• Business Wire

    Wells Fargo Closed-End Funds Declare Monthly and Quarterly Distributions

    The Wells Fargo Income Opportunities Fund (NYSE American: EAD), the Wells Fargo Multi-Sector Income Fund (NYSE American: ERC), the Wells Fargo Utilities and High Income Fund (NYSE American: ERH), and the Wells Fargo Global Dividend Opportunity Fund (NYSE: EOD) have each announced a distribution.

  • Secrecy and Glitches Mar Australia's Tracing App Rollout

    Secrecy and Glitches Mar Australia's Tracing App Rollout

    (Bloomberg) -- In trying to persuade Australians to embrace the government’s new contact-tracing app, officials are invoking images of favorite pastimes — football and beer — with a clear underlying message: If you want things to go back to normal, install it on your phone.“Want to go to the footy? Download the app,” Health Minister Greg Hunt tweeted earlier this month.Prime Minister Scott Morrison dangled the memory of going to the pub and drinking with pals. “Now, if that isn’t an incentive for Australians to download COVIDSafe on a Friday, I don’t know what is,” Morrison said.But authorities’ efforts to persuade Australians to install COVIDSafe have been met with some resistance. The nation’s tech community complained that the government was slow to fix glitches, while some members of the public have raised questions about whether the app impinges on privacy rights or makes a difference in fighting Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Some said they felt coerced into embracing an opaque technology.As U.S. states and cities start their own contact-tracing programs, the Australian experience — delivered with technical bugs and shifting messages from government officials to a skeptical public — may offer a glimpse of what’s to come.Contact-tracing apps are being developed around the world as a way to fight the virus, by helping to track down those who may have been in close contact with people diagnosed with the coronavirus. Many of the apps, including COVIDSafe, use a phone’s Bluetooth technology to pull data from other app users who pass nearby. But many of the tracing programs have struggled because of lackluster adoption and worries about privacy and government surveillance.Australia has recorded slightly more than 100 deaths from Covid-19, and over 7,000 confirmed cases. The infection rate peaked in the mid-March, when 469 cases were recorded in a single day and the country grounded international flights, closing its borders. After weeks of social restrictions, the number of daily infections dropped sharply. On May 27, it was four.  As part of its campaign to get the country moving again, the government on April 26 launched its COVIDSafe app, based on source code from Singapore’s TraceTogether program, one of the first contact-tracing apps. Eager to tamp down the impact of budget deficits and the country’s first economic recession in a generation, government officials have appealed to the public to download COVIDSafe, hoping it would usher in a quicker return to normal.The government has rejected criticism of the app’s rollout. In an email to Bloomberg News, the agency responsible for the app, the Digital Transformation Agency, said it had received “widespread support and endorsement” from the information technology community in Australia. The government has “remained transparent throughout the rollout of the COVIDSafe app, and suggestions to the contrary are categorically false,” according to an email from an agency spokesperson. To address privacy concerns, the government declared that data gleaned from the app would be used only by health officials and not shared with law enforcement or other government agencies. It also passed legislation making the sharing of COVIDSafe data a crime. In the month or so since the program started, more than 6 million people have registered for the app — about a quarter of the population.“Australia continues to be a world leader in testing, tracing and containing the coronavirus,” Hunt, the health minister, said in a recent statement in which he encouraged Australians to download the app.The Digital Transformation Agency has offered few details about the app’s deployment beyond updating how many people have registered. The health ministry directed all questions to the DTA, which didn’t address questions on how many people are using the app on average each day, what the geographic spread of users is, and whether it would release the server code so cybersecurity experts can help find flaws, as they have done in Singapore and elsewhere.“It would be much more sensible to say they did this in a hurry, and it’s not perfect.” said Vanessa Teague, a cryptographer who focuses on privacy and election security at Thinking Cybersecurity, a cybersecurity firm based in Melbourne. “But the refusal to engage with the constructive suggestions for change that are really important is just dumb.”Problems with COVIDSafe emerged on the first day of its release.That morning, at 1:20 a.m., Jim Mussared, a software developer in Sydney, was emailing anyone he could reach in the Australian government and tech industry, flagging what he said were implementation flaws that caused unintended privacy glitches. They included in some cases exposing the phone owner’s name and allowing for the long-term tracking of devices, even after the app was uninstalled — which raised concerns among activists against domestic violence.