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The deadly and rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak has been wreaking havoc on companies around the world. Nevertheless, some companies — including online pet product retailer Chewy — have emerged as winners amid the chaos.
(Bloomberg) -- On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump sent oil prices rallying on the prospect of an unprecedented, U.S.-backed deal to cut global crude production.On Friday, he walked out of a meeting with the titans of America’s oil industry without any public declaration of a plan to curtail domestic output, saying it’s a free market and up to Saudi Arabia and Russia to solve their price war that sent crude crashing.His remarks call into question Trump’s ability to broker a truce between the world’s two biggest crude exporters at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is destroying demand and threating the shale industry’s survival. The president said that tariffs on oil imports could be imposed, though he’s not planning to do that at the moment.While both Saudi Arabia and Russia have expressed openness to coordinated production cuts -- and Trump said a deal between the two nations will come soon -- it’s unclear that can be achieved without the U.S. and other nations also taking part. Asked whether America would join in, Trump was evasive.“It’s a free market. We’ll figure it out,” he told reporters in Washington after the gathering with the heads of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and other major producers. “Ultimately the marketplace will take care of it.”Left to its own devices, though, the market is poised to collapse further as the Covid-19 crisis could slash global crude demand by almost a third. Hundreds of thousands of industry jobs are hanging in the balance, with about $15 billion of investments wiped out from the budgets of shale explorers and many of them on the brink of bankruptcy. Oil producer Whiting Petroleum Corp. and service provider Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc. filed for bankruptcy this week.So now all eyes turn to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which is convening on Monday in a virtual meeting with members, allies and guests including the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta, in a bid to address crude’s meltdown.Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country is prepared to take part in deep cuts in oil production together with Saudi Arabia and other major producers.“It’s up to the meeting on Monday chaired by Saudi Arabia to deliver the 10 million barrels a day promised by Trump, without U.S. participation,” said Roger Diwan, oil analyst at IHS Markit Ltd. “That’s a very high bar to achieve.”Trump vowed to support the U.S. oil industry with measures that include filling the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ease the glut as storage tanks in distribution hubs are almost filled to the brim.“We’ll get our energy back,” he said during a portion of Friday’s meeting that was open to reporters. “I’m with you 1,000%. It’s a great business, it’s a very vital business and honestly, you’ve been very fair. You’ve kept energy prices reasonable for a long period of time.”The meeting included Exxon Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods, Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s Vicki Hollub and Energy Transfer LP’s Kelcy Warren. Greg Garland, chairman and CEO of Phillips 66, and Mike Wirth, chairman and CEO of Chevron, also attended.The executives didn’t ask for a bailout, according to Trump. They did discuss tariffs on foreign oil, which “are a way of evening the score,” he said. “Am I thinking about imposing it as of this moment? No, but if we are not treated fairly, its certainly a tool in the toolbox.”ClearView Energy Partners analysts said Trump’s comments Friday indicate the U.S. is likely to prod the Russia-Saudi talks along not by expressing a willingness to cut U.S. production but rather a willingness to impose tariffs.Restricting imports with a tariff, an idea championed by Oklahoma oil tycoon Harold Hamm, a Trump confidant, is one of the most contentious matters, with refiners and Northeast U.S. gas producers firmly opposed.Prior to the gathering Trump had indicated he already has a plan in mind for helping oil companies he says are being “ravaged” by a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. He said he knows what to do to solve the problem, though he declined to reveal the strategy other than to say it’s “tough” and “I’d rather not do that.”He acknowledged that addressing the growing supply glut, which has been exacerbated by collapsing demand, would be difficult. “It’s going to take a long time to -- to get rid of that,” he said. “There’s massive excess amounts of oil and gas. Massive. Like probably there’s never been.”Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told oil industry representatives shortly after Trump’s meeting that he expected a Saudi-Russia deal on crude production cuts within days. While he didn’t provide details on what a deal might look like, he stressed that his agency was working with counterparts in both nations, according to four people familiar with the call who asked not to be named detailing a private conversation.West Texas Intermediate crude suffered its biggest-ever quarterly decline in the three months through March. Even after the past two days’ rally, futures are still down 54% this year.Trump again Friday called for purchasing oil for the nation’s emergency reserve during the meeting. Funding for the purchases was earlier spiked by Congressional Democrats, but Trump on Friday said they should “go back and see” if it could be included in “another bill.”Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, speaking at the meeting, said the Energy Department is still planning on purchasing oil for the reserve without providing more details.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. unloaded shares this week in Delta Air Lines Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. as U.S. carriers braced for an unprecedented collapse in travel demand because of the coronavirus pandemic.Berkshire cut its Southwest holding by 4% and its Delta stake by 18%, according to regulatory filings Friday. That reduced the exposure of Buffett’s company to an industry in freefall, with Delta predicting a 90% drop in second-quarter sales and competitors making similarly dire forecasts.U.S. airlines, which enticed Berkshire three years ago despite Buffett’s longtime skepticism of the industry, are now turning to the government for financial aid as passengers stay home amid the viral outbreak. Drastic cuts to flight schedules reflect the virtual disappearance of U.S. airline traffic, with barely more than 150,000 passengers flying nationwide on any given weekday compared with normal loads of more than 2.2 million.“I wish I could predict this would end soon, but the reality is we simply don’t know how long it will take before the virus is contained and customers are ready to fly again,” Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian told employees. “Unfortunately, even as Delta is burning more than $60 million in cash every day, we know we still haven’t seen the bottom.”Delta fell 10% to $20.15 after the close of regular trading in New York, with Southwest and other airlines down as well. A Standard & Poor’s index of major U.S. carriers has tumbled 60% this year, paced by the 74% drop of United Airlines Holdings Inc.Federal AidAirlines are applying for federal aid as the government steps in with cash assistance for passenger carriers of $25 billion to help make payroll, plus another $25 billion in loans.United and American Airlines Group Inc. -- in which Berkshire also owns stakes -- are seeking help, as are Delta, Southwest, JetBlue Airways Corp. and Alaska Air Group Inc. The carriers submitted proposals for payroll assistance Friday. Several said they would negotiate terms in the coming days with the U.S. Treasury, which declined to comment.But as their customers stop flying, the companies said they would be forced to do more to reduce costs and seek additional capital because the government aid won’t be enough.About 30,000 of Delta’s workers have applied for unpaid, voluntary leaves and “we continue to need more volunteers,” Bastian said.Parked JetsJetBlue is parking more than 100 planes out of its fleet of 259 and cut its April flying schedule by 70%.“We’ve shared with you in the past weeks the unprecedented decline in demand for travel, and the situation continues to deteriorate,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a message to employees.United is chopping about 80% of its capacity this month to curb costs, with even larger cuts planned in May. The weakness is likely to linger, with United planning for sales “at least 30%” lower in the fourth quarter than in the same period last year, according to a regulatory filing.The airline said it will “proactively evaluate and cancel flights on a rolling 90-day basis until it sees signs of a recovery in demand.”Berkshire has seen enough to pare its holdings. Buffett’s company still has a $1.32 billion stake in Delta and a $1.57 billion investment in Southwest. Berkshire has to report mid-quarter changes because its holdings in those airlines are above a 10% threshold.Berkshire InvestmentsBuffett’s company also has previously reported investments in American and United, but doesn’t have to disclose changes to those stakes as frequently since he’s below a 10% ownership level. Buffett’s assistant didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.The billionaire was a longtime critic of the airline industry after making a bet on US Airways that he called a “mistake.” He even once joked that capitalists should have shot down the Wright brothers’ plane and saved money for investors.In late 2016, however, Berkshire revealed major investments in the big U.S. airlines. Buffett has said that some of the issues in the industry had stabilized as competition dwindled.Berkshire’s large stakes have stoked speculation that it could buy one of the airlines given that Buffett’s company had nearly $128 billion in cash at the end of the year. But the investor said in February that that would be “very unlikely” since such a deal would be complicated in the highly regulated industry.Since then, the airlines have plunged into the worst crisis in their history.“If anyone tells you that they’ve seen anything like this before,” said JetBlue’s Hayes, “don’t believe them.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Warren Buffett has been buying airlines on the dip. Would he buy Air Canada (TSX:AC)?The post Would Warren Buffett Buy Air Canada (TSX:AC) Stock? appeared first on The Motley Fool Canada.
(Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. spent this week selling shares of Delta Air Lines Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co.Berkshire sold nearly 13 million shares in Delta and roughly 2.3 million shares of Southwest, according to regulatory filings Friday. That left Buffett’s company with a $1.32 billion stake in Delta and a $1.57 billion holding of Southwest stock.Airlines across the U.S. have been pummeled by a steep drop-off in travel as the coronavirus spreads throughout the country. Delta Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said Friday in a memo that it expects second-quarter revenue to fall 90%.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
U.S. airlines must refund passengers when they cancel flights due to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government said Friday, a blow to at least two carriers that have been making it difficult for customers to recover their money. The pro-consumer move is consistent with the U.S. Department of Transportation's usual policy, though there was some […]
Here at Zacks, our focus is on the proven Zacks Rank system, which emphasizes earnings estimates and estimate revisions to find great stocks. Nevertheless, we are always paying attention to the latest value, growth, and momentum trends to underscore strong picks.
ABM Industries (ABM) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.
The tech bubble is popping, but not in the way anyone expected. After years of fretting that free-spending startups with unrealistic valuations would bring down the startup economy on its own, a global pandemic is doing it in instead.
General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS) is about to trade ex-dividend in the next 4 days. This means that investors who...
(Bloomberg) -- Banks that agreed to help finance leveraged buyouts are starting to feel the pain from a freeze in the market for risky corporate debt.Lenders including Morgan Stanley, Bank of Ireland Group Plc and Citizens Financial Group Inc. have been forced to self-fund at least $1 billion of loans in recent weeks to ensure private-equity led acquisitions close as planned, according to people with knowledge of the matter.Unable to syndicate the debt to institutional investors, the banks have become unintentional holders of speculative-grade loans to a filtered-water company, a pet-food manufacturer and a U.K.-based maker of audio mixing consoles for DJs, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details are private.The loans represent only a small slice of over $30 billion in junk-rated debt that lenders may be forced to take onto their balance sheets this quarter if the market remains fragile. And while the exposure is a fraction of the commitments they held heading into the 2008 financial crisis, it nonetheless risks consuming precious capital just when banks need it most.While the high-yield bond market is starting to show signs of thawing, the cost of borrowing has soared. That could erode the fees banks are due depending on the terms of lending commitments they agreed to before the sell-off, and expose them to losses if they’re eventually forced to offload the debt at a steep discount.Read more: Wall Street is quietly telling companies not to draw their loansA group of lenders led by Morgan Stanley were forced to come up with $350 million at the end of March to allow Culligan NV, a filtered-water company owned by buyout firm Advent International, to close its takeover of AquaVenture Holdings Ltd., according to the people. The funded loan was smaller than the $500 million the banks had initially agreed to underwrite because AquaVenture sold its water-treatment unit to Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners, one of the people said.Just a couple weeks earlier, Citizens Financial had to fund a $285 million leveraged loan it agreed to provide J.H. Whitney Capital Partners-owned C.J. Foods Inc. for its acquisition of American Nutrition Inc. In Europe, a group led by Bank of Ireland got stuck with around $400 million of debt for private equity firm Ardian’s acquisition of Audiotonix Ltd., a U.K.-based maker of mixing consoles used in music and broadcasting, according to people with knowledge of the deal.Representatives for Morgan Stanley, Bank of Ireland, Advent and Ardian declined to comment, while Citizens Financial and J.H. Whitney didn’t respond to requests for comment.The leveraged loan market has been shut for roughly three weeks now. While smaller financings aren’t especially painful for banks to hold, they can become difficult to offload in the broadly-syndicated market even when conditions improve, given competition from bigger, more liquid transactions.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Due to dried-up air-travel demand, airlines like Southwest Airlines (LUV) and Delta Air Lines (DAL) are offering cargo charter services on passenger planes.