UL - Unilever PLC

NYSE - Nasdaq Real-time price. Currency in USD
+0.53 (+0.99%)
As of 11:22AM EDT. Market open.
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Previous close54.21
Bid54.71 x 1300
Ask54.72 x 1100
Day's range54.35 - 54.76
52-week range44.06 - 64.84
Avg. volume1,378,431
Market cap139.659B
Beta (5Y monthly)0.43
PE ratio (TTM)21.66
EPS (TTM)2.53
Earnings dateN/A
Forward dividend & yield1.78 (3.28%)
Ex-dividend date14 May 2020
1y target est62.00
  • Diageo announces world’s first 100% plastic free paper-based spirits bottle
    Yahoo Finance UK

    Diageo announces world’s first 100% plastic free paper-based spirits bottle

    The paper-based bottle is the latest step in tackling the environmental footprint of packaging.

  • Forget a Cash ISA! I’d buy dirt-cheap FTSE 100 dividend growth stocks

    Forget a Cash ISA! I’d buy dirt-cheap FTSE 100 dividend growth stocks

    These FTSE 100 dividend growth stocks could provide far higher returns than any Cash ISA in the years ahead based on current projections. The post Forget a Cash ISA! I’d buy dirt-cheap FTSE 100 dividend growth stocks appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Invest like Warren Buffett: 3 FTSE 100 dividend stocks I’d buy now

    Invest like Warren Buffett: 3 FTSE 100 dividend stocks I’d buy now

    Legendary US investor Warren Buffett has made his first purchase since the stock market crash. What would Mr Buffett buy from the FTSE 100?The post Invest like Warren Buffett: 3 FTSE 100 dividend stocks I'd buy now appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Unilever Weighs Scaling Back Scope of Tea Business Sale

    Unilever Weighs Scaling Back Scope of Tea Business Sale

    (Bloomberg) -- Unilever is considering substantially scaling back the potential disposal of its tea business and may keep some operations in emerging markets, people with knowledge of the matter said.The multinational consumer group is debating whether to hold on to its tea business in India and Indonesia, according to the people. Unilever is also considering excluding its stake in a PepsiCo Inc. venture that makes Lipton bottled drinks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.Removing these assets from the sale could reduce the eventual proceeds by as much as several billion pounds and make the portfolio less attractive to some potential bidders, the people said. The remaining parts of the business could fetch about 4 billion pounds ($5 billion) to 5 billion pounds, according to the people.Details on the sale process could be announced as soon as this month, the people said. Unilever is scheduled to announce its half-year results on July 23, according to its website.Shifting TastesUnilever has been seeking to reshape its portfolio as consumers’ tastes change. Deliberations are ongoing, and details of the potential divestment are still subject to change, the people said. A representative for Unilever declined to comment.Sales in Unilever’s tea business declined by a low-single digit percentage in the first quarter of this year, mainly due to especially weak demand in India and restaurant closures globally. Tea demand has suffered in recent years amid a shift to artisan coffee, though in some markets it’s become associated with trends toward healthier living.Unilever said in January it’s starting a strategic review of the tea business that could result in a partial or full sale. While a bidding process has yet to formally kick off, major buyout firms from KKR & Co. to Cinven are already considering making offers for the assets, Bloomberg News reported last month.The division has also attracted preliminary interest from Advent International, Bain Capital, Blackstone Group Inc., Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Swiss investment firm Jacobs Holding AG, people with knowledge of the matter said at the time.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.

  • Two Warren Buffett-style FTSE 100 shares I’d buy today

    Two Warren Buffett-style FTSE 100 shares I’d buy today

    Warren Buffett looks for high-quality companies that have strong competitive advantages. Here's a look at two FTSE 100 companies he might like. The post Two Warren Buffett-style FTSE 100 shares I’d buy today appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Facebook is operating like a public utility and has 'huge blind spots': NAACP CEO
    Yahoo Finance

    Facebook is operating like a public utility and has 'huge blind spots': NAACP CEO

    Does Facebook have a culture problem? NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson weighs in.

  • We met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg and we got nothing: NAACP CEO
    Yahoo Finance

    We met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg and we got nothing: NAACP CEO

    Yahoo Finance speaks with NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson about Facebook's misinformation problems.

