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The Walt Disney Company
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Headlines moving the stock market in real time.
Wall Street had a lot to digest Wednesday: Congressional testimony by the head of the Federal Reserve, a possible setback for the U.S.-China trade deal, and the start of impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. Still, The Dow and S&P 500 managed to set fresh record closing highs but the Nasdaq inched lower. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers the economy was in good shape and he saw no reason why the record-long 11-year expansion without a recession was near an end. His testimony came on the same day a report showed consumer prices jumped the most in seven months, but remained below the Fed's two percent target. That helped offset investor unease surrounding the U.S.-China trade deal that has yet to be signed. Negotiations between the world's two biggest economies have hit a snag over farm purchases, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ross Gerber is CEO of Gerber Kawasaki. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) GERBER KAWASAKI CEO ROSS GERBER, SAYING: "It's clear that the markets and the economies of the world want resolution, want tariffs removed and so any hint that this deal might not get done is going to put pressure on stocks. There is no question." Shares of Walt Disney jumped to an all-time high. There were more than 10 million sign-ups for video streaming service Disney+ in just one day. The entertainment conglomerate was the best performing stock in the Dow and S&P 500. By the way, shares of Netflix were down. Also on the downside, SmileDirectClub was the most recent IPO to disappoint during this earnings season. The teeth alignment company not only posted a bigger quarterly loss, it also warned of even more losses this year. The stock saw almost 20 percent of its value wiped away.
Disney announced on Wednesday that its new streaming service, Disney+, has already reached 10 million sign-ups since launching the day before. The news sent Disney shares soaring to an all time high. Its solid start - despite a technical glitch on its debut - appears to establish Disney a leading player in the streaming wars that pit the company against Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO and newcomer Apple TV. But while Disney's day one numbers were more than three-times the size of what analysts were expecting, it wasn't immediately clear how many of those were from free promotions. Like the offer it made to all new and existing Verizon customers that they were eligible for a free, one year-subscription to Disney+. The company has told investors it plans to reach 60 to 90 million subscribers globally within 5 years, as it competes for customers in a market dominated by Netflix. The streaming giant (Netflix) currently has over 60 million subscribers in the United States and 158 million globally.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Your mother probably told you never to get in a car with a stranger. The multibillion-dollar global ride-hailing industry depends on your ignoring her. If they want to earn that trust, though, companies need to rethink the tradeoff they’ve long made between safety and cost.Around the world, passengers are now hailing more than 10.5 billion rides a year. Not surprisingly, some have ended in tragedy. Uber Technologies Inc. came under fire in India after a 26-year-old woman was raped by one of its drivers in 2014, and local rival Ola has faced a similar backlash. In the U.S., Lyft Inc. has been sued by multiple women who say drivers sexually assaulted them.Last year, within the span of three months, two female passengers were murdered by drivers of China’s ride-sharing company, Didi Chuxing Inc. Didi’s Hitch carpooling service once was marketed almost as a cross between Uber and Tinder: a taxi service that let drivers and passengers rate each other by appearance. Didi halted Hitch in August 2018 after an outpouring of anger from state media, regulators and China’s version of deleteuber.Last week, Didi announced plans to restart Hitch on a trial basis in seven Chinese cities by the end of the month. The decision follows a “comprehensive safety review and product revamp,” as well as the introduction of a new women’s safety program that includes better “risk analysis” and an updated in-app security assistant. Didi plans to spend 2 billion yuan ($285.5 million) on safety measures this year, including more frequent use of facial-recognition technology — to ensure drivers are who they say they are — and a deeper review of abnormal driving patterns, as well as more regular safety tests for drivers.But the key to the Hitch relaunch were new restrictions on the program. The service was to be limited to trips under 50 kilometers (31 miles) and women would only have been able to ride between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. By contrast, men could keep riding until 11 p.m. After an online backlash, the company revised the service to run only until 8 p.m. for both men and women.While the company’s intentions were good, more obviously needs to be done. A sophisticated analysis of high-risk scenarios won’t help you