|Bid||0.00 x 0|
|Ask||0.00 x 0|
|Day's range||30.67 - 30.67|
|52-week range||30.67 - 30.67|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.02|
|PE ratio (TTM)||19.66|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||N/A|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The amount of new debt issued this year in the U.S. investment-grade corporate bond market will reach $1 trillion today, by far the fastest pace in history. The implications of that milestone depend on how you look at it.For businesses that had been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing nationwide lockdowns, access to capital markets was a lifeline to get through the worst of the economic collapse. Sure, Carnival Corp. had to offer interest rates like a junk-rated borrower and Boeing Co. needed to include a so-called coupon step-up provision to offset jitters that it could lose its investment grades. But, in the words of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, these deals avoided turning “liquidity problems into solvency problems” for brand-name American companies.It’s worth remembering that until the Fed stepped in with extraordinary support for credit markets, averting widespread failures was far from guaranteed. Investors pulled a staggering $35.6 billion and $38 billion from investment-grade funds in the weeks ended March 18 and March 25, respectively. Before 2020, the previous record was $5.1 billion of outflows. I wrote on March 19 that bond markets were veering into a vicious cycle that could get ugly in a hurry — four days later, the Fed announced what would end up becoming a $750 billion backstop for corporate America.Now, the Fed hasn’t actually had to buy any individual bonds yet, a fact that Powell seems proud to share. “We may have to be lending money to those companies, but even better, they can borrow themselves now, and a lot of that has been happening and that’s a really good thing,” he said during May 19 testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.Most people would probably agree with that assessment, at least for the immediate future as the country grapples with restarting the world’s largest economy. But what about the longer-term view?Here, the rampant borrowing paints a more sobering picture. As of late April, 1,287 issuers worldwide rated between AAA and B- by S&P Global Ratings were considered at risk of a potential downgrade, up from 860 in March and 649 in February. That surpasses the previous all-time high set in 2009. “Generally, we expect heavy credit erosion in coming months as issuers, especially those in the lower-rated spectrum come under heavy fire from poor earnings, continued difficulties in managing cost structures, and market volatility creating limited funding opportunities,” said Sudeep Kesh, head of S&P’s credit markets research.That’s bad enough, but doesn’t even strike at the heart of the issue. Last year was supposed to be the beginning of a broad “debt diet” among companies that borrowed huge sums to finance mergers and acquisitions during the longest expansion in U.S. history. That didn’t end up taking place on a wide scale. Even a success story like AT&T Inc., which made headway in trimming its debt stack, still found itself back in the bond market recently, borrowing $12.5 billion on May 21 in what was the biggest deal since Boeing’s $25 billion blockbuster offering.When it comes to companies directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic or structural changes to their industries, the “big three” of S&P, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings haven’t shied away from taking action. Ford Motor Co., Kraft Heinz Co., Macy’s Inc. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. are just a few of the “fallen angels” that lost their investment grades earlier this year.The rating companies haven’t been quite as keen to react to high leverage metrics. I frequently refer back to this feature from Bloomberg News’s Molly Smith and Christopher Cannon, which found that of the 50 biggest corporate acquisitions in the five years through October 2018, more than half of the acquiring companies increased their leverage to a level that would seemingly merit a junk rating but remained investment grade on the assumption that they’d take that leverage down in the coming years. Those expectations seemed ambitious in 2018, when the economy was seemingly invincible. Now, no one can truly expect companies to focus on right-sizing their debt. Corporate leaders are rightfully eager to raise cash to get to the other side of the pandemic, especially with all-in yields not far off from record lows. The vast majority of the $1 trillion in borrowing so far this year was by no means imprudent.In the years ahead, however, the overhang from this issuance spree will inevitably weigh down credit ratings. A company with more debt presents a greater risk of missed interest payments than if it had fewer fixed obligations. Fortunately, for much of the previous expansion, firms had no issue finding investors willing to buy their long-term securities. That practice of rolling over debt and extending maturities might very well be the norm in the months and years ahead, too. Still, if the first five months of 2020 are any indication, investment-grade bondholders will have to get comfortable with even more bloated balance sheets and the prospect of further credit downgrades. For better or worse, with the confidence that the Fed has their back, that seems like a risk investors are willing to take.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The Kraft Heinz Company (NASDAQ:KHC) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 13% in the last quarter...
