Coronavirus prompts these CEOs to give up their salaries

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A growing number of CEOs are foregoing their salaries as U.S. companies contend with financial difficulties during the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus has had devastating financial consequences for hotels, restaurants, airlines and various other industries forced to alter operations to slow the spread of the virus. Social distancing practices and bans on mass gatherings have forced widespread temporary store closures.

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Without a steady source of revenue, many businesses have conducted layoffs or garnished employee wages to conserve resources. The Trump administration has worked with congressional leaders on a bailout package designed to provide much-needed relief to embattled industries and small businesses.

In some cases, top business leaders have forfeited their base salaries to ease the financial burden.

FOX Business takes a look at companies whose CEOs have given up their pay during the coronavirus outbreak below.

AMC

Adam Aron, CEO, AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc., speaks during TheWrap’s 7th Annual TheGrill at Montage Beverly Hills on Sept. 27, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

The movie theater chain furloughed all 600 of its corporate employees, including CEO Adam Aron, after coronavirus forced the closure of theaters nationwide.

"At this time, AMC is not terminating any of its corporate employees, however, we were forced under the circumstances to implement a furlough plan, which is absolutely necessary to preserve cash and to ensure that AMC can reopen our doors once this health crisis has dissipated," the company said in a statement.

Boeing

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and chairman Larry Kellner will forego their pay for the rest of 2020. In addition, the embattled company said it would suspend dividends and extend its moratorium on share repurchases.

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In the months prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Boeing shares saw significant declines as the company navigated the grounding of its 737 Max aircraft. The plane is set to return to production later this year.

Delta Air Lines

In a memo to staffers, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said he and the airline's board of directors will give up 100 percent of their salaries over the next six months.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

The sports retailer said in a March 19 SEC filing that CEO Edward Stack and president Lauren Hobart would forego their salaries starting on March 29.

General Electric

David Joyce, vice chairman of GE and president and CEO of GE Aviation, will forego half of his salary. The decision takes effect on April 1.

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Lyft

Lyft cofounders John Zimmer and Logan Green said they would donate their salaries through June toward the ride-share company’s efforts to support its drivers amid a downtick in travel.

Marriott

Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson said in a video message he would give up his salary for the rest of 2020.

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United Airlines

United CEO Oscar Munoz and President Scott Kirby are foregoing their base salaries through June as the airline contends with a reduced operating schedule necessitated by the outbreak.

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These T-shirts are made to be remade

New York (CNN Business)Rothy’s iconic women’s flat shoes are knitted from a single continuous yarn derived from recycled plastic water bottles. Now Rothy’s is pushing the envelope again and creating another sustainable staple product.

On Monday, the company announced it is expanding beyond just plastic bottles to tackle the next challenge — plastic waste in the oceans.
Roth Martin, who launched his company in San Francisco in 2012, said Rothy’s was launching a new product category — handbags — made with the same knitting technology, but the yarn for the bags is a blend of its water-bottle yarn and recycled plastic collected within 30 miles of coastlines and marine environments.

    Rothy's was founded in 2012. Four years later, it debuted it women's shoes made from repurposed plastic water bottles.
    “This expansion into handbags is a natural progression of our strategy to make sustainable products with environmentally-responsible manufacturing,” said Martin.
    Like its shoes, the handbags (priced from $65 to $350) are also machine washable and feature five styles that include a tote, crossbody and a pouch.

    Each bag is knit to shape, a proprietary process the company has developed to leave minimal waste on the factory floor, said Martin. This is unlike traditional traditional handbag manufacturing that involves taking a pattern and cutting out the panels out of one sheet of fabric and then assembling it.

    Rothy's unveiled its first handbag collection made from recycled ocean plastic waste.
    “We have essentially designed our machines and our entire manufacturing process around using post-consumer waste,” said Martin.

