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Even Disney Is Fighting for Its Life in the Battle Against COVID-19

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Disney News

Back when first suspicious coughs were heard in China, Disney’s (NYSE:DIS) chief executive, the businessperson of the year, the “Hollywood’s nicest CEO”, Bob Iger, was supposed to retire after four attempts with a bow tied on top of its magnificent leadership. The handsome executive, who even seriously considered running for president was rejoicing Disney’s successful debut into streaming as Disney Plus immediately threatened Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). It was all going so well before the COVID-19 outbreak.

The irony!

Disney’s beyond successful and much-imitated business model is what made the iconic House of Mouse perfectly exposed to the pandemic. Ironically, the things that helped Disney become the biggest media company in the world are what made it impossible to protect the company from the severe consequences of COVID-19.

After turning franchises like Pixel, Marvel and Lucasfilm into the biggest media business in the world, Mr. Iger is now forced to fight for the survival of the legendary company. The company’s largest division brought in more than $26 billion in the year ending last June by putting cruise ships and theme parks under its umbrella. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, all those cash cows are now entirely shuttered.

Switch to executive chairman

At the end of January, when the market was already starting to plummet and a few days after Disney was forced to close its Shanghai theme park due to the outbreak, the arrangement was finalized. On Feb. 25, Hollywood was shocked to hear that Mr. Iger’s 15-year run had ended despite the threats to the core business that were already clear at that point. No big media company could be more harmed by social distancing than Disney and only few have been hit harder by the pandemic. The new, nominal chief executive is referred to as “Bob C,” while Mr. Iger is still just “Bob.” And his title is “executive chairman” has an emphasis on the first word.

But still, it’s a matter of great good fortune that he didn’t just leave according to Richard Plepler, the former HBO chief at AT&T Inc’s (NYSE:T) Warner Media as Disney’s astonishing growth that has become the model for the modern, global media business is a true reflection of his successful leadership.

The nightmare

To give you a better idea, Disney is losing at least $30 million a day. The company borrowed $6 billion at the end of March, a sign both of grave trouble but also lenders’ confidence that it could rebound from the crisis. Disney employed 223,000 as of last summer, and won’t say how many workers are furloughed, but the numbers are huge.

There are 30,000 workers in the California resort business alone and another 43,000 workers in Florida which will be furloughed as the company confirmed on Sunday. All the workers will keep their benefits, but their last paychecks came on April 19. So other than making finishing touches, Mr. Iger’s checklist now includes the task of reinventing a company that will be deeply changed by this unprecedented health crisis.

The new Disney

It’s a Disney with fewer employees, that will have to lead the new and uncertain business of how to gather people safely for entertainment purposes. Earlier this month, the company announced it will release its live-action “Mulan” at the end of July, while “Black Widow” is now set for a November release date. According to Wedbush, this year’s box office is expected to fall 40% compared to last year with an estimated haul of $6.6 billion and the last time that happened was 1998.

Glimpse of hope- Disney +

Future is unclear for everyone and we know things won’t be the same. There has been a glimmer of good news in the introduction of Disney+ that passed the milestone of 50 million subscribers. But it is still an investment, years away from generating revenue that could replace a big movie opening in theaters. And the service is desperate for new content, and at a time when television and film production been paused. Meanwhile, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is reporting earnings on Tuesday and its shares have rallied about 30% for the year to date, contrasting sharply with the roughly 12% drop in the S&P 500 index. Last week, Netflix stock set an all-time high, establishing the company has the most valued U.S. entertainment company, surpassing both Walt Disney and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA). But COVID-19 is changing the landscape for everyone and even Netflix. But Credit Suisse pointed out Netflix’s high-purchasing power will help keep costs down once things restart.

Mr. Iger’s Legacy Will Be Redefined

The definition of Mr. Iger’s legacy has received an unexpected sequel as this iconic American companies fighting for its life. But Mr. Iger has 40 years of Disney’s household under his belt. Moreover, these bold acquisitions are what created his reputation as he quickly turned single-digit billions of investments into many more billions. Now the question is can he turn this disaster in the same way considering this lockdown plus all the limitations ahead as restrictions will still be there for quite some time?