The Kraft Heinz Company ("Kraft Heinz") (Nasdaq: KHC) today announced the early tender results of the previously announced offer by its 100% owned operating subsidiary Kraft Heinz Foods Company (the "Issuer") to purchase for cash (the "Tender Offer") any validly tendered (and not subsequently validly withdrawn) notes up to a combined aggregate purchase price (excluding accrued and unpaid interest) of $2.2 billion (the "Maximum Tender Amount") of its outstanding Floating Rate Senior Notes due February 2021 (the "February 2021 Notes"), 3.500% Senior Notes due June 2022 (the "June 2022 Notes"), 3.500% Senior Notes due July 2022 (the "July 2022 Notes"), Floating Rate Senior Notes due August 2022 (the "August 2022 Notes"), 4.000% Senior Notes due June 2023 (the "June 2023 Notes"), 3.950% Senior Notes due July 2025 (the "July 2025 Notes") and 3.000% Senior Notes due June 2026 (the "June 2026 Notes," and together with the February 2021 Notes, the June 2022 Notes, the July 2022 Notes, the August 2022 Notes, the June 2023 Notes and the July 2025 Notes, the "Notes" and each, a "Series" of Notes). Kraft Heinz also announced that, with respect to the Notes validly tendered and not validly withdrawn at or prior to 5:00 p.m., New York City time, on May 15, 2020 (the "Early Tender Time"), the Issuer will elect to make payment for such Notes on May 19, 2020 (the "Early Settlement Date").
Hostess Brands CEO Andy Callahan tells Yahoo Finance people continue to fill their pantries with donuts and Twinkies amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fasten your meatbelts, NASCAR fans! Not only is NASCAR returning, but the iconic duo, Oscar Mayer and driver Ryan Newman, are back on the track at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 17.
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. says the one- and two-day delivery times that shoppers have come to expect should gradually return in coming weeks as the online retailer catches up from a demand surge tied to the coronavirus outbreak.The company on Sunday lifted restrictions on the amount of inventory its suppliers can send to Amazon warehouses and is shortening delivery times -- which had stretched for weeks for some products since the outbreak began -- back to days. The shares rose 2.1% to $2,406 at 10:42 a.m. on Wednesday.Amazon spends months preparing for the surge in consumer demand that usually comes during the holiday season. The Covid-19 outbreak that closed many retail brick-and-mortar stores and sent millions of shoppers online created a month’s worth of Black Friday spending without warning. Once Amazon fell behind, it took several weeks and hiring 175,000 people to get back on track.“We removed quantity limits on products our suppliers can send to our fulfillment centers,” Amazon spokeswoman Kristen Kish said in an email. “We continue to adhere to extensive health and safety measures to protect our associates as they pick, pack and ship products to customers, and are improving delivery speeds across our store.”Even with the delays, Amazon saw a major spike in sales tied to the coronavirus outbreak because shoppers had so few choices. Amazon, big box stores, supermarkets and pharmacies were among the few businesses deemed essential and allowed to remain open. But the delays were starting to tarnish Amazon’s reputation with its customers and its merchants who supply more than half the goods sold on the site.Quick delivery is central to Amazon’s customer promise, helping it attract more than 100 million people who pay monthly or yearly dues for Prime memberships. Prime members spend more on the site than non-Prime members, making it critical for Amazon to get its delivery times back to normal especially as retail stores begin reopening and shoppers have more options.When Seattle-based Amazon was overwhelmed in April, many shoppers saw the long delivery times and shifted their purchases to pickup curbside options offered by Walmart Inc. and Target Corp., said Anthony Ferry, chief executive officer of PriceSpider, which tracks web traffic for more than 1,600 brands, including consumer staples made by Procter & Gamble Co. and Kraft Heinz Co.“Loyal Amazon shoppers left the site when they saw long delivery times or items were out of stock,” he said. “Buy-online pickup-in store has become a much more enticing and desirable solution when people want something now.”Amazon let employees worried about their safety take time off during the outbreak, which increased absenteeism and aggravated the delays. Some lawmakers, unions and workers have criticized Amazon for not doing enough to protect its warehouse workers and continuing deliveries through the pandemic. Company officials have said repeatedly they have taken multiple steps, including extensive cleaning at facilities, to keep its employees healthy.Long delivery times were beginning to erode Amazon’s stellar brand reputation among consumers, said Juozas Kaziukenas, founder of the New York research firm Marketplace Pulse that monitors the site. Shoppers left 800,000 negative reviews on Amazon’s shopping site in April, double the number in the same month a year ago, with much of the increase attributable to longer delivery times, he said.