“I can’t tell you how many different ways I tried to get the attention of anyone,” he said in an interview. “I spent hours writing detailed explanations of how they might fix these issues, and I don’t expect a reply. I’m shouting into the void.”He wasn’t alone for long. Cybersecurity experts took to social media, published findings online and even went on breakfast radio to implore the government to respond to a plethora of complaints they’d sent to the Covid app website. It would take weeks before some of the bugs were addressed, according to updates from the government.The government has moderated its public message since the start of the program. Initially, it said it wanted 40% of Australians to download the app. But after officials discovered that the operating system didn’t run on older mobile phones, they said they meant 40% of smartphone users instead. The government also softened its message about downloading the app. Morrison initially didn’t rule out the possibility that it could be mandatory; the government later passed a law making it illegal to force anyone to download the app. Users have also complained about problems with the app, according to cybersecurity experts and online reviews. Some uninstalled it after learning that it interfered with their health monitoring apps, particularly those for diabetes patients. Some removed it because it interfered with their car audio systems. On some phones, it drained the battery. “Even the Senate committee on Covid has experienced difficulties in getting straight answers from officials,” said Senator Rex Patrick, an independent lawmaker from the state of South Australia and a member of the parliamentary committee studying the government’s response to the virus outbreak.Amazon Web Services was awarded a six-month contract for $465,000 for its cloud services, a deal that eventually prompted the government to pass legislation with extra privacy provisions that make it illegal to transfer any data from the app stored in the cloud outside of the country. But some legal scholars and others worry that AWS could be required to produce the data it stores if served with a U.S. subpoena, based on the U.S. Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, or CLOUD Act for short.In an email response to Bloomberg News, AWS said the CLOUD Act doesn’t give U.S. law enforcement unfettered access to data stored in the cloud. Rather, a formal warrant “through rigorous, pre-defined legal processes” is necessary before any access could be granted according to an AWS spokesperson.  The law applies to a narrow category of circumstances, such as seeking evidence of terrorism, AWS said.Some people who have declined to install the app out of privacy concerns point to sweeping powers granted to intelligence and law enforcement agencies over the last two decades, which they believe have come at the expense of personal liberties.  “There’s no way I’m downloading it,” lawyer Anne Greenaway said, citing privacy worries. “I don’t trust the government for a second.”Greenaway, a solicitor who lives in Queanbeyan, about nine miles south of Canberra, the nation’s capital, was surprised that people in her town resisted lifting social restrictions but embraced the app — and shamed those who didn’t download it. “What annoys me is it’s turning people against each other. That if you don’t download it, you’re letting the side down and holding everyone back,” she said. David Killick, a hobby farmer who writes for the local newspaper in Hobart on the island state of Tasmania, reluctantly downloaded the app after hearing government officials say that restrictions wouldn’t be eased until more people participated.“I think some people have the sense that the government isn’t all that trustworthy with people’s data, and that there tends to be a bit of mission creep with these things: once you give up some of your liberties, they tend to want to hang onto them forever,” he said.“In the end I felt like there wasn’t much choice. Download the app or we were all going to be stuck at home forever.”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.

  • Internet Grows to 366.8 Million Domain Name Registrations at the End of the First Quarter of 2020
    Business Wire

    Internet Grows to 366.8 Million Domain Name Registrations at the End of the First Quarter of 2020

    VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), a global provider of domain name registry services and internet infrastructure, today announced that the first quarter of 2020 closed with 366.8 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains (TLDs), an increase of 4.5 million domain name registrations, or 1.2 percent, compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.1,2 Domain name registrations have grown by 14.9 million, or 4.2 percent, year over year.1,2

  • Why Diversified Healthcare Trust, Simulation Plus, and Hudson Pacific Properties Are Rising Today
    Motley Fool

    Why Diversified Healthcare Trust, Simulation Plus, and Hudson Pacific Properties Are Rising Today

    Shares of these businesses are making big moves in response to upcoming index changes. Here are the must-know details.

