10 companies that are raising prices

Get ready to pay more for things like Big Macs and Chevy Malibus. CEOs are admitting as much on company conference calls this earnings season.

By MSN Money Partner May 2, 2011 4:04PM

24/7 Wall St. on MSN MoneyCompanies raising prices. Image: Family eating burgers (© Bananastock/Jupiterimages)By Jonathan Berr, Charles Stockdale and Michael Sauter


Prices of everything from underwear to air fares have been rising in the past few months. And based on recent comments from corporate executives, there's a lot more of that to come.


In conference calls with investors following quarterly earnings announcements this month, large consumer-facing companies -- McDonald's (MCD), Coca-Cola (KO) and Procter & Gamble (PG), to name a few -- have said they plan to pass along the rising costs they face to their customers.


Agricultural products are rising. The cost of beef may rise 7% to 8% this year, pressuring the bottom line of McDonald's. Even the humble french fry is not immune to the power of inflation: A carton of Idaho russet potatoes recently sold for $22.24, up from $9 to $10 from last year. The price of coffee beans could rise as much as 40%, according to Bloomberg News. Kraft Foods (KFT) and JM Smucker (SJM) have already raised prices. Chocolate has soared recently because of instability in the Ivory Coast, the largest cocoa producer. Hershey (HSY) announced a 9.7% increase in wholesale prices in March.


Rising gas adds to pain


Most people worry about rising gas prices because of the added cost of filling up their tanks. But crude oil also goes into making plastic and many everyday products, such as diapers. Kimberly Clark (KMB) recently announced that it was raising prices on its Huggies diapers, pull-up training pants and other products by 3% to 7% because of the costs of petroleum-based raw materials.


So far, U.S. consumers have weathered price hikes fairly well this year -- especially the huge spike in gas. Surprisingly, the most recent Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index showed a gain in April versus March. "Consumers are continuing to modestly grow their spending," says Scott Hoyt, the director of consumer economics at Moody's Analytics. "We are seeing spending growth that is not what it was in the fourth quarter but that continues to be healthy."


The big question, especially for investors, is whether shoppers will continue to buy as prices climb even higher. In a recent column, Jim Jubak worried that companies' plans to raise price could result in slowing sales growth. So both investors and shoppers have good reason to keep an eye on companies that are raising prices. 


Here are 10 to watch out for:


1. Southwest Airlines (LUV)

Price increase: $10 per round-trip flight
Reason: Rising jet fuel costs

The price of jet fuel has become airlines’ biggest operating expense, rising more than 40% in the past year. Southwest was one of the latest carriers to announce it would be raising its fares as a result of increasing overhead. Gary Kelly, the chairman and CEO, announced that operating expenses, not including the massive rise in fuel costs, were up more than 10% compared with the previous year. Kelly said that the company will be increasing the price of nearly all domestic round-trip flights by $10. Delta Airlines also recently reported it would be raising fares. 


2. Kimberly-Clark (KMB)

Price increase: 6% increase in cost of Huggies diapers
Reason: Higher paper/lumber price

Kimberly-Clark, the paper-manufacturing company, announced worse-than-expected first quarter profits. During its earnings conference call, Chairman and CEO Richard Falk stated that the company had taken “a pretty big hit on margins when pulp spiked,” referring to the price of wood pulp, which is used for the paper in most of its products. Kimberly-Clark announced that in order to account for falling revenue, it would be raising the price of several of its products. That includes a 6% increase in its popular line of Huggies diapers. 


3. General Motors (GM)

Price increase: $123 on average for each vehicle
Reason: Rising oil and metal prices

In a phone interview last month, a company spokesperson announced that GM would be raising the price of all of its vehicles by an average of $123, adding that the changes would go into effect May 2. GM announced that the increase was due to rising prices in oil and metal, and was not related to the Japan's recent earthquake. GM's announcement comes in the wake of competitor Toyota saying it is raising vehicle sales prices by an average of 1.7%.


4. Hanesbrands (HBI)

Price increase: socks and underwear
Reason: Rising cotton prices

As the price of cotton has continued to skyrocket, The Winston-Salem clothing company has been raising prices on a variety of items since February. In its recent earnings report, Hanes announced a major increase in net income in the first quarter. In the same report, the company announced it would hike its prices on socks and underwear, partially as a result of commodity costs.