On the bright side, Disney is not just a company but a national treasure, a globally adored brand with audience of all ages – something even Netflix can envy. And Mr. Iger’s leadership has given investors and business around the world plenty of material to keep the optimism going even in these difficult times.

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

BenzingaEditorial

Oil Giants Have Contrasting Approaches to the Crisis

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oil industry stocks

The oil industry was already under pressure due to the climate crisis and increasing regulation from governments to cut emissions. Now, many are wondering if the coronavirus is the last drop that will kill the oil industry and help save the planet. Analysts say that the oil and gas industry will never be the same. Without any exaggeration, oil is facing the gravest challenge in its 100-year history. Oil giants have been pushed to ‘survival mode’ and an environment of pure carnage due to plunging demand and a destructive price war.

Unprecedented times

With some labelling the situation as “apocalyptical”, the least lurid description is “unprecedented”. Oil prices have been the lowest in almost two decades, with even worse potentially on the way. This latest cyclical oil shock is hitting an industry whose days are counted. But the world’s economy and infrastructure is still heavily invested in fossil fuels to a truly staggering level. This means oil has enormous inertia. Moreover, the aspects that made us rely on oil during last hundred plus years are still around because it is still a powerful way to produce and transport energy.

The answer of Oil Giants

Dividend Aristocrats are still betting their future on oil

Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) is continuing to drill for oil. Chevron and Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE: XOM) are certain they can still bring in a few profitable years while their European rivals are betting their future on renewables. Chief Executive Officer Mike Wirth believes the energy business is simply undergoing another of its natural transitions. Chevron is not focused on replacing oil, but rather at making oil and gas more efficient and more environmentally benign. This isn’t surprising as it is coming from someone who profits from the status quo.

It’s a multibillion-dollar gamble that would have been less surprising before the pandemic turned the whole world upside down. The risk is that the industry’s mightiest could end up being left behind by producing a lot of climate-endangering oil and gas that no one wants or needs. Wirth insists he’s comfortable with that risk, because he finds that this energy transition is simply “misunderstood.” Exxon has also reiterated its commitment to being oil’s last man standing decades from now.

Chastened BP committed to dramatically reduce oil and gas production

In sharp contract, BP p.l.c. (NYSE: BP) announced dramatic steps to address climate change on August 4. This strategy includes an unexpected vow to reduce oil and gas production 40% over the next decade. Its CEO admitted its strategy was greatly influenced by the COVID-19 crisis.

Contrasting public approaches

So far, Chevron and Exxon’s approach to climate change is in contrast to those of BP, Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-B) (NYSE: RDS-A) and France’s Total S.A. (NYSE: TOT). All three have committed to speed up their shift to cleaner fuel sources. The aim is to align with the Paris climate agreement and become “carbon zero” by 2050.

On the other hand, Chevron and Exxon have pledged to sustain their dividends unlike BP and Royal Dutch Shell Plc that were forced cut their highly prized dividends due to the low oil prices.

Chevron and Exxon claim to support the goals of the Paris Agreement by reducing emissions, but they haven’t committed to a zero-carbon footprint. They plan to reduce emissions from their own operations but not those of their products. Their position is also politically easier in the U.S., where fossil fuels count on significant support from the Congress. Chevron and Exxon are simply avoiding the switch to a field where they have little expertise and where they perceive returns to be lower.

Business of oil may never return to ‘normal’

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden recently suggested that the oil business might never recover. BP’s Bernard Looney didn’t rule out the possibility that post-pandemic demand has already peaked. Those are horrifying news for companies that used to thrive as providers of a scarce resource that underpins the global economy. First of all, the resource is no longer scarce because of shale. BP even lowered its forecast it made two months ago by predicting that over the upcoming decades, crude prices could trend as much as 20% lower than initially thought.

Natural gas could be the answer

Natural gas is cheap these days. Its supplies also seem larger than oil reserves. Many experts are betting on natural gas to be our largest electricity provider. It is a perfect complement to solar and wind power. This is why it also makes sense to run cars on it. EVs are cleaner but their production also has an environmental footprint so they cannot solve all our problems. Another possibility is to use coal-to-liquid processes, just like what Germany did during WWII. But, it is a dirty and expensive way to increase supply. Rest assured, oil giants will explore any opportunity to keep the business afloat.

