United Airlines, Pfizer, Spotify Technology: Stocks That Defined the Week

United Airlines Holdings Inc. (UAL)

Stormy skies lie ahead for airlines. United Airlines on Tuesday said it would trim more flying this quarter in response to stalling demand while cost-cutting efforts will reduce how much cash it burns moving into the fall as Covid- 19 cases surge in many parts of the country. In the spring, United cut more flights than rivals such as Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines Group Inc. as the pandemic sapped travel demand. United shares fell 4.2% Wednesday.

Chevron Corp. (CVX)

Chevron (CVX) has agreed to a $5 billion takeover of Noble Energy Inc. The deal, announced Monday, is a sign of life in energy-sector deal-making since oil prices plummeted in March due to widespread shutdowns and travel bans. Chevron (CVX) Chief Executive Mike Wirth said that Noble's assets have low operating costs and require little near-term investment, preserving Chevron's (CVX) ability to navigate economic uncertainty. Noble is Chevron's (CVX) first big strategic move after walking away from a high-profile bidding war for Anadarko Petroleum Corp. last year, after being outbid by