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R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company
Yahoo Finance talks with Levi's CEO Chip Bergh about the company's latest earnings and the future of retail following the coronavirus outbreak.
During his daily White House appearances, President Trump has not shied away from calling out companies by name. Here’s a running tally of the companies he’s focused most of his attention on.
Early this year, the United States was weighing whether to deny GE's latest license request to provide the CFM LEAP-1C engine for the narrow-body COMAC jet, which is expected to go into service next year. The U.S. Department of Commerce, which issues such licenses, declined to comment, saying it cannot discuss individual license applications. The White House also declined to comment.
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Moderna, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Zoom Video Communications, Peloton Interactive and Costco Wholesale
Peloton, whose flagship product is a stationary exercise bike priced at over $2,200, had said on Friday an employee at its New York City-based production studio has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/3/21207751/peloton-live-classes-employee-tested-positive-covid-19 by The Verge. Peloton said https://blog.onepeloton.com/peloton-covid-19-initiatives on Monday it would continue to add new, pre-recorded content on its Peloton App, which has a monthly subscription cost of $12.99.
(Bloomberg) -- When Donald Trump toured an Austin, Texas, factory in November alongside Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, the president promoted the event as a celebration of U.S. manufacturing and the return of good-paying jobs to the country.The Apple CEO had successfully made his case to the administration that some components for his company’s products should be excluded from Trump’s China tariffs in exchange for keeping production in the U.S.“Today, I opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas that will bring high-paying jobs back to America,” Trump tweeted on Nov. 20.But the facility Trump visited is owned and operated by contract manufacturer Flex Ltd. and has been open for 30 years. For decades, it has been producing various devices for many companies including Cisco Systems Inc. Apple has been at the Flex plant since 2013.Computer Parts“He doesn’t have to worry about tariffs,” Trump said of Cook during the Nov. 20 factory tour. “Because when you build in the United States, you don’t have to worry about tariffs.”Two months earlier, the iPhone maker was exempted from tariffs levied on components it imports from China that are used in the Mac Pro desktop put together at the Flex plant. The removal of a 25% surcharge on items like power supplies and printed circuit boards that house the main components of the computer lowered Apple’s costs and, according to Cook, was the reason why the Cupertino, California-based company continued its manufacturing at the Austin factory.But other companies, like San Jose, California-based Cisco, didn’t receive the same treatment. Now jobs related to the manufacture of its products are at risk.In July 2019, Cisco asked the government to exempt the company’s power supplies for U.S.-made servers and switches from the same 25% tariff. Cisco said neither this China-made product nor a comparable one is available in the U.S. or from sources in third countries.Tariff ExemptionsCisco, like many other U.S. companies, was making the same plea to the Trump administration as Apple had: The exemptions were necessary to save good-paying American jobs.After months of being stuck in the process, Cisco was told March 5 that its application for the tariff exemption was denied.“After careful consideration, your request was denied because the request concerns a product strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs,” Joseph Barloon, general counsel for the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, wrote in the denial notice.The applications for an exemption from Apple and Cisco were strikingly similar, particularly when it came to the question of whether their products helped China expand its industrial might.Power Supply“The subject power supplies are not strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or any other Chinese industrial policy,” Cisco wrote. “The manufacture of these products in China is unrelated to China’s efforts to develop indigenous, advanced Information and Communications Technology products.”Apple used nearly identical language, saying: “This product is a component of a consumer electronic device. It is not strategically important or related to ‘Made in China 2025’ or other Chinese industrial programs.”Indeed, the power-supply boxes imported from China don’t require cutting-edge technological know-how. They are mostly made up of large spools of copper wire, capacitors and other basic wiring. They haven’t been made in the U.S. for years and don’t require highly paid skilled labor.Apple’s application to get a tariff exclusion was approved in September 2019.Tariff ReliefA USTR spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment when asked why Apple’s power supply unit doesn’t constitute a product that’s strategically