The solution could be gradual

A key question is whether the taken action is capable to alter the course of the climate crisis. Many experts are optimistic believing that the switch to renewables will provide the atmosphere the opportunity to gradually heal. The most enthusiastic ones believe 2019 will go down in history as the peak year for carbon emissions. But there are also pessimistic opinions that the fossil fuel industry will come back from the dead and that low oil prices will slow the much-needed transition to renewables.

Outlook is uncertain

Experts, including Jeff Currie at Goldman Sachs, are certain the climate change debate will take an entirely new direction. But exactly how will that look like remains to be seen. The first question is how long is the COVID-19 crisis going to last? And no one really knows the answer. But it is certain that these challenges combined are permanently altering the oil industry.

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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BenzingaEditorial

Five Stocks That Have You Covered for EV Developments

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Electric vehicles

While lockdowns have been in place around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, many people only ventured out on four wheels when they needed to get groceries. The International Energy Agency reported that at the end of March, road transport was down by half. Naturally, new vehicle sales have suffered. What is intriguing is that this has mainly affected cars with internal combustion engines produced by traditional automakers such as General Motors (NYSE: GM), Ford Motor (NYSE: F) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE: FCAU).

EVs resisted

But despite the drop in its biggest market, China, the demand for electric vehicles held up rather well. Germany topped the bill with a 148 percent increase according to Bloomberg, but then again, EVs are central to its recovery plan. Although the majority of us immediately thinks of Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) that is showing no signs of stopping as it delivered its fourth consecutive quarter of profit despite the pandemic-induced havoc, there are other EV stocks to keep an eye on.

EV Charging Network

Miami, Florida-based Blink Charging (NASDAQ:BLNK) owns and operates an EV charging network across the U.S., Dominican Republic, Greece and Israel. It operates, maintains and tracks those EV charging stations through a cloud software.

Over its first quarter, the company enjoyed a solid growth as its revenue of $1.3 million increased 125% on a year-over-year basis. Its gross margin also improved from 9.3% to 23.8%.

Blink’s international expansion continued with its second quarter as $2.9 million in revenues during the first six months of 2020 surpassed full year 2019 revenues of $2.8 million. Product sales of EV charging equipment increased more than 350% with overall 2020 revenues increasing 120%. But it still has a long way to go to profitability as net loss amounted to $3.0 million.

A different EV

Canada-based Electrameccanica Vehicles (NASDAQ:SOLO) sells a somewhat different EV. The Solo EV might look like a regular car from the front but it has only one wheel at the back. It is a single-passenger three-wheeled, battery-powered electric vehicle that the company markets as a short-range vehicle for commuting. The Canadian group plans to expand with a plant in the U.S. In early June, it narrowed its choice to five states. Electrameccanica could easily become an acquisition target in the future. But for now, it is still a company with minimal revenue.

Exchange traded fund to cover anyone building a strong presence in the EV space

Global X Autonomous & Electric Vehicles ETF (NASDAQ:DRIV) is an exchange-traded fund that seeks to invest in companies involved in the development of autonomous vehicle technology, electric vehicles, its components and materials, such as batteries, software and hardware.

It has 75 holdings with net assets close to $30 million. Since we are still on the first pages of the EV book, many of these funds resemble broader tech ETFs. The fund’s top three holdings are none other than Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Tesla is also in there, of course, but in seventh place. The top ten companies account for almost one third of the fund. Year-to-date, the fund is up about 9% and it hit an all-time high of $16.25 less than a month ago.

Exchange traded fund focused at battery technology developments

Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF (NYSEARCA:LIT) has 43 holdings with net assets close to $690 million. It focuses on the whole lithium cycle: from mining and refining the metal, all the way through battery production.

The main disadvantage of EVs is their hefty price tag. This figure is greatly influenced by the cost of the car battery. This is an area where lithium-ion batteries are heavily used. Therefore, anyone who believes in electrification should keep track of the developments on this front.