“Amazon is known for great selection, low prices and fast shipping,” Kaziukenas said. “These all broke during the pandemic. Selection was not always there, prices were not lowest because Amazon sold out, and fast shipping was gone.”Even Amazon’s merchants, many of whom rely on the company to store, pack and ship their products through the Fulfillment By Amazon logistics service, started doing things themselves to quicken the pace of deliveries.Bellroy has been selling wallets, smartphone cases and laptop sleeves on Amazon for seven years and used Fulfillment By Amazon because quick delivery is popular with coveted Prime members. But by the end of March, delivery times for many of its products were as long as 30 days and sales plummeted. Amazon was prioritizing essential items. So Bellroy began packing and shipping many of its products itself, and now does the logistics for about 20% of its sales on Amazon, said Lina Calabria, co-founder and chief operating officer of the company.“When you go to Amazon and see 30-day shipping, our brand is getting mixed in with Amazon’s problems and we don’t want our customers to have a disappointing experience,” she said. ”It seems like we’ve accidentally developed a new strategy for Amazon.”By again reducing its delivery times, Amazon will cut the risk of more merchants defecting from its logistics service, which generated about $14.5 billion, or 19% of its total revenue, in the first quarter. Many sellers are simply waiting for Amazon to clear the delivery clog, said James Thomson, a former Amazon employee who helps merchants sell products on the site through his consulting firm Buy Box Experts.“It doesn’t matter if I advertise on Facebook or Google and redirect people to my site and offer faster delivery than Amazon,” he said. “The biggest problem for a lot of merchants is shoppers just don’t want their products right now.”(Updates with shares in second paragaph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As panic-ridden consumers stock up on essentials, kitchen pantries are looking like a blast from the processed-food past: boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, cans of Bumble Bee tuna, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Shake ‘N Bake, etc. Brands of yesteryear that had been struggling to find their place in a new health-conscious society are suddenly having a moment once again. But a moment is probably all it will be, not a new normal, which is why packaged-food companies shouldn’t get too comfortable about their comfort food.The Covid-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders have led consumers to revert to old ways of shopping in search of ready-made meals and foods with long shelf lives. Parents who are working from home during this time are multitasking like never before, taking on the role of cook, housekeeper, teacher, disciplinary and full-time employee all at once in a Groundhog Day-like loop. As such, traditional meal times have blurred, and in some cases snacks are replacing them, according to research by Euromonitor International. This explains the resurgence of companies such as General Mills Inc., whose brands include Annie’s, Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Pillsbury and Totino’s pizza rolls. Its U.S. retail sales surged 45% in March and 32% in April. To put that into context, the company’s average annual growth rate was just 1.5% over the last decade.In the U.S., the food category that saw the biggest uptick in demand during the week ended April 25 was bread crumbs and other mixes for coating foods, followed by dough and batter products, according to Nielsen tracking. That bodes well for brands such as Shake ‘N Bake, whose parent company, Kraft Heinz Co., just reported its first quarterly sales boost in more than a year.In recent years leading up to this crisis, Campbell Soup Co. was perhaps the hardest hit by changing consumer tastes and demand for fresher foods. The company lost $8.6 billion of shareholder value between mid-2016 and mid-2018, a performance that saw its last CEO out. But amid the shutdowns, Campbell’s stock has been staging a recovery and is trading near its highest price in three years. Kellogg Co. has called this a “reappraisal opportunity” for cereal — a chance to persuade shoppers to give its sugary products another try. Speaking during Kellogg’s recent earnings call, CEO Steve Cahillane said: “Consumers rediscovering these benefits could be very positive for this category, and we plan to seize this opportunity.”But careful, Kellogg. The fact of the matter is, even if the coronavirus leaves a lasting impression on certain aspects of consumer behavior, the dislocation taking place at supermarkets is shaping up to be more of a temporary phenomenon driven in part by food shortages and fear. Consider the absurdity that about 