  • Facebook Scorned by Advocacy Groups After Zuckerberg Meeting

    Facebook Scorned by Advocacy Groups After Zuckerberg Meeting

    (Bloomberg) -- Civil rights organizations criticized Facebook Inc. following a meeting with top executives Tuesday, claiming the company hasn’t taken seriously demands to better police its service from hate speech and misinformation.“Facebook approached our meeting today like it was nothing more than a PR exercise,” Jessica González, co-chief executive officer of Free Press, a non-profit media advocacy group, said in a statement following the meeting. “I’m deeply disappointed that Facebook still refuses to hold itself accountable to its users, its advertisers and society at large.”Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also met with members of the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change, who have organized a boycott of the company’s advertising products in seeking to prompt change. The executives didn’t “commit to a timeline” to remove disinformation and hate speech, Gonzalez said, but instead “delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands.”“The meeting we just left was a disappointment,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, on a call with reporters.The forum, which lasted about an hour and was held over video conference, was intended to be a venue to discuss proposed solutions to making the Facebook platform less toxic, such as adding executives with civil rights experience to its top ranks and fact-checking political speech, among other changes.“Today we saw little and heard just about nothing,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, who was in the meeting. “The company is functionally flawed.”Since the groups called for the boycott, hundreds of advertisers, including well-known brands such as Unilever NV, Verizon Communications Inc., and Coca-Cola Co., have announced plans to pull advertising from Facebook’s properties over criticism the company doesn’t do enough to police user content. As the boycott grew, Facebook approached the civil rights organizations about a meeting, though the groups refused to meet without Zuckerberg in attendance.“They want Facebook to be free of hate speech and so do we,” Facebook said in a statement following the meeting. The company pointed to efforts it has made in recent years, including a mention of an audit of its policies and practices and noting that it has spent billions of dollars building systems to police its service. “We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement.”Facebook has defended its attempts to fight hate speech and voter suppression in emails and phone calls with advertisers, talking up the company’s automated systems which find and remove these kinds of posts automatically. The company has also highlighted a voter registration initiative through which it hopes to register 4 million voters before the 2020 election.Greenblatt described Facebook’s claim that it catches 89% of hate speech automatically as an unacceptable number. “The Ford Motor Co. can’t say that 89% of our fleet has seatbelts that work,” he said, adding that it would require a recall. “Maybe it’s time we recall Facebook Groups? Maybe it’s time we recall the News Feed?”Another topic of discussion on the call was the civil rights audit of Facebook’s policies, which the company first started in mid-2018. Facebook, which has said it will publish the full report Wednesday, previewed some of the results with the civil rights groups during the meeting. The audit was carried out by a third party, meaning the results are independent of Facebook, but also that they are less likely to lead to change, Robinson said.“What we get is recommendations that they end up not implementing,” he added. Facebook will make some changes to add “long term civil rights infrastructure” to the company, but Robinson said the details were still “unclear.”What was clear from the outset was that the two sides wouldn’t likely come to a resolution on Tuesday. In a post before the meeting started, Sandberg acknowledged that Facebook needs to do more to fight hate speech, but also said that the company is unlikely to implement all the recommendations from the civil rights audit.The civil rights groups said that their fight with Facebook is far from over. “I believe this campaign will continue to grow,” Greenblatt said. “It will get more global, it will get more intense until we get the answers that I think we are looking for.”(Updates with more details from meeting starting from sixth 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.

  • Facebook has an incredible challenge in front of it: Goldman Sachs strategist
    Yahoo Finance

    Facebook has an incredible challenge in front of it: Goldman Sachs strategist

    Facebook won't overcome the yawning advertiser revolt in response to hate content overnight, suggests a Goldman Sachs strategist that specializes in tech investing.

  • With £3k to invest, I’d buy shares like Warren Buffett does to get rich

    With £3k to invest, I’d buy shares like Warren Buffett does to get rich

    Warren Buffett buys stocks with good-quality underlying businesses when the valuations are reasonable. Here’s where I’d look.The post With £3k to invest, I’d buy shares like Warren Buffett does to get rich appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Tech Firm’s 2020 Rally Exceeds 100% With Deal for AI Startup

    Tech Firm’s 2020 Rally Exceeds 100% With Deal for AI Startup

    (Bloomberg) -- Software provider Kinaxis Inc. surged to a record high as it completed a deal for Rubikloud Technologies Inc. to boost its artificial intelligence capabilities.Ottawa-based Kinaxis, whose clients include Unilever NV and Lockheed Martin Corp., briefly passed $4 billion in market value for the first time Thursday amid a broad rally in Canadian technology stocks. The firm sells products that help companies manage supply chains, sales and operations.Its 103% rise this year makes it the fourth-best performing stock on the S&P/TSX Composite Index. The Covid-19 crisis has helped the business as global supply chains have been disrupted: Kinaxis has seen a 20% increase in user activity since January, Chief Executive Officer John Sicard said in an interview.“There’s never been a time where we’re more relevant, and especially under this particular crisis where all supply chains are experiencing a tremendous amount of volatility and disruption,” Sicard said, describing his company as “Canada’s best-kept secret.”The firm seized on Rubikloud to fill a gap in its product lineup. The target company, co-founded in 2013 by Kerry Liu, serves the enterprise retail industry, which Kinaxis did not.“Retail is not a vertical they’re currently in, but one that obviously, if you want to be a global leader in supply chain, you can’t ignore,” Liu said.Machine LearningThe Toronto startup has also made more advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning than Kinaxis has, Sicard said. These include helping clients predict the demand for an item so that they can determine appropriate pricing, according to Liu.The $60 million cash deal, announced June 15, had been in the making for a few months. Although the two companies had known each other for years, it was only earlier this year when talks started to heat up. At a dinner at Sicard’s home in Kanata, an Ottawa suburb, the two men found themselves “nearly finishing each other’s sentences,” Sicard said.Soon after, they decided to join forces.“In the world of acquisitions you usually find out it’s someone south of the border buying up Canadian technology. It’s not as common to see a Canadian company creating a union with another Canadian company,” he added.Liu will lead strategic innovation at the company. “I see myself continuing to be an evangelist in the space,” he said. “I think it’s as much about understanding and making sure that I’m a subject matter expert where available and then working closely on figuring out what do we need to do in the supply chain together now in this new world.”Rubikloud is Kinaxis’s second acquisition since going public in 2014. In February, it bought Indian firm Prana Consulting Services Pvt. Ltd. for an undisclosed sum.The stock is well-liked by analysts with 10 buy ratings, two hold recommendations and no sells, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.(Adds more CEO comments in tenth paragraph and analyst data in last 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.

  • Why Unilever Nv passes three vital dividend tests

    Why Unilever Nv passes three vital dividend tests

    In times of great uncertainty, stocks with solid yields and track records of consistent and well-financed dividend growth are like gold dust. For investors rig...

