December 1, 2020

Market and Financial News Aggregator

Stock Market Updates: McDonald’s and Beyond Meat, Amazon and More

13 min read
Credit…Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock

Boeing’s share price climbed to its highest level in months Tuesday on hopes that federal regulators could allow the troubled 737 Max to fly again in the coming weeks and because of hopeful coronavirus vaccine news.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to finish reviewing proposed changes to the Max “in the coming days,” Steve Dickson, the agency’s administrator said in a statement late Monday. That would clear a path for the plane to return to the skies after being grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes in which 346 people were killed.

But Mr. Dickson cautioned that the agency was not in a hurry to lift its order grounding the plane.

“As I have said many times before, the agency will take the time that it needs to thoroughly review the remaining work,” Mr. Dickson said. “Even though we are near the finish line, I will lift the grounding order only after our safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”

Nevertheless, Boeing’s stock was up about 4 percent on Tuesday after a larger surge on Monday following an announcement that a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was more than 90 percent effective in trials, according to early data. The arrival of a vaccine is widely expected to usher in a much-needed travel recovery for the travel and aviation business. Boeing’s stock price is up about 18 percent this week and at its highest level since June.

The stock surge comes after a grueling year for the company. After sweeping layoffs, Boeing expects to start 2021 with 130,000 employees, nearly 19 percent fewer than it had at the start of this year. And, on Tuesday, the company announced that it booked no new orders for commercial airplanes in October and customers canceled 12 orders for the 737 Max. So far this year, Boeing has lost more than 1,000 orders after accounting for cancellations and the diminished likelihood that existing orders will be delivered.

Credit…Lucy Hewett for The New York Times

United Airlines said Tuesday that it would return to Kennedy International Airport in February, a move that could intensify competition between large airlines once the pandemic is brought under control.

Starting Feb. 1, the airline will operate four daily flights out of Terminal 7 at J.F.K., two to San Francisco and two to Los Angeles. The flights will use the airline’s Boeing 767-300ER planes, which used to ferry passengers across the Atlantic Ocean. The planes can carry nearly 170 travelers and will include 46 business class seats each.

The country’s four major airlines have in recent years concentrated their operations at their biggest airports, which some experts refer to as fortress hubs. That means United, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines often do not compete extensively at many airports.

But that might be changing somewhat now. Last month, Southwest Airlines announced plans to expand from smaller airports serving Chicago and Houston to those city’s larger airports, O’Hare International and George Bush Intercontinental. O’Hare is a big hub for United and American and Intercontinental is dominated by United.

United left Kennedy in October 2015 after failing to make a profit there for seven years, amid intense competition. United had been operating six daily flights from Kennedy to Los Angeles and seven to San Francisco. By bringing those flights to Newark, United said at the time that it could better serve customers on the West Coast with connections to Europe.

“I have been waiting a long time to say this — United Airlines is back at J.F.K.,” the airline’s chief executive, Scott Kirby, said in a statement. “Come early next year, we will be serving all three major New York City area airports with a best-in-class product to provide our customers unmatched transcontinental service from New York City and the West Coast.”

The return to Kennedy could provide the same opportunities to customers seeking connections aboard United’s partner airlines. Japan’s All Nippon Airways, a member of the Star Alliance network with United, already operates out of Terminal 7.

Credit…Andreas Solaro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The European Union and its 27 member states are moving closer to deploying its landmark stimulus package worth 750 billion euros, or $890 billion, to help them out of the deep recession the pandemic is inflicting on the bloc.

On Tuesday, negotiators from the European Council, which represents the members’ national governments, and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on a number of sticking points that had put the brakes on the swift deployment of the money.

Among the issues: how the money should be spent, whether there would be extra funding for some of the Parliament’s dearest programs and whether stimulus funding should flow to members like Hungary and Poland that are ignoring bloc’s rule-of-law standards.

The stimulus package is part of the E.U.’s multiyear budget, which is always the subject of haggling and horse-trading among the various institutions that govern the bloc.

It will see member states, through the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, introduce large-scale joint borrowing for the first time, a significant step toward becoming a closer, more federal-type organization with pooled resources and joint debt.

But the stimulus program isn’t finalized yet: It needs to get the approval of each individual European Union government, in many cases by being ratified in national parliaments. Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, who is at loggerheads with the European Union over criticism of his handling of democratic institutions, has threatened to block the program, although experts and observers say he is bluffing.

The bloc’s leaders hope the funds will come online early next year to start plugging holes in desperately needed areas of European economies, in particular smaller or weaker ones that cannot raise their own major stimulus packages, as Germany and France have.