5. McDonald’s MCD

Price increase: 1% more on almost all menu items
Reason: Rising commodity prices

In the company's first quarter earnings conference call, McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner said that the fast food giant would be raising prices on most of its products. Company CFO Peter Benson explained: "We are seeing cost increases on virtually every item in our basket, with beef accounting for about one-third of the additional increase. Reduced herd sizes, increased demand and a weaker U.S. dollar driving up exports are all contributing to the increase in beef costs." In the U.S., the company introduced a 1% price hike across the board in early March, and it plans to implement a similar increase some time in the next few months.


6. Nike (NKE)


Price increase: Across product lines
Reason: Rising oil, cotton and labor costs

In the company’s third quarter earnings report last month, athletic wear maker Nike announced it would be raising prices across its entire product line, citing increased costs. Nike CFO Donald Blair said in the conference call: “As we expected, in Q3, we began to see the impact of rising input costs, such as oil, cotton and labor.” Supply chain management and raising prices would be used to combat the increased costs, the company said.


7. Hershey (HSY)

Price increase: 9.7%
Reason: Higher costs of dairy and sugar

Hershey recently increased prices for the majority of its products. The candy company reported  a weighted-average price increase of about 9.7% across its candy and grocery lines. Hershey cited rising raw material costs, as well as fuel costs, for the new prices.


8. Clorox (CLX)

Price increase: Glad trash bags up 10%
Reason: Rising prices of oil and resin

Clorox is raising prices on Glad trash bags by almost 10%, passing along the rising costs of commodities such as resin and oil to consumers. Clorox has raised prices on Glad products for this reason before, most recently in 2008. The company is also raising prices on some of its its salad products, such as Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix.


9. Johnson Controls (JCI)

Price increase: Diehard batteries increasing 5% to 9%
Reason: Rising commodity and handling costs

Johnson Controls, the world's largest manufacturer of lead-acid batteries, increased the prices of its batteries by 5% to 9% last month. The company cites increasing commodity and handling costs as the reasons for the price changes. The added costs are also due in part to updated packaging and transportation safety standards from the U.S. Department of Transportation.


10. Procter & Gamble (PG)


Price increase: Charmin prices up 5%
Reason: Rising costs of energy and wood pulp

Facing rising energy, material and transportation costs, Procter & Gamble has announced that it will raise prices on many of its popular goods. The company's gross margin fell from 51.9% to 50.5% in the most recent quarter compared with last year. Additional costs will now be passed on in part to consumers. P&G will be raising the price on its Charmin paper products by 5%. It will also reportedly be raising prices on Pampers diapers, wipes and Bounty products.


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May 4, 2011 4:32AM

So, this economy is stable thanks to poor government & business decisions to farm out employment is a big surprise?  Overly idealistic government run only as a business for business concerns is doomed when it fails to address what's best for the whole society. Biting the hand that feeds you only lasts so long until the hand is so weak it can no longer provide.  Perpetual motion it isn't.


Basically, when it comes down to it everybody is different for different reasons as far as this sorry mixed up economy goes.  Most people do what they can if they are half way intelligent.  Personally, I cut back on everything imaginable so I can afford what I need & not necessarily what I want..  There's a big difference between the two, I get what's a good price of what I really need & leave the rest.  Higher priced items can rot or collect dust on the shelves as far as I'm concerned.


If everyone follows that ideal, the high prices will eventually come down partly because of what the market will bare & dwindling market growth.  In other words. the artificially driven prices of one commodity (oil) will come down when the rest of the market starts drying up because it has little choice. Tit for tat?


In addition, higher wages will only add more misery to an already miserable market because those wages only add to other costs & drive product prices further out of control.  If the farming out of U.S. employment continues, it will hasten the drop as unemployment continues to rise.  Either way, the higher prices will come down & some poorly run businesses will fail. Very likely both will happen.  Getting rid of overly biased ignorant government will help. The sooner the better for us all.

May 4, 2011 11:01AM
I've noticed I'm spending more for groceries.  Lean ground beef had been $2.49 to $2.69 /lb in 6-lb packages at my local Costco for over a year.  Last week it was $2.99.  That's 15% avg. jump.