  • Facebook Under Fire as Companies Pause Social Media Ads: List

    Facebook Under Fire as Companies Pause Social Media Ads: List

    (Bloomberg) -- Here’s a list of companies that are planning to halt spending on social media. Some have joined a boycott of Facebook Inc. after critics accused the social network of inadequately policing hateful and misleading content on its platform:Harley Davidson Inc. -- The motorcycle maker said in an email it was pausing Facebook ads in July “to stand in support of efforts to stop the spread of hateful content.”Pernod Ricard SA -- The French distiller of Jameson whiskey and Absolut Vodka, which spends more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.69 billion) on advertising annually, is boycotting Facebook and some other U.S. sites through July 31 and working with partners on an app to help victims of online abuse.Daimler AG -- The Mercedes-Benz maker is pausing its paid advertising on Facebook platforms in July, while adding that it expects to the relationship to resume because it’s confident the social-media company will take “necessary steps.”Molson Coors Beverage Co. -- The brewer is choosing to pause advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while it reviews its own standards and ways to protect the brands and guard against hate speech, Chief Marketing Officer Michelle St. Jacques said in an internal email.Constellation Brands -- The maker of Corona beer and Kim Crawford wines is pausing Facebook ads for the month of July.Dunkin’ Brands Group -- The donut chain is temporarily pausing its paid media on Facebook and Instagram, a spokesperson says, adding that it’s in discussions with Facebook about efforts to stop hate speech and thwart “the spread of “racist rhetoric and false information.”Lego A/S -- Stopping all advertising on social media for at least 30 days to review its standards and will “invest in other channels” during that time.The Body Shop -- The beauty chain says it’s halting paid activity on all Facebook channels and asking the social-media company to enhance and enforce its content-moderation policies.Starbucks Corp. -- Pausing advertising on all social media platforms. Will post on social media without paid promotion.Microsoft Corp. -- Paused global advertising spending on Facebook and Instagram because of concerns about ads appearing next to inappropriate content, according to a person familiar with the matter.Unilever Plc -- Halting advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. through Dec. 31.Volkswagen AG -- The ad stop on Facebook affects the direct ad accounts of the German manufacturer’s brands, including Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini. VW, its ad agencies and the Anti Defamation League will enter talks with Facebook over how to deal with hate speech, discrimination and false information, according to an emailed statement.Mars -- Starting in July, a pause on paid advertising globally across social-media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.Target Corp. -- Pausing ads on Facebook in July.Coca-Cola Co. -- Pausing advertising on all social media platforms.Clorox Co. -- Will stop advertising spending with Facebook through December.Conagra Brands Inc. -- Will stop advertising in U.S. on Facebook and Instagram through the rest of the year.Ford Motor Co. -- Halting U.S. social media for 30 days, won’t purchase social media ads for Bronco unveiling.Honda Motor Co. -- “For the month of July, Honda will withhold its advertising on Facebook and Instagram, choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism.” Acura, a Honda brand, said in a tweet that it was “choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism.”Hershey Co. -- Will halt spending on Facebook in July and cut its spend on the platform by a third for the remainder of the year, according to Business Insider.Diageo Plc -- Pausing paid advertising globally on major social media platforms beginning in July.PepsiCo Inc. -- Pulling ads on Facebook from July through August.Verizon Communications Inc. -- “We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with we’ve done with YouTube and other partners,” said John Nitti, chief media officer for Verizon.SAP SE -- “We will suspend all paid advertisements across Facebook and Instagram until the company signals a significant, action-driven commitment to combatting the spread of hate speech and racism on its platforms.”Levi Strauss & Co. -- Pausing all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising globally and across all brands through July.Diamond Foundry Inc. -- Pulling all of advertising from Facebook, including Instagram, for the month of July.Patagonia Inc. -- Will pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram, effective immediately, through at least the end of July, pending meaningful action from Facebook.Viber Media Inc. -- The messaging service, owned by Japanese conglomerate Rakuten, plans to cut ties with the social network entirely, according to the Guardian.VF Corp. -- The North Face will pause ads on Facebook for the month of July. Vans, another VF brand, will also pull ad dollars from Facebook and Instagram next month, and said it will use the money to support Black communities through empowerment and education programs.REI -- “For 82 years, we have put people over profits. We’re pulling all Facebook/Instagram advertising for the month of July.”Upwork Inc. -- No Facebook advertising in July.Eileen Fisher Inc. -- Pulling ads from Facebook through July.Adidas AG -- Will stop ads on Facebook and Instagram internationally through July, according to Adweek.Puma SE -- Will stop all advertisements on Facebook and Instagram throughout July.Madewell Inc. -- Will pause ads on Facebook and Instagram through July.Pfizer Inc. -- Removing all advertising from Facebook and Instagram in July, calls on Facebook to heed the concerns of the StopHateForProfit boycott campaign “and take action.”Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. -- To pause Facebook advertising beginning July 1, according to an email.Chobani -- The Greek-yogurt company paused all paid social-media advertising.Peet’s Coffee -- Paused advertising on Facebook.Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. -- ”In support of the StopHateForProfit campaign, we have globally suspended our Facebook and Instagram activity, including advertising and non-paid content, until the end of July.”(Updates with Sony Interactive Entertainment)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.

