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Oct.18 -- Mark Hurd, who was chief executive officer of three major technology companies including Oracle Corp., has died. He was 62. Bloomberg's Brad Stone reflects on Hurd's legacy. He speaks with Bloomberg's Taylor Riggs on "Bloomberg Technology."
Kenneth Fisher is the founder of Fisher Asset Management LLC. He in July 2016. But now he's the executive chairman of Fisher Asset Management.
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Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global is eyeing greater expansion into clinical operations with its latest acquisition of artificial intelligence platform Boundless Mind.
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In this week’s Q3 earnings call, Johnson & Johnson's CFO shed some light on the company’s surprise decision to settle in Ohio.
(Bloomberg) -- Johnson & Johnson is recalling one lot of its Johnson’s Baby Powder after tiny amounts of asbestos contamination were found in samples from a single bottle purchased online.J&J is voluntarily recalling the lot, 22318RB, which consists of 33,000 bottles, and is encouraging people who bought the product to discontinue use. The company said that it is working with the Food and Drug Administration, which tested the bottle, and has started an investigation into how and when the product was contaminated.FDA spokeswoman Gloria Sanchez-Contreras said the contaminated bottle contained chrysotile fibers, a type of asbestos. The FDA recommended that consumers stop using the lot immediately and contact J&J for a refund. Another lot of Johnson’s Baby Powder the FDA tested was negative for asbestos, the agency said in a statement.J&J shares fell 6.2% to $127.70 at the close in New York, the biggest drop since December 2018. The stock has been under pressure as investors try to ascertain the company’s potential liabilities in a series of lawsuits related to talc and other products.“Thousands of tests over the past 40 years repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos,” J&J said in a statement on Friday.J&J is looking into whether cross-contamination of the sample caused a false positive, whether the product was appropriately sealed and maintained in a controlled environment, and whether the product was a counterfeit. Sanchez-Contreras said the FDA “stands by the quality of its testing and results and is not aware of any adverse events relating to exposure to the lot of affected products.” The FDA has tested about 50 cosmetic products for asbestos since 2018 and plans to release the full results by the end of this year, the agency said.During a brief call with investors on Friday, J&J global supply chain and women’s health executives said they had received the product’s test results the previous day and acted promptly to inform the public. The investigation could take 30 days or more, they said. The executives didn’t take questions from participants on the call.Legal ImplicationsChief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk said on a Tuesday conference call with investors that the company wouldn’t set aside any legal reserves for the more than 100,000 lawsuits it faces across its portfolio of drugs, consumer products and medical devices, saying it expects to fight and win many of the claims.“The management team here will look at what a reasonable outcome could be for all stakeholders involved,” Wolk said. “When products are safe, when they’re effective, we’re going to look to make sure that those products aren’t subject to what’s become unfortunately a big business model for plaintiff’s attorneys.”J&J has already settled some of the lawsuits in which plaintiffs claim they were given cancer by the talc-based personal care products, but 15,500 suits remain, according to a July filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.Company spokesman Ernie Knewitz declined to comment on the contamination beyond the news release and said he wouldn’t speculate on what the development means for the litigation.Baby Powder-related liabilities could eventually cost the company as much as $10 billion, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Though the product accounts for only a small fraction of J&J’s annual revenue, it’s been a core brand for the company for more than a century.Longstanding ClaimsLawyers for women who blame their cancers on asbestos-tainted talc powder contend internal J&J documents indicated officials knew since the 1970s that powder mined in places such as Vermont and Italy contained trace amounts of asbestos, but failed to alert consumers or regulators. Asbestos is often found intertwined with talc.“Had J&J acted responsibly and removed Johnson’s Baby Powder from the market in the 1970s, they would have saved the lives of thousands of women who have died needlessly of ovarian cancer,” Leigh O’Dell, an Alabama lawyer who is leading the plaintiffs’ cases that have been consolidated before a federal judge in New Jersey for pretrial information exchanges, said on Friday.Mark Lanier, who persuaded a St. Louis jury last year to hit J&J with a $4.7 billion verdict on behalf of more than 20 women who said they developed ovarian cancer through long-term use of the company’s talc-based products, said he doesn’t expect this to be the last time that its talc will be found to contain asbestos.