Goldman Sachs expects $5 billion hit from tax overhaul in 4Q

A view of the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Reuters)
Updated 29 December 2017
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Goldman Sachs expects $5 billion hit from tax overhaul in 4Q

NEW YORK: Goldman Sachs expects to take a $5 billion hit to profits for the fourth quarter and year because of the tax overhaul signed into law last week.
As a result, the New York bank will likely report a loss for the last quarter of 2017. But Goldman and other banks will be among the largest beneficiaries of the new tax code.
Goldman on Friday became one of the first companies to release details on how changes in the tax code will affect how money parked overseas is handled. The bank said two-thirds of the $5 billion is related to changes in repatriation taxes, when funds are returned from overseas.
The new tax overhaul imposes a discounted one-time levy on overseas money returned to the US — 15.5 percent for earnings held in cash or other liquid assets and 8 percent for earnings held in harder-to-sell assets. Previously, companies had to pay a 35 percent corporate tax when they returned that money, so they left it parked overseas.
It has been expected that changes in the law would prompt many companies to return money to the US, potentially $2.5 trillion or more. Keefe Bruyette & Woods analyst Brian Kleinhanzl estimated that the repatriation part of Goldman’s charge equates to an 11 percent tax rate, based on the $32.6 billion in undistributed foreign earnings Goldman had at the end of 2016.
Goldman had been expected to post fourth-quarter net income of $2.07 billion, according to banking analysts polled by FactSet. The bank reports earnings in mid-January.
After taking a hit on repatriated earns, Goldman, and other banks, will operate in a much more favorable tax environment.
The tax measure signed into law by President Donald Trump this month spreads benefits across a wide array of American industry, including banks.
Finance and insurance companies would have paid an effective corporate tax rate of 26.1 percent next year. Now, it will be 14.3 percent. Analysts at Goldman Sachs have estimated that the tax law will boost big-bank earnings per share by 13 percent next year. The top beneficiary will be Wells Fargo, which has been dogged by scandals over cheating customers. It will enjoy an 18 percent earnings surge in 2018, Goldman estimates.
Economists believe the overall effect on the economy will be muted, however, because of those cuts to the US corporate tax rate.
Historically, repatriated profits have not had a broad effect on the US economy anyway.
A 2004 law temporarily cut taxes on repatriated profits to 5.25 percent, from 35 percent. That led 843 companies to bring back $312 billion. But those companies tended to use the money to buy back shares of their own stock, not to hire or expand operations.
Goldman also said part of the reduction to fourth-quarter earnings comes from recalculating the value of it deferred tax assets. Those are past losses that companies can use to lower future tax bills. Goldman and other banks suffered huge losses during the financial crisis. Those assets will now have less value because of the lower corporate tax rate.
The effect of the tax changes on Goldman Sachs was revealed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission early on Friday.
The company did not say how changes in the tax law would affect its decisions on investments going forward, and did not immediately return messages left early Friday.
Shares of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. fell 1 percent to $254 in early trading.


US eases restrictions on China’s Huawei to keep networks, phones operating

Updated 21 May 2019
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US eases restrictions on China’s Huawei to keep networks, phones operating

  • The company is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without license approvals
  • Out of $70 billion Huawei spent buying components in 2018, some $11 billion went to US firms
WASHINGTON: The US government on Monday temporarily eased some trade restrictions imposed last week on China’s Huawei, a move that sought to minimize disruption for the telecom company’s customers around the world.
The US Commerce Department will allow Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to purchase American-made goods in order to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets.
The company is still prohibited from buying American parts and components to manufacture new products without license approvals that likely will be denied.
The US government said it imposed the restrictions because of Huawei’s involvement in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.
The new authorization is intended to give telecommunications operators that rely on Huawei equipment time to make other arrangements, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
“In short, this license will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks,” Ross added.
The license, which is in effect until Aug. 19, suggests changes to Huawei’s supply chain may have immediate, far-reaching and unintended consequences for its customers.
“The goal seems to be to prevent Internet, computer and cell phone systems from crashing,” said Washington lawyer Kevin Wolf, a former Commerce Department official. “This is not a capitulation. This is housekeeping.”
Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, declined to comment.
The Commerce Department said it will evaluate whether to extend the exemptions beyond 90 days.
On Thursday, the US Commerce Department added Huawei and 68 entities to an export blacklist that makes it nearly impossible for the Chinese company to purchase goods made in the United States.
The government tied Huawei’s addition to the “entity list” to a pending case accusing the company of engaging in bank fraud to obtain embargoed US goods and services in Iran and move money out of the country via the international banking system. Huawei has pleaded not guilty.
Reuters reported Friday that the department was considering a temporary easing, citing a government spokeswoman.
The temporary license also allows disclosures of security vulnerabilities and for Huawei to engage in the development of standards for future 5G networks.
Reuters reported Sunday that Alphabet Inc’s Google suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, citing a source familiar with the matter.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new authorization.
Out of $70 billion Huawei spent buying components in 2018, some $11 billion went to US firms including Qualcomm Inc. , Intel Corp. and Micron Technology Inc.
“I think this is a reality check,” said Washington trade lawyer Douglas Jacobson. “It shows how pervasive Huawei goods and technology are around the globe and if the US imposes restrictions, that has impacts.”
Jacobson said the effort to keep existing networks operating appeared aimed at telecom providers in Europe and other countries where Huawei equipment is pervasive.
The move also could assist mobile service providers in thinly populated areas of the United States, such as Wyoming and eastern Oregon, that purchased network equipment from Huawei in recent years.
John Neuffer, the president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, which represents US chipmakers and designers, said in a statement that the association wants the government would ease the restrictions further.
“We hope to work with the administration to broaden the scope of the license,” he said, so that it advances US security goals but does not undermine the industry’s ability to compete globally and remain technology leaders.
A report on Monday on the potential impact of stringent export controls on technologies found that US firms could lose up to $56.3 billion in export sales over five years.
The report, from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, said the missed opportunities threatened as many as 74,000 jobs.
Wolf, the former Commerce official, said the Huawei reprieve was similar to action taken by the department in July to prevent systems from crashing after the US banned China’s ZTE Corp, a smaller Huawei rival, from buying American-made components in April.
The US trade ban on ZTE wreaked havoc at wireless carriers in Europe and South Asia, sources told Reuters at the time.
The ban on ZTE was lifted July 13 after the company struck an agreement with the Commerce Department that included a $1 billion fine plus $400 million in escrow and replacement of its board of directors and senior management. ZTE, which had ceased major operations as a result of the ban, then resumed business.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and Angela Moon; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Cynthia Osterman)