    “We can lead by example”

    Rothy’s knitting technology, which it calls “3D-knitting,” has been around for a while, but it was mostly used for making garments. Rothy’s took that technology and adapted it to shoe manufacturing.
    The 3D-knit machines in the factory are programmed to make precise sizes and knit the upper shell of the shoe in a single process.
    “This is why our shoes don’t have any seams,” said Martin. This technique also helps reduce waste by eliminating the need to cut excess yarn and fabric. “And having no seams, we think, makes them more comfortable.”
    Unlike competitors’ 3D-knitted shoes, such as Nike’s Flyprint shoes, Rothy’s have no laces. That presented a challenge. But customers seem pleased with the fit: The eco-friendly shoe brand doesn’t disclose overall shoe sales but said it sold one million pairs in 2018 alone, all made from repurposed discarded water bottles.

    Sustainability

    The sustainable appeal of the machine-washable shoes (which cost $125 to $165 ranging from flats and loafers to sneakers) is also tailor made for social media hype, where on Instagram the brand has 306,000 followers. Among the brand’s celebrity fans is Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, who wore them during a trip to Australia in 2018 and to Africa in October.
    “We’ve recycled more than 50 million plastic water bottles for our shoes to date. By making our thread from plastic bottles, we keep them out of landfills,” said Martin.
    Rothy’s owns and operates its own “sustainable factory’ in China where each shoe goes through dozens of steps before the finished product is put into a recycled cardboard shoebox.

    Lindsey Fahy, Rothy's brand marketing director [left], CEO Roth Martin, [center], Oscar Mao, Rothy's general manager [right] at the company's factory in China.
    Given that all of Rothy’s production is in China, Martin is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak there. He noted his factory was back in production in mid- February. “But logistics could still be a problem because there is pent-up demand to get goods out of China,” he said.
    The factory itself, which employs 1,000 people, is a ‘no waste” operation, he said.
    “We recycle everything, whatever falls on the floor and whatever our employees bring in,” said Martin. “I grew up in San Francisco. Recycling was at the forefront of thinking all around me. It’s why I want to make goods in a responsible way.”

    Rothy's new collection of handbags made from recycled ocean plastic waste.
    That message seems to be resonating with consumers. According to social media analytics firm Social Standards, which looked at millions of Instagram posts in February, customers most associate Rothy’s with themes like sustainability and comfort in their social conversations about the brand.
    Martin says the business is profitable and wants to keep Rothy’s primarily a direct-to-consumer brand. But the company has opened a few stores, one each in Boston, San Francisco and in Washington.
    “In some aspects, Rothy’s was one of the first companies to embrace sustainability as a mission from the beginning,” said Beth Goldsetin, footwear and accessories analyst with market research firm NPD.

      She said Rothy’s has become synonymous with sustainability, giving it a leg up over other big brands that were slower to embrace that mission.
      “We want to lead by example and influence others on responsible manufacturing,” said Martin.
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      These Stocks Could Get Booted From the Dow Jones Industrial Average

      The keepers of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) may have to make big changes in 2020, with the weakest components acting more like penny stocks than multinational icons. Of the 30 members, 29 are now trading below their 200-day exponential moving averages (EMAs), potentially entering bear markets that could persist for several years. Only Walmart Inc. (WMT) is bucking the downward tide, holding within 10 points of an all-time high.

      This venerable instrument had to undergo big changes during and after the 2008 economic collapse, with Altria Group, Inc. (MO), Honeywell International Inc. (HON), General Motors Company (GM), American International Group, Inc. (AIG), and Citigroup Inc. (C) losing their membership status. At the current rate of descent, the new list could be even longer because a few components may not survive the pandemic.

      Let's look at Dow components most likely to get booted in coming months. Several of these issues should have been removed months or years before the pandemic broke out in January, but there are no guarantees that their replacements would have performed better in the past two months. Even so, a few more members in the win column right now might have had a positive psychological effect on the investment community.

      The Boeing Company (BA) has become the odds-on candidate for Dow removal following a historic decline that started with self-inflicted wounds and crashed airplanes. It seems ironic that Seattle added to that burden as ground zero in the U.S. epidemic while the rest of the world has been cancelling orders at a paid pace. There's no assurance that the company will ever return to its past glory, especially if it takes a massive bailout from the government like General Motors did years ago.