Seeing as how price increases are occurring all over, IDing what you definitely plan to buy and doing so in cases where the price won't likely be dropping is wise.

I'm redoing my yard this year and next with my own labor (a shed, a gazebo, some raised beds for plants, etc.) and plan to purchase as much as I can ahead of time - it might save me a couple hundred over the approx. $3000 material cost than buying it later in the year.

May 4, 2011 1:29PM

Don't worry, because Obama is going to give us money from his "stash". Remember those people lined up around the blocks in Chicago expecting to get "free" money from Obama's stash?


When you put 4.3 TRILLION more dollars in the pot of circulating money prices have to increase. That is why oil is going higher. Oil has to rise in price, but this time it is because so much money has been added to the system and not because of supply and demand. These are dire consequences of printing and borrowing money, it is fake stimulus. Your once $400,000 house that fell to $200,000 is now again $400,000 and you "think" it has regained its value, but in reality it has not.


The mindset of people that government is provider, insurer, feeder, healer, employer and "god" has created a prevailing entitlement attitude. If someone else has educated themselves, taken risks, worked hard, saved, been thrifty and has something then it is their "duty" to have their "fair" share "redistributed" to the entitled masses. When people want to smoke "medical" marijuana, do drugs, be freeloaders and yet think you need to work overtime, harder, on weekends and pay more taxes so they can "insurance" for then the get lung cancer of have health problems then is it time to stop the madness. Now people think that  government needs to set allowable gasoline prices and that government will solve all their problems, and this is destroying the USA.

May 3, 2011 9:58PM
Consumers may be still be spending because it is someone else's money supplied by the government or they are stockpiling fearing higher future prices. If the increase is sustainable is the question we will all see answered.
May 4, 2011 1:26PM
What happened to supply and demand? That's what I learned in elementary school, but it doesn't apply anymore. Sure everything is going up because of the price of oil. which by no means should be at $4.00 a gallon or $112.00 a barrel Angry. And why is the US tax payers subsidizing the oil companies when they have profits of 18 Billion dollars, or around a 40% increase, BS to me. Can't wait for the first Hurricane, gas will be $6.00 and a burger at McD's will be the 2 dollar burger.  
May 4, 2011 4:07PM
Getting rid of overly biased ignorant government will help. The sooner the better for us all.


Very true; it's too bad the same old cronies will wind up back in their government offices next year. When will the rest of the voting public learn?

May 4, 2011 4:11PM

What a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive.


Problem is, we are being hoodwinked daily,

May 4, 2011 4:03PM

I have been hit by the increase in gas prices. GM for parts, Hershey, Clorox and Johnson Controls are the companies that I will get hit by. The word mentioned the most? Commodities.

Jan 25, 2012 11:17AM

President Obama's State of the Union speech laid out a plan to move the U.S. forward.  One of the big steps in the right direction will be to analyze laws and regulations which have led to the problems we have today and enact changes which will produce better results.  This is the job of all elected officials, if we want better government we need to elect people who are willing to do the tough job of creating a fair playing field for all U.S. citizens.  A game that is rigged by corporations and their lobbyists and the elected officials to are beholding to them is no fun to play.


If we want change for the better, it is our job to get on our elected representatives and demand better - this is a country where the government of the people, by the people, for the people; if it does not work, we have noone to blame but ourselves.   Get the facts, discuss and analyze them and take action.

May 4, 2011 12:23PM
May 4, 2011 2:29PM

Oil is up due to risk - with the riots over the last few months in the Middle East, uncertainty over the long-term politics in that area - who's going to be in charge in some of those countries? Plus, some sabotage in those countries has added to it. Any oil taken out of the delivery pipeline - wherever that is in the world - has a disproportionate effect on world prices.


Cotton is way up currently, but there's been a bumper crop planted, so likely some prices that are currently rising due to increased cost will drop in the summer or a bit later.


A lot of these companies have bitten the bullet on raising prices during the recession but cannot hold off forever. In the meantime, excess printing of money is affecting the value of the dollar, so we are ending up paying the same value, but higher prices in terms of dollars.

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