed for business tax reform, but it sees something of a mixed bag in terms of what it might get on this front in the Trump administration.
David French, senior vice president for government relations at the National Retail Federation, said the trade group is optimistic that tax reform will be more of a priority for Trump than it was for Obama. NRF likes the sound of the lower 15 percent corporate income tax rate Trump discussed on the campaign trail because it says this would spur its members to invest in their businesses.
But big retail is also opposed to consumption taxes, and the tax reform plan that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has put forward would be a shift toward that kind of taxation. If that plan becomes a blueprint for a sweeping reform effort, it might be hard for retailers to stomach.
Meanwhile, the retail industry is at odds with Trump’s rhetoric on trade. It strongly supported, for example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the president-elect has railed against.
Retailers such as Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Under Armour and Zappos co-signed a letter to members of Congress earlier this year urging them to support TPP, so it’s a safe bet that they’re among the retailers that are closely watching what happens to this and other trade deals going forward.
“Retailers have a thoroughly global supply chain,” French said.
If Trump follows through on pledges to rip up deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, that could be troublesome for retailers. Without strong trade agreements in place, they worry that high tariffs will hurt their balance sheets and threaten their ability to sell goods at competitive prices.
— Sarah Halzack
The U.S. automotive industry found itself in Trump’s crosshairs on the campaign trail.
He accused carmakers, particularly Ford Motor Co., of shipping manufacturing to Mexico, and declared that as president he would impose tariffs or other penalties in an effort to keep those jobs in the United States. It was a promise that resonated with the white, working-class voters who ultimately ushered him into office.
Trump’s fixation on auto manufacturers as poster children for trade policy failures could put the industry on the defensive under his administration. Ford already challenged his rhetoric earlier this year when it explained that plans to manufacture some cars in Mexico would not result in job losses here because its American factory workers would be producing other vehicles.
Needless to say, how the Trump administration handles trade negotiations and whether he fulfills a pledge to reconfigure NAFTA will have direct consequences for the industry. For example, Trump could impose tariffs on imports, and potentially spark a trade war with countries such as China, which would not bode well for automakers at home or abroad.
It is also an open question whether Trump will change emissions regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Trump has pledged to roll back regulation, though he has not outlined specific steps for doing so. Nevertheless, Trump has questioned the reality of climate change.
Finally, Trump’s desire for wide-scale infrastructure spending could be a boon for automakers. Many in the industry have invested heavily in electric vehicles, connected cars and autonomous driving, often with financial support and encouragement from the Obama administration. Whether that continues under the president-elect remains to be seen.
— Steven Overly
Trump could eviscerate some of the most significant tech policies of the 21st century, all but erasing Obama’s Internet agenda, analysts say. In particular danger are key initiatives such as net neutrality and a historic series of Internet privacy regulations.
The policies, enacted over Republican opposition, were aimed at curtailing the power of large, established Internet providers. Under the net neutrality rules, it is illegal for these companies to put up barriers preventing consumers from reaching their desired websites. The privacy regulations, meanwhile, prohibit providers from abusing the data they collect on customers as they use the Internet.
Trump’s administration is likely to benefit large players in the telecom industry such as AT&T and Verizon, according to analysts, while smaller companies may be at a disadvantage. Those include rural wireless carriers and smaller national carriers such as Sprint or T-Mobile, for example.
The person Trump has tapped to lead his transition on tech policy, Jeffrey Eisenach of AEI, is an establishment type whose clients have included Verizon. It’s unclear whether Eisenach would serve in a Trump administration, but his position could afford him a role in setting the direction of Trump’s tech policy moving forward.
— Brian Fung
Many in Silicon Valley spent Wednesday reeling from Trump’s election. From venture capital offices to start-ups, people said they were walking around in a daze. Women said they spent the day crying. Some start-up founders at companies such as Box and Thumbtack let their employees take the day off or wrote all-staff letters reminding colleagues of their commitment to inclusive workplaces that protected women, immigrants and minorities. Sam Altman, president of the prominent start-up incubator Y-Combinator, who has likened Trump to a dictator, said in an email that he was too shocked to speak.
Bigger concerns loomed in the background over whether Trump would expand the government’s surveillance powers and attempt to weaken encryption. During the campaign, Trump has vowed to “penetrate the Internet” to prevent ISIS from using it to recruit fighters. He has chastised Apple for refusing to create a back door that would let the FBI unlock an iPhone used by the attackers in San Bernardino, Calif. This sent chills through Silicon Valley and prompted a flood of responses from engineers and big companies.
Overall, the Trump campaign has said very little about issues affecting the tech industry. His campaign’s only policy adviser, Stephen Miller, seemed uninterested in tech and made little outreach to the industry, sources in Silicon Valley said. Lobbyists for Internet companies, including Amazon, Uber and Airbnb, are meeting this week to discuss.
Silicon Valley investors and entrepreneurs acknowledged that he could be more friendly to business than Clinton, opening up some opportunities for start-ups in emerging areas, such as financial technology (fintech) and the gig economy, said Rhonda Scott, public relations manager for venture capital firm General Catalyst, an investor in Snapchat and Airbnb.
For example, the CFPB has scrutinized Silicon Valley lending start-ups; Trump could shut down the CFPB, said Bradley Tusk, who advises start-ups on regulatory issues. Tusk also said that Trump was more likely to be favorable to creating a new worker classification for people who drive for Uber and Airbnb — a move that is favored by start-ups but opposed by unions.
Lobbyists and officials from tech giants such as Google, Apple and Facebook said they were watching closely for clues to Trump’s technology policies. Some wondered whether Trump would follow through on his comments about weakening encryption.
Many companies said it was difficult to know how Trump would act because they had not had any contact with the Trump campaign and his statements had been confusing. For instance, at first he said he opposed H-1B visas for high-skilled immigrants, but then walked the statements back.
Scott said venture capitalists were concerned that Trump might retaliate against an industry known to be pro-Clinton. “Is he willing to tank innovation for the next four years? I mean, we are some of the least liked people by his constituency,” she said in an email.
— Elizabeth Dwoskin