      Chevron Corporation (CVX) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) have failed to post new highs since 2014, despite the roaring bull market into 2020, making them prime removal candidates. Both stocks have been crushed in recent weeks, victims of a shareholder panic generated by Saudi Arabia's odd decision to start a price war at the same time as the pandemic. This perfect storm of headwinds has now dropped both issues to their lowest lows since 2002.

      It probably seemed like a fun idea to add Dow Inc. (DOW) to the DJIA in 2019, if only for the identical company name and ticker, but the decision has blown up in the keepers' faces. The commodity chemical manufacturer posted an all-time high at $60.52 just two sessions after coming public and entered a downtrend that broke 2019 support last month. The stock is now trading at half the value of its IPO, acting as a dead weight.

      International Business Machine Corporation (IBM) should have been removed from the Dow years ago, but it's one of the older members, added as a component in 1979. The stock has been a non-performer for the past seven years, topping out in 2013 and entering a downtrend that should be viewed as permanent at this point. Worse yet, it just broke the December 2018 low on heavy volume, dropping to the lowest low since April 2009.

      Finally, defense contractor United Technologies Corporation (UTX) posted an all-time high at $158.44 just six weeks ago and turned lower, entering a brutal decline that relinquished a stomach-churning 56% while dropping the stock to an eight-year low. No, it doesn't seem like the right time to remove this issue, given the Raytheon Company (RTN) merger and the continued cash flow of a U.S. defense budget that is likely to survive intact, despite the pandemic. Even so, red flags abound for this former winner, which could post even lower lows in coming months.

      The Bottom Line

      The keepers of the Dow Jones Industrial Average will need to remove components in the coming months, eliminating companies that may have entered permanent declines.

      Disclosure: The author held no positions in the aforementioned securities at the time of publication.

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      These economic sectors have been hit hardest by coronavirus

      Seven weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the US, the outbreak is now classified as a pandemic and it’s doing widespread damage to critical economic sectors of the global economy. Airlines are dropping routes because people are not flying, workers are staying home, public events that raise millions of dollars for local communities have been canceled and oil prices have sunk to near $30 a barrel. Here’s a look at some of the hardest-hit sectors in the S&P 500, and how far they’ve fallen in the past 30 days.

      Energy (-45 percent)

      The S&P energy sector plunged more than 10 percent Thursday. It’s down 45 percent in the past month. The price of oil continues a steady decline toward $30 per barrel. Saudi Arabia on Wednesday directed its oil company Aramco to increase its maximum production capacity as it squared off with Russia, even as airlines cut flights, shippers dial back deliveries of goods and people are being told to stay home. In its monthly report Wednesday, OPEC revised down its projections for global oil demand growth this year, while raising projections for supply. That is a recipe for plunging energy prices and layoffs in the oil patch. Shares in Exxon are down about 38 percent in the past 30 days. Already, energy giants like Exxon and Occidental Petroleum have cut spending. The latter cut its dividend by 86 percent Tuesday to save cash.

      Finance and banking (-33 percent)

      Banks have been punished by falling interest rates. Interest payments on loans are a major source of revenue. The Fed last week lowered its main borrowing rate by half a point to combat the economic drag from the outbreak. Analysts suspect another cut may be coming soon. But there is also the anticipation of slowing global economic growth, which was already underway before the pandemic hit. That would mean slowing business, and fewer fees, for banks that employ millions of people. On Thursday, the US Federal Reserve injected $500 billion into short-term lending markets to address disruptions in the Treasury market. It is also broadening its ongoing purchases of Treasurys to include longer-term bonds. The action, being led by the New York Fed, is intended to keep credit markets functioning and ensure that banks can continue to provide loans to businesses and other borrowers across the economy.

      Industry and manufacturing (-30 percent)

      Manufacturers are also taking a hit as businesses pull back on orders for goods due to the impact of the spreading coronavirus. Companies like Ingersoll Rand, which makes a wide range of industrial products including many used by the oil and gas industry, has seen its shares lose a third of their value in the past 30 days. Major manufactures like Caterpillar and Deere and just beginning to stabilize from a trade war between the world’s two largest economies, China and the United States. Caterpillar on Thursday reported broad declines in retail sales for the three-month rolling period ending in February, with worldwide sales slumping 11 percent following a 7 percent decline from January.

