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BenzingaEditorial

The Show Must Go On – Event Industry Rising to the Challenge of COVID-19

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Overwin Corona Virus

Collectively, we are navigating this public health crisis one day at a time. To flatten the curve, businesses are shutting down for the foreseeable future. And if there is one industry that is disrupted, it is the event industry. The Olympic Games got postponed for a whole year and for the very first time. In the past, they were only canceled and three times due to ongoing wars. And now, waking up to cancellations has become the new normal thanks to COVID-19. This new everything-but-ordinary scenario is asking the event industry to find ways both to survive the losses caused by this storm but also think of new ways to protect the health and safety of its staff, sponsors and event attendees.

Canceled events have affected all industries

According to estimates that the data intelligence company PredictHQ pulled for Recode, the direct economic loss from the cancellation of more than 10 major tech conferences has surpassed $1.1 billion. And considering this was reported back in March, rest assured that the figure is much greater than that. What’s even worse is that it doesn’t even include the amount of money that organizers would have made from hosting the events. It is merely a sum of losses caused to airlines, hotels, restaurants, and service providers that would make money from the attendees.

The biggest tech loss was incurred by GSMA’s Mobile World Congress that amounted to $480 million, as it was supposed to host more than 100,000 attendees in Barcelona in February. It is followed by South by Southwest (SXSW) which is about the convergence of tech, movie and music industries in Austin. The event had 280,000 attendees last year and its cancellation resulted in at least $350 million in direct losses. Google I/O (NASDAQ:GOOGL), a 5,000-person developer conference, had a direct loss estimate of nearly $20 million. On the bright side, there’s Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) F8, Adobe Inc’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) and Apple events (NASDAQ:AAPL) which had virtual components that could still be held but the cancellation of their physical portion still incurred significant costs.

Some are trying hard not to give in to COVID-19 stampede

Roland Garros has been postponed for September unlike Wimbledon which had no choice but to cancel but then also is supposedly able to amortize the cost. French Open organizers are holding on to a thread in an effort to try avoiding losses amounting to $284 million.

As for the Olympic games, there is an additional cost of ¥22.5 billion (approx. $206.8 million) in terms of extra maintenance costs for venues and the Olympic Village. Another ¥390 billion (approx. $3.6 billion) will be needed to keep organizations in place for a whole year. And post-Olympics effects will take a hit of  ¥218 billion (approx. $2 billion) as a result of the delay. The U.S. television network NBC owned by Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) paid the IOC $4.38 billion for the rights to the games through 2020 so hopefully it doesn’t interfere with their 2021 summer programme as matters become stickier with broadcasting as insurance is sometimes more useful when it comes to cancelations.

Arts – film industry disappoints fans but theatre fans rejoice in free performances

The new James Bond film, Daniel Craig’s last, has been postponed for November, costing MGM Studios $30 million. Even Tom Cruise’ eagerly awaited Maverick has also been postponed as it needs packed theaters to return its investment of over $150 million that it took to make the movie that has been awaited by fans for 34 years. Whether you are a sports fan or a movie fan, you’re likely hating COVID-19 even more. But good news for theatre and museum fans are that many institutions around the globe have opened their virtual doors and are giving virtual tours and are streaming performances- for free! So, here’s to some sort of silver lining.

Nothing will ever be the same

The brave ones who will be planning large events in the COVID-19 aftermath will surely need to be in contact with both local and national public health authorities for a long time after all this is over.  Even when authorities start allowing large gatherings, there will be no way of going around the serious precautions and more severe hygiene regulations. And they are bound to result in additional costs.

New trends and best practices to cope with this large-scale disruption

Virtual events are taking place more than ever during the last few weeks as almost half of the world’s population is stuck at home. Meetings and conferences have been redesigned to become virtual events and they are doing a great job in keeping people connected. Just ask Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) whose Teams application now has over 44 million users!

But as this crisis comes to an end, rest assured there will be a lot of hybrid events which will feature a mix of live and virtual components. Simply put, although they take place in a physical location, the large part of the audience is attending remotely.

For example, The Event Institute in Paris has not given up its activities as it’s organizing virtual open doors for its prospective students at its LéCOLE which trains future event managers across Paris’ finest venues. Of course, the logistics involved in such type of events is more complex as it requires both the physical and digital infrastructure. But as long as you don’t give up, you will be even pleasantly surprised with the benefits of such futuristic events as they eliminate many kinds of constraints while expanding the organisation’s ROI potential. That doesn’t sound bad at all!