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- In 2017, the British billionaire Richard Branson agreed to cut his stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. to just 20% by selling one-third of the airline to Air France-KLM. In December, he had a change of heart about that 220 million-pound ($274 million) deal, and opted to keep his shareholding in the company he founded at 51%. America’s Delta Air Lines Inc. owns the other half. Branson has referred to the transatlantic carrier as “one of my children”. But with most of the Virgin Atlantic fleet now grounded because of the coronavirus restrictions, he probably wishes he’d taken Air France’s money. The company is now consuming cash at a rapid clip.To help alleviate a financial crunch, Virgin Atlantic is calling on Boris Johnson’s British government to provide 500 million pounds of government-backed loans and credit guarantees, so that credit card processors don’t hold onto its cash. Airbus SE and Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, which respectively sold planes and engines to Virgin Atlantic, have also been lobbying the U.K. on Virgin Atlantic’s behalf, the Financial Times reported.It’s hard to fathom why Johnson would throw Virgin Atlantic a lifeline before its American and British Virgin Islands domiciled shareholders have reached deeper into their own pockets. Branson himself is worth $5.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.So far, the tycoon has injected $250 million into his various Virgin companies, of which more than $100 million has gone to the airline, according to Sky News. But that clearly isn’t enough. While Virgin Atlantic’s financial performance may have improved before the coronavirus hits, in total it lost more than $100 million during 2017 and 2018 — the two most recent years for which its accounts are available.That’s one reason its balance sheet is weaker than its European peers. Lease-adjusted net debt was five times higher than a comparable measure of earnings, according to the latest group accounts (which includes the travel operator Virgin Holidays). Air France-KLM — by no means the strongest airline financially — has net debt of 1.5 times the same earnings measure. While Virgin Atlantic had almost 500 million pounds of cash at the end of December 2018, much of that money came from customers paying for tickets long before they traveled. Its current liabilities far exceeded its current assets, which is a problem if customers start asking for their money back because they can’t fly.It’s hardly surprising that Airbus and Rolls-Royce are taking Branson’s side, but neither of them were under any obligation to sell aircraft and equipment to a financially stretched airline. Virgin Atlantic had 2.6 billion pounds of future capital commitments for things like planes and engines, according to the 2018 accounts, a pile it added to last summer by placing an order for 14 Airbus A330neos.The parent company, Virgin Travel Group Ltd, further extended itself by providing about 40 million pounds of funding to a regional U.K., airline Flybe Ltd, which subsequently went bust. Pandemics are a known risk when you’re running an airline, but nobody could anticipate a shock as widespread and potentially long-lasting as this. So some government assistance is probably justified — in view of the roughly 8,500 jobs at stake. However, the British government’s offer to cover 80% of the wages of furloughed workers is already pretty generous; Virgin Atlantic’s yearly wage bill is more than 300 million pounds.It’s harder to understand why a government should provide loans or guarantees to Virgin Atlantic, when its shareholders or commercial lenders don’t seem willing to — beyond what Branson has chipped in.In fairness, the other big shareholder, Delta, is also in a tight spot. It’s burning through about $50 million of cash a day and Standard & Poor’s, a credit rating agency, has downgraded its debt to junk. However, the U.S. airline successfully extended its credit lines and its government has promised $50 billion in assistance for the industry. Delta’s market value remains above $15 billion. If Branson is short of ready cash, there are other assets he could perhaps monetize, including a majority stake in space company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., whose market capitalization is a lofty $2.9 billion. If no more money is forthcoming from the owners, the British government should insist that Branson dilutes his ownership of Virgin Atlantic as originally planned; only this time by signing over the equity to taxpayers.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
To the annoyance of some shareholders, Barnes Group (NYSE:B) shares are down a considerable 31% in the last month...