      Discretionary spending (-25 percent)

      The broad sector that covers everything from the sale of a Big Mac, a Barbie doll, Gap jeans or a Disneyland vacation — is taking a beating as people cancel trips, avoid the mall or shut in. Airlines and cruise ships have been the most notable losers amid government travel bans, infections on cruise ships and a sudden aversion to boarding a commercial aircraft. Shares in airlines are down more than 40 percent in the past month and cruise ships stocks, which are grouped with resorts and hotels, are down about 50 percent. Princess Cruises, which had one of its ships quarantined off the coast of Japan last month, said Thursday that it would suspend global operations through early May. Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada may become drive-thru only while others could limit the number of people allowed inside, the company said Thursday. Shares in the coffee chain plunged 7 percent Thursday to a 52-week low and are down almost 30 percent in the past month. And more bad news for anyone thinking they would self-quarantine on the couch and watch their favorite team: the NHL is following the NBA’s lead and suspending its season amid the coronavirus outbreak. Many expect the same from Major League Baseball, which is making an announcement later in Thursday.

      Technology (-23 percent)

      Technology companies have not been immune to the Wall Street coronavirus sell-off during the past 30 days. China manufactures a wide range of parts for U.S. tech companies, and when the country shut down most of its factories last month, it disrupted the supply chain and left companies without products to ship. Additionally, companies from every sector are likely trimming non-essential spending until the pandemic passes. That means fewer tech upgrades or overhauls, and individuals may pull back on spending as well for everything from iPhones to Xboxes. Alphabet, which owns Google, has lost about one-quarter of its value in the past month. Chipmaker Dell has seen its stock fall about 37 percent during the same stretch.

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      At times like these, it’s important to keep a sense of history

      Comparisons are being drawn between the economic challenge posed by the coronavirus and the global financial crisis. Which is fair enough, given estimates from the Reserve Bank that the virus – and the reaction to it – will wipe half a per cent off Australia's economic output this quarter.

      But at times like these it's important to keep a sense of history.

      The GFC marked the unwinding of a period of rampant greed, excessive risk-taking and lax regulation.Credit:Wayne Taylor

      I remember the GFC, which began unfolding about 13 years ago, and this ain't it. In case you've forgotten – and it seems many have – the GFC marked the unwinding of a period of rampant greed, excessive risk-taking and lax regulation in the finance sector of the United States.

      In a bold bid for profits, US banks had begun lending money to households who simply couldn't afford it. That was bad enough. To make matters worse, investment banker types decided to package up all these loans and on-sell to investors the rights to the incoming stream of mortgage payments.

      With the imprimatur of the same ratings agencies now warning about the impact of COVID-19, these opaque financial products, with fancy names like "CDOs", planted a seed of contagion in the global financial system that nearly sent it into a death spiral when homeowners inevitably started defaulting on their loan repayments and the whole thing went belly up.

      Which is a great metaphor, but it's nothing like what is happening today.

      Illustration: Dionne GainCredit:

      The GFC gave way to a broader "credit crunch" whereby investors became incredibly wary about lending to anyone, and, if they did so, they would only do it at a huge premium to official interest rates. Indeed, more than a decade later this widespread rethink on acceptable risk and debt levels remains, arguably, a major driver of tepid business investment in our economy.

      There is no reason to think the coronavirus will have such a long-lasting effect.

      Today, what is spreading is an actual disease which not only spreads quite rapidly, but from which the vast majority of healthy people can expect to recover, perhaps within days.

      Our Reserve Bank's second in charge, Guy Debelle, is watching closely. As head of the Reserve's financial markets division during the GFC, Debelle was the guy up all night getting international reports on the rolling crisis and deciding the bank's best response.



      In a speech yesterday, he confirmed that what we’re seeing today is nothing like the deep ructions in funding markets we saw in those dark days.

      Yes, there will be an impact on economic activity, and yes, sharemarket investors are busily responding to that by readjusting their expectations for future profit growth.

      But the basic plumbing of the world financial system is still functioning well, according to Debelle.

      "We have not seen any particular sign of pressure in our daily market operations to date … nothing at all like what occurred in GFC," Debelle confirms.