The show must go on, but how?

We do not know how or when this crisis will end yet history shows us that we prevailed through many things and came back even stronger from each crisis. Did we learn from our mistakes is an entirely different question. Let’s hope we will this time. But the good news is that the event industry, although one of the most severely hit is the one that will be needed most when things restart. Events are the most efficient way to build human connections and to build something called ‘intangible value’, one which for example defines how much a brand is worth. And events are invaluable due to this immense power they have to make an impact on people. So, rest assured, the event industry will be among the first to adapt its operations to the new post-COVID-19 era that awaits us. And who knows, maybe it can even help the overall economy pull itself out of a rut, although it seems pretty stuck for now. But the event industry will have an honorable role in our recovery as it is the most competent of all to bring humanity back to life after this virtual standstill.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

BenzingaEditorial

Should Salesforce Shareholders Rejoice or Be Concerned?

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Mid Cap Stocks

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) will have its annual meeting of stockholders on Thursday, June 11, 2020, but in virtual form. The stock of the global leader in CRM tumbled immediately following its recent first-quarter results. The months before and at the initial phase of the pandemic were exceptionally good. But it is the second-quarter and full-year fiscal 2021 guidance for the year ending Jan. 31, 2021 that resulted in a downgrade. Yet despite the damage and costs brought on by COVID-19, its shareholders have a lot of positive development to rejoice in.

Impressive growth considering the circumstances

Considering the global climate, the fact that Salesforce continued to grow at a fast pace is beyond admirable. Moreover, highlights from the start of the year include the largest deal that Salesforce ever booked and it is with AT&T (NYSE:T). The telecommunications giant will be building a new unified view of all its customer data using Salesforce. It will begin upgrading its services to create a better customer experience during summer.

Market domination

As for the fiscal 2021, the CRM giant clearly dominated the market with $20 billion of expected annual sales. In addition, the pandemic accelerated the switch to cloud computing. Over the recent months, businesses have rushed to implement work-from-home solutions. This is expected to only further boost the company’s SaaS businesses. As for 2019, it was well ahead of SAP SE (NYSE:SAP) and Oracle (NYSE:ORCL) with 18.4% in market share as opposed to 5.3% and 5.2% respectively, according to research firm IDC.

Altered Revenue Structure

While Salesforce has been known as a SaaS powerhouse throughout its entire 21-year existence, this has now changed. Its largest and fastest-growing business is now “Platform and Other” as it topped Service, Sales, Marketing and Commerce. Moreover, the shape of the enterprise is continually evolving. That’s a profound development for a company which occupies third place on the Cloud list. It is just behind the mighty Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Moreover, this is a very clear indicator that the world’s top cloud providers are doing everything in their power to enhance their offerings. The cloud is after all becoming the new IT foundation of the digital economy.

Going strong despite headwinds

Overall, this software giant proved it managed to become and remain an essential ingredient of many organizations’ operational needs. And what’s even more impressive, it maintained its status during such difficult times. The mega-cap cloud computing leader that has a current market cap of $157 billion, along with growing sales of nearly 20% and a stable free cash flow amid a deep recession, is still in an admirable position. And one that is surely envied by its many peers. This tech giant has plenty of liquidity to continue aggressively investing its development along with taking care of both its customers and employees. Moreover, the pace of digital transformation is only accelerating with lifestyles getting significantly altered by COVID-19. And like one of the pioneers leading this transformation, Salesforce has nothing to fear as it is both changing and thriving in the current climate.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Slack Fails to Deliver Another COVID-19 Blockbuster

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Stock Market Tumble

Unlike Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ:ZM), Slack Technologies Inc (NYSE:WORK) didn’t manage to deliver a blockbuster quarter. By no means was it bad as the company reported steady revenue growth with usage increasing over the pandemic. Even Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will be offering Slack to its employees. But expectations were quite higher  so shares ended up dropping 17% in extended trading on Thursday.

First quarter earnings report

Revenue of $201.7 million resulted in an adjusted loss of 2 cents per share. The company added a record 12,000 paid customers in the quarter. This is more than 5,000 in the two previous quarters. Slack’s top competitor, Microsoft’s Teams, saw an explosive expansion of 70% in April as it reached more than 75 million daily active users.

For the next quarter, the company’s guidance for revenue is $206 million to $209 million with an adjusted loss of 4 cents to 3 cents per share.