important to China’s industrial programs if an almost identical one from Cisco does.Cisco representatives specifically told USTR and others in the administration while the applications were pending that jobs were at risk, according to sources familiar with the process who asked not to be identified discussing private talks.In a statement after the decision, Cisco said the exemptions it sought “would support the competitiveness of this domestic manufacturing.”The company said it would continue to work with the trade representative’s office for tariff relief on other items, including “for communications equipment that we believe are vital to support the medical response to the coronavirus.”USTR doesn’t make public the reasons why it approves a company’s exemption requests. The business community writ large has complained about the lack of visibility into why certain companies get what appears to be preferential treatment over others.San Jose, California-based Flex, which works for both companies, said in a statement that “securing waivers for tax exemptions is an individualized process based on each customer situation” and declined to identify other customers that use the Austin plant. “Flex’s global footprint provides our customers with options for manufacturing locations, however, we also work closely to help our customers secure tariff exemptions based on their needs.”A group of Texas lawmakers in a letter to trade chief Robert Lighthizer last year underscored that jobs are on the line in Cisco’s case. “Cisco’s operations in Texas directly support more than 1,150 jobs in our state and indirectly support thousands of related jobs in logistics, warehousing, distribution and transportation,” the lawmakers said in their Sept. 13 letter.The decision by the trade office means it’s now a lot cheaper for Cisco to put together its servers, switches and routers in Flex plants in Mexico and export the finished device tariff-free to the U.S. The company declined to say what actions it would take regarding jobs or manufacturing in light of the denial of tariff exemption.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) -- After a long stint embedded in his home office, Jeffrey Katzenberg felt almost ready to take a break. He was looking forward, he said on a Zoom call in late March, to watching more of “Tiger King,” the wacko documentary series from Netflix about big-cat trainers behaving badly, which was currently captivating large numbers of homebound viewers. A few years ago, Katzenberg said, he’d come across Joe Exotic, the incarcerated zookeeper at the center of the Florida-noir series, and had considered making a show about him. But it never came to pass, and now he was in the same boat as everybody else, stuck at home, watching the hit program on Netflix. The special powers of exotic animals seemed to be lingering on his mind. The press could hound him all they wanted but he didn’t scare easily, he explained. He leaned forward, took a pinch of his arm, and held it up to his computer’s camera. “This is rhino skin,” said Katzenberg. In the days ahead, he will certainly need all the big rhino energy he can muster. On Monday, Katzenberg and his business partner Meg Whitman, the former chief executive officer of EBay, are overseeing the much-anticipated launch of Quibi, a short-form mobile video service that arrives into a crowded field of fierce competitors who are digging in for a long, bloody battle. Quibi, which will eventually cost $5 a month with ads, or $8 without them, will roll out 175 shows this year. The kaleidoscopic slate of programming is a mix of comedic series, dramas, reality shows, and topical news programs — all of it serialized into brief episodes. The idea is to reach out and grab users’ attention for a few minutes at a time whenever they’re idly staring down at their phones. In one cooking competition, food is blasted out of a cannon onto participants’ faces. In another show, a sex therapist talks about how to date during a pandemic.While Quibi can sometimes sounds like a film school fever dream, it’s one of the more ambitious projects to emerge in recent years from the crossroads of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. To date, the company has collected about $2 billion worth of investment, much of it coming from major media companies. It has written checks to some of the biggest celebrities in the world. Steven Spielberg and Bill Murray are contributors. “The first thing you have to understand is, if you are a storyteller and you work in Hollywood — movies, television, animation, I don’t care, any part of it — you are an entrepreneur,” said Katzenberg. “And that entrepreneurial spirit hasn’t been tapped in a while.”Despite Katzenberg’s impressive track record in the entertainment business, plenty of competitors, critics and industry analysts are betting on Quibi to lose. “Our reaction out of the gate was: ‘I think this is gonna be pretty tough,’” said Stephen Beck, founder and managing partner of management consulting firm CG42. “Free short-form video on your mobile phone already exists, and you can get a lot of it by relatively big-name stars.” See, for example, YouTube. Katzenberg said he has found some of the more pointed criticism of the yet-to-launch service downright amusing. In February, the New York Times published a lengthy essay by writer Dan Brooks entitled “What’s a Quibi? A Way to Amuse Yourself Until You’re Dead,” which argued that the service cynically aimed to exploit consumers’ already unhealthy addictions to smartphones. Katzenberg said that after reading the piece, he reached out to its author and set the guy up with a phone loaded with Quibi content. That’s Rhino Skin, buddy. (Brooks said in an email the shows he saw were “uneven.”) “I asked my kids: ‘Are your friends watching stuff on their phones?’ They said: ‘Absolutely.’ So we wrote the script.”On Feb. 2, Quibi ran a Super Bowl ad in which a bunch of bank robbers wait for their getaway driver, who is distracted mid-heist by a Quibi show on his phone. Tagline: “Episodes in 10 Minutes or Less.” In the weeks that followed, Katzenberg and his colleagues were planning to advertise heavily during other major sports events, including March Madness. The campaign was supposed to culminate with a star-studded premiere party at 3Labs in Culver City, California. All of it was conceived to generate a ton of free press. Getting Quibi’s quirky-sounding name out as much as possible was important. Outside of the entertainment and media industries, few people knew what Quibi was. In a poll commissioned by the Hollywood Reporter and Morning Consult in March, 81% of adults said they’d heard little or nothing at all about Quibi. But before Quibi could promote itself to America’s legions of live-sports viewers, the pandemic hit and the entire sports industry ground to a halt. Quibi would have to turn elsewhere for introductions en masse. In mid-March, with businesses and schools shutting down around the country, Katzenberg, Whitman and the board discussed the possibility of delaying Quibi’s April 6 launch date. "We said, ‘OK, we can launch, but should we launch?’” Whitman told Bloomberg Television. “We’re not health-care professionals, we’re not first responders. But we thought what we do is inform, entertain and inspire. So we thought we could bring a little joy and light and levity to people’s challenges right now. So we decided to go."Rather than postponing, they tweaked the rollout. They decided to give away the service for free for the first 90 days, a way of appealing to cash-strapped viewers suddenly grappling with a dire economic situation. Quibi also shifted the focus of its advertising blitz away from live TV events and onto social media.Katzenberg and his colleagues have since rolled out a campaign in which the company is paying its series’ stars like Chrissy Teigen to hype Quibi on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Meanwhile, many contributors in Hollywood are watching the launch with curiosity. Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the fraternal screenwriters known for comedies like “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary,” have a Quibi show in the works, entitled “The Now,” starring Dave Franco and Bill Murray, which will premier in May. In separate phone interviews, the Farrelly Brothers said it was a little weird to make a film that needed a cliffhanger every 10 minutes, but ultimately that it was “a fun experiment.”“I rarely watch things on my phone, certainly not television,” said Peter Farrelly. “So I asked my kids: ‘Are your friends watching stuff on their phones?’ They said: ‘Absolutely.’ So we wrote the script.”While the new service may feel experimental, Katzenberg is quick to point out that Quibi has plenty of historical precedents. He cites Charles Dickens as a producer of Quibi-like narratives, as well as Dan Brown, the author of “The DaVinci Code.” Both writers, Katzenberg said, were masters of feeding audiences long stories in installments. For readers lacking time or self-discipline, that meant they could consume a sprawling, complex tale in brief increments over weeks or months without losing the plot. Quibi’s kickoff comes not long after the debut of Disney+, the robust streaming service that arrived in the U.S. in November and quickly attracted more than 28 million subscribers. Disney can be a tough act to follow. Katzenberg should know. During the ’80s and early ’90s, he oversaw a major revival of Disney’s animation division. While he may have missed out on “Tiger King,” back in 1994, he found an epic feline hit in “The Lion King,” which went on to gross hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office for Disney and has since spawned an impressive litter of spinoff movies and shows. These days, “The Lion King” franchise is still hard at work, attracting streaming subscribers to Disney+. “They got 100 years, the greatest brands ever known, the most amazing library ever, and ‘The Mandalorian,’” said Katzenberg, referring to a popular Star Wars show.Quibi, by contrast, has got some interesting mobile viewing technology, a large batch of unproven programming and some great expectations. Katzenberg said that of the 50 shows that Quibi will offer people in the first two weeks, he expects eight to 10 to go viral. “Meaning, in the same way we’re laughing about ‘Tiger King,’” he said. “You’re hearing about it through a connection. We’re not allowed to be around one another, but we are all still connected.” 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.