      Partly thanks to regulations which sprung up out of the GFC, Australia's banks today are well capitalised with plenty of access to cash. They have locked in funding at very cheap rates and deposits keep coming in.

      Still, with economic activity drying up, Debelle says some government stimulus will provide "welcome support", alongside recent interest rate cuts.

      Events have certainly conspired to sweep the revenue rug out from under Prime Minister Scott Morrison's promised budget surplus.

      It's not so much a government decision to abandon the surplus, as having it melt away before their eyes, as tax revenue from business profits in major sectors of the economy like education and tourism dries up.

      With jobs at risk, Morrison is understandably feeling pressure to respond with a multibillion-dollar stimulus package. Indeed, given the very low cost of borrowing at the moment, some strategic spending to keep affected industries on their feet and employing their workers is prudent until normality returns. But Morrison must also tread carefully.

      "The effect of the virus will come to an end at some point," reminds Debelle. "Once we get beyond the effect of the virus, the Australian economy will be supported by the low level of interest rates, the lower exchange rate, a pick-up in mining investment, sustained spending on infrastructure and an expected recovery in residential construction."

      In the aftermath of the GFC, then finance minister Lindsay Tanner attributed the government's stimulus success to a perception by Australians that the government was prepared to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at countering the crisis.

      But this isn't the GFC and now is no time to be pursuing the sort of "kitchen-sink-onomics" of that time. Go too far, and Morrison runs the risk of only heightening the panic and hoarding behaviour we're seeing at the moment.

      If anything, households could benefit from some calm reassurance that things are about to get back to normal soon and that the government still has a plan to return the national budget to balance at some point.

      Because this isn't the GFC. There is no run on the banks, only loo paper.

      And given a choice between the two, I know which I'd prefer.

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      Coronavirus means these airlines waiving cancellation, change fees

      American announces fee waivers amid coronavirus crisis; AT&T launches new online TV service

      FOX Business Briefs: American Airlines extends its change-fee waivers for anyone who books travel within the first two weeks of March; AT&T launches new internet-delivered TV service, which will have most of the same channels as DIRECTV but will come over the internet rather than a satellite dish.

      New York-based JetBlue Airways started a wave of airlines waiving cancel and change fees for all flight bookings as concerns related to the coronavirus grow.

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      Other airlines like United and American had already suspended flights to mainland China and Hong Kong. JetBlue only serves the U.S., Canada, parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

      Close-up of a JetBlue plane on Dec. 21, 2017, at Owen Roberts International Airport in Grand Cayman Islands.

      A new virus first detected in China has infected more than 89,000 people globally and caused over 3,000 deaths. The World Health Organization has named the illness COVID-19, referring to its origin late last year and the coronavirus that causes it.

      Here's how major U.S. airlines are responding to the outbreak.

      Alaska Airlines

      Alaska Airlines will waive change fees for tickets purchased before March 12 with original travel scheduled before June 1. New travel must be completed by Dec. 31, and any difference in fare will apply, the airline said.

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      American Airlines

      American Airlines said Sunday it will waive change fees up to 14 days before travel for customers buying their tickets between March 1 and March 16.

      Delta Airlines

      Delta is waiving change fees for transpacific and transatlantic flights with certain restrictions.

      "When rescheduled travel occurs beyond May 31, 2020, the change fee will be waived," Delta said on its website. "However, a difference in fare may apply. Final travel must be completed by end of ticket validity, one year from date of original issue."

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      Delta also delayed the start of its summer service between New York and Venice, Italy, by one month due to the virus's spread in Italy. Service will now begin May 1.

      A Delta Air Lines Boeing 767-300 lands in Amsterdam in August 2018. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images, File)

      Hawaiian Airlines

      Last week, Hawaiian Airlines suspended its service to Incheon International Airport in South Korea until April 30. The airline is waiving change fees and fare differences for travel through Oct. 31 provided flights were booked by May 1.

      South Korea has reported 4,335 cases and 26 deaths.

      JetBlue Airways

      JetBlue Airways announced last week that it's waiving cancel and change fees for all new flight bookings made between Feb. 27 and March 11. The policy applies to travel through June 1.

