Seattle Courant Archive

Seattle Companies See Stocks Pummelled

Seattle Companies See Stocks Pummelled

By Keith Vance
February 19, 2009

Amazon did the best, only dropping 35 percent. Starbucks fell 50 percent and Boeing more than 56 percent.

Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed below 7,500 points, down 42 percent since last January. Actually it's been six years since the Dow has been this low.

The New York Times reported that the stock market continues in free fall amid concerns that President Barack Obama isn't making the right moves in terms of bailing out homeowners and the banks that are teetering on the brink of failure.

According to the Washington Post, the markets are reacting to a lack of details on what Obama plans to do with the precarious banks. Todd Clark, director of trading at Nollenberg Capital Partners, told the Post: "The uncertainty about the banks has kept the black cloud over the markets." He said the markets are not likely to recover "until we find out what Treasury's plan is to come to the aid of these money center banks."

So how far will Starbucks, Boeing and Amazon fall?

Boeing has announced 10,000 layoffs, but hasn't determined which employees will be collecting an unemployment check. Despite Obama's inauguration plea for shared sacrifice during these troubled times, bonuses and freezing wages are off-the-table, Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney said in an e-mail to workers Tuesday. He said that even though many employees recommended putting wage increases and bonuses on hold to save jobs, doing so would "put us at a competitive disadvantage."

Last month Starbucks announced the closure of 300 stores and the elimination of 6,700 positions, including several hundred at the Seattle headquarters. Earlier this month, 100 human resources and security employees were handed pink slips.

Thanks to its new product, Kindle, Amazon has been doing pretty good. The company's fourth quarter sales were up 18 percent and there's been no word of any major layoffs yet.