“This confirms thousands of tests” over the years that have uncovered asbestos in J&J’s Baby Powder, he said.Given that J&J’s lawyers made public statements this month that the company’s talc-based products were free of asbestos, the recall couldn’t come at worse time, said Nora Engstrom, a Stanford University law professor. The company has vowed for years that extensive testing showed no traces of asbestos, she noted.“The wisdom of J&J’s broad defense strategy for these talc cases clearly is now in doubt,” Engstrom said.J&J has refuted and, in many cases, appealed verdicts against it, citing conflicting evidence on whether talcum powder can cause cancer. In a statement provided to Time magazine after a new study’s publication, the company maintained that Baby Powder is safe.“We sympathize with anyone suffering from cancer, and we understand patients and their families are seeking answers. The facts are clear — Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe, does not contain asbestos nor does it cause cancer, as reflected in more than 40 years of scientific evidence,” the statement reads.J&J said in February that it had received subpoenas and inquiries related to its iconic baby-powder products from the U.S. Justice Department, the SEC and the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Knewitz, the J&J spokesman, said at the time the company would cooperate with the inquiries.Bloomberg News reported in July that the Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into whether J&J lied to the public about the possible cancer risks of its talc powder.(Updates with FDA testing in third paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Riley Griffin in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Crayton Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org, Timothy Annett, Mark SchoifetFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Analyst Christopher Eberle reiterated a "buy" rating and a price target of $161 on Microsoft stock. He predicts that Azure could grow 61.6% in Q1.
Investing.com – Stocks finished the week on a down note on slumps in Boeing and Johnson & Johnson, plus new worries about Chinese economic growth.
(Bloomberg) -- Mark Hurd, who was chief executive officer of three major technology companies including Oracle Corp., has died. He was 62.Most recently Hurd was co-CEO at Oracle with Safra Catz where he focused on sales, marketing and press and investor relations, while she ran finances and legal matters. Oracle announced on Sept. 11 that Hurd had begun a leave of absence for unspecified health-related reasons and that Catz and Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison would assume his responsibilities during his leave. The company didn’t disclose a cause of death Friday.“It is with a profound sense of sadness and loss that I tell everyone here at Oracle that Mark Hurd passed away early this morning,” Ellison wrote in an online post. “Mark was my close and irreplaceable friend, and trusted colleague. Oracle has lost a brilliant and beloved leader who personally touched the lives of so many of us during his decade at Oracle.”Hurd began his career in 1980 as a salesman for National Cash Register Corp. (now NCR), before rising in the ranks to the CEO post. In 2005, he was hired away as CEO by Hewlett-Packard Co., then the world’s biggest personal-computer maker. Hurd joined Oracle as a co-president in 2010, after resigning from HP following a sexual-harassment probe. While an internal investigation didn’t find a violation of the company’s sexual-harassment policy, it concluded that he violated company standards by filing inaccurate expense reports to conceal a personal relationship with a contractor.During his Oracle tenure, Hurd produced solid revenue and profits as the Redwood City, California-based company’s stock price hit a historic high in 2019. He was also a key driver in Oracle’s turn from an old model of licensing software toward the use of cloud computing, a burgeoning business dominated by rivals Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.When he hired Hurd, Ellison said, “There is no executive in the IT world with more relevant experience than Mark.” Ellison described Hurd’s dismissal by HP as the “worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple board fired Steve Jobs.”Transformed SalesforceHurd reshaped Oracle’s salesforce. Beginning in 2013, he implemented a “specialist” model that made each member an expert in a single product category. In that year alone, he hired more than 4,000 people to implement his idea.He also created the “Class of” program that was designed to inject a startup feel into Oracle. College graduates were hired for a dedicated program that prepared them to become Oracle’s future sales leaders.In 2014, Hurd and Catz were named co-CEOs, while Ellison continued to serve as chairman of the board, orchestrate management changes and develop