  • Diversity is a $1.5 trillion economic opportunity in the US: former Unilever CEO
    Yahoo Finance

    Diversity is a $1.5 trillion economic opportunity in the US: former Unilever CEO

    One long-time champion of conscious capitalism says way more needs to be done by business leaders on equality. It's just the right thing to do for all parties involved.

  • Gary Vaynerchuk: Most advertisers don't know what they want Facebook to do about hate speech
    Yahoo Finance

    Gary Vaynerchuk: Most advertisers don't know what they want Facebook to do about hate speech

    Marketing veteran and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk weighs in on the controversy swirling around Facebook.

  • Facebook Boycott Adds to an Already Bleak Year for Advertising

    Facebook Boycott Adds to an Already Bleak Year for Advertising

    (Bloomberg) -- Long before an uproar over online hate speech prompted hundreds of marketers to cut summer social media budgets, 2020 was turning out to be a dismal year for the global advertising industry.Total ad spending will fall 12% this year, compared with a 6.2% gain in 2019, according to GroupM, a division of advertising giant WPP Plc. That’s the biggest contraction in at least a decade. As the global pandemic spread around the world and consumer spending slowed to a trickle, many corporations targeted marketing as a fast, early way to cut costs.One ad agency executive said third-quarter buying would be down 20% to 30%. New deals were being struck with “force majeure” clauses that would allow advertisers to pull out if a second wave of the virus caused new shutdowns, said the executive, who requested anonymity discussing internal financial figures. In the U.S., hopes that the virus would slow by summer are fading as states that had begun opening up move to shut down again because of a jump in cases.Against this backdrop, advertisers are making another shift. Big companies around the world have said they’ll pause spending on social media, several of them singling out Facebook Inc., because they don’t want marketing messages appearing alongside the vitriol and disinformation. Many are heeding the call from a consortium of civil rights and other advocacy groups, including Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, to stop spending on Facebook for July to protest the company’s failure to police harmful content.The pause creates a way for many companies to take a public stance against hate while at the same time providing a concrete reason to trim marketing budgets or, in some cases, experiment with alternatives to traditional social media, such as Amazon.com Inc. or ByteDance’s TikTok. “While many brands were planning on pulling back ad spend anyways, a portion of Facebook-allocated dollars may end up on Snapchat, Pinterest, Amazon, Walmart, etc.,” Mark Shmulik, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, wrote in a recent research note.Ad budgets are an indicator of corporate sentiment toward the world economy. Confidence and growth leads to bigger budgets and higher ad prices. Ad spending cratered in March and April as businesses shut and people stayed home to comply with lockdown orders.In interviews earlier in the year, ad execs were mostly hopeful that the pain would end once quarantines lifted and the economy rebounded. But behind the scenes, the picture was more bleak. Ad agencies, which choose how and when to spend the money companies entrust to them, have cut thousands of jobs. Ad executives who had spent money on spots meant to run during now-canceled sports events tried to recoup the money and find new outlets for it, according to people interviewed by Bloomberg who asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.Despite the larger advertising pullback, a pause for social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter Inc. and YouTube creates an opening for ad upstarts on the digital side. Packaged foods company Conagra Brands Inc. pulled Facebook advertisements, redirecting the money to search and e-commerce ads, a category most likely to benefit online rivals Google and Amazon.Ben & Jerry’s, a division of Unilever, was one of the early brands to join the StopHateForProfit campaign. “The marketing dollars that would have been spent on Facebook will be spent on other channels, including possibly some Black-owned media outlets,” said Chris Miller, the activism manager at Ben & Jerry’s.Even if the boycotts gain momentum and persist for more than a month, Google and Facebook are still likely to benefit in the long-term from the disruption wrought by the pandemic. That’s because these companies offer advertisers the most flexible and direct way to reach consumers; spending can be paused or ramped up on a moment’s notice. The tech giants also benefit from the millions of small businesses that rely heavily on them for day-to-day business and don’t necessarily need to take a public stand on moral issues. “They may grab an even greater market share post COVID-19 than the strong gains we are currently projecting,” Michael Nathanson, an analyst at MoffettNathanson LLC, said of Facebook and Google.The more traditional parts of the ad ecosystem, which still account for around half of advertising spending, are in a riskier position.For the TV industry, the advertising outlook for the rest of 2020 will depend on two still-unanswered questions. One is how much the pandemic-driven recession will accelerate cable-TV cord-cutting. With unemployment high, more people are expected to cancel their TV subscriptions as they tighten their household budgets. That would hurt viewership and the advertising dollars that go with it. The bigger audiences as a result of people being confined to their homes has already started to fall for just about all programming except news as more people venture outdoors again.The other big question is the return of sports. As long as professional and college football starts up again this fall, media companies like Fox Corp., Comcast Corp., Walt Disney Co. and ViacomCBS will likely see a rebound in advertising revenue, analysts say. Brands spent over $4 billion on TV commercials during NFL games last year.Still, some big TV advertisers could be less willing to jump back this year at all. Carmakers like General Motors and Ford, for instance, have been among the top buyers of TV commercials. The global pandemic has disrupted their supply chains and raised doubts about consumers making big purchases like cars.Media companies and TV networks are now under pressure to make their contracts more flexible. TV networks typically prevent advertisers from pulling all of their money out on short notice. That frustrated many advertisers this spring when the pandemic first kicked off the recession. Now, advertisers are pushing for the right to pull more of their money out of a TV network with fewer days notice in case the coronavirus worsens the economic picture. They will, however, likely pay a higher price for that flexibility, according to one TV executive.That could send them back to the digital platforms, regardless of all the commitments to boycott Facebook.“Brands can stop TV ads but they can’t stop things being on social,” said Arron Shepherd, co-founder of global social media and influencer marketing agency Goat.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.