20% of store-bought noodles have been out of stock in the U.S. since mid-March, when the earliest lockdowns began, according to Euromonitor. That’s on the same level as toilet paper shortages. Even baker’s yeast, of all things, is still sold out in many places. But just like we’re not all going to turn our YouTube-taught hair-cutting skills into new careers, most of us won’t keep up such rigorous home training for “The Great British Bake Off,” either.Consumers generally still want fresh, less-processed and healthier-sounding foods. Nielsen is already seeing this in surveys of other countries: In France, shoppers continue to seek out organic items, while Asian consumers say healthy eating has become more of a priority after the virus. And if the post-virus rise of virtual fitness classes is any indication, health and wellness is still top of mind for lots of people.It’s true, families need convenience right now and many are looking to save money as the U.S. dips deeper into a recession and the unemployment rate soars above 14%. That’s partly why seemingly dated grocery products are coming back into favor. They also provide a sense of nostalgia and familiarity at a time when life has been thrown off course.Another significant factor is all the bulk-buying: Wholesale stores such as Costco and BJ’s offer a much more limited variety that tends to be dominated by big-name food brands (although new trendier products are increasingly making their way in). Buying fresh and organic also usually costs more and sells in smaller packages. Over the next few months, Euromonitor analysts expect a greater shift toward more affordable items, private-label brands and bulk purchases.That does create an opportunity for the food giants. A downside to stocking up is all the packaging and cardboard that accumulates, taking up space. It’s an annoyance that companies could try to resolve if sheltering at home is to become a more regular part of life over the next couple of years rather than a distant memory. As U.S. states reopen, though, consumers will probably start to go back to their old routines — or at least some version of them. A bit of the doomsday-prepper mentality may remain, leading more households to keep their cupboards stocked with nonperishables, just in case. But it’s fair to say that the future of the supermarket isn’t Kraft mac and cheese or Campbell’s canned soup. It would be short-sighted to interpret this moment as a rebuke of their innovation efforts. If anything, it’s a time to step it up. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The Kraft Heinz Company ("Kraft Heinz") (Nasdaq: KHC) announced today that its 100% owned subsidiary Kraft Heinz Foods Company (the "Issuer") has commenced an offer to purchase for cash (the "Tender Offer") up to the maximum combined aggregate purchase price of $1.2 billion, excluding accrued and unpaid interest (the "Maximum Tender Amount") of its outstanding Floating Rate Senior Notes due February 2021 (the "February 2021 Notes"), 3.500% Senior Notes due June 2022 (the "June 2022 Notes"), 3.500% Senior Notes due July 2022 (the "July 2022 Notes"), Floating Rate Senior Notes due August 2022 (the "August 2022 Notes") and 4.000% Senior Notes due June 2023 (the "June 2023 Notes," and together with the February 2021 Notes, the June 2022 Notes, the July 2022 Notes, and the August 2022 Notes, the "Notes," and each, a "Series" of Notes). Subject to the Maximum Tender Amount, the amount of a Series of Notes that is purchased in the Tender Offer will be based on the Acceptance Priority Levels set forth below. The Tender Offer is being made on the terms and subject to the conditions set forth in the offer to purchase dated May 4, 2020 (the "Offer to Purchase"). Capitalized terms used herein but not otherwise defined shall have the meaning ascribed thereto in the Offer to Purchase.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Warren Buffett will address his followers on Saturday for the first time since the U.S. began implementing the state-by-state lockdowns that have upended the economy and life as we knew it. Technically, it’s the annual Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholder meeting, though much will be missing from this year’s event — people, for starters. Even so, the main draw of the weekend lives on: the chance to pick one of the most brilliant brains in business.In a live-streamed interview that evening, Buffett will answer questions submitted by investors, including presumably how the conglomerate’s various lines of business have been affected by the pandemic. But what listeners are really tuning in for are the Oracle of Omaha’s broader views on the world during a time like this. Here are five questions for him:1\. Is it time to name a successor?Or has he essentially done so? For the first time, Buffett is doing the Q&A jointly with Greg Abel, a Berkshire vice chairman, rather than his usual sidekick, Charlie Munger, who is 96 years old and resides in California. Buffett, who will turn 90 in August, even