Updates from original publication include charge details from Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Verizon and Alcoa.NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Several major companies have already outlined first-quarter charges related to Obamacare, so we used these figures as a guide then dredged through annual filings to give investors our best estimate of other firms' exposure. AT&T ( T) wins the prize for most stunning disclosure so far, a $1 billion charge. The telecom giant was joined by Boeing ( BA), Caterpillar ( CAT), AK Steel ( AKS) and 3M ( MMM), all of whom have outlined write-downs ranging from $85 million to $150 million. AT&T, Boeing, Caterpillar and 3M are all part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. These non-cash charges relate to a Medicare law implemented in 2003, which provided cash subsidies and tax breaks to companies that covered retirees' prescriptions through the federal program. But under the new health-care reform bill, which President Obama signed into law this week, one prong of the subsidy -- the tax break -- will be removed. According to
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The next rung down in blue-chip Obamacare exposure is comprised mostly of big companies without major unionization or benefits, or whose workforces aren't large enough to warrant big subsidy assumptions. Travelers ( TRV), for instance, has just 32,000 employees and assumed $25 million in Medicare assistance through 2019. Its inferred write-down may be in the $12.5 million to $17.5 million range. For a company that earned $3.6 billion last year and had $33 billion in assets, Travelers may not consider the charge large enough to disclose ahead of time. Walt Disney ( DIS) has the most exposure to the DTA charge from this group, since much of its workforce is unionized, and it has assumed subsidies of $68 million through 2019. But while it may face a charge ranging from $34 million to $48 million as a result, the media company was more concerned that health-care costs would continue to climb at a breakneck pace. In its 10-K filing, Disney warned investors that profits may be "substantially affected" by higher medical costs in the coming years. >> Who Owns Disney?: Prince Al-Waleed Perhaps the most clever of this group -- though possibly the most exposed to health-care reform risk in its business lines -- is Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ). The health-care products and pharmaceuticals maker assumed a $9 million Medicaid subsidy for 2010, but not in years after that. Combined with a relatively small benefits-related DTA of just over $2 billion, the assumption suggests J&J may take a write-down in the $4.5 million to $6 million range - a mere fraction of its $15.8 billion in sales last year. However, on Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson said it expects 2010 earnings to be reduced by roughly 10 cents a share, and revenue by $300 million to $500 million this year, due to the reform overhaul. Other Dow components that don't appear to face a big health-care accounting charge include American Express ( AXP), whose benefits-related DTA stood at $2.4 billion at year-end; and Intel ( INTC), whose benefits-related DTA was $1.4 billion. McDonald's ( MCD) and Walmart ( WMT), may not face any DTA charge at all because their exposure to unionization and benefits is minuscule. Walmart alone employs over 2 million people, but few are offered health benefits. McDonald's has $182 million in retirement liabilities for employees in Canada and the U.K., but considers other exposure "immaterial." However, Obamacare legislation will require companies to offer health care to anyone working more than 30 hours a week, or face stiff penalties. That's a charge no business with more than 50 employees will be able to avoid.
And finally, there are a handful of Dow components that didn't provide enough data in their annual filings to make a ballpark assumption about Obamacare writedowns. Cisco ( CSCO) didn't outline its DTA, benefits obligations or Medicare assumptions. The company has a small (in relative terms) workforce without widespread unionization, so its exposure may be small, if it has any at all. Similarly, Microsoft ( MSFT), which has nearly 93,000 workers, didn't disclose much beyond $2.4 billion in "accrued compensation liabilities." Kraft ( KFT) disclosed a $1.9 billion benefits-related DTA, making its exposure appear minimal. But with 97,000 employees working in many different facets with sporadic unionization, nearly $11 billion in benefits obligations at year-end, and no Medicare subsidy assumptions outlined, it's hard to tell what its write-down may be. Home Depot ( HD), meanwhile, has a huge employee base of 317,000, but is fractured between full-time workers who receive sponsored medical coverage, and part-time workers who don't. Its benefits-related DTA at year end was relatively minor, at just $372 million, but the company didn't outline its overall benefits obligations. -- Written by Lauren Tara LaCapra in New York.