  • Chicken Is Still a Winner: RBI’S Popeyes Posts Strong Growth as Others Falter
    Motley Fool

    Chicken Is Still a Winner: RBI’S Popeyes Posts Strong Growth as Others Falter

    Chowing down on chicken appears to be a nearly pandemic-proof trend in the U.S., as Restaurant Brands International (NYSE: QSR) reported today. The company detailed a more than 40% increase in same-store sales at Popeyes "as of the third full week in May." Even with the coronavirus on the loose in March, the restaurant's sales remained flat year over year rather than declining, unlike RBI's other major brands and its competitors. According to the same SEC filing, sales at Burger King and Tim Hortons, RBI's two other main brands, are still posting negative same-store sales figures year over year, but have improved from the second half of March.

  • Verizon Introduces 5G Upload Speeds to Its Next Gen Network
    Motley Fool

    Verizon Introduces 5G Upload Speeds to Its Next Gen Network

    The mobility growth story from the emergence of the smartphone over a decade ago is long gone, but Verizon's network is proving to be a basic staple among customers during the current recession. Q1 2020 wasn't perfect, but it was good enough, and next-gen 5G mobile networks should provide enough of a bump in the coming years to keep Verizon in the lead -- both in terms of its network's technological advantage and in dividend reliability. Fast download speeds tend to dominate the headlines, and in this regard Verizon shines.

  • Amazon to Retain Many of the Employees it Hired During the Pandemic
    Motley Fool

    Amazon to Retain Many of the Employees it Hired During the Pandemic

    The e-commerce giant brought on 175,000 workers during the pandemic and plans to retain about 70% of them.

  • How to possibly make easy money from Trump's battle with Twitter and Facebook
    Yahoo Finance

    How to possibly make easy money from Trump's battle with Twitter and Facebook

    Try this trade on for size amidst the brewing battle between President Trump and social media companies.