The fund’s top three components are Albemarle (NYSE:ALB), Tesla, and LG Chem (OTCMKTS:LGCLF). They comprise approximately 22% of the fund. More impressively, the fund is up over 37% year to date and  has hit a 52-week high at $38.71 just a month ago.

Solar power to accessorize super EVs

Worksport (OTC: WKSP) is soon to debut its line of its innovative pickup truck tonneau covers in the U.S., its biggest market.  The company’s TerraVis innovative technology has the potential to disrupt the overall automotive market as it integrated solar power into its tonneau covers. Its generator can store energy and increase the driving range of the vehicle. Moreover, Worksport’s pricing will make this complex technology affordable and accessible. Considering pickups are the #1 vehicle in the US and tonneau covers its #1 accessory, Worksport could have an interesting growth potential ahead.

Technology advancements ahead

Automakers need to find out a way to achieve economies of scale to make EVs more affordable and build a massive charging infrastructure all over the globe, which is perhaps an even more daunting task. But these stocks have what it takes to lead the way into electrification with new technological developments.

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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BenzingaEditorial

Lyft Vs Uber Is No Longer the War We’re Interested In

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Uber Stock News

On Wednesday, Lyft Inc (NASDAQ: LYFT) reported its second quarter results for the period that ended on June 30th. This was its first full quarter during the pandemic that ended the life we knew practically overnight. Not surprisingly, Lyft reported a dramatic revenue drop of 61%.

The full furry of the pandemic

The second quarter parked more than 17,000 airplanes as April passenger volume dropped 90%. Skies were empty, but so were streets and hotels. Hotel occupancy fell to 24.5% which is a US record low. World cities were quarantined. Bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and all popular destinations such as Walt Disney’s Corporation (NYSE: DIS) theme parks were entirely shutdown. Companies were managed from home, so employees had no need to commute by rideshare. Business travel, a growing part of the rideshare industry, is predicted to drop over 35% this year.

Lyft’s results

During the second quarter, Lyft delivered a net loss of $437.1 million. The company at least managed to beat Wall Street expectations of 99 cents per share with adjusted losses of 86 cents. Revenue of $339 million also exceeded Refinitiv’s estimate of $336.8 million. With 8.7 million active riders, it achieved a revenue per rider of $39.06. Although it did not offer any guidance, Lyft expects to achieve profitability on an adjusted basis during the fourth quarter of the following year. Unlike its primary competitor, Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER), it does not have a food delivery, freight or investments and operations overseas to help it make up for losses in travel and transportation. Thanks to Uber Eats that doubled during the pandemic, Uber managed to exceed analyst expectations. Revenue did decline, but the increased demand for its diversified services greatly amortized the blow.

But a rare bright spot for Lyft is that rides in July increased 78% compared to April. This figure provides a glimmer of hope for the undergoing quarter. But despite the good news, these 8.7 million active riders will now need to be classified as ‘employees’ which brings a whole new set of issues.

Both ride hailing giants lost the battle against CA

Uber and Lyft’s war against California is far from over but they lost the first battle. On Monday, San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring the gig-economy companies to reclassify their drivers as employees. This means that their drivers will be entitled to minimum wage, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation and paid sick leave.

President and co-founder of Lyft, John Zimmer, said during the earnings call on Wednesday that the company may need to suspend its ride-hailing operations in California which makes about 16% of its rides starting on August 21 if a court does not overturn the ruling which enacted the Assembly Bill 5, commonly known as the ‘gig-workers bill’.

Reclassification of independent contractors to employees would result in higher prices, fewer available rides and hundreds of thousands of drivers losing their jobs. The resulting wages and benefits would also cost both companies, neither of which are profitable, hundreds of millions of dollars.

The future after the pandemic

Like with many travel-related industries, the demand for rideshare seemed to have disappeared into thin air back in April with Lyft and Uber seeing a severe drop between 70% and 80%. Although things are improving with eased social distancing measures, we are still far from winning the battle against COVID-19. The underlying concern is whether the fear of infection has forever changed the demand for the rideshare model? Only one thing is certain – we’re in for an entirely ‘new normal’ even once we put this pandemic behind us. Moreover, no one knows exactly how will this new normal look like.

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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