products as chief technology officer.Hurd was regarded as the most media-friendly of the trio, frequently serving as the public face of the company to outline its goals. At the time Hurd and Catz were named CEOs, Oracle’s central business was selling software designed to run on gear owned by the customer and charging a license fee. Hurd was among those inside Oracle who saw the company’s future in cloud computing -- which would let customers rent software and run their data on servers owned by vendors such as Oracle. He predicted in 2015 that by 2025 all enterprise data would be stored in the cloud and that 100% of software development and testing would run through it.Today, the company is much less ambitious in its cloud efforts, and has been making smaller promises. In June, Oracle said it would partner with Microsoft, a decades-long rival, to connect the two companies’ cloud services, so customers can use Oracle databases or applications tied to Microsoft’s Azure cloud. While Catz said Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, wanted an alliance to give clients access to Oracle’s AI-driven databases, the move was a concession—signaling Oracle knew it could no longer go at it alone.It’s now Catz who will have to go it alone, at least for now. Some analysts expect the company will move to appoint a new partner soon. “It’s much more manageable to have two CEOs, so we would be surprised if Oracle goes back to one CEO going forward,” said John Barrett, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Service. “The larger question is how Oracle will go about searching for the co-CEO role and how quickly they can find a successor.”The succession will likely come from within the company’s deep bench. One option is Jeff Henley, Oracle’s vice chairman and former chief financial officer, according to Abby Adlerman, CEO of Boardspan, which provides software and services to address board governance. “I think from a succession planning perspective, they are in a much better place than most companies. They have a lot of options.” Ellison will likely stay close and in the long term, “it’s a matter of if Safra wants to go at it alone. It’s such a big company that there was a reason for the co-CEO role.”Ellison has mentioned Don Johnson, head of Oracle’s cloud infrastructure division, and Steve Miranda, head of Oracle’s applications unit, as possible partners to Catz in the future.Growth StrategyHurd led the charge to make Oracle one of the dominant cloud players, investing heavily in research and development and acquisitions, such as the $9.3 billion purchase of NetSuite Inc., sometimes called the first cloud company, in 2016. Oracle also bought Eloqua Inc., a marketing software company, and Taleo Corp., which makes talent-management.He secured significant deals with AT&T Inc., Bank of America Corp., and Qantas Airlines to transfer their existing databases to the cloud through Oracle. By late 2019, Oracle served more than 420,000 customers in 195 countries and territories, he said.Hurd had gone on a similar acquisition binge at HP, managing about $24 billion in deals, including buying Electronic Data Systems (EDS), as part of a larger plan to diversify the computer maker.He was also a drastic cost cutter who was responsible for firing thousands of workers when he first took over as HP’s CEO and laying off thousands more after the $13.9 billion purchase in 2008 of a struggling EDS, a move many investors disliked.Still, under Hurd’s tenure, HP increased profits for 22 straight quarters, while its revenue rose about 60% and its stock price doubled, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. He also helped HP surpass International Business Machines Corp. as the largest computer maker by sales.There were some dark moments at HP too. In 2006, it was disclosed that Hurd had helped launch an investigation into internal leaks from the company’s board. Outside security consultants conducted surveillance on a journalist and HP board member, and used a subterfuge to acquire phone and fax records for HP employees, board members and journalists. The California attorney general’s office opened a criminal probe into possible privacy violations, and HP’s chairwoman at the time, Patricia Dunn, resigned her post when the scandal broke.For his part, Hurd defended the need to investigate company leakers, but claimed he didn’t know about the investigators’ tawdry tactics because he’d ducked out of a briefing on the investigation and, several months later, ignored a verbal and written summary of the leak probe.After Hurd was ousted following the sexual harassment probe in 2010, HP discontinued making smartphones and its tablet computer. Eventually it split into two companies, one focused on personal computers and printers and the other on software and services.Top CEODespite navigating several scandals, Hurd was lauded by the industry. In 2007, he was named one of Fortune magazine’s 25 most powerful business leaders. In 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle named Hurd CEO of the Year.