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Companies Are Recycling Their Old News to Avoid Being Blasted in a Trump Tweet

by Ben Popken /
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appears at a campaign roundtable event in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., October 28, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File PhotoCarlo Allegri / Reuters

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It's a "first strike" approach to jobs.

Companies eager to avoid becoming the target of the next attack by President-elect Donald Trump are preemptively — or retroactively — announcing U.S. job creation plans.

"When automakers such as Toyota announced their new strategies in response to the so-called Trump risk, the industry was nervous and asked ‘Who’s next?’” Kim Jin-woo, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities Co. told Bloomberg after Hyundai-Kia announced it would invest $3.1 billion in the U.S. over the next five years.

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The risk is that Trump will include your name in a negative tweet, spawning a PR crisis and a temporary stock price ding.

He's gone after automakers like Toyota for making cars in Mexico, Lockheed for cost overruns on the F-35 fighter jet program, and drug companies for high prices and anti-competitive behavior.

 Trump has used Twitter to threaten U.S. companies who manufacture in foreign countries with import tariffs.
 In December, Trump blindsided aircraft manufacturer Lockheed-Martin over the cost of its fighter jet program contracted by the U.S. Air Force.

After campaigning on pledges to make U.S. companies bring jobs back, Trump has announced he's been successful at doing so before he's even president. So on Tuesday as business returned following the Martin Luther King federal holiday, a bevy of companies announced they would be adding jobs after the inauguration on Friday.

Put down automaker GM for 1,500. Add 10,000 from Wal-Mart. "Thousands" for Hyundai. And Bayer said it would keep 9,000 jobs and add 3,000. That is, if the government gives it the regulatory approval to merge with Monsanto.

Amazon didn't mention Trump in its press release announcing 100,000 U.S. jobs, mostly in fulfillment warehouses, but CEO Jeff Bezos attended a meeting of the tech titans at Trump Tower with the president-elect just before Christmas.

Related: Trump Summons Tech Titans to Trump Tower

“Pretty much everybody is dreading being the subject of a tweet,” Kristin Dziczek, a spokeswoman for the Center for Automotive Research told the Guardian. "Getting hauled out into the court of public opinion with virtually no warning is not something anybody wants to get engaged with."

They join a small but growing list of companies with recent job creation or preservation announcements tied either explicitly or implicitly to the PEOTUS, including Amazon, Carrier, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and Sprint.

Not So Fast

But peel back a layer and the promises come with some caveats. A company's plan to increase capital expenditures, which include jobs and facility improvements, are typically years in the making. Some of these "announcements" are old news in a new hat.

GM said its plan was approved before the election, but told Bloomberg it was "accelerated" under pressure from Trump, for example.

Related: GM's Newly Announced $1B Investment Plans Likely Date Back to 2014

Wal-Mart's job creation plans are in line with its normal annual increase, and come after it has closed 269 under-performing stores and cut thousands of jobs.

The combined Bayer-Monsanto U.S. R&D spending pledge is roughly what the two companies are already spending, CNBC reported.

And Sprint's jobs were part of a previously announced commitment by its parent company to create 50,000 jobs in the U.S.

"This is the normal course of business," independent auto industry consultant Maryann Keller told Bloomberg of the moves by GM and other automakers. "All they’re doing is announcing investments that they would have made anyway."

President-elect Donald J. Trump responded to NBC News' coverage of this story in a series of tweets Wednesday to reassert credit for the job announcements.

 PEOTUS Trump tweets in response to NBC News' coverage of this story.

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