Companies always seem to have the wind in their faces, not at their backs

Seems like a strong headwind.
Seems like a strong headwind.
Image: AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

There’s an old Irish blessing: “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back.” Corporate executives, it seems, have not been so blessed.

Transcripts of earnings calls, public financial filings, press releases, and presentations compiled by Sentieo show that companies say that they face “headwinds”—finance jargon for the external difficulties a business faces—far more often than “tailwinds,” which are factors that would helpfully push a company forward.

There all sorts of headwinds and tailwinds swirling around companies these days—regulations, exchange rates, politics, and the like—but it seems, for the most part, that companies believe outside forces are generally conspiring against them. (This also conveniently makes executives’ achievements seem all the more impressive.)

Even Apple, the world’s most valuable listed company, is not immune to the prevailing winds: In recent years, it’s had to deal with supplier headwinds, currency headwinds, and those pesky macroeconomic headwinds.

Mentions of both types of winds appear to be on the rise, suggesting that it’s getting windier out there. Maybe it’s global warming’s fault.