  • Forget Bitcoin and Cash ISAs! I’d buy these 2 cheap FTSE 100 shares to retire early

    Forget Bitcoin and Cash ISAs! I’d buy these 2 cheap FTSE 100 shares to retire early

    These two FTSE 100 (INDEXFTSE:UKX) shares could deliver higher returns than Bitcoin and Cash ISAs over the long run, in my view.The post Forget Bitcoin and Cash ISAs! I'd buy these 2 cheap FTSE 100 shares to retire early appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Facebook Critics Target One Thing CEO Won’t Cede: Control

    Facebook Critics Target One Thing CEO Won’t Cede: Control

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg took the unusual step on Friday of publicly broadcasting a weekly Q&A with employees. Over a live video feed, the CEO announced a series of updates to Facebook’s policies around hate speech -- the central topic fueling a growing boycott of Facebook advertising.But the new policies, like labeling posts from public figures who break its terms of service, didn’t assuage critics. The coalition of civil rights groups organizing the boycott called the announcement “a small number of small changes.” Demands like adding a high-ranking executive focused on civil rights, providing face-to-face customer service for hate speech victims and removing extra protections for elected leaders were still unmet.And, though it wasn’t officially included on their public list of proposed changes, the boycott organizers also have a more fundamental complaint: Zuckerberg has too much control.“Mark Zuckerberg has way too much power for a company of this size and reach,” said Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns at Color of Change, one of the boycott’s organizers. “He is the one that is blocking progress in this moment.”Zuckerberg, who famously co-founded Facebook as a student before dropping out of Harvard University, has always been the most important person at the company, partly thanks to his out-sized control of its board. Recently, he has consolidated even more power. Since 2018 the founders of Facebook’s other properties, like Instagram and WhatsApp, have left the company, giving Zuckerberg more say over its product empire. And a number of board members -- including former Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann and former American Express Co. CEO Kenneth Chenault -- departed in the past two years, many of them over frustrations with Facebook’s corporate governance, according to the Wall Street Journal.For some, the lack of dissenting voices within and around Facebook is worrying. “This behemoth of a company, that’s operating more as a public utility, must be more accountable,” said NAACP CEO and boycott organizer Derrick Johnson.Zuckerberg is not the only important executive at the company. He has long relied on Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to run Facebook’s business and policy divisions, and he has a number of top executives who advise him. But unlike Twitter Inc., which goes out of its way to say that CEO Jack Dorsey does not make content decisions, Zuckerberg is clearly the final say on all things Facebook.“The way decisions escalate in Facebook are very much what you’d expect in any complex organization where there was a hierarchy,” Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president for global affairs and communications, told reporters earlier this month. “For the most difficult decisions, there’s one ultimate decision maker, our CEO and Chair and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg.”As Facebook’s advertising boycott has grown to include household names like Starbucks Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Unilever, the social network has fought back with an information campaign intended to demonstrate how much the company already does to fight hate online. Facebook has repeated a series of statistics in interviews and in emails to advertising partners, including that the company detects 90% of the hate speech it removes from the platform before any user even flags it.The company has also been touting a voting information campaign announced earlier this month with the goal of registering 4 million new U.S. voters before the 2020 presidential election. On Friday, Facebook said it would arrange a third-party audit of its quarterly report detailing how much content it takes down for rules violations.But so far, the piecemeal changes have done little to placate the company’s critics. “It’s unclear what the perfect solution is,” said Mark Shmulik, an analyst at Bernstein Securities. “There’s no kind of silver bullet here to fix it -- it’s a very broad, ambiguous problem.”On the larger issues, Facebook has shown little sign of relenting. Diminishing Zuckerberg’s control over the company is almost entirely out of the question. Repeated shareholder proposals to change Facebook’s voting structure or replace Zuckerberg as chairman have failed to clear the company’s board because Zuckerberg himself has voted against them -- the CEO has almost 60% of the vote thanks to a special class of shares unavailable to public investors. The arrangement has raised the question of who, specifically, Zuckerberg is accountable to.“This is where you have a runaway train,” the NAACP’s Johnson said on Monday on Bloomberg Television. “And that runaway train is causing harm to the public and it’s causing harm to our democracy.”The group calling for a Facebook boycott has several demands around removing hateful content that could prove difficult for the company to adhere to. Facebook said it’s already doing the best it can to find and remove posts promoting hate. In an interview on Bloomberg Television Monday, Clegg said Facebook does not profit off hate speech, and that it had an “industry-leading record” when it came to dealing with issues related to the “dark side of the internet.”But Clegg added: “I don’t want to pretend this is an easy straightforward task, that there is a switch we can flick and all hate speech suddenly disappears.”Hate has always been a problem for open platforms, in part because it’s difficult to define. In some cases, a post that clearly appears to be a rules violation to some people, is considered allowable by others. This dynamic played out late last month after a series of posts from President Trump struck many as a clear threat of violence. However, Zuckerberg said the posts were not actually a violation of Facebook’s policies. The posts remained up and untouched, even though Twitter flagged the same language.At Color of Change, Hatch understands that the social network, with more than 2 billion monthly users, probably cannot remove hate speech entirely, but she believes Facebook can do more within its current structure. “Certainly when things are flagged they need to be removed, and certainly when things are coming from the current president or an elected official, it needs to be removed,” Hatch said.Even though the boycott has trimmed billions off Facebook’s market capitalization, it’s not clear how much influence advertisers will have over the company’s processes. Some of the participating companies are heavy spenders, including Starbucks and Unilever, who together spent more than $30 million on Facebook ads during the first six months of the year, according to Pathmatics, a digital marketing analytics company. However, that’s a small amount compared with the almost $35 billion in sales Facebook is projected to report for the same six-month period.The vast majority of the company’s advertisers are small businesses, not name-brand marketers. Smaller companies rely on Facebook’s direct response ads, which drive specific outcomes like a website visit or an app install. Facebook’s top 100 advertisers accounted for roughly $4.2 billion in sales revenue last year, Pathmatics estimates, or just 6% of all Facebook revenue. So far, only a handful of the company’s 100 top-spending advertisers from 2019 are pulling money from Facebook ads.“As important as these advertisers are to Facebook, it would likely take a far broader advertising boycott over a longer period of time to materially impact Facebook’s ad revenue,” Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analysts wrote Monday in a note to investors. Facebook stock ended the day Monday up 2.1% despite the new additions to the ad holdout.Facebook will have more opportunities to try to alleviate concern this week in a series of meetings, including a round table discussion with advertisers and Facebook executives on Tuesday. Color of Change would also like to meet with Facebook this week -- but the group is holding out unless Zuckerberg also attends, a spokesperson said. It’s possible that the boycott, which is formally running through July, could extend further depending on how Facebook responds, Hatch said.“It’s definitely a live, dynamic campaign,” she said. “We’re hopeful we won’t have to make any further adjustments or asks. But that’s up to Facebook really.”(Updates with details on Color of Change meeting in 21st 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.