joked in his February letter to shareholders that he and Munger are in “the urgent zone.” All signs point to Abel being the next CEO of Berkshire, but Buffett hasn’t spelled out the succession plan yet. It was going to be hard enough for shareholders to get comfortable with anyone other than him someday being the steward of their money. With all the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, now is a good time for Buffett to clarify why Abel is best suited to manage the conglomerate, even through a crisis like this.2\. Could the concept of a “new normal” alter what kinds of investments Berkshire makes in the future?If Buffett isn’t using his enforced isolation at home to hunt for another elephant-sized acquisition, is that because the Covid-19 shutdowns are causing him to reevaluate what types of businesses will recover? Or is he perhaps grappling with the potential for long-term changes in customer behavior? Taking a stake in the Kroger Co. supermarket chain late last year proved to be prescient; buying preferred stock in oil producer Occidental Petroleum Corp. not so much. Those circumstances would still seem to be temporary. Air travel, on the other hand, is an example of an industry where a return to normal could take awhile — or never even come. 3\. Will the airline industry ever rebound? Buffett has a tormented history with airlines. After getting burned once by a US Airways investment, Buffett swore off the industry in 2001, saying: “Now if I get the urge to invest in airlines, I call an 800 number and I say: Hello, my name is Warren, and I'm an air-o-holic.” Well, Buffett apparently lost that number and went all in on airline stocks in 2016. Berkshire is now the largest shareholder of Delta Air Lines Inc., the second-largest owner of United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co., and has the third-biggest stake in American Airlines Group Inc. They’ve all plunged this year as the pandemic wreaked havoc on air travel — or any travel at all.On March 10, during a Yahoo Finance interview, Buffett said he “won’t be selling airline stocks.” That was before the shutdowns. A few weeks later, Berkshire reduced its Delta and Southwest positions, although it’s still the No. 1 and No. 2 investor in each. An update on his thinking would be especially illuminating now.4\. Covid-19 has forced the nation to reassess and recognize what it means to be an “essential” worker. Does that warrant new ideas for solving wealth inequality? Buffett himself employs a lot of essential workers: They’re manning freight trains that are still pushing goods around the country, as well as manufacturing Duracell batteries. Lubrizol — which makes chemicals used for everything from coating car interiors to yoga pants — has helped to produce hand sanitizer, while Fruit of the Loom switched to making protective face masks. Berkshire is also the largest shareholder of food giant Kraft Heinz Co., one company helping to keep supermarkets stocked. In that same March interview, Buffett discussed the wealth gap, saying it’s a reflection of the fact that workers are rewarded based on the skills that are valued by the market:You get this pushing of extreme rewards to people who are very, very good at something the market demands. And people demand entertainment. They demand people apparently that arbitrage securities. There's certain specialties.But they demand lots of basic things, too, as this pandemic has shown.Even though Buffett agrees with letting the system function the way it does, “we don’t want people left behind,” he said. The billionaire has often advocated for an expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit as a better way of putting more money in the pockets of low-income families than through hiking the minimum wage. That’s because the latter could backfire by increasing unemployment. The EITC just doesn’t have the same ring to it as $15, and it’s not as easily understood as earning more per hour. Buffett has also called for higher taxes on the ultra-wealthy, like himself. 5\. Do America’s best days still lie ahead?Buffett has seen his share of crises, and they’ve never seemed to shake his optimism that the U.S. will continue to prosper in the long run. “America’s best days lie ahead,” is a mantra he often repeats in his annual letters to shareholders. But Buffett has been unusually quiet during the pandemic — in terms of a lack of both TV appearances (perhaps due to virus fears) and deal activity. Investors could use a reminder of how the country’s biggest cheerleader and hungriest dealmaker feels about its long-term prospects. Is it possible they are changing? This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The Kraft Heinz Company (Nasdaq: KHC) ("Kraft Heinz" or the "Company") today reported first quarter 2020 financial results that reflected higher net sales and Organic Net Sales(1) growth due to strong demand for its leading brands, as well as the impact of divestitures, unfavorable currency, and higher costs versus the prior year.
