|Day's range||295.45 - 295.45|
In this episode of Influencers, Ford CEO Jim Hackett joins Andy Serwer to analyze the health of the U.S. auto industry and discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the American workforce.
(Bloomberg) -- In a rare public appearance last week, Fosun Group founder and billionaire Guo Guangchang teamed up with one of China’s biggest online marketing celebrities to tout luxury resort packages and masks from French fashion label Lanvin.For the 53-year-old tycoon, the live-streaming act was part of a plan to tap a surge in e-commerce as the coronavirus pandemic locked down many parts of the world, and social distancing drove consumers to the virtual world. In China, retail sales at stores plunged 16% in the first four months of the year, while purchases online grew about 2%, according to official data.“Measures like live-streaming will definitely become an important platform for communicating with customers in the future,” Guo said in an interview. Developing the group’s live-streaming capability is “an important part of Fosun’s overall strategic focus and transformation,” he said.As the contagion gives a boost to online shopping, live-streamed commerce has been gaining popularity in China with Tesla car dealerships to air-conditioner makers such as Gree Electric Appliances Inc. Many firms are stepping up their presence on platforms such as Kuaishou, Weibo and Douyin -- TikTok’s Chinese twin -- for internet marketing in the post-virus world and to even close sales.Shanghai-based Fosun is increasing investments in tools such as live-streaming, Guo said Tuesday. The conglomerate, whose businesses span retail, finance, tourism and health care, will also collaborate with popular e-commerce and social media platforms such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao, Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and ByteDance Ltd.’s Douyin, he said.Founded in 1992, Fosun is one of the last remaining acquisitive Chinese groups that spent billions of dollars to snap up assets abroad. It operates businesses in markets from China to Europe, U.S. and emerging markets in Asia, South America and Africa, including French fashion house Jeanne Lanvin SA and resort chain Club Med SA.The pandemic has hit the group’s retail and tourism businesses in particular. Unit Fosun Tourism Group called the coronavirus outbreak “the biggest Black Swan event” that will dent earnings, adding it was delaying capital spending on some of its resorts.Fosun staff and live-streaming partners have made nearly 300 live broadcasts this year, generating 100 million yuan ($14 million) in revenue. They made 190 live broadcasts all of last year, the company said, but declined to disclose last year’s live-streaming related revenue.Kim KardashianGuo -- whose net worth is $4.2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index -- first participated in a live-streaming session on April 1 following the annual earnings call for flagship Fosun International Ltd. He sold a $4,050 Lanvin bag during his five-minute appearance on that show, which attracted more than 14,000 viewers.But on May 15, Guo’s managed to lure 19 million views, thanks to Viya, who has over 22 million followers on Taobao. She shot to the international stage last year after streaming with Kim Kardashian on Tmall to promote the U.S. reality television star’s beauty line. Ranked by Alibaba as Taobao’s No. 1 live-streamer, Viya even sold a rocket launch service last month for 40 million yuan.During the appearance with Viya, Guo demonstrated tai chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, and gave away gifts including stays at the plush Atlantis Sanya resort in Hainan, health management plans and fashionable masks. The show, where Viya also sold other Fosun products, generated 62 million yuan in sales, an eight-fold growth from a similar show last year, according to the conglomerate.Family DayThe promotion is part of the annual “515 Fosun Family Day Festival,” one of the group’s largest sales events that ends next month. The two-month festival this year has generated over 1.5 billion yuan in overall sales as of May 17, including over 500 million yuan in online sales, the group said.While the pandemic has generated a lot of buzz about live-streaming commerce in China, it is unclear if it will maintain momentum once the world moves on from the health crisis. The phenomenon also comes with a rising number of complaints over the quality of products sold through live broadcasts and the demand for after-sales service.Fosun plans to train more live-streamers within the group besides working with influencers like Viya, Guo said, adding sales representatives at Fosun’s brands such as Lanvin have been hosting live-streaming shows. Offline sales channels will however remain crucial to the group, Guo said.Live-streaming marketing and sales “will become a normal practice for us,” Guo said.