  • Facebook Bans ‘Boogaloo’ Groups Seeking to Commit Violence

    Facebook Bans ‘Boogaloo’ Groups Seeking to Commit Violence

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. banned the violent faction of the so-called “boogaloo” movement -- an anti-government group who believe in a coming civil war -- amid mounting pressure from the private sector and lawmakers to take a more aggressive stance on hate speech as protests over racial inequality have swept the country.“Today we are designating a violent U.S.-based anti-government network as a dangerous organization and banning it from our platform,” Facebook said in a blog post published Tuesday, as hundreds of accounts, groups and pages affiliated with the boogaloo movement were removed from Facebook and Instagram.Members of the movement, which Facebook described as encompassing “a range of anti-government activists who generally believe civil conflict in the U.S. is inevitable,” have recently been identified by government officials as “those responsible for several attacks over the past few months,” the post said. “These acts of real-world violence and our investigations into them are what led us to identify and designate this distinct network.”On Monday, an Air Force sergeant who prosecutors have connected to the movement, Steven Carrillo, was indicted for allegedly killing a federal security guard in Oakland and later ambushing a Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.Facebook’s announcement coincides with a wide-ranging advertiser boycott, in which hundreds of marketers, including well-known brands like Starbucks Corp. and Unilever, have sworn off Facebook advertising for the month of July in protest of the company’s policies. Organizers of the boycott have specifically called out “hate speech” as an area where Facebook needs to better police its services.The social media giant has also come under increasing criticism by lawmakers, who are pressuring the platform to take more active responsibility for problematic content and disinformation. In a Tuesday letter, three U.S. Senators, Mark Warner, Mazie Hirono and Bob Menendez, all of them Democrats, wrote to Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg that the company’s “failure to address the hate spreading on its platform reveals significant gaps between Facebook’s professed commitment to racial justice and the company’s actions and business interests.”Facebook acted to ban violent boogaloo content on Tuesday under its policy against dangerous individuals and organizations -- removing 220 Facebook accounts, 28 Facebook pages, 95 Instagram accounts and 106 Facebook groups that were part of a boogaloo network. It also removed 400 additional groups and 100 pages that “hosted similar content as the violent network” but were not technically part of it, according to the post.The boogaloo movement, which Facebook dates back to 2012, contains internal divisions, including over “the goal of a civil conflict, racism and anti-Semitism, and whether to instigate violent conflict or be prepared to react when it occurs,” according to the blog post. Facebook banned the part of the movement that “actively seeks to commit violence” rather than the “loosely affiliated movement” as a whole, according to the post.In the first three months of the year, Facebook removed 6 million pieces of terrorist content -- including posts by white supremacists -- and 4 million pieces of content tied to hate groups, according to a Facebook representative who spoke on a call with reporters under the condition of anonymity due to safety concerns. Even so, the platform remains concerned about the other white supremacist content that it hasn’t yet found, the person said.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.

