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In One Chart: As deadline for returns extended, these public companies are giving back emergency loans meant for small businesses

So how are the returns going?

At least 40 public companies have returned PPP loans worth about $421 million as of Wednesday afternoon.

That likely amounts to more than 10% of the publicly traded companies that borrowed through the PPP, as analytics firm FactSquared estimates over 300 public companies in total received $1.2 billion in loans.

FactSquared has 38 public companies giving back $337 million in loans as of Wednesday, but its tally — shown in the graphic below — doesn’t include giant car seller AutoNation Inc. AN, +0.39% , which said it was returning $77 million in PPP loans, and metalworking company DMC Global Inc. BOOM, -5.64%, which said it had paid back a $6.7 million PPP loan. The graphic lists several companies twice because they received more than one loan.

These publicly traded companies have returned Paycheck Protection Program loans.


Among the companies shown in the graphic that have made returns are restaurant operators Shake Shack Inc. SHAK, +3.75%, Ruth’s Hospitality Group Inc. RUTH, +1.89% and Potbelly Corp. PBPB, -6.57%.

Most of the publicly traded companies that received PPP loans rank as micro-cap stocks, according to FactSquared’s data. So they might not fit the bill when it comes to the Treasury Department’s targeting of borrowers with “substantial market value and access to capital markets.” A micro cap is often defined as a stock with a market value of $300 million or less.

For example, cruise operator Lindblad Expeditions Holdings Inc. LIND, -3.97% , which recently had a market cap of about $300 million, said in late April that it didn’t have ready access to capital and planned to keep its $6.6 million loan.

However, the company said in a conference call on Friday that it was giving back the money, with CEO Sven-Olof Lindblad noting “negativity” around borrowers, “especially public companies regardless of size or need.” The executive also wrote in an opinion column that while his company “is not a mom-and-pop concern, in the context of American public businesses, it is small.”

Three hotel companies tied to Dallas businessman Monty Bennett also have reversed themselves after applying for $126 million and initially saying they planned to “keep all funds received under the PPP.”

“While we believed then and continue to believe today that we qualify for PPP loans based on the legislation and rule-making in place at the time our applications were submitted, continuous SBA rule changes and evolving opinions by Administration officials have led us to conclude that we may no longer qualify,” said a statement Saturday from Ashford Inc. AINC, -3.09%, Ashford Hospitality Trust Inc. AHT, -7.68% and Braemar Hotels & Resorts Inc. BHR, -9.43%, which recently were showing a combined market cap that had fallen below $300 million. “As a result, the Ashford Group of Companies will return all PPP funds on or before May 7.”

Read more:Here’s why hotel and restaurant chains got the coronavirus aid for small businesses

A backlash over large companies obtaining PPP loans while many small businesses experienced delays also has prompted returns by privately held companies, including the Los Angeles Lakers, restaurant chain Sweetgreen and media outlet Axios. In addition, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has criticized some private K-12 schools with significant endowments for borrowing through the program.

Related:Mnuchin says U.S. will audit PPP loans above $2 million

And see:Mnuchin rejects calls to have less PPP money go to employees

The Justice Department has opened an investigation into companies that applied for PPP loans, and experts say borrowers that provided misleading information could face jail sentences. The Small Business Administration has rejected Freedom of Information Act requests for details about PPP borrowers, saying that for now it needs to prioritize its effort to help businesses.

The PPP quickly ran through the $350 billion that it received initially in late March through the $2.2 trillion Cares Act, and then in late April got an additional $320 billion as President Donald Trump signed into law the $484 billion Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

Related:Here are the public companies that got coronavirus aid meant for small businesses

And see:Pelosi suggests banks making PPP loans shouldn’t get paid more for serving bigger companies

“So far, PPP hasn’t gone smoothly,” said Capital Alpha Partners analyst Ian Katz in a recent note.

“It does indeed seem unfair that a company large enough to trade on a stock exchange, or an individual with enough money to have a designated concierge at a major bank, should be able to cut in line in front of mom-and-pops,” Katz also said. “We get that. But what’s not getting adequate discussion is the economic objective, which is getting people back to work.”

Now read:Emergency loans for small businesses ‘flowed to areas less hard hit’ by coronavirus, study finds

Also:PPP discriminates against women and minorities, lawsuit alleges

This is an updated version of a story that first published on April 29, 2020.

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