AWS investment

Besides Amazon offering Slack to its employees, Slack will adopt Amazon Web Services’ Chime video-calling technology to enhance its calling features. Slack amended its initial agreement with AWS where it commited to at least $250 million in a five-year period that ended in 2023. It will now pay least $425 million over a five-year period that ends in April 2025.

Slack didn’t board the blockbuster boat but still did good

Revenue growth was 50% which is pretty much the same as 49% in the previous quarter. Zoom pulled off a 169% revenue growth, more than doubling guidance and exceeding forecasts. Not to mention the skyrocketing usage of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Microsoft Teams. Slack didn’t manage to board that boat. But Zoom’s executives have a different way of looking at it. They find it as a great indication that they are not apples-to-apples rivals as the products are not truly competitive with one another. If we exclude the after-hours move, its shares did go up about 70% since the beginning of the year. But can Slack afford not catching up to the popularity of Zoom and Microsoft is a question that subsequent quarters will answer. Yet, many analysts see the pandemic as the point that either makes or breaks such companies whose products benefit from social distancing. If not now, when?

This article is not a press release and is contributed by Ivana Popovic who is a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . Ivana Popovic does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com Questions about this release can be send to ivana@iamnewswire.com

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BenzingaEditorial

Even Oil Giants Are Under Tremendous Pressure

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Canadian Oil

The global oil market is in a state of hysteria. And not only COVID-19 is to blame, although its impact is being felt all over the globe. It is inevitable for the near future to be filled with bankruptcies, cost savings and cuts in spending as businesses are looking for ways to get through this historically difficult period.

The troubled industry

The year already began with over supply thanks to decades worth of expansion in U.S. onshore production. The price war between OPEC and Russia only further amplified the oversupply problem. That issue has at least been resolved. But the real hit was the global economic shutdown from COVID-19 which resulted in a drop in demand. With too much oil and too little demand, oil prices have plummeted to historic lows.

Cutting dividends

The current headwinds are intense, and have led many energy companies to trim their dividends. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.B) and Equinor are two direct competitors that have taken this drastic step to ensure they have ample cash to survive and they have a long histories of reliably returning cash to investors. Even Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP) which had a streak of 47 annual dividend hikes under its belt along with a rock-solid balance sheet still felt it necessary to cut the dividend in March.

It’s only logical to question whether or not peers ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) will be forced to do the same.

Chevron cutting jobs

Chevron has increased its dividend annually for 33 consecutive years. At the end of the first quarter, Chevron’s total long-term debt had increased roughly 20% from the start of the year. At the end of May, it announced a 15 percent cut of its global workforce.

Exxon has no layoff plans

Exxon’s dividend streak is even longer as it has increased its dividend annually for 37 consecutive years. But Exxon’s long-term debt jumped even more than Chevron since the beginning of the year as it rose by nearly a third.

Top and bottom lines at Exxon and Chevron are clearly driven by the price of oil which reached historic lows. Even Russia’s second-largest oil producer PJSC Lukoil (OTC:LUKOY) hurt by lower oil prices as it reported a first-quarter net loss of $669 million on Wednesday.

Shell and Equinor Vs Exxon and Chevron

Thus, Shell and Equinor chose to preserve cash by cutting their dividends. Starting out with much lower leverage, Exxon and Chevron have more balance sheet flexibility and they are using to protect their dividends, for now. Paying a consistent and growing dividend is important to the boards of these energy giants. But the energy market is at a painful place right now.

The boards of Exxon and Chevron will make the hard call to cut their dividends if need be.

Whichever the scenario, the big guys actually have a shot at pulling through thanks to the help of the Trump Administration, unlike many of their small peers which won’t even be able to afford Chapter 11 bankruptcies.

Uncertain future

There have been multiple ups and downs in the historically cyclical energy sector over the last three decades. But the biggest change is yet to take place: the green revolution. Exxon and Chevron have taken steps toward the low-carbon future. Exxon is developing biofuels from algae, while Chevron has invested in solar, wind and geothermal power sources. But environmental activists say they haven’t done enough. So, even with the support of the Trump administration, oil has an uncertain future. And even oil giants will need to fight for survival in the post-COVID-19 era.

This article is not a press release and is contributed by a verified independent journalist for IAMNewswire. It should not be construed as investment advice at any time please read the full disclosure . IAM Newswire does not hold any position in the mentioned companies. Press Releases – If you are looking for full Press release distribution contact: press@iamnewswire.com Contributors – IAM Newswire accepts pitches. If you’re interested in becoming an IAM journalist contact: contributors@iamnewswire.com

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