AT&T To Launch Streaming DirecTV Service, Plus Game Maker Zynga Replaces CEO For Third Time In Three Years
“I’m going after them. This is predatory pricing, and we’re going to make sure it is stopped” — Hillary Clinton, in a new campaign ad going after Valeant Pharmaceuticals for its now-infamous drug price hikes. It has been a rough week for Valeant (yesterday’s Brew has all the deets), and here’s one more nugget: RBC has lowered its price target on Valeant by $100. Yikes.
- U.S. stocks were up for a strong March start, with the S&P 500 having its best March 1 performance since 2002—investors flocked to technology and banking stocks in particular
- The good vibes spread overseas as well, with Asian stocks up across the board (led by Japan’s 4% gain), while European stocks were up over 1%
Alternatives to Watch
- For the first time in its history, Japan sold 10-year bonds at negative interest rates (meaning that people are literally paying to lend their money to the government) with demand spiking for these safe haven assets
- Shares of electric car giant Tesla fell 3% after noted short-seller Citron Research (you may remember them for going after Valeant) disclosed a heavy short position against the company, citing both supply and demand concerns
Manufacturing Up…and Down
It was a big day for the manufacturers of the world: the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) reported its February index of U.S. factory activity at 49.5, well above expectations, but still in contraction territory (anything below 50 signals a slowdown). Still, the data suggests that 2016 Q1 GDP could be much higher than the prior quarter, and perhaps even above the current high estimates of 2.7%. Meanwhile, China’s manufacturing survey came in at 49.0, its seventh straight month of contraction, and the lowest since the financial crisis. As of late, where the U.S. gains, China loses.
Barclays Gets Benched
It was bad news across the board for Barclays yesterday. Strike one: the British bank announced poor earnings, and (strike two) also reported a 54% dividend decrease, leaving investors unhappy…to say the very least. Strike three? To make matters worse, Barclays is also selling off its Africa unit, an admission that the bank has failed to take advantage of growth opportunities in the region. Shareholders were left grumbling over the news (and rightfully so), causing shares to drop more than 8%.
Honeywell: “It’s Over”
So remember that potential game-changing merger between Honeywell and United Technologies? Yeah…that’s not going to happen anymore. Synergies between the two industrial powerhouses were no secret, and the pair have been discussing a merger for—get this—15 years. Honeywell finally threw up its hands yesterday, formally dropping its $90.7 billion bid after citing United Technologies’ “unwillingness to engage in negotiations.” Maybe United saw potential antitrust problems down the road, but either way, shareholders flexed their muscles by selling off UTX stock and buying back Honeywell during the trading day.
The glory days of Words with Friends and Farmville are long gone for mobile game maker Zynga. The company is replacing its CEO for the third time in three years, hoping new head honcho Frank Gibeau might just be the charm. After a slow adaption to mobile applications, competitors like King Digital Entertainment (makers of Candy Crush) have stolen many active users. With a new direction, Zynga looks to revamp its core franchises in order to recoup losses. Here’s to Zynga harvesting some fresh users in the near future.
- AT&T to launch streaming DirecTV service, no dish required
- Facebook VP detained in Brazil over company’s standoff with police
- Canada GDP grew 0.8% in fourth quarter of 2015
- Moody’s cuts China outlook to “negative”
- Monday: AMC Entertainment (+), Crocs (-), Lumber Liquidators (-) Earnings; Pending Home Sales (-)
- Tuesday: Barclays (-), AutoZone (+), Dollar Tree (+/-), Glencore (-), Kate Spade (-), Ross Stores (+), TiVo (+/-) Earnings; ISM Manufacturing Index (-); Construction Spending (+); Motor Vehicle Sales (+)
- Wednesday: Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Costco Earnings; EIA Petroleum Status Report; Private Employment Report
- Thursday: Barnes & Noble, H&R Block Earnings; Weekly Jobless Claims; ISM Non-Manufacturing Index
- Friday: Staples, Big Lots Earnings; February Jobs Report; U.S. Trade Deficit
If you thought you were doing well for yourself, think again. This year’s billionaires list is out (courtesy of Forbes, of course), so here’s a glimpse at the fabulous bank accounts of the rich and famous:
- The Microsoft Mogul himself, Bill Gates, remained top dog for the 17th year, coming in at a breathtaking $75 billion (which is actually down from last year’s $79.2 billion).
- Not far behind is clothing retailer and Zara creator Amancio Ortega at $67 billion, followed by famed investor Warren Buffett at $60.8 billion.
- Some notable women also graced the list, including L’Oreal businesswoman Liliane Bettencourt in 11th place, as well as two Norwegian heiresses, who are now the youngest billionaires at ages 19 and 20 (cue the jealous sighs).
- So who didn’t make the cut? Valeant Pharmaceuticals CEO J. Michael Pearson and fashion designer Tory Burch fell short, reeling from the pressures of investigations and industry downturns, respectively. Better luck next year.
INTERVIEW QUESTION OF THE DAY
Your last good ping-pong ball fell down into a narrow metal pipe embedded in concrete one foot deep. How can you get it out undamaged if all the tools you have are your tennis paddle, your shoelaces and your plastic water bottle, which does not fit into the pipe? (Answer)
BUSINESS PERSON OF THE DAY
Aubrey McClendon is an American businessman who co-founded and served as CEO of energy giant Chesapeake Energy until his resignation three years ago. He was known as an aggressive, audacious leader who helped transform the U.S. energy industry. That audaciousness could be coming back to bite him, however: yesterday, he was charged by the Justice Department for allegedly rigging the bidding of numerous U.S. gas fields.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
You’ve gotta see it to believe it: McDonald’s Sweden is now making happy meal boxes that turn into virtual reality headsets. Think of it like Google Cardboard—but with a side of fries.