      United Airlines

      United is waiving change fees and allowing refunds for travel to and from select cities including Shanghai, China, and Milan, Italy. The airline is waiving fare differences in certain situations.

      A man wears a mask as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus after his plane landed at the Sao Paulo International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

      The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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      These are the Australian companies worst hit by COVID-19

      Investors in Treasury Wine Estates, Wisetech Global, Blackmores and Webjet are among the biggest losers from the coronavirus-induced sell-off that has gripped the Australian Securities Exchange.

      Investment bank UBS trawled public statements from the ASX's 200 largest companies in half-year earnings calls and investor presentations for mentions of coronavirus to measure how potentially exposed they are to the health crisis.

      Stocks have regained some ground following heavy losses in the past week.Credit:AAP

      While the ASX200 fell 9 per cent between January 23, when the Chinese city Wuhan was put in lockdown, to February 26, shares in the 28 companies that made at least 10 mentions of coronavirus in their presentations fell by an average of 16 per cent, UBS found.

      The hardest-hit stocks within that list are Treasury Wine Estates (shares down 38 per cent), which issued a profit warning last month blaming the outbreak, software group Wisetech Global (down 30 per cent), and Corporate Travel Management (down 28 per cent).

      That was followed by plumbing supplies business Reliance Worldwide (down 23 per cent), online travel agent Webjet (23 per cent), vitamins maker Blackmores (22 per cent), BlueScope Steel (19 per cent) and Qantas (14 per cent).

      The coronavirus has put global markets into turmoil, and some stocks have been hit especially hard. Credit:Bloomberg

      Stocks that mentioned coronavirus fewer than 10 times but still had heavy falls include South32 (down 19 per cent), Flight Centre (down 17 per cent) and Crown Resorts (11 per cent).

      Corporate Travel Management has mentioned coronavirus more often than any other company in the market (62 times to be exact, earning it a new attack from short-sellers who said it was trying to pin its weak operating performance on the outbreak), followed by BlueScope (61), Qantas (46), Blackmores (38) and Seek (37).

      Australian shares have followed global markets lower over the past six weeks, as concerns grow that the spread of COVID-19 in China and beyond could disrupt supply chains and lead to an extended downturn in demand for everything from air travel, consumer goods and commodities.

      UBS analyst Pieter Stoltz said that while COVID-19's economic impact was likely to be large, the ASX200's 10 per cent fall in the past week was greater than he expected.

      Mr Stoltz said the Australian market's slump in value, based on a ratio of price to projected 2022 earnings, from 16.4 times to 15 times was 0.2 points more than it should have fallen, based on a comparison to the global equities sell-off.

      He said that individual stocks that had sold off more than they should have include Webjet, Corporate Travel Management, Flight Centre, Qantas, Treasury Wine Estates, Vicinity Centres, Star Entertainment, Sky City and Sydney Airport.

      "We think COVID-19-exposed stocks could offer value if they fall further," Mr Stoltz said.

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      Wall Street picks these stocks as winners in coronavirus sell-off

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      NEW YORK (AP) — Stay indoors and stay clean. That's what Wall Street is betting people around the world will do given all the fears about a rapidly spreading virus.

      As stock markets tumble on worries about how much COVID-19 will harm people and slow the global economy, more than a handful of companies have nevertheless been rising to new highs. They cross a range of industries, but in each of them investors see a chance to make money off fears about the virus.

      Clorox is close to an all-time high after jumping Monday amid expectations that homes and hospitals will use more of its disinfecting wipes, for example. Zoom Video Communications, which lets people conduct meetings online instead of in person, has surged nearly 40% in five weeks on the belief that people want to avoid getting within coughing range. A host of vaccine makers have shot higher on hopes that they may come up with something to corral the new virus.

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      In some cases, analysts say the moves are overdone. Medical experts still can't say how far and how quickly the virus will spread. The rapidly rising numbers of cases outside the viral outbreak's center in China sent the S&P 500 on Monday to its worst day in more than two years. The index is down about 3.1% since Jan. 17, when the market set a new high before worries about the virus began to crescendo.