“Saddened by the loss of Mark Hurd,” wrote Bill McDermott, who stepped down as CEO of SAP SE this month, on Twitter. “He was a self-made success in the industry & presided over mega accomplishments. While we competed vigorously in the market, we enjoyed professional respect. My heartfelt prayers are with Mark’s family on this solemn day.”Mark Vincent Hurd was born on Jan. 1, 1957, in New York and lived on the affluent Upper East Side of Manhattan. His Yale-educated father was a financier who moved the family to Miami while Hurd was in high school. His mother was a debutante.Hurd received a tennis scholarship to Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1979.He was hired in 1980 as a junior sales person by National Cash Register in San Antonio. He eventually became president, chief operating officer and CEO of the maker of automatic teller machines and cash registers.Based on his NCR record, HP hired him in 2005 as its CEO and added the chairman title the following year.“Mark just blew everybody else out of the water,” said Tom Perkins, a former HP executive who interviewed Hurd for the CEO job.Hurd served on a number of corporate boards and was a Baylor University trustee since 2014.He was married to the former Paula Kalupa in 1990. They had two daughters, Kathryn and Kelly.(Updates with comments from analyst in 12th paragraph)\--With assistance from Nico Grant, Peter Waldman and Candy Cheng.To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Oster in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average Index lost close to 260 points or 0.95% today. Boeing stock (BA) fell 6.73%, the biggest loss in the Dow today.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. lawmakers from both parties slammed Apple Inc. and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook on Friday for “censorship of apps” at the “behest of the Chinese government.”Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Wyden, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher and Tom Malinowski expressed concern about the removal of an app that let Hong Kong protesters track police movement in the city.“Apple’s decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKmaps is deeply concerning,” they wrote in a letter to Cook, urging Apple to “reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.” Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.Apple removed the HKmap.live app from the App Store in China and Hong Hong earlier this month, saying it violated local laws. The company also said it received “credible information” from Hong Kong authorities indicating the software was being used “maliciously” to attack police. The decision, and the reasoning, was questioned widely.Cook, in a recent memo to Apple employees, said that “national and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts.” On Thursday, the CEO met with China’s State Administration for Market Regulation head Xiao Yaqing in Beijing to discuss consumer-rights protection, boosting investment and business development in the country, according to a statement from the Chinese regulator.The Cupertino, California-based company isn’t the only one referenced in Friday’s letter. The lawmakers mentioned recent headlines involving the National Basketball Association and Activision Blizzard Inc., a video game company that suspended a professional game player for supporting the Hong Kong protests.“Cases like these raise real concern about whether Apple and other large U.S. corporate entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to more than a billion Chinese consumers,” the lawmakers wrote.They also slammed Apple for removing other apps, including VPN apps that helped Chinese people get around the government’s online censorship. The letter said Apple has “censored” at least 2,200 apps in China, citing data from non-profit organization GreatFire. Apple says on its website that it removed 634 apps in the second half of last year globally due to legal violations.The letter implied that Apple made the removal decisions to maintain its huge business in China and appease the government. Greater China was Apple’s third-largest region by revenue last year, generating more than $50 billion in revenue.Apple is one of the rare tech companies that operates in China, with rivals like Google and Facebook Inc. hardly operational in the market. China’s importance to Apple means the company has to balance its own values with following local laws.In the past, the company has pulled the Skype and New York Times apps from its App Store in China. More recently, it removed a Taiwanese flag emoji for users in Hong Kong and Macau and was criticized for sending some browsing data to China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. as part of a privacy feature.