  • $1 Trillion of Corporate Bonds Today, Downgrades Tomorrow

    $1 Trillion of Corporate Bonds Today, Downgrades Tomorrow

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The amount of new debt issued this year in the U.S. investment-grade corporate bond market will reach $1 trillion today, by far the fastest pace in history. The implications of that milestone depend on how you look at it.For businesses that had been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing nationwide lockdowns, access to capital markets was a lifeline to get through the worst of the economic collapse. Sure, Carnival Corp. had to offer interest rates like a junk-rated borrower and Boeing Co. needed to include a so-called coupon step-up provision to offset jitters that it could lose its investment grades. But, in the words of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, these deals avoided turning “liquidity problems into solvency problems” for brand-name American companies.It’s worth remembering that until the Fed stepped in with extraordinary support for credit markets, averting widespread failures was far from guaranteed. Investors pulled a staggering $35.6 billion and $38 billion from investment-grade funds in the weeks ended March 18 and March 25, respectively. Before 2020, the previous record was $5.1 billion of outflows. I wrote on March 19 that bond markets were veering into a vicious cycle that could get ugly in a hurry — four days later, the Fed announced what would end up becoming a $750 billion backstop for corporate America.Now, the Fed hasn’t actually had to buy any individual bonds yet, a fact that Powell seems proud to share. “We may have to be lending money to those companies, but even better, they can borrow themselves now, and a lot of that has been happening and that’s a really good thing,” he said during May 19 testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.Most people would probably agree with that assessment, at least for the immediate future as the country grapples with restarting the world’s largest economy. But what about the longer-term view?Here, the rampant borrowing paints a more sobering picture. As of late April, 1,287 issuers worldwide rated between AAA and B- by S&P Global Ratings were considered at risk of a potential downgrade, up from 860 in March and 649 in February. That surpasses the previous all-time high set in 2009. “Generally, we expect heavy credit erosion in coming months as issuers, especially those in the lower-rated spectrum come under heavy fire from poor earnings, continued difficulties in managing cost structures, and market volatility creating limited funding opportunities,” said Sudeep Kesh, head of S&P’s credit markets research.That’s bad enough, but doesn’t even strike at the heart of the issue. Last year was supposed to be the beginning of a broad “debt diet” among companies that borrowed huge sums to finance mergers and acquisitions during the longest expansion in U.S. history. That didn’t end up taking place on a wide scale. Even a success story like AT&T Inc., which made headway in trimming its debt stack, still found itself back in the bond market recently, borrowing $12.5 billion on May 21 in what was the biggest deal since Boeing’s $25 billion blockbuster offering.When it comes to companies directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic or structural changes to their industries, the “big three” of S&P, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings haven’t shied away from taking action. Ford Motor Co., Kraft Heinz Co., Macy’s Inc. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. are just a few of the “fallen angels” that lost their investment grades earlier this year.The rating companies haven’t been quite as keen to react to high leverage metrics. I frequently refer back to this feature from Bloomberg News’s Molly Smith and Christopher Cannon, which found that of the 50 biggest corporate acquisitions in the five years through October 2018, more than half of the acquiring companies increased their leverage to a level that would seemingly merit a junk rating but remained investment grade on the assumption that they’d take that leverage down in the coming years. Those expectations seemed ambitious in 2018, when the economy was seemingly invincible. Now, no one can truly expect companies to focus on right-sizing their debt. Corporate leaders are rightfully eager to raise cash to get to the other side of the pandemic, especially with all-in yields not far off from record lows. The vast majority of the $1 trillion in borrowing so far this year was by no means imprudent.In the years ahead, however, the overhang from this issuance spree will inevitably weigh down credit ratings. A company with more debt presents a greater risk of missed interest payments than if it had fewer fixed obligations. Fortunately, for much of the previous expansion, firms had no issue finding investors willing to buy their long-term securities. That practice of rolling over debt and extending maturities might very well be the norm in the months and years ahead, too. Still, if the first five months of 2020 are any indication, investment-grade bondholders will have to get comfortable with even more bloated balance sheets and the prospect of further credit downgrades. For better or worse, with the confidence that the Fed has their back, that seems like a risk investors are willing to take.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Brian Chappatta is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering debt markets. He previously covered bonds for Bloomberg News. He is also a CFA charterholder.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Are Airline ETF & Stocks Ready to Take Off?

    Are Airline ETF & Stocks Ready to Take Off?

    Given the resumption of a higher number of flights ahead of the peak summer travel season, airline stocks and ETF are set to rebound strongly.

  • ER doctor: 12-18 month coronavirus vaccine timeline 'is extremely optimistic'
    Yahoo Finance

    ER doctor: 12-18 month coronavirus vaccine timeline 'is extremely optimistic'

    As the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, the search for a vaccine is not slowing down.

  • Why Is Sirius XM (SIRI) Down 2.4% Since Last Earnings Report?

    Why Is Sirius XM (SIRI) Down 2.4% Since Last Earnings Report?

    Sirius XM (SIRI) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.

  • The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: JPMorgan, American Express, Boeing and Virgin Galactic

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: JPMorgan, American Express, Boeing and Virgin Galactic

    The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: JPMorgan, American Express, Boeing and Virgin Galactic

  • I'm Betting My Retirement on These 10 Stocks
    Motley Fool

    I'm Betting My Retirement on These 10 Stocks

    Aside from our house, all the money my wife and I have saved over the last 30-plus years is invested in stocks. At 53 years young, we hold a concentrated investment portfolio that will fund our eventual retirement.