  • Facebook Sales at Risk as Starbucks Bails, GM Plans Review

    Facebook Sales at Risk as Starbucks Bails, GM Plans Review

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. fielded criticism from a growing number of consumer companies over harmful content on its sites, with Starbucks Corp. and Diageo Plc pulling back on ad spending and General Motors Co. planning to review its social media marketing strategy.Starbucks and Diageo followed Unilever, Coca-Cola Co. and several other companies in saying they will cut ad spending, part of an exodus aimed at pushing Facebook and its peers to limit hate speech and posts that divide and misinform. Microsoft Corp., which was Facebook’s third-largest advertiser last year, has paused global ad spending on the site because of concerns about ads appearing next to inappropriate content, according to a person familiar with the matter. The list of companies taking similar action lengthened on Monday. Britvic Plc, which supplies a wide range of soft drinks, Patreon Inc. and The Clorox Co. all said they will stop advertising on Facebook while GM said it’s “reviewing and reinforcing” its marketing guidelines.Read more: How to Go Cold Turkey on $77 Billion of Facebook Ads: Alex WebbWhile a single advertiser can do little to hurt a company that generated $17.7 billion in revenue last quarter, the rising tally creates peer pressure on other brands, and civil rights groups say they expect more corporations to join a boycott. Combined with a pandemic-fueled economic slowdown, the threat to Facebook is deepening.“Given the amount of noise this is drawing, this will have significant impact to Facebook’s business,” Wedbush Securities analyst Bradley Gastwirth wrote in a research note. “Facebook needs to address this issue quickly and effectively in order to stop advertising exits from potentially spiraling out of control.”Shares gained 2.1% Monday to close at $220.64 in New York, after dropping 8.3% on Friday. Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, said it would cease spending on Facebook properties this year, eliminating $56 billion in market value and shaving the net worth of Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg by more than $7 billion.Facebook was already bracing for weakness in the second quarter, which ends this week. Chief Financial Officer Dave Wehner said in an April earnings call that he saw the “potential for an even more severe advertising industry contraction.”The number of coronavirus cases has surged in the intervening months, prompting many parts of the country to slow or roll back reopening efforts and giving advertisers added justification to rein in spending. Facebook’s sales will rise 1% in the June period, followed by a 7% increase in the third quarter, analysts predict, by far the smallest quarterly growth increases since the company went public.Advertiser boycotts in July could cost Facebook more than $250 million in the third quarter if 25% of its top 100 buyers pause spending, and as much as $500 million if 50% of the top advertisers stop, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Jitendra Waral.Zuckerberg announced changes Friday designed to appease critics, but the Anti-Defamation League, one of the groups calling for the boycott, called the amendments “small.”Some analysts have said the financial impact of recent exits will be limited, citing past advertiser revolts. Even so, this exodus is distinct in key ways, Bernstein Securities analyst Mark Shmulik wrote in a research note Saturday. There’s heightened pressure to publicly demonstrate that brands stand with civil-rights groups, he said.“The current environment is very different,” Shmulik wrote. “It is very visible who is and isn’t participating in the boycott where brand silence [equals] being complicit.”(Updates to add Microsoft withdrawl in second 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

    It's Zuckerberg and Facebook's Time to Bend

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Mark Zuckerberg has a problem, and he can fix it.Public furor over Facebook Inc.’s content policies has led some of its biggest advertisers to take action, with brands from Starbucks Corp. to Unilever, Coca-Cola Co. and Verizon Communications Inc. all vowing to pull ads from the social media giant’s namesake Facebook platform as well as Instagram for at least the month of July. The move was initially spurred by a campaign led by a coalition of civil rights groups — including the Anti-Defamation League and NAACP — to force Facebook to do more to curb hate speech and language promoting violence. As the effort has gained traction, the numbers joining the boycott are increasing on a daily basis. On Monday afternoon alone, Best Buy Co. said it would pause its ad spending on Facebook, while Axios reported that Microsoft Corp. had suspended its advertising as well.Facebook has come in for criticism about its practices before and got past it largely by riding out the negative publicity while offering some incremental fixes. For example, Facebook already survived the Cambridge Analytica data-privacy scandal a couple years ago without serious long-term ramifications. And so, Zuckerberg may be tempted to hunker down this time as well.On a purely short-term financial basis, it would make sense. According to Pathmatics data, the top 50 advertisers on Facebook accounted for just 4% of the company’s sales last year. The vast majority of the rest comes from millions of small- and medium-sized businesses that are less affected by any public shaming from activists, and arguably more reliant on the exposure they get from buying ads on Facebook and Instagram. But a decision based purely on dollars and cents would be short-sighted in this instance, and bad for business.More and more, it’s becoming clear that the recent wave of protests over racial injustice isn’t a short-lived phenomenon, but one that appears to reflect a sea-change in perception and beliefs, and — like the MeToo movement before it — demands a change in behavior. The backlash that started at the grassroots level and moved on to corporate action is likely to move next to the political and regulatory sphere. Wouldn’t it be better for Facebook, already in the public glare, to bend and make its own meaningful policy changes instead of being forced to accept more punitive prescriptions and further potential damage to its reputation and business?Facebook is already facing increased regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have made proposals to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields internet companies from legal liability over user-generated content. For now, Republicans and the Department of Justice are focused on issues of conservative speech censorship, while Democrats have asked for the faster removal of misinformation and false claims inside political ads.The disparate points of emphasis likely means nothing will happen in Congress before the November election. However, if one party controls both houses of Congress and the White House next year, the probability of regulation will rise considerably.In the near term, the risk for Facebook may be greater from Europe than the U.S. The region’s authorities have identified antitrust as the more effective way to tackle Silicon Valley’s shortcomings than regulation, whose limits have been exposed by the General Data Protection Regulation that kicked in two years ago. GDPR has done little either to change the business practices of Google or Facebook, or to reduce their market power. And discussions about data or content are always questions of regulation, rather than antitrust.But antitrust is far more of an existential threat to Facebook than is regulation. That’s not simply because it could, in the most extreme circumstances, result in a breakup of the company. It’s because antitrust by definition seeks to tackle its business practices.Just last week, Germany’s highest civil court ruled that Facebook must stop logging browsing activity outside of its platforms without users’ explicit permission, and that such permission couldn’t be a condition of using its other services. Crucially, though, the decision was based not on data protection but antitrust laws. It said Facebook was abusing its market power to force users to accept the terms because it is the dominant social network. And the ruling fundamentally attacked the company’s business model, which is built on using such data to target ads effectively. An effort by Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority is even less ambiguous: It’s carrying out a study into online platforms and digital advertising.While the U.K. is no longer a member of the European Union, the bloc’s regulators are following the findings of the study closely. After years of tackling Google, Facebook is now high on the European agenda. The two firms’ dominance of digital advertising is fueled by their low incremental costs. Tackle their business models, and you might resolve the harmful content problem, runs the argument. The EU plans new rules by the end of the year on content regulation and platform liability, while Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust and tech chief, is seeking new powers to break companies up. And the European Commission has more power than U.S. regulators: It can impose decisions unilaterally, which companies can then challenge in court. In the U.S., regulators generally need court approval first before any ruling is imposed.So, Zuckerberg needs to acknowledge the growing uproar is symptomatic of new and lasting societal, political and regulatory crosscurrents. While he has long been adamant it is not Facebook’s job to be the “arbiter of truth,” there is no better climate, in the face of pressure from advertisers, politicians and civil rights groups alike, to alter that stance — he can change tack without losing as much face.Serious changes are needed — from being more effective in taking down hate speech quickly  to clamping down on false claims and disinformation from all users. Such moves would help the company get ahead of future actions from regulators. That would be wise as government regulation will likely be far more punitive – whether it be from the European Union or a potentially new American administration.Simply, Facebook’s traditional hands-off approach isn’t good enough anymore. It’s time for Zuckerberg to show some real leadership.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.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.

