The pink slips are coming again. For the third straight month, over 500,000 workers have lost their jobs. The numbers are staggering as layoffs are announced. Home Depot announced the closing of Expo stores and 7,000 jobs. Sprint is cutting 8,000, and Texas Instruments 3,400 employees. The largest announcement came from Caterpillar: 20,000 jobs are lost. GM is cutting another 2,000 and ING cut 7,000 workers, including their CEO. Philips shed 6,000 and Pfizer is cutting 19,000 when it acquires Wyeth.
Corporations are slimming down to weather the coming months with leaner labor payrolls. Labor is the easiest expense to cut and can make a dramatic impact on the bottom line in any quarter. This will lead to better earnings quarters ahead as the companies have lower expenses against lower income. The first quarter of 2009 is going to be difficult to post a positive growth number but I applaud the large corporations that are taking fast, decisive action to protect the bottom line, even as the layoffs are painful. No one likes to lose a job or find out their friends or relatives are unemployed.
Now, the good news. Pfizer is spending 68 Billion to acquire Wyeth. This is the second drugmaker take over in the past three months. Five different banks are lending funds to Pfizer,as they will finance one third of the purchase. The banks are lending and companies with cash can pick up good bargains. Just like shoppers intend to do at Expo as the stores liquidate.