if you’re stuck in the backseat within an inch of your life. And to assume that a woman will only be raped and murdered between the hours of 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. more than 30 miles from her pickup point is clearly a bit naïve.What the ride-hailing industry in China and elsewhere really needs to do is reexamine who’s allowed to drive in the first place. It’s hard to say whether the measures Didi is now implementing would have screened out Zhong Yuan, the 28-year-old Hitch driver who was executed in August for murdering his 20-year-old passenger. After passing background checks and providing documentation, you can still become a Didi driver in 10 days or less.Instead, companies should be raising the barriers to entry so they’re hiring fewer, better drivers. And if they won’t, governments should step in. In Malaysia, regulators now require aspiring drivers to pass written exams and health checks, and to register for specific permits. Roughly a third of applicants have failed the exam thus far, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said last month, and more than 20% of Grab drivers have reportedly quit to avoid complying with the stricter regulations.Singapore imposed new rules earlier this year to bring ride-hailing companies closer in line with taxi operators. The regulations were proposed less than a week after my Bloomberg News colleague Yoolim Lee wrote about a Grab accident that left her with a broken neck and at risk of stroke. She estimated that, around the time of the incident, nearly half of private-hire drivers in the city didn't have the proper license and shouldn't have been driving. While fewer drivers doesn’t necessarily mean safer drivers, a steeper commitment at least means they have a lot more at stake to protect their livelihoods.The genius of the gig economy is the ability to make money from underutilized, ubiquitous skills. Yet the model may have been taken too far. Just because you can make an omelet doesn’t mean you should run a diner. So why should you drive professionally just because you have a license?Shrinking the supply of drivers will obviously make rides more expensive. But it’s worth judging the prospect of higher prices against the long cycle of the internet economy. The Web has made everything from academic research to air travel cheaper and easier to access. At the same time, quality goods and services can’t be free forever: We’ve seen this in the news business, where websites that once offered unfettered access to their journalism (including Bloomberg.com) have implemented paywalls. If fewer drivers means safer rides, that’s a price most people should be willing to pay. (Corrects fifth and sixth paragraphs to show Didi revised its initial policy. )To contact the author of this story: Rachel Rosenthal at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Nisid Hajari at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Rachel Rosenthal is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. Previously, she was a markets reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has finally got some strong competition. But which stock should Canadian investors be most concerned about?
The latest U.S.-China trade war setback. Walmart's blowout quarterly earnings and early Disney+ success. Other quarterly results. And why Douglas Dynamics (PLOW) is a Zacks Rank 1 (Strong Buy) stock at the moment...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- When I read my colleague Tara Lachapelle’s column on Wednesday about how the “great unbundling” of cable television could turn into the “great re-bundling,” I had to chuckle. It was inevitable that once consumers got a taste of what an unbundled world looked like, they would begin to appreciate some of the virtues of the once-despised cable bundle.Yet not many people realized that a decade or so ago, when talk about a-la-carte television (as unbundling was then called) was all the rage. Back then, it seemed so simple. As cable bills grew more expensive, consumers questioned why they were forced to take — and pay for — 300 channels when they only really watched 9 or 10. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just get the stations they cared about? More to the point, wouldn’t it be cheaper once they were rid of the 290 stations they didn’t want? Obviously, the bundle was the problem.In Washington, two successive Republican chairmen of the Federal Communications Commission, Michael Powell and Kevin Martin, were big advocates of a-la-carte television back in the 2000s. Gene Kimmelman, an executive with Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, told me in 2007 that a-la-carte television “would create marketplace pressure to reduce prices.” I wrote about cable television frequently in the mid-2000s, and the reader feedback was almost unanimous. “What we really need is a la carte TV,” one reader wrote. “That way I can buy what I want rather than what someone forces into my TV.”The one person I knew who never bought the hype was a Wall Street analyst named Craig Moffett. Today, Moffett is a partner at MoffettNathanson LLC, a research boutique he co-founded in 2013. When I first got to know him, he was with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC(1) covering