(Updates Guo’s net wealth in ninth paragraph)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) -- Gray? Try “steel-colored.” Angular? You must mean “steel-inspired.” I’m referring, of course, to the new logo of the rechristened Arch Resources Inc.The old logo, with its stylized fragment of St Louis’ Gateway Arch, was fine — apart from the fact that it had the word “coal” in it. Arch Coal, the company’s old name, was a mite too connected with a certain fuel that is not only in terminal decline in the U.S. but also rather unpopular with the ESG crowd.When Arch Coal was formed in 1997, America’s power stations were burning 900 million tons a year, generating more than half the country’s electricity, and climbing. Today, thermal coal accounts for less than a fifth of the mix:Remarkably, in announcing its name change this week, Arch pulled a Voldemort with the word “coal”: It doesn’t appear anywhere in the main body of the press release(3). This is doubly impressive when you consider Arch Resources will in fact continue to mine prodigious quantities of ... well, you know. Thingy.Only Arch is now focused on a different class of thingy. Metallurgical coal is thermal coal’s more prosperous sibling, a vital ingredient for making steel; hence Arch’s steely new logo. Except Arch refers to these black rocks dug out from the ground not as metallurgical coal but as metallurgical products.Corporate rebranding tends to offer a rich seam of material, but Arch’s new name is actually a logical progression in a logical strategy.Ever since the miner emerged from chapter 11 in 2016, its approach has been one long tacit acknowledgement that the U.S. thermal coal industry is in a downward spiral. That business has essentially been run for cash, with capex running at just 70% of depreciation, and the company’s Powder River Basin assets are about to be subsumed into a joint venture with Peabody Energy Corp. The more profitable metallurgical business, meanwhile, is expanding, with a major new project in West Virginia underway. Most importantly, though, for every dollar Arch has invested back into the business, it’s spent about $1.60 on stock buybacks, taking in 40% of the shares(1) . This is how you head into the sunset.So the new name and Terminator-esque logo aren’t just some branding consultant’s WFH project. It’s the latest step in Arch’s quest to carve out a new life after death. For example, see this from the announcement:We expect steel to play an essential role in the revitalization of the global economy as it recovers from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the construction of a new economy supported by mass transit systems, wind turbines and electric vehicles.See? No mention of coal, but a cameo by wind turbines, no less (ah, the irony). Mad Men’s Don Draper once pitched Bethlehem Steel on advertising itself as producing the building blocks of America’s great cities. In real life, Arch would like you to know it mines the building blocks that go into making those building blocks.On one level, that’s par for the course. Any commodity producer would like you to associate their otherwise standard product with something more exceptional and valuable; similar thinking underlay Arconic Corp.’s split from aluminum smelter Alcoa Corp. Metallurgical coal may be higher-margin, but it remains a commodity, with all the volatility that entails; the stock has halved so far this year(2). Far better to focus minds on something more stable, like a T-bar.In this case, though, there’s a bigger drama playing out, and the wind turbine is the key character. While Arch’s announcement lacked “coal,” it provided my annual quota of “environmental, social and governance” mentions in the space of a few minutes. Arch is still running its thermal coal mines and likely will for as long as they spit out cash. But competition from cheap shale gas and renewable energy has made thermal coal a tough sell to investors already. Now climate change is making it altogether taboo — regardless of how efficient the miner — as ESG considerations gain traction.The ongoing rebranding of Big Oil as Big Energy reflects similar dynamics. As the function of energy markets shifts from simply producing ever more tons or barrels or whatnot to optimizing supply, demand and emissions, so the expectations of the capital markets shift, too. The multiple that makes a stock price is ultimately just some narrative about the future expressed as a number (for an extreme example, see Tesla Inc.). It isn’t just that Arch’s old story no longer convinces; it’s increasingly unacceptable and thereby a burden on, rather than a boost to, value. Becoming truly steel-inspired requires being a touch coal-amnesic.(1) You'll find a couple of instances further down in the safe-harbor language, but who reads that? Of course we all read that.(2) All figures are aggregated for the period 2017 through the first quarter of 2020.(3) Amove of just $25 a ton in the price of metallurgical coal is enough to swing Arch’sEbitda by $175 million, as per Arch Resources' investor presentation on May 15, 2020. Data are pro-forma for the start up of the Leer South project in West Virginia.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Liam Denning is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering energy, mining and commodities. He previously was editor of the Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column and wrote for the Financial Times' Lex column. He was also an investment banker.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.