  • Telecom M&A May Get Boost as EU Court Topples U.K. Deal Veto

    Telecom M&A May Get Boost as EU Court Topples U.K. Deal Veto

    (Bloomberg) -- CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. won its European Union court fight to overturn the EU’s veto of its bid for rival O2, in a blow to Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager that may make it easier to get deals past merger watchdogs.In a surprise ruling on Thursday, the bloc’s General Court toppled the European Commission’s 2016 merger ban, citing numerous mistakes in the EU regulator’s analysis and saying regulators failed to prove the tie-up would have harmed rivals and customers.While the case is largely symbolic -- the companies have expressed no plans to resurrect the deal -- it’s one of a growing number of challenges to the EU’s merger review process. Regulators wield huge power to extract concessions from companies under threat of blocking a transaction they see as harmful to competition and likely to increase prices for consumers.“This is a resounding victory not only for Hutchison but for the entire European mobile telephony industry,” said Douglas Lahnborg, a lawyer at Orrick. “It’s probably the most important court ruling over the last 15 years in the field of mergers.”Most-FearedIn its decision, the commission rejected Hutchison’s argument that combining its Three unit with Telefonica SA’s U.K. business would help the company invest more in new networks and technology. Instead, it found that it risked increasing prices. The EU’s opposition to merging two mobile networks in the same country also killed other potential deals, effectively pushing many telecoms operators to combine with cable companies or look at cross-border transactions instead of direct national rivals.Vestager, now in her second term as EU commissioner, made her name with tough antitrust enforcement, making the EU one of the most-feared jurisdictions for global deal-making. The court’s criticism may weaken regulators’ ability to demand companies make the changes they want to get a deal through.Hutchison said Thursday’s ruling forces the commission “to fundamentally revisit its approach to merger reviews in this key sector.”‘Brake’ on Deals“The commission’s approach has unfortunately acted as a brake on, or in a number of cases prevented, vital industry consolidation in Europe which would have resulted in significant new investment, innovation and benefits for European consumers and industry,” the company said in a statement.The commission in Brussels said it will carefully study the judgment, which can be appealed.EU merger enforcement has deterred most attempts by European telecoms operators to buy direct rivals, often deals that would have reduced the number of mobile phone providers in one country from four to three. While EU officials repeatedly say there’s no “magic number” for telecoms, they rarely approve so-called 4-3 deals.The ruling is a step “in the right direction” for operators “toward consolidation,” said James Barford, a telecom analyst at Enders Analysis. He said 4-to-3 mergers “seem to have paused” since the 2016 decision “because it appeared the European Commission was taking a different view on them.”Telefonica has moved on in the meantime, a spokeswoman said, referring to a new deal the company recently announced.O2 agreed earlier this month to merge with Liberty Global Plc’s Virgin Media to create the U.K.’s largest phone and internet operator. Virgin Media doesn’t operate its own mobile network in the U.K., and currently rents connectivity from BT Group Plc to offer wireless services to customers. Virgin’s combination with O2 may face an easier ride from regulators because it combines fixed and wireless assets, not two wireless companies.While the U.K. has quit the EU since the deal dispute erupted, the legal challenge highlights how tough antitrust enforcement has swayed telecommunications M&A activity in the region.Virgin Media, O2 Combine to Create New Telecom GiantIn their ruling, the Luxembourg-based EU judges cited the EU’s failure “to show that the effects of the concentration on the network-sharing agreements and on the mobile network infrastructure in the U.K.” would have hindered competition significantly.They also accused the commission of failing to prove “to the requisite legal standard” the effects of the deal on prices and quality of services for consumers. The tribunal found there was not sufficient proof either that the transaction would have significantly impeded competition on the wholesale market.The case is: T-399/16 CK Telecoms UK Investments v Commission.(Updates with lawyer comment from fourth 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.

  • Motley Fool

    Why Boeing Stock Is Up

    In this episode of MarketFoolery, Chris Hill chats with Motley Fool analyst Jim Gillies about the latest headlines from Wall Street. They talk about some stock offerings and there is news on the work-from-home front.