A one-time $1,200 cash payment from the federal government is widely expected to arrive around the middle of April. Here's how to use it -
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Aluminum isn’t the worst-performing base metal this year, an honor that goes to copper. Yet that’s only because it had less far to fall: Demand was ailing well before the coronavirus forced some three billion people to stay home. Add the near-total shutdown of the world’s auto and aviation industry, crunching more than a third of demand, and the lightweight metal is fast heading for levels last seen during the global financial crisis. That should translate into some of the mining industry’s deepest cuts as the pandemic forces producers such as Alcoa Corp. and Rio Tinto Group to take long-overdue decisions.Aluminum is a serial underperformer, having racked up the biggest real losses for any base metal since 1913, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Demand has slowed for a decade, and a surplus was expected this year even before the current crisis. Prices have declined for eight consecutive weeks to below $1,500 per metric ton. That’s made most of the world’s production unprofitable.The metal has never been good at responding fast to a changing market. That’s partly because it’s inexpensive to mine the raw material bauxite. At the same time, smelters that produce aluminum metal from its oxide are slow and expensive owing to fixed costs such as power. As a result, the industry is still working through the stockpile accumulated during the last crisis. In this context, it’s less surprising that China’s aluminum production increased in the first two months of the year.The scale and speed of the demand drop caused by the coronavirus will test the industry’s elasticity. Aircraft makers are pondering production cuts, while automakers have shut down from Japan to Germany. The premium paid by Japanese buyers over the London Metal Exchange price is at its lowest in over three years. Car sales in locked-down economies have dropped by around 80%. Other sources of demand, like machinery, have been little better. While shoppers have hoarded canned food, this accounts for a small fraction of aluminum usage.Analysts at BMO LLC estimated late last month that worldwide primary aluminum demand could fall 6% in 2020 from a year earlier — similar to 2008, but larger in absolute volume terms. That’s not the steepest estimate out there, yet they suggest it already entails an unsustainable surplus of 4.2 million tons, roughly 5% of global demand. Aluminum giants cut back during the global financial crisis, and a few years later in 2015, when cheap Chinese metal flooded the market. China won’t help much to soften the blow this year, even when the full extent of Beijing’s stimulus plan is unveiled. In 2009, when consumption dropped 17% outside China, it rose 15% inside the country, according to a Boston Consulting Group report. This time, even Chinese appetite could take years to recover fully.There are some welcome signs of realism. Norsk Hydro ASA said last week it would postpone the restart of its Husnes plant. Analysts at CRU Group estimate some 365,000 tons of Chinese capacity has already been taken out. More should be on the way, even if low-cost production from the likes of China Hongqiao Group Ltd. is spared: Russian giant United Co. Rusal estimated in mid-March that at prices below 13,000 yuan ($1,830) per metric ton, more than a quarter of China’s smelters, equivalent to 10 million tons of annual capacity, were losing money. Less environmentally friendly operations will suffer disproportionately.Rio Tinto, meanwhile, had already been reviewing its Tiwai Point smelter in New Zealand and its ISAL smelter in Iceland, and now needs to think hard about the capital allocated to its least profitable division.All of those cuts and more will be needed, especially if demand weakness lingers. BMO forecasts 4.2 million tons per year of idled capacity by the third quarter, rising to 10 million tons by 2025. There are plenty of unknowns, from how long the downturn lasts to the level of demand from traders seeking to bet on stronger markets down the road. For now, absent a significant reduction to supply, it’s hard to see anything but a dim future.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia.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.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Writing to shareholders this week, BlackRock Inc.s chief executive officer Larry Fink ruminated on how business and society will be reshaped by the searing experience of the new coronavirus:“People worldwide are fundamentally rethinking the way we work, shop, travel and gather. When we exit this crisis, the world will be different. Investors’ psychology will change. Business will change. Consumption will change. And we will be more deeply reliant on our families and each other to stay safe.”I had a similar epiphany this week while trying to cut my own hair — it turns out my regular $30 haircut isn’t as essential as I’d thought. Preparing a meal for my family later that evening made me think that eating out or getting dinner delivered isn’t as rewarding as home cooking. Right now the do-it-yourself