NEW YORK — Procter & Gamble and Facebook seem to have nothing in common. One deals in razors and toothpaste, the other in "likes," self-promotion and embarrassing family photos. But this week, they shared the same problem: the strong dollar took a cut of their quarterly sales.
It has been a widespread complaint this first-quarter earnings season. Big companies of all stripes said their quarters would have been much better if it weren't for the rising dollar. Delta Air Lines said it hurt ticket sales. Johnson & Johnson blamed it for dragging earnings down.
"Everybody is talking about the hit from the dollar, especially big multinationals," said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial.
When the dollar gains strength against other currencies, it pinches big corporations' profits. It makes prices of their goods more expensive to customers abroad, and it makes sales in euros or yen worth fewer dollars when companies bring the money back home.
Since the start of the year, the greenback has climbed 8 percent against most major currencies, leading analysts to cut their estimates for first-quarter earnings. At the end of last year, analysts predicted companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 would post a 4 percent increase for the first three months. Now, they are prepared for a 3 percent drop, according to S&P Capital IQ.
Here's a look at some of the companies that got hit by the dollar this week:
COMPANY: Facebook Inc.
IMPACT: The social networking company posted a rare quarter of disappointing revenue growth. The company gets half of its revenue from overseas, magnifying the hit from a rising dollar. Revenue rose by 42 percent, but would have climbed 49 percent if the dollar had stayed put.
COMPANY: General Motors Co.
IMPACT: G.M. reported a solid quarter in the U.S., thanks to strong sales of pickup trucks and big SUVs like the Chevrolet Tahoe. But the dollar's rise against currencies across Europe and South America cost the carmaker $1.8 billion in revenue, a key reason why revenue fell 5 percent from a year earlier.
COMPANY: McDonald's Corp.
IMPACT: The fast-food chain known for its golden arches said the dollar's rise shaved about 9 cents per share from its quarterly profit. Revenue fell 11 percent. Take out the effects of foreign-currency swings, and revenue would have dropped 1 percent.
COMPANY: Procter & Gamble Co.
IMPACT: The maker of Gillette razors and Crest toothpaste saw a stronger dollar contribute to an 8 percent drop in sales. Every type of product, from health care to fabric care, slumped. P&G expects revenue for the year to slide between 5 and 6 percent, largely because of the dollar.
COMPANY: PepsiCo Inc.
IMPACT: The snack and beverage company behind Doritos and Pepsi blamed currency swings for falling revenue during the quarter. It now expects the dollar to knock down its earnings per share in 2015. Pepsi said it may raise prices to offset the blow.