the telecom and cable industries. I recently went back and looked at his old research — not only because it has turned out to be prophetic, but because a-la-carte television is a good example of why we should be careful of what we wish for.What Moffett understood, and unbundling’s proponents didn’t, was that the economics of cable was, in one important sense, illusory. Cable companies paid stations based on the number of total subscribers — not on the number of people who actually watched. This system had two big benefits. It allowed niche stations without a lot of advertising to reap enough revenue to make a go of it. And it allowed the more popular stations to charge more for advertising than if they were unbundled.Without the cable bundle, Moffett said, many of the niche channels wouldn’t survive. And the bigger ones would have to charge so much that it wouldn’t be long before consumers were paying more for their 10 channels than they had for 300.One example he used in a note to clients in 2007 was Black Entertainment Television. Without the cable bundle, Moffett estimated that BET would need to raise its subscription price by 588% to maintain its revenue at the time — and that would have only been possible if every African-American household in the U.S. subscribed. “If just half opted in — a wildly optimistic scenario — the price would rise by 1,200%,” he wrote.Moffett saw early on that streaming, barely a blip on the horizon, would disrupt the bundle. During this past decade, millions of American households have cut the cord. Perhaps more important, according to one survey, almost three-fourths of all U.S. households subscribe to at least one streaming service like Netflix or Hulu.Streaming obviously has a lot of upside. The quality of a typical, streamed TV show today is superior to the vast majority of shows the networks used to offer. Being able to watch on demand is a blessing. The fact that shows on Amazon Prime or Netflix have no ads, well, who doesn’t love that?But there have also been downsides, just as Moffett predicted. Let’s face it: you’re not really saving money. I pay $15.99 a month for a Netflix premium subscription, $11.99 for Hulu premium (which means no ads), $14.99 for HBO NOW, $11 for Showtime, and $4.99 for the new Apple TV service. If I decide to add Disney+ that’ll be another $6.99 a month.Because I’m a sports fan, I need a way to get ESPN and ESPN 2, which remain tethered to the bundle because their costs are so enormous they would simply be unaffordable as stand-alone streaming services. I’ve been using PlayStation Vue’s mini-bundle, which costs $54.99. Sony Corp. recently announced it will be ending the service at the end of January, so I’ll have to find a replacement. But they’re all in the same basic price range.When you add it all up — something I’d avoided doing until I wrote this column — it comes to $113.95. A month. Ouch. And that doesn’t include the $12.99 a month I pay to be an Amazon Prime member, which gives me access to shows like “Fleabag” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”Here’s another data point. Remember Moffett’s prediction about what would happen if BET left the bundle? We now have the proof. Cable subscribers pay 27 cents a month for BET, according to research from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. A subscriber to its spanking new streaming app, BET Plus: Try $9.99. So much for all the money we were going to save.The other problem, as Tara noted in her column, is the frustration that has come with dealing with all these different services. It means “knowing which TV programs and movies reside where, having to toggle among those different apps — which isn’t as smooth as simply channel-surfing — and managing multiple monthly subscriptions,” Tara wrote.Wouldn’t you know it: Moffett saw this coming too. In 2006, he wrote a tongue-in-cheek note to clients from sometime in the future. Streaming, he predicted, had become a burden:The complexity was overwhelming. Forgotten passwords. Balky navigation. And lord, were the subscription fees astronomical, what with the average consumer having to sign up for six or seven different companies’ offerings in order to satisfy all the different members of the family.The solution, Moffett projected, would come from a clever entrepreneur with a once-in-a-lifetime idea:What if we could aggregate all the channels in one place? Disney, Fox, Turner, ABC, NBC, YouTube, CBS, MTV, the whole works, accessible from a single source. For one monthly subscription, we could bring viewers all of this amazing content, smoothly and easily! One navigation framework. A single interface. One bill. All the channels at your fingertips. And even huge libraries of content, available on demand!!!We’re not there yet. But we’re heading in that direction. It won’t be cheap. But I have my own prediction: This time around, nobody’s going to be complaining about the bundle.(1) The firm is now known as AllianceBernstein L.P.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 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/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Video-streaming space gets increasingly intense as Disney and Apple join the bandwagon amid flaring up price war and content exclusivity.