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at email@example.com;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at email@example.com, Alistair Barr, Robin AjelloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Mark Hurd was in his element at Indian Wells.The tennis tournament–more formally known as the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California— provided him with the perfect backdrop to flex his passions: tennis and selling stuff. Hurd turned the event, which Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison bought in 2009, into a two-week database and software sales extravaganza. He could be seen strolling the grounds or at nearby hotels constantly schmoozing with customers and using his connections with tennis legends like Chris Evert and Rafael Nadal to win people over and help close a deal. Along the way, Hurd, Oracle’s co-CEO, would sneak in a hit–he had a big serve and liked to flaunt it–or check on the American college players he was mentoring and the young pros he was quietly helping with financial aid. For Hurd, business and pleasure were one and the same and almost always intermixed in his life.This is what I’ll remember most about Hurd, who passed away Friday morning after a protracted illness: he was a relentless hustler and loved the art of doing business more than just about any other executive I’ve ever run across. In a statement issued after Hurd’s death, Ellison pointed to his friend’s business acumen. “Oracle has lost a brilliant and beloved leader who personally touched the lives of so many of us during his decade at Oracle,” Ellison said. “All of us will miss Mark’s keen mind and rare ability to analyze, simplify and solve problems quickly.” Hurd arrived at Oracle in 2010 under tumultuous conditions. He’d resigned as CEO of Hewlett-Packard after being investigated by the company’s board for a relationship Hurd had with a marketing contractor. The board argued that Hurd had tried to cover up the relationship and misused his expense account, and Hurd argued that they were wrong and making much ado about nothing. The squabble was acrimonious enough to end Hurd’s time at HP, even though he had revived the company’s fortunes and turned it into a lean, mean maker of corporate technology products, printers and personal computers.At Oracle, Hurd applied his trademark skills at analyzing balance sheets and streamlining operations to try and improve the software maker’s bottom line. He could recite from memory the financial minutiae of every division and be blunt about what was working and what needed to be fixed. During his years at Oracle, the company’s share price more than doubled, and Hurd was a constant presence at the company’s events, sales meetings and customer sites. In many ways, he became the public face of Oracle, enjoying the limelight while Ellison made the occasional appearance and co-CEO Safra Catz preferred to operate in the background.Though Oracle remains the dominant database company, it still has much work to do to catch up in the booming market for cloud-based software and services. Oracle was late to the game modernizing its products. Hurd tried his best to paper over Oracle’s weaknesses through salesmanship and often succeeded. One of the biggest weaknesses throughout his career, though, was favoring bottom line performance over investing in research and development and revolutionary new products. Hurd often seemed to focus on the here and now, rather than plotting for what lay ahead. Oracle’s dual-CEO structure was unusual and not always to Hurd’s liking, as he reveled in controlling a business and overseeing all of its operations. He took on sales, marketing and press and investor relations, and Catz handled finances and legal. Last month Oracle said that Hurd was taking a leave of absence for an unspecified illness and that Ellison and Catz would assume his responsibilities. Ellison has said that Catz will stay in place and that he would like to keep the two-CEO structure. He cited Don Johnson, head of Oracle’s cloud infrastructure division, and Steve Miranda, head of Oracle’s applications unit, as possible partners to Catz in the future.What’s clear is that Hurd will not be easy to replace. On a personal note, he shared a tight bond with Ellison around tennis. The two men have been pumping money into American tournaments and players for years, hoping to spark a revival of U.S. male pros. And, when Hurd was at his lowest moment after the HP fiasco, it was Ellison who came to the rescue, championing Hurd in the press and offering him a high-profile gig at Oracle. These actions–along with massive annual pay packages-made Hurd very loyal to Ellison and left Hurd as eager as ever to prove Ellison right and his critics wrong.Not short on ego, Hurd saw business as a battlefield and perceived himself as a master general. On his worst days, he was short of temper and combative. But, on his best days–of which there seemed to be many–he was a numbers and strategy savant with a rare ability to inspire those under him to work incredibly hard. Hurd himself was a workaholic and considered Oracle’s performance as a reflection on his character. Very few people are as committed to their work or as passionate in their pursuit of it.Vance covered Hurd for 15 years in his roles as CEO of NCR, HP and Oracle and even played tennis with him once. To contact the author of this story: Ashlee Vance in Palo Alto at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at email@example.com, Robin AjelloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.