  • Looking for quality stocks? I’d buy these two FTSE 100 shares

    Looking for quality stocks? I’d buy these two FTSE 100 shares

    Quality stocks are often the ones to outperform the market. With this is mind, one Fool analyses two quality FTSE 100 shares. The post Looking for quality stocks? I’d buy these two FTSE 100 shares appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

  • Companies Use Pandemic to Look Into Shedding Laggard Brands

    Companies Use Pandemic to Look Into Shedding Laggard Brands

    (Bloomberg) -- From black tea to bottled water, European companies are taking a hard look at underperforming businesses at a time when investors’ profit expectations are already low because of the coronavirus pandemic.With economies reeling and Covid-19 still spreading across swathes of the globe, top executives are hiring investment bankers or launching internal reviews to sort through portfolios and sell unwanted businesses.“Investors are writing off 2020 completely but expect a tight, impeccable story for 2021 and 2022,” said Adam Young, the global head of capital markets at advisory firm Rothschild. “Those companies that don’t have one need to look for it pretty quickly.”Private equity firms from KKR & Co. to Blackstone Group Inc. are lining up bids for Unilever Plc’s tea unit, which could fetch more than 5 billion pounds ($6.2 billion), people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News last week.Lipton TeaThe consumer-goods giant launched a strategic review of the unit in January, as the coronavirus was rampaging through China’s Hubei province. At the time, Chief Executive Officer Alan Jope described the business, which includes well-known brands like Lipton and PG Tips, as “a structural drag on Unilever’s growth.”In a similar vein, Nestle SA is considering a sale of its U.S. mass-market bottled water business, which includes the Poland Spring and Pure Life brands. The division globally had its worst performance in a decade last year and the North American unit, in particular, has seen competition from discount brands, as well as consumer resistance to plastic packaging.While Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider hasn’t hesitated to shed underperforming businesses since he took over in 2017, the pandemic could force more boards to follow suit.“If there’s a business in a company’s portfolio that isn’t performing in line with ambitions, the next two to three years aren’t a great environment to put it back together,” Young said.Time to ActIt’s not only big consumer companies looking to act. Total SA and Solvay SA are each pursuing sales of chemical businesses, people familiar with the plans have said. AMS AG may be positioning Osram Licht AG’s automotive unit for a sale once its takeover of the German lighting company is complete, according to a worker’s representative and an internal presentation.Such carveouts may pick up in the second half as companies seek to bolster balance sheets, as well as share prices, in the wake of the pandemic.Some companies are turning to investors to replenish cash. Budget airline EasyJet Plc raised about 419 million pounds in a share sale last week, while carmaker Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings Plc tapped investors for around 150 million pounds.“The general thought among boards now is that inaction is not an option,” said Rich Mills, global head of divestments at Ernst & Young.PE Cash PileNearly a third of companies undertaking sales are willing to increase the assets on offer to get the proceeds they need to re-invest, said Mills. He co-authored the consulting firm’s 2020 report on global corporate divestments, which was based on online surveys of more than 1,000 executives before and after the pandemic’s onset.Many sales are attracting strong interest from private equity buyers sitting on an unprecedented $1.5 trillion in cash, the survey found.BP Plc agreed to sell its chemicals business to Ineos Group for $5 billion on Monday, in a move to transition away from being a traditional oil company and strengthen its finances as the industry faces increased pressure from the coronavirus crisis.The twin black swans of the virus and an energy crisis with collapsing oil prices created a supply and demand shock for businesses this year, said Romain Boscher, London-based chief investment officer at Fil Investment Management Ltd. which oversees $190 billion in equities globally.“Companies realize they have to brace for tough times, and that means you need a stronger balance sheet,” Boscher said. “Much more than asset sales, there is a necessity for them to revise strategy.”(Updates with details of BP disposal, investor quote from 15th 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.

  • Will the Unilever share price run continue?

    Will the Unilever share price run continue?

    In this article we will quickly re-cap the broker forecasts for Unilever (LON:ULVR). The Unilever share price has risen by 7.60% over the past month and it’s c...

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