BJ's (BJ) 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.
Anaplan (PLAN) 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.
Activist investor Carl Icahn has urged the Occidental Petroleum management to immediately sell off some of its midstream assets following the $38 billion Anadarko takeover
(Bloomberg) -- Activist investor Carl Icahn said Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s new target for assets sales won’t be achieved without a “fire sale” that includes its pipeline system, Western Midstream Partners LP, which was already shopped to potential buyers earlier this year.Occidental’s Chief Executive Officer Vicki Hollub said Wednesday in a statement she was “highly confident” the company will exceed the upper end of its $10 billion to $15 billion asset sale plan by the middle of 2020. The oil producer also said it had closed its joint venture with Ecopetrol, raising $1.5 billion in cash and carried capital, and announced $200 million of non-core asset sales.The new timing should be a “slight positive” for Occidental stock because it’s six months ahead of schedule, Leo Mariani, an analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., said in a note.Icahn disagreed. The investor, who’s planning a proxy battle for Occidental next year, said in an interview Hollub’s new sales target and the promise of dividend growth “clearly takes stockholders and the market for fools.” Icahn has said he recently reduced his stake in Occidental to 23 million shares, worth roughly $900 million. He owned 33 million shares, or 3.7%, as of June 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Results are not achieved through endless repetition,” he said. “Instead, they require disciplined and prudent decision-making from the start, which certainly hasn’t occurred here.”A representative for Occidental didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.A key to beating Hollub’s target is the potential sale of Occidental’s stake in Western Midstream, a pipeline system it inherited in the Anadarko takeover that has a market value of $8.7 billion. The oil producer said it expects to close a “deconsolidation” of Western Midstream by the middle of 2020 along with “the value acceleration of non-strategic or non-core upstream and midstream assets.” The bulk of the asset sale target is made up of an $8.8 billion sale of Anadarko’s African assets to Paris-based Total SA, agreed to in May.Icahn said he believed Hollub assumed Western Midstream was worth more than $15 billion because that’s the valuation she paid for it. “She certainly didn’t do her homework when she bought it from Anadarko,” Icahn said. “Its purchase price valuation is turning out to be a fiction.”The billionaire investor said last week he was planning to launch a proxy fight at Occidental after its $37 billion takeover of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. earlier this year. The billionaire argued the deal, which did not go before a shareholder vote, has put the company’s financial future, including its dividend, at risk if oil prices falter.Shares in Occidental fell about 0.8% in New York to $38.12, giving the company a market value of roughly $34 billion.Hollub said in the statement that she has made debt reduction and protecting Occidental’s dividend her “top priorities” following the Anadarko takeover. The stock is trading at the lowest in about 14 years as investors balked at the amount of borrowing needed to complete the deal, and then questioned whether Occidental can produce enough oil to manage the debt burden.“Hollub and her board should be on notice. Stockholders are watching and fire sales will not be tolerated,” Icahn said, adding that investors will not allow the company to pay down debt “by further punishing stockholders.”To contact the reporters on this story: Scott Deveau in New York at email@example.com;Kevin Crowley in Houston at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Casey at email@example.com, Christine Buurma, Pratish NarayananFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Line Corp. would be lucky to have a suitor. Even if it bears the name Yahoo. The instant-messenger company has been marching toward irrelevance since its dual Tokyo and New York initial public offerings three years ago, with management failing to navigate any clear future for the company or its core product. They’ve shown zero interest in geographical expansion and have instead rested on the belief that being hip in a few places would be enough.It’s not hard to see why. The company had a meteoric rise and remains favored among fans for its array of stickers, emoji-like cartoons that they often paid for. It’s easy and comfortable but accounts for only 13% of revenue and has stagnated.Now, Line may merge with Yahoo Japan’s parent, Z Holdings Corp., which itself is a part of the broader family of SoftBank Group Corp., Bloomberg News reported early Thursday, citing Z Holdings.Both Nikkei news and Kyodo wrote about the talks late Wednesday, driving Line’s U.S.