The Board of Directors of The Kraft Heinz Company (Nasdaq: KHC) today declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.40 per share of common stock payable on June 26, 2020, to stockholders of record as of May 29, 2020.
The weather is warming up and grilling season is right around the corner. In times where everyone is practicing social distancing, neighbors are looking for ways to safely reconnect with each other and enjoy some of those summertime activities that bring us together, like cookouts and BBQs.
For over 150 years, HEINZ has proudly stood on tables in diners across the country. Today, the brand is bringing America together to support these neighborhood cornerstones when they need it most through HEINZ for Diners, an initiative aimed at helping local diners get back on their feet.
The Kraft Heinz Company (Nasdaq: KHC) ("Kraft Heinz" or the "Company") today announced that it will hold its 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders (the "Annual Meeting") in a virtual-only format due to continued public health concerns related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. As previously announced, the Annual Meeting will be held on Thursday, May 7, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Stockholders will not be able to attend the Annual Meeting in person. However, the virtual meeting will provide them with the ability to participate, vote their shares, and ask questions during the meeting.
McCormick Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius says sales for spices and hot sauce are on fire now.
Yahoo Finance discusses the food supply chain with CEO of Oscar Meyer owner Kraft Heinz.
President Donald Trump’s pointed criticism of the World Health Organization triggered a rebuke from the embattled agency.
Yahoo Finance speaks with Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio on how the food giant is navigating the coronavirus pandemic.
As communities around the world struggle to cope with the real-life implications of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, The Kraft Heinz Company (Nasdaq: KHC) ("Kraft Heinz") is providing an update on its response to the pandemic, the rescheduling of its upcoming Investor Day and business impacts to date, ahead of its first quarter 2020 earnings call later this month.
As one of the world’s largest food companies, The Kraft Heinz Company (Nasdaq: KHC) takes seriously its role in feeding consumers and their families. As the world continue to address the very real implications of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Kraft Heinz – which is co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh – has committed to donating $12 million globally to ensure people across the globe have the food they need during this challenging time. As part of this international commitment, the company has announced a donation valued at $6.6 million to help ensure American consumers in need have the food they need during this challenging time. Kraft Heinz also is working on other commitments with current community and food bank partners in other countries where it does business, including Italy, Spain, Australia and the Netherlands.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- For better or worse, the latest developments from the coronavirus outbreak have focused a lot of investor attention on the U.S. stock market. That makes sense, given that the S&P 500 Index set a record high just a week ago but then fell more than 2.5% in consecutive sessions for the first time since 2015; President Donald Trump and aide Larry Kudlow are suggesting that investors buy the dip.The $16.7 trillion U.S. Treasuries market doesn’t offer much guidance on whether the swift risk-off reaction is justified. As I wrote earlier this week, no record is safe in the world’s biggest bond market with so much uncertainty about how the coronavirus will dent the global economy. But just as important, Treasuries have been rallying for more than a year, even as equities soared, in no small part because of longer-term concerns about global growth, inflation and the limitations of developed-market monetary policy near the lower bound of interest rates. It shouldn’t be all that shocking that the benchmark 10-year yield touched 1.31% on Tuesday, a new low.What, then, can investors use to gauge risk tolerance in markets? I’d suggest corporate bonds, which offer some clues that there’s more pain ahead.Just like stocks, the credit markets reached unprecedented levels toward the end of 2019. On Dec. 18, the difference between double-B and triple-B corporate bond yields fell to just 38 basis points, the smallest on record. That meant investors were hardly differentiating between securities rated below investment-grade — otherwise known as junk — and those that still maintained investment-grade quality. I asked at the time: What does a junk bond even mean anymore?I wasn’t the only one shaking my head at that spread. Jeffrey Gundlach, DoubleLine Capital’s chief investment officer, highlighted the phenomenon during his annual “Just Markets” webcast last month, calling double-B corporate debt “one of the worst investments in the bond market.” “I think you’re much better off owning triple-B — I don’t even like triple-B — but I don’t like