The economy of the European Union, the richest group of nations in the world and home to 410 million people, is expected to shrink on average by 7.4 percent this year, before staging a recovery next year. That recovery, experts and policymakers warn, is highly dependent on continued government spending and could be upended by another wave of coronavirus cases, as most of the bloc languishes in a new lockdown after a surge in infections over the fall.

Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

AMC Entertainment announced on Tuesday that it would offer Private Theater Rentals at AMC, which would allow people to reserve theaters for private film showings, an effort to attract customers during a pandemic that has decimated movie theaters across the country.

The offering comes after a four-week trial for the service, which drew 110,000 inquiries around the country — more than four times the number of bookings in all of 2019, without any significant marketing, the company said.

“It’s unprecedented for AMC to receive 110,000 contacts in four weeks about a private theater rental, based only on word of mouth and organic publicity, and we are excited about and appreciative of the interest this has sparked among AMC guests,” said Elizabeth Frank, executive vice president of worldwide programming and chief content officer for AMC.

AMC, the largest theater chain the United States, said guests could rent any of its approximately 600 theaters nationwide through its website and mobile app for a movie screening, with fees starting at $99. New releases are more expensive — “Tenet,” “The War With Grandpa” and “Freaky” could cost as much as $349. The rental fee includes up to 20 tickets.

Independent theater owners have also tested private rentals as a way to bring in revenue as they fight for survival.

The announcement comes as AMC teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, with many people still wary of returning to theaters in large numbers and Hollywood pushing off most major releases until next year. In October, AMC said that existing cash resources would be largely depleted by the end of 2020 or early 2021, and that the company would require additional sources of liquidity or increases in attendance levels to meet its financial obligations.

The company said that AMC would require guests to wear masks and practice social distancing in the auditorium.

Credit…Ritchie B Tongo/EPA, via Shutterstock

For Spotify, the future is in online audio as a whole, not just music.

That commitment came through loud and clear on Tuesday, when the company announced that it had bought Megaphone, a podcast advertising and publishing platform, for $235 million. The deal is meant to allow Spotify to more accurately match ads to the interests of specific listeners.

Spotify, based in Stockholm, has invested heavily in podcasts, signing the host Joe Rogan to a multiyear deal in May, acquiring Bill Simmons’s The Ringer in February and scooping up Gimlet Media, the studio behind “Crimetown,” last year.

The moves came after the company’s chief executive, Daniel Ek, noted in a 2019 blog post that “audio — not just music — would be the future of Spotify.”

Earlier this year, the company unveiled a technology called Streaming Ad Insertion, which allowed it to get more details on the ages, genders, device types and reactions of people listening to podcast ads. On Tuesday, the company said the same technology would not just be available to podcasts on Spotify but also to third-party podcast publishers on Megaphone, which is owned by the Graham Holdings Company in Virginia.

Spotify said that its podcast advertising revenue surged nearly 100 percent in the third quarter, compared with a year earlier. A report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PWC this summer projected that podcast advertising revenue in the United States was nearly $1 billion and would grow 14.7 percent this year.

The podcasting industry as a whole is going through a shakeup. Last month, SiriusXM completed a $325 million acquisition of the podcasting company Stitcher, which is known for podcasts such as “Freakonomics Radio” and “My Favorite Murder.” Also in October, iHeartMedia said it would buy Voxnest, a podcast services company that offers advertising and analytics tools. Wondery, the company behind “Dirty John” and “Dr. Death,” is exploring a possible sale, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Credit…Steve Helber/Associated Press

Shares of Beyond Meat plunged on Tuesday after the company’s quarterly earnings report fell short of expectations and news of Mcdonald’s new plant-based products raised concerns about the companies’ relationship.

The high-flying plant-based meat company surprised investors late Monday when it reported that its third-quarter revenue had only climbed 2.7 percent from the previous year but that higher pandemic-related expenses resulted in a net loss of $19.3 million in the quarter, compared with net income of $4.1 million a year ago. The stock was down about 22 percent in early trading Tuesday.

Earlier this year, shoppers filled their carts with Beyond Meat’s faux burgers as they loaded pantries and freezers during the pandemic. But that buying slowed significantly in the third quarter, executives said. Retail revenue dropped 11.1 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier.

On top of that, investors were also nervous about the lack of details around an announcement earlier in the day from McDonald’s about McPlant, a line of new plant-based products that it plans to introduce to certain markets next year.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s ran a pilot in Canada with Beyond Meat’s products and Beyond Meat said it developed a patty for the McPlant line, but analysts noted that McDonald’s executives were a bit more vague about its suppliers for its new faux-meat products.

“We haven’t made a decision yet about how we’re going to be and which suppliers are supporting our global rollout,” Chris Kempczinski, the chief executive of McDonald’s, said In an interview Monday with CNBC.

  • Stock markets around the world took a break on Tuesday from the feverish excitement that gripped investors for much of Monday following news of a 90 percent-effective coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer.

  • The S&P 500 was fell slightly in early trading. It had closed on Monday within 1 percent of a record it set in early September.

  • The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose about half a percent on Tuesday, with gains for energy and financial companies. Asian markets were mixed.

  • In Britain, the FTSE 100 index rose 1 percent and the pound climbed 0.7 percent against the U.S. dollar and 0.9 percent against the euro. Many believe the likelihood of a Brexit agreement has increased, in part because of the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the United States. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains a critical sticking point in the final Brexit negotiations, and the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is not expected to want to pick a fight with a president-elect who often refers to his Irish heritage and has warned against a return of a hard border.

  • Talks with the European Union on a trade deal continued ahead of a deadline for an agreement this weekend. The gains came despite an increase in Britain’s unemployment rate to 4.8 percent, a four-year high.

  • Oil prices continued to climb. Futures contracts on West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose 1.1 percent to $40.75 a barrel. The price jumped more than 8 percent on Monday. An index of the dollar against other major currencies rose 0.2 percent. The price of gold rose 0.8 percent.

  • The S&P 500 is up more than 8 percent in November, a rally fueled in part by relief over the resolution of the 2020 election and expectations that a split government with Republicans in control of the Senate would curb any substantial policy changes by the incoming Biden administration. News of Pfizer’s vaccine trial added a layer of exuberance to those gains on Monday.

  • But the rally is still susceptible to changes in sentiment, and trading on Monday highlighted this. The S&P 500 gave up one percentage point of gains in the final half-hour of trading after the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said President Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to challenge the outcome of the election — a reminder to investors that political uncertainty could linger.

  • Plus, the United States is still setting records for new coronavirus cases and it could be months before a vaccine is widely available. The economy is still struggling, with no new prospects for economic aid from Washington expected anytime soon, in particular as Mr. Trump is preoccupied with overturning the election outcome.

Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times

The energy industry has experienced its worst year in decades because of the pandemic, but clean sources for generating electricity have still managed to grow, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

Consumption of electricity generated by wind, solar and hydroelectric sources will grow nearly 7 percent in 2020, despite the fact that overall energy demand will slump by 5 percent, the steepest drop since World War II, the Paris-based forecasting group said in a report published on Tuesday.

This performance shows that these renewable sources of energy are “immune to Covid,” Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director said at a news conference.

Renewable electricity is growing because of government policies encouraging such investments and strong interest among investors who want to put money into clean energy projects, according to the report.

The world will add nearly 4 percent to its capacity in 2020 to generate electricity from renewables like wind and solar, despite travel restrictions, factory closures and other obstacles caused by the pandemic. Growth next year is expected to accelerate to around 10 percent, as projects disrupted by the pandemic are brought online and efforts by governments in Europe and Asia to kick-start their economies while also tackling climate change ramp up.

Mr. Birol said that a return to the Paris accord on climate change by the United States, as President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged, could give “very strong momentum” to this drive, leading to a doubling of renewables capacity in the United States over five years.

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

European Union regulators brought antitrust charges against Amazon on Tuesday, saying the online retail giant broke competition laws by unfairly using its size and access to data to harm smaller merchants who rely on the company to reach customers, writes Adam Satariano of The New York Times.

Here’s what you need to know about the suit:

  • The European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-nation bloc, said Amazon had abused its dual role as both a retail store used by millions of vendors and a merchant that sells its own competing goods on the platform.

  • The authorities accused Amazon of harvesting data from the millions of merchants who use its marketplace to spot popular products, then copy them and sell at a lower price.

  • The case, which has been expected for months, is the latest front in a trans-Atlantic regulatory push against Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google as the authorities in the United States and Europe take a more skeptical view of their business practices and dominance of the digital economy.

  • Many in Europe will be watching to see how the Amazon announcement is received by the incoming administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is expected to pursue policies that limit the industry’s power.

  • The announcement on Tuesday was just one part of the regulatory process. It can take many months, or even years, before a fine and other penalties are announced. The commission also could reach a settlement with Amazon.

The New York Times


2020-11-10 13:45:34


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