      The vaccine makers are particularly speculative bets because there's no guarantee they'll come up with anything. But that's not keeping Wall Street from looking for potential winners. Here's a look at a few:

      — (SOME) HEALTH COMPANIES

      Clorox brand products line the shelf of a supermarket in the East Village neighborhood of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

      As a group, health care stocks in the S&P 500 are down more than the index since Jan. 17, 4.4% versus 3.1%. But Gilead Sciences is an outlier, up 15.8% over the same time. The company is working on a treatment for the new virus, named Remdesivir, though it has not been approved anywhere globally for use.

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      Several other, smaller vaccine makers have shot even higher over the same period on similar hopes. Novavax, whose $258 million market value is about a quarter of 1% of Gilead's size, is up 42% since Jan. 17.

      — COMPANIES THAT HELP PEOPLE WORK OR STAY AT HOME

      A sign for Zoom Video Communications ahead Nasdaq IPO in New York. Zoom’s stock touched $110 during trading Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, a level it’s reached just once since its shares began trading last spring.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

      Zoom Video Communications stock touched $110 during Monday's trading, a level it's reached just once since its shares began trading last spring. The company has said it's seeing more business from customers wanting to meet online.

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      Zoom CEO Eric Yuan went on CNBC earlier this month to say that “everyone is calling us” and usage has been at record levels. Stephens analyst Ryan MacWilliams says the boost in Zoom shares is indeed likely due to being “a play on” the virus outbreak. Summit Insights Group analyst Jonathan Kees, though, cautions that any benefit the company sees from the virus will be “incremental.”

      Streaming video services could also be a beneficiary as people look to stay away from crowds. Netflix, which is up 8.5% since Jan. 17, and other streaming video companies could benefit “from even the thought of COVID-19, much less its actual arrival and any restrictions that it will usher in,” said Forrester analyst James McQuivey. He called the virus “a mild accelerant” for such digital entertainment services.

      — GOLD MINERS

      Gold bars are stacked in a vault at the United States Mint, in West Point, N.Y. When fear is gripping markets, investors often run toward gold in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Gold on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, jumped to again reach a seven-year high. (AP

      When fear is gripping markets, investors often run toward gold in a self-fulfilling prophecy. The metal has a reputation for holding up during tumultuous times, which increases demand for it just when such conditions occur. Gold on Monday jumped again to reach a seven-year high. That in turn has helped vault shares of gold miners higher, and Newmont Mining has added nearly 16% since Jan. 17.

      — COMPANIES THAT PAY DIVIDENDS

      Only two of the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500 index are higher since Jan. 17: utilities and real-estate investment trusts, both of which have climbed more than 4%. It's not because the virus will make anyone buy more electricity or office buildings but because these kinds of companies pay healthy dividends at a time when bond yields are plunging.

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      Investors have been rushing to buy U.S. government bonds along with gold in their search for safety. When a bond's price rises, its yield falls, and the 10-year Treasury's yield has sunk to 1.36% from roughly 1.90% at the start of the year. Such meager yields make the 3% dividend yields paid by the average utility or real-estate stock more attractive to investors looking for income. ___

      AP Business Writer Tali Arbel contributed.

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      These are the unexpected winners of the grocery wars

      New York (CNN Business)Five years ago, Zak Normandin started selling a sleek, pricey, low-calorie beverage called Dirty Lemon via text message. Now, Dirty Lemon is growing up.

      Since Normandin launched the drink in 2015 he’s expanded the company, rebranding it as Iris Nova and adding other beverages to its portfolio. And soon, Dirty Lemon will make the ultimate jump into the mainstream: It will be available at Walmart — something of a sea change for the company.
      Selling at Walmart is “different than the way that we’ve historically sold Dirty Lemon,” Normandin told CNN Business. But, he said, at this point working with retailers is “the only way forward.”

        Dirty Lemon isn’t the kind of product you’d expect to find at a Walmart, known for its bargain-basement prices. A one-time online purchase of six Dirty Lemon bottles costs $65, or about $10.83 per bottle. The product will be less expensive at Walmart.
        Iris Nova sells about a dozen varieties of Dirty Lemon, each has a water and lemon base, plus other ingredients that claim to have specific health benefits. Dirty Lemon Aloe, for example, is billed as a “skin hydrator.” Dirty Lemon calls its Rose drink an “anti-aging elixir.”