double-B corporate bonds,” he said on Jan. 7. Just to hammer home the point, he added: “Stay away from double-B corporates is my message.”Any trader who heeded that advice has won big in the past several weeks. The spread between double-B and triple-B bonds is now 127 basis points, the widest in more than six months. It jumped 19 basis points on Tuesday, 22 basis points on Monday and 21 basis points on Jan. 27, three days dominated by investor angst over the spread of the coronavirus. The only other comparable moves in the past year came in August, when U.S. recession fears peaked.Gundlach called the widening since December “a big crack in risk asset confidence” in a Twitter post on Monday.Charts with a left and right Y-axis are often imperfect, but comparing that yield spread to the S&P 500 since the end of 2017 shows a tight fit, especially during bouts of risk-aversion like the final months of 2018 and in August 2019. Corporate bonds retreated from their extremes at a much sharper pace than U.S. equities this time around, which isn’t entirely out of the ordinary but supports the idea that the steep drop in stocks wasn’t just a short-term blip.Now, as I’ve noted before, some technical factors are at play in corporate-bond indexes. For example, part of the reason the yield spread between double-B and triple-B bonds narrowed so much in 2019 was because triple-B duration rose while double-B duration dropped by the most on record. The duration of the double-B index spiked higher earlier this month, which, all else equal, would tend to widen the spread, though it didn’t appear to do so.Also of note: Debt from Kraft Heinz Co., EQM Midstream Partners LP and EQT Corp. remains in the triple-B index for now, even though the ratings of all three companies were cut to junk recently. Again, in theory, bonds from “fallen angels” would have higher yields than before the downgrades, which would narrow the spread between double-Bs and triple-Bs. All told, it’s probably safe to conclude that these factors are small enough and slow-moving enough that they don’t alter short-term spread movements very much.As of Feb. 24, the option-adjusted spread on double-B bonds has jumped to 2.62 percentage points from 1.82 percentage points to start the year, while the spread on triple-Bs is up to 1.35 percentage points from 1.2 percentage points. For some context, those spreads reached 3.65 percentage points and 1.68 percentage points, respectively, during the height of the December 2018 market squeeze. That suggests the high-yield market in particular could be in store for further pain if sentiment doesn’t turn around soon.As for the U.S. investment-grade market, companies aren’t taking any chances with new deals, even with Treasury yields setting record lows. Bloomberg News’s Michael Gambale reported that at least four issuers stood down on Tuesday, marking the first two-day break to start a week since July 1 and July 2.(1)That’s hardly a vote of confidence from the C-suite on the state of the financial markets.The follow-through from stocks to credit is worth watching in the coming days and weeks. As much as traders like to quip that the Federal Reserve is most concerned about the S&P 500, or as much as they use Treasury yields to estimate how many interest-rate cuts are “priced in” for the year, ultimately a lack of market access for companies that need it is a truly perilous situation.Recall that December 2018 marked the first month in 10 years with no speculative-grade bond sales. The Fed quickly pivoted in January 2019 — but what if looser monetary policy isn’t as effective this time around? Lower short-term interest rates mean relatively little in comparison to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling Americans to prepare for significant disruptions of daily life if the coronavirus outbreak begins to spread locally in the U.S., deeming it “not a matter of if, but a question of when, this will exactly happen.”Without a drastic shift in what’s known about the coronavirus, corporate-bond buyers may need to take a similar approach. It no longer seems a matter of if, but of when, spreads widen further in the riskiest corners of the debt markets.(1) He excluded the December holidays and the typical two-week summer hiatus in late August in this analysis.To contact the author of this story: Brian Chappatta at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Warren Buffett says he’s in the “urgent zone.” It’s the folksy billionaire’s way of calling himself old. But even as Buffett approaches 90, the spotlight-loving chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. isn’t ready just yet to talk about who will run his giant company when he’s gone. He still has more to say, and more to do — and that could make for an interesting year ahead.Buffett’s annual letter of intrigue arrived Saturday morning, a roundup of thoughts that the Oracle of Omaha has been publishing for six decades. It’s evolved over time into what reads like a love letter to shareholders, to insurance float — the lucrative gift that keeps on giving at Berkshire — and to America as a whole, while taking the occasional jab at Wall Street’s fee-giddy bankers and anyone who thinks Ebitda is an honest profit gauge. Lately, he’s also lamented the