  • Amazon to offer permanent roles to 70% of 175,000 new U.S. hires

    Amazon to offer permanent roles to 70% of 175,000 new U.S. hires

    The decision is a sign that Amazon's sales have increased sufficiently to justify an expanded workforce for order fulfillment, even as government lockdowns ease and rivals open their retail stores for pickup. Amazon started the hiring spree in March with a blog post appealing to workers laid off by restaurants and other shuttered businesses, promising employment "until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back." Seattle-based Amazon did not disclose how much it was spending to make the positions permanent and whether that cost would be in addition to the $4 billion it has forecast for virus-related expenses.

  • Trump to Sign Executive Order: Social Media Giants Under Fire

    Trump to Sign Executive Order: Social Media Giants Under Fire

    An executive order could mean a lot for social media companies, which are already under the scrutiny of regulators for the way they handle personal data and their privacy policies.

  • Bloomberg

    Google Considers Stake in India’s Vodafone Idea, FT Says

    (Bloomberg) -- Follow Bloomberg on LINE messenger for all the business news and analysis you need.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is considering acquiring a stake in Vodafone Group Plc’s struggling Indian business, the Financial Times reported, joining Facebook Inc. in investing in the world’s fastest-growing mobile arena.Google may take a stake of about 5% in Vodafone Idea, a partnership between the U.K. telecom carrier and the Aditya Birla Group, though the deliberations are at a very early state, the FT cited people familiar with the matter as saying.Any deal would come weeks after Facebook paid $5.7 billion for a slice of digital assets controlled by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man. The deal was a landmark investment followed in successive days by major influxes of capital into India’s tech industry led by private equity firms.Spokespeople from Vodafone and Vodafone Idea declined to comment. Google itself has big ambitions for India, a country with a huge first-time internet user population that serves as a test-bed for innovations in smartphone technology.Facebook’s alliance with Ambani’s Reliance inserted a powerful new competitor into a crowded Indian internet industry already contested by Google, Walmart Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and SoftBank Group Corp.-backed local outfit Paytm. But none of them have the reach of WhatsApp, the nation’s most popular communications platform.India has been a critical component of Google’s Next Billion Users initiative, its attempt to rope in hundreds of millions of users as they come on the internet in emerging markets like India. It’s targeted users in the market for products as varied as train station Wi-Fi, maps and digital payments. Vodafone’s Indian telecom unit is struggling following a $4 billion demand for back fees in addition to more than $14 billion of debt. The wireless operator, formed by the merger of Vodafone Group’s local unit and billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla’s Idea Cellular Ltd., hasn’t reported a quarterly profit since announcing the deal in 2017, and is headed toward insolvency in the absence of any relief from the government, Birla warned in December.India’s top court recently sided with the government and ordered that the full amount of back fees be paid within three months. When the companies dithered and filed pleas, the Supreme Court threatened to initiate contempt proceedings for non-compliance.(Updated with context throughout, comment from Vodafone)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.

  • U.S. firms shield CEO pay as pandemic hits workers, investors

    U.S. firms shield CEO pay as pandemic hits workers, investors

    Sonic Automotive Inc, which operates 95 U.S. car dealerships, started laying off and furloughing about a third of its workforce as the coronavirus pandemic crushed its sales. Then it changed its executives' pay packages - handing them a multimillion-dollar windfall. On April 10, Sonic's board gave its top executives stock options to replace performance-based share awards, regulatory filings show.

  • Thomson Reuters StreetEvents

    Edited Transcript of LBTYA earnings conference call or presentation 7-May-20 1:00pm GMT

    Q1 2020 Liberty Global PLC Earnings Call

  • Moody's

    Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. -- Moody's downgrades Hawaiian Holdings' corporate family rating to B1, EETCs to Ba2 and B1; outlook negative

    Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") downgraded its ratings for Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. ("Hawaiian"); corporate family rating to B1 from Ba3 and probability of default rating to B1-PD from Ba3-PD. Moody's also downgraded subsidiary Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.'s Series 2013-1 Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificate ratings to Ba2 from Ba1 for the Class A and to B1 from Ba3 for the Class B. The speculative grade liquidity rating was upgraded to SGL-2 from SGL-3.

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