        Dirty Lemon has distinct packaging and a quirky online presence.

        With its chic messaging and premium price point, Dirty Lemon is marketing to a niche demographic. Launching in Walmart could be a huge opportunity for Dirty Lemon to broaden that audience. But it could also take away some of the startup’s charm and muddy its brand identity.
        “The connection to some of the more traditional establishments might take away from the allure,” said Brian Choi, managing partner and CEO at the Food Institute, a food industry news and market research company.
        But, he added, selling in retail is the only way for small beverage companies to grow.

        From ‘Drug Stores’ to Walmart

        Three Dirty Lemon varieties will be sold in about 500 Walmart stores this spring.
        When Dirty Lemon first launched, customers could order the product only online. Later on, they could also pick up bottles from “drug stores,” a handful of locations with fridges stocked full of products and no employees. Customers are expected to use the honor system: After making a selection, they are instructed to text the company, which then charges their accounts.
        The flashy methods earned Normandin a lot of attention. In 2018, Iris Nova announced a $15 million round of seed funding, which included a slew of venture capitalists and celebrity investors, including Kate Hudson, Sophia Bush, Alex Rodriguez and Scooter Braun. Notably, that round of funding also included Coca-Cola’s Venturing and Emerging Brands arm.
        But the spotlight and support wasn’t enough to help Iris Nova get to the next level.
        Over the past few years, Normandin said, it started to make sense for Iris Nova to enter into retail. It’s much more expensive to acquire customers online today than it was three or four years ago, he explained.
        “The marketplace is too cluttered,” he said. “There’s a lot of brands trying to sell things to consumers. It’s not sustainable long term.”
        Iris Nova is private and doesn’t disclose many sales figures. But the company says it has over 200,000 total customers throughout the United States. Since it started in 2015, it has sold more than 3 million bottles, it added. It plans to be profitable this year, with the help of the Walmart deal.
        Walmart sells to 275 million people a week globally and operates thousands of stores around the world. Space on Walmart shelves means exposure to millions of potential new customers.
        For Walmart, selling Dirty Lemon is a way to appeal to health-conscious shoppers.
        “Walmart is always looking for new, interesting and innovative products to offer our customers,” a company spokesperson told CNN Business in an email. “Dirty Lemon already had a loyal online customer base that was highly satisfied with the products.”
        The retailer plans to sell three varieties of the beverage: Dirty Lemon Charcoal, Dirty Lemon Collagen and Dirty Lemon Ginseng. Each bottle will cost $6.99.

        Sticking to its mission

        Dirty Lemon beverages promise health benefits.
        Even though Dirty Lemon will be sold at Walmart, Normandin hopes that customers will ultimately buy the product directly from Dirty Lemon’s website.
        “We want people to fall in love with Dirty Lemon beverages in Walmart stores,” he said. “And then when they want to purchase the product … they’re able to do that direct from us.” He is rethinking the company’s pricing strategy, he said, to try to bridge the gap between the retail and online price.
        And though they’ll appear on Walmart (WMT) shelves, customers won’t be able to buy the beverage on Walmart’s website.
        When beverage companies evolve, Choi from the Food Institute said, they risk losing what makes them special. Millennial shoppers who feel like they’re part of a special club by buying Dirty Lemon online or via text message may be turned off by its presence at Walmart.
        But, Choi said, working with retail is essential.
        “The pros outweigh the cons,” he said. As attractive as the direct to consumer model may be, there are signs that it’s an unreliable method. Choi points to Blue Apron (APRN)‘s epic losses as a cautionary tale. Retail may not be the trendiest option, but it provides a viable path forward. Starbucks (SBUX), he said, is an example of a brand that has been able to hit the mainstream while still making customers feel special.

          Selling at Walmart doesn’t change Normandin’s goal of proliferating the direct-to-consumer model that Dirty Lemon started with.
          “I would love to see Coca-Cola (KO) products on Iris Nova trucks soon, not delivering products into stores, but delivering products to consumers homes,” he said.
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