Where’s the beef? Wendy’s is limiting its signature fresh-beef hamburgers due to coronavirus-related meat shortages caused by temporary closures of meatpacking plants across the country. Wendy’s serves only fresh beef at its 5,850 U.S. locations. That makes it more vulnerable to supply disruptions because it can’t rely on frozen stocks like rivals Restaurant Brands International Inc.’s Burger King and McDonald’s Corp. do. Wendy’s shares fell 2.4% Tuesday.
Norwegian Cruise Line is struggling to stay afloat. The cruise line said Tuesday that it won’t be able to remain in business without a significant influx of money needed to offset the suspension of travel during the coronavirus pandemic. Norwegian has canceled all its sailings through the end of June, and has said it plans to restart some cruise operations as soon as July 1 if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has lifted its no-sail order by then. The company is seeking to raise about $2 billion in debt and equity. Norwegian shares plummeted 23% Tuesday.
Families in need of entertainment during a pandemic are reaching for board games, not Barbie dolls. Mattel toy maker posted a 14% drop in first-quarter sales late Tuesday. Its Barbie sales fell 10% and its Fisher-Price and Thomas & Friends toys were down 25%. Those results follow a report last month from rival Hasbro Inc. of surging sales during the first quarter of board games Monopoly, Jenga, Connect 4 and Operation. Mattel did have some brands that stood out: Hot Wheels sales rose 5%, while games like Uno and Pictionary also posted gains. Mattel shares fell 1.3% Wednesday.
Walt Disney Co.
The Magic Kingdom ran out of tricks in the first three months of 2020. Walt Disney said late Tuesday that it lost $1.4 billion as the pandemic shut down its film and TV productions and closed theme parks world-wide. The global economic shutdown has exposed a central vulnerability to Disney’s franchise-based business model that uses characters from Marvel Studios or the Star Wars universe to sell movie tickets, action figures, streaming-service subscriptions and theme-park tickets. Disney+ has been a rare bright spot as people stay at home to avoid spreading the virus, and the company said last month it had surpassed 50 million subscribers. Disney shares fell 0.2% Wednesday.
Millions of homebound consumers are escaping lockdowns on their own virtual tropical islands, giving Nintendo’s business a big boost. The Japanese game giant’s “Animal Crossing: New Horizon” sold 13.4 million copies in the first six weeks in major markets since it went on sale March 20, and Nintendo sold more than three million Switch videogame consoles during the most recent quarter. Demand for the “Animal Crossing” game and supply-chain issues during the pandemic have led to some shortages of the Switch hardware, but Nintendo said the shortages had only a limited impact on its results for the fiscal year ended in March. American depositary shares of Nintendo added 2.3% Thursday.
Marathon Petroleum Corp.
After weeks of staying inside, Americans are starting to get back behind the wheel. That’s welcome news for fuel makers like Marathon Petroleum, Valero Energy and Phillips 66. The companies have said they expect gasoline demand to continue to rebound after plunging to roughly half of normal levels in early April, as states reopen from lockdowns imposed to limit the spread of the new coronavirus. Marathon reported a first-quarter loss of $9.2 billion, the company’s largest quarterly loss on record. Still, the companies are generally optimistic about an eventual recovery in demand. Marathon shares fell 1.2% Tuesday.
Uber Technologies Inc.
Uber is mapping out a revised path to profitability. After losing riders during the pandemic, Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said Thursday that Uber plans $1 billion in fixed-cost cuts. That includes lower marketing expenses, deferral of capital expenditures and a 14% reduction of staff. Those measures could put Uber in a position to be profitable in 2021, the milestone that the company had targeted to reach on an adjusted basis in 2020. Smaller rival Lyft Inc. has also shelved its profitability target and embarked on a cost-cutting effort that it says will make it easier to turn profitable once ridership recovers. Uber shares rose 6% Friday.
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