lack of cheap takeover targets. The company’s last splashy acquisition was in 2015, when it struck a $37 billion deal for airplane-parts supplier Precision Castparts. Berkshire had $128 billion of cash as of December, about the same level as the previous quarter and many billions more than Buffett would like to see sitting in a bank. The letter, one of two major yearly events for Berkshire investors and Buffett groupies (the other is the shareholder meeting each May) has become more condensed in recent years. But more important to readers is what’s written between the lines — hints of a major deal and signs that the world’s most celebrated businessman is about to step aside. I suspect the former will come before the latter, though not even Buffett can truly know.As mentioned, Buffett will turn 90 this summer, and his right-hand man Charlie Munger is 96. His letter contained an anecdote about a friend from his past who, at the relatively ripe age of 80-something, kept receiving requests from a local newspaper for biographical data so that it could prep the man’s obituary. The request was marked “URGENT.” “Charlie and I long ago entered the urgent zone,” Buffett wrote, assuring shareholders that their company is “100% prepared” for the sad day of their departure and even sharing some details about his will. In my decade covering Berkshire, it’s the most I can remember Buffett discussing what will happen when he’s gone.Over 12 to 15 years after his death, Buffett’s class A shares will be converted into B shares and distributed to various charities; the executors and trustees are otherwise instructed not to sell any Berkshire stock, no matter what. That’s putting a lot of faith in the next CEO, whoever it is. Buffett’s still keeping hush about his succession plans. But in a first this year, he said that shareholders can direct questions directly to his lieutenants, Greg Abel and Ajit Jain, at the May investor meeting. It’s something I suggested Berkshire should start doing at last year’s meeting, and indeed Buffett did hand Abel the mic in a rather symbolic, if impromptu, moment during the Q&A session. Not long ago, Abel’s title was expanded from head of Berkshire Hathaway Energy to vice chairman of all the company’s various operations — except for insurance, which is overseen by Jain. Notably, this year’s letter signaled a desire to invest more of the energy division’s retained earnings to take on large utility projects. He said Berkshire’s operations in the Omaha-based company’s neighboring state of Iowa will be wind self-sufficient by next year thanks to investments in wind turbines, which have helped to keep rates lower than the competition as profits soar. Berkshire Hathaway Energy and BNSF — the railroad Berkshire bought in 2009 — together earned $8.3 billion last year, making them two of the biggest contributors to profit. Abel’s rising profile, along with the emphasis on energy, leads me to wonder whether he’s not only being groomed to take over for Buffett, but also whether Abel could soon make his own M&A splash. Separately, Todd Combs, who manages some of Berkshire's stock-market portfolio, was recently tapped to be CEO of its Geico insurance business. Despite his dual-function sparking succession curiosity, he didn't get a shout-out in the letter.Buffett’s letter always includes a rant on the topics du jour, and this year’s was corporate governance. He penned a section on the “vexing problem” of subservient corporate boards made up of overpaid aging directors, especially those who don’t tap into their own savings to buy shares in the companies they serve. Of course, Berkshire is guilty of some of that. The average age of its board is 74 (including three nonagenarians). Buffett’s celebrity and track record has also allowed him to skirt many of the corporate governance customs expected of other CEOs, such as quarterly earnings calls, more detailed filings and returning cash to shareholders. His successor may not be given so much leeway, especially not with $128 billion sitting around. Reading that finger-wagging section, it was hard not to think of Boeing Co. and General Electric Co. — one company that was once seen as Buffett-investment quality, and another that in many ways tried to be like Berkshire. The downfall of each has been a devastating display of what can happen when leadership isn’t held to account, and I imagine that’s the sort of thing Buffett had in mind when he was writing. Then again, his investment in Kraft Heinz Co. is almost the pot calling the kettle black. Kraft Heinz juiced Ebitda by irresponsibly under-investing in its business — which goes completely against the Buffett way — and all the while it happened under Buffett’s nose. Berkshire is the largest shareholder, and while the Kraft Heinz holding is carried at $13.8 billion on its balance sheet, it had a market value of only $10.5 billion as of Dec. 31 (and is worth even less than that now).Buffett only reveals what he wants to, and it’s clear that succession is on his mind, as is his unending hunger for deals. Is it urgent enough for him to strike soon? To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston discusses with Yahoo Finance how the coronavirus has impacted results in China for the beverage and snacks giant.