-listed depositary receipts up more than 26%. Z climbed as much as 17% in Tokyo on Thursday morning, while Line’s Tokyo-listed shares didn’t transact because bids far exceed offers.Line’s parent, South Korea’s Naver Corp., could reach an agreement with Z as soon as this month in a deal that would see the two have a 50% stake each in a holding company that would own both Line and Yahoo Japan, Nikkei reported. Line confirmed that it’s considering the idea, along with other opportunities to boost value.To be frank, this is the best opportunity Line is likely to ever get. Most of the Tokyo-based company’s revenue comes from advertising fed to its audience of 164 million monthly active users. Other businesses, such as content and fintech, haven’t gained much traction despite years of trying. It all comes down to expanding the number of chat users and extracting more from them.Yet after seven years in operation, Line’s core instant messenger product has been unable to expand much beyond its four key markets of Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. That it can’t even make headway in South Korea, the homeland of its parent company, says a lot about ineffective management. You knew it was desperate when it announced a move into the cryptocurrency business.I believe that a merger with Singapore-based internet company Sea Ltd. would make more sense, given there are more growth prospects in Southeast Asia than in North Asia. But right now, Line should settle for any dance partner it can get. After losses in six of the past eight quarters and meager revenue growth, I suspect the recent run-up in its stock has been spurred by the belief it will eventually be bought. Though that may finally be happening, Z is not exactly an inspiring match. Its own revenue and earnings growth have been lackluster. At least it’s profitable, which would make a pleasant change for Line investors. Yahoo Japan’s major hope for the future is to expand in e-commerce, advertising and mobile payments. Having an instant messenger product in the portfolio would certainly help it further those goals. Still, it would likely ensure Line’s user numbers remain stagnant given the lack of growth in the Japanese economy and population. Being part of the SoftBank stable might not be a bad thing, either. Founder and Chairman Masayoshi Son is a born salesman and loves to talk up his portfolio companies. If he’s willing to spend cash to help a Line-Yahoo entity expand, then they may be able to gain some real marketing clout against rivals like Rakuten Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. But it would certainly mean the end of Line as we know it. To contact the author of this story: Tim Culpan at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McDowell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Roku stock has already recovered from its post-Q3 earnings release selloff after bullish streaming TV investors snatched up a perceived buying opportunity. But the streaming TV stock might have even more room to run...
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 posted record closing highs on Wednesday helped by a big jump in Walt Disney shares, but the Nasdaq fell as stocks were kept in check by fresh uncertainty over U.S.-China trade relations. The Wall Street Journal reported during the session that U.S.-China trade negotiations have hit a snag over farm purchases, the latest development in a dispute between the two countries that has convulsed markets for more than a year.
(Bloomberg) -- Gone are the heady days of 2018 when Netflix Inc. was briefly worth more than entertainment heavyweights Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp.Disney’s market value at $268 billion is now twice that of Netflix’s after a recent surge fueled by optimism about its rival streaming service. Disney shares rose 7.4% to a record on Wednesday after reporting that 10 million customers subscribed to its Disney+ service, which debuted on Tuesday.Netflix has seen its market value fall to about $124 billion from a record $182.1 billion in July 2018 amid slowing revenue growth and increasing competition. Comcast Corp. has a market value of $206 billion.To be sure, Disney’s market value increase was aided by its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox Inc.’s entertainment assets. The deal was completed in March.(Updates shares in second paragraph, notes Fox acquisition in last paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Jeran Wittenstein in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at email@example.com, Jennifer Bissell-LinskFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.