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      在艱難時期管理美國企業(下)

      來源:經濟學人 編輯:Helen ?  可可英語APP下載 |  可可官方微信:ikekenet
        


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      American bosses are again demonstrating that they are less squeamish about lay-offs than their European counterparts.

      美國老板再一次證明,他們對裁員不像歐洲老板那么緊張。

      In a memo sent to employees this month Elon Musk revealed plans to trim salaried headcount at Tesla, his electric-car company, by 10%.

      在本月發給員工的一份備忘錄中,埃隆·馬斯克透露,他的電動汽車公司特斯拉計劃裁員10%。

      Digital darlings, many of which had boomed during the pandemic, collectively sacked nearly 17,000 workers in May alone.

      數字寵兒公司中有許多在疫情期間蓬勃發展,但它們僅在5月份就總共解雇了近1.7萬名員工。

      After tempting workers with increased pay and perks, in the latest quarterly earnings calls more American CEOs have been talking up automation and labour efficiencies.

      通過加薪和福利來吸引員工之后,在最近的季度財報電話會議上,更多的美國首席執行官一直在談論自動化和勞動效率。

      In the current climate, though, hard-headed (and hard-hearted) cost control won’t be enough to maintain profitability.

      然而,在當前環境下,頭腦冷靜(且鐵石心腸)的成本控制不足以維持盈利能力。

      The remaining cost inflation must be pushed through to customers.

      剩余的成本膨脹必須轉嫁到消費者身上。

      Many businesses are about to learn the difficulty of raising prices without crimping demand.

      許多企業即將認識到,在不抑制需求的情況下提高價格有多么困難。

      The companies that wield this superpower often share a few attributes: weak competition, customers’ inability to delay or avoid the purchase, or inflation-linked revenue streams.

      掌握這一超能力的公司通常有幾個共同的特征:競爭力弱,消費者無法推遲或避免購買其產品,或者其收入流與通脹掛鉤。

      A strong brand also helps.

      一個強大的品牌也會有所幫助。

      Starbucks boasted on an earnings call in May that, despite caffeinated price rises for its beverages, it has struggled to keep up with “relentless demand”.

      星巴克在5月份的一次財報電話會議上夸口說,盡管其飲料的咖啡因價格上漲,但它一直難以滿足“無休止的需求”。

      Recent data hint at softer consumer sentiment, however.

      然而,最近的數據顯示消費者信心疲軟。

      This makes it riskier for firms to roll out frequent price increases.

      這導致公司頻繁提價會冒更大風險。

      Amber lights are blinking, from McDonald’s, which has speculated about “increased value sensitivity” among burger-munchers, to Verizon, which detected customer “slowness” in the most recent quarter.

      從麥當勞到威瑞森,都正閃爍著黃燈。麥當勞已經推測到吃漢堡的消費者“對價值的敏感度有所提高”,而威瑞森在最近一個季度察覺到了消費“放緩”。

      The ability to push through price increases as customers tighten their belts requires careful management.

      要想具備在消費者勒緊褲腰帶的情況下推動價格上漲的能力,需要謹慎管理。

      In contrast to the last high-inflation era, managers can use real-time algorithmic price setting, constantly experimenting and adjusting as consumers respond.

      與上一個高通脹時代不同,管理者可以使用實時算法設定價格,根據消費者的反應不斷進行試驗和調整。

      Nonetheless, all firms will still have to take a longer-term view on how long high prices will last and on the limits of what their customers will tolerate.

      盡管如此,所有公司仍必須從更長遠的角度考慮高價格持續的時間,以及他們的消費者可以容忍的極限。

      That is finger-in-the-wind stuff.

      這樣能幫他們判斷風向。

      Even if they keep revenues and costs under control, CEOs are discovering what their predecessors knew all too well: inflation plays havoc with the balance-sheet.

      即使他們能夠控制收入和成本,首席執行官們也發現了他們的前輩們再了解不過的事情:通貨膨脹會嚴重破壞資產負債表。

      That requires even tighter control of working capital (the value of inventories and what is owed by customers minus what is owed to suppliers).

      這就需要更嚴格地控制營運資金(即存貨價值加上客戶欠款再減去欠供應商的金額后的資金)。

      Many firms have misjudged demand for their products.

      許多公司誤判了消費者對其產品的需求量。

      Walmart lost almost a fifth of its market value, or around $80bn, in mid-May, after it reported a cashflow squeeze caused by an excess build-up of inventories, which rose by a third year on year.

      沃爾瑪曾報告稱其存貨過剩,同比增加了三分之一,導致現金流緊張,隨后該公司在5月中旬損失了近五分之一的市值,約合800億美元。

      On June 7th its smaller retailing rival, Target, issued a warning that its operating margin will fall from 5.3% last quarter to 2% in the current one, as it discounts goods to clear its excess inventories.

      6月7日,其規模較小的零售競爭對手塔吉特發出警告稱,由于打折商品以清空過剩庫存,其運營利潤率將從上個季度的5.3%降至本季度的2%。

      Payment cycles—ie, when a firm pays suppliers and is paid by customers—become more important, too, as the purchasing power of cash delivered tomorrow withers in inflation’s heat.

      支付周期--即公司向供應商付款并收取客戶賬款的時間--也變得更加重要,因為第二天交付的現金的購買力會在通脹的熱浪中萎縮。

      All this makes a business’s performance more difficult to assess.

      這一切都導致企業的業績更難評估。

      For example, calculations of return on capital look more impressive with an inflated numerator (present returns) and the denominator (capital invested in the past) in old dollars.

      例如,在分子(現在的回報)漲高,而分母(過去投資的資本)按舊美元來計價的情況下,資本回報率的計算看起來會更令人印象深刻。

      Between 1979 and 1986, during the last bout of high inflation, American firms were required by law to present income statements that were adjusted for rising prices.

      1979年至1986年,在上一輪高通脹期間,法律要求美國公司提交根據物價上漲進行調整的損益表。

      This edict is unlikely to be revived.

      這一法令不太可能恢復。

      But even as bosses boast of higher nominal revenue growth, investment and compensation decisions should account for such artificial tailwinds.

      但是,即使老板們吹噓名義收入增長率更高,投資和薪酬決策也應該對這種人為的順風因素負責。

      Just ask Mr Buffett.

      問問巴菲特就知道了。

      In his letter to shareholders for 1980 he reminded them that profits must rise in proportion to increases in the price level without an increase in capital employed, lest the firm starts “chewing up” investors’ capital.

      在1980年致股東的信中,他提醒他們,利潤必須與價格水平的上升成比例增長,而不能增加所用資本,以免公司開始“蠶食”投資者的資本。

      His missive to investors in 2023 may need to carry the same message.

      他在2023年致投資者的信中可能需要傳達同樣的信息。

      譯文由可可原創,僅供學習交流使用,未經許可請勿轉載。

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