version also feels a whole lot safer, and probably will do for a while.Compared to the courage shown by medical workers and those in other essential functions, and the devastation wrought by coronavirus on already vulnerable communities, many of us in the western world have it easy. We’re asked to do no more than stay home. But in between worrying about our jobs, our parents and how to entertain or home-school children, we’re reevaluating priorities. What will we do differently when this is over? What will we prize more and what will we give up? Once the immediate battle to protect employees and remain solvent has passed, the business world will have to confront these questions too. Two themes stand out: Instead of visiting far-flung places and seeking out mass entertainment, I’m sure there will be a bias toward more modest, local activities. And where the coronavirus has exposed dependency or vulnerability, as with the business world’s complex cross-border supply chains, we’ll seek more security and resilience.Looming above all of this is the damage that the lockdowns are inflicting on people’s incomes. The longer the economic shutdown lasts, the more reluctant the world’s consumers will be to spend, period. With more than 10 million Americans filing new unemployment claims in the past fortnight, the omens aren’t good.In the worst-affected sectors such as travel, hospitality and leisure, businesses are already facing a bleaker future. Increased consumer awareness about the negative environmental and social impact of mass tourism has now been compounded by the realization that people on planes and pleasure boats carried the virus around the globe. Lufthansa AG’s boss, Carsten Spohr, thinks the German airline will have to shrink because the economy will be smaller than before. Easyjet Plc’s founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, said similar this week when calling on the carrier to cancel a big order from Airbus SE.Even once travel restrictions are lifted, demand for cruises may remain weak for a “significant length of time,” Carnival Corp. warned. The beleaguered company had to offer bond-buyers an 11.5% interest rate to get them to back a $4 billion debt offering. That’s a bad sign.Fitness is another industry that relies on cramming people into confined spaces. Until recently it was booming but customers are discovering much cheaper ways to work out. Having sampled online classes and the time-saving benefit of exercising at, or close to, home, some memberships won’t be renewed. Good news for Peloton Interactive Inc.’s indoor cycling business, perhaps not for Planet Fitness Inc. or The Gym Group Plc. Until coronavirus came along, the tech world seemed hell-bent on taking agency away from individuals and consigning ownership to the dustbin. Why learn to cook when you can have food delivered in 30 minutes? Why own a car when you can take an Uber? Why look after your gadgets, when those nice people at Apple will fix them for you. But as my colleague Adam Minter pointed out this week, it’s only in a crisis that you discover the drawbacks of not being able to repair your own phone.There will be winners from this realignment too. Right now, auto sales are collapsing in Europe because you can’t go to a showroom and you’re not meant to drive far, but the freedom and security of owning a vehicle might cause sales to rebound more quickly than other discretionary purchases (provided of course that governments can curb unemployment). In China, emerging from the first virus wave, cautious consumers have begun returning to car dealers. Home improvement stores saw a brisk trade from customers wanting to fix up their homes, balconies and allotments whilst on lockdown, and some hardware stores remain open. Once the housing market reopens, urbanites may decide they’ve had enough of crowded cities and tiny apartments. The countryside is suddenly more appealing — the more so if employers become more trusting of those who want to work from home. Coronavirus has exposed our vulnerability and it won’t be the last crisis. Our planet-warming emissions mean more pain is preordained. Faced with uncertainty or disaster, humans respond by trying to strengthen their communities. We’ll also seek more control over our lives. For societies, that means equipping our health services, paying key workers properly and securing supplies. As individuals, it means out-sourcing fewer decisions and mastering things for ourselves. 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.
Cloud computing comes to the rescue as countries practice social distancing, making people work remotely to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Stocks ended Friday’s session and the week lower after market participants digested mounting signals of economic devastation amid the still-escalating coronavirus pandemic.
Webex and rival meeting platforms from Zoom and Microsoft Corp's Teams are being used worldwide to host everything from virtual classrooms and business meetings to church services, as people stay at home to restrict the spread of the pandemic. It was, however, not clear if the number was comparable with Cisco's due to the different ways the companies calculate meeting attendees.