Delta (DAL) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Mrs. T. passed away on Tuesday.Her full name was Hilary Dyson Teachout, though I never knew her as anything but Mrs. T. She was the wife of Terry Teachout, the Wall Street Journal’s fine drama critic, and I should mention that she didn’t die of Covid-19. Mrs. T suffered from a rare lung disease, pulmonary hypertension, and on March 1, after years of waiting, she received a double-lung transplant from surgeons at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She spent the next two weeks in a medically induced coma, and when she came out of it, both the doctors and Terry were encouraged by her progress. But sadly, it wasn’t to be.I know all this because I follow Terry on Twitter. He doesn’t have an especially large following, but it’s a devoted one. Terry uses Twitter like no one else I follow. He rarely posts political comments, and he never insults anyone or indulges in the snark that can make Twitter such an ugly place.Instead, he uses it as a kind of short-form diary. He tells us what old movie he is watching — with a special emphasis on the score, where his expertise is vast. Before going to bed every night he posts a “lullaby”— it could be a jazz ballad, or a Sinatra tune, or a short bit of melancholy classical music. He often tells us how much he’s written in a given day, and whether he’s pleased with the result. When he directed his play “Satchmo at the Waldorf” in Palm Beach, Florida, a few years ago — his first time directing a play — he used Twitter to describe the experience in real time.And always — always! — there were references to Mrs. T. Whether she liked the movie they watched. The traveling they did. How much he missed her when they were apart. Indeed, what came through most of all was how much they loved each other. They had found each other in mid-life, and as Terry wrote in a short blog post after she died:[W]e fell in love at first sight, a thing I had never thought possible until, at the improbable age of forty-nine, it happened to me, followed in the shortest order that I could manage by a middle age full of shared joy. Thus it was only natural that when Mrs. T became eligible for a double-lung transplant, Terry used Twitter to describe what they were going through while they awaited “The Big Call.” In December, she was so sick that she was admitted to the hospital, where she was told she would probably not exit alive unless she received a transplant. As Terry and Mrs. T agonized, so did we, his Twitter followers.Then came the transplant and the hope that followed. We sent tweets of encouragement, rooting for her to pull through. When Terry announced on Tuesday evening that she had died, there was an outpouring of grief from both well-known figures in the theater community like the actor Carrie Coon and the composer Jason Robert Brown, and thousands more who knew them only through Twitter. The fact that Twitter was how we had followed their ordeal didn’t make our grief any less real.In the hours since Mrs. T passed away, I’ve been wondering whether her death would have affected us as powerfully without the presence of the coronavirus crisis. Maybe it would have; it’s rare in this age of irony to hear someone express love with the kind of open and heartfelt sincerity as Terry. But I also think the virus has caused us to think a little harder about life, to feel a little more deeply, to be a little more generous and caring and thoughtful. And given that so many of us are confined to our homes, the place to see this most easily is Twitter.Yes, Twitter. As awful as it was in, say, 2016, when anti-Semitism raged and the anger from both the left and the right boiled over into the ugliest sort of invective, Twitter has become for the most part a community in which people are trying to get one another through this crisis.Here is Susan Dominus, the New York Times writer, enlisting the composers of the songs in Hairspray to write 20-second tunes that people can sing while washing their hands. NPR’s Scott Simon is posting a daily half-hour show in which he talks and reads; he calls his show “Open Book.” The Rotterdam Philharmonic played Beethoven’s Ode to Joy — with 19 musicians playing their parts from their homes. Steve Martin gave us an incredible 78 seconds of banjo music. (Boy, is he good!)John Prine is on a ventilator suffering from Covid-19; on Tuesday, Steven Colbert played a short video of the two of them singing one of Prine’s songs. It had been taped for Colbert’s show in 2016 but never aired. Knowing how sick Prine now is, it was deeply moving.There was some (deserved) ranting at the crowds on the beaches in Florida, but there was also Larry David posting a hilarious bit reminding people of the importance of staying inside. Indeed, there’s been a lot of humor on Twitter, though none topped this dead-on imitation of President Donald Trump. (So far, it has been viewed 6.3 million times.)Twitter users have posted movies and TV suggestions to help the Twittersphere pass the time. Sports lovers posted trivia quizzes and brackets for things other than March Madness, like best TV theme song. Doctors posted advice. Andy Slavitt, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration, spends his days calling around to state officials and health care experts, and then reports what he’s heard to the rest of us. It’s invaluable information.There is still plenty of anger on Twitter, but it’s different. It is an anger that stems from the frustration of knowing that people are going to die because Trump took so long to take the coronavirus seriously — and that even now, the federal government’s response continues to be anemic, and based more on politics than need. Even Terry has posted some angry tweets about Trump — something I’ve never seen him do before.Over the last number of years, we’ve all watched social media bring out the worst in humanity. What we’re watching now is social media fulfilling the potential its creators always claimed for it. It is building a large community of people who have never met, but who nonetheless have come to care about one another and who are trying to help one another. Dare I say it? It is making the world a better place.Two days before Mrs. T died, Terry tweeted this:I know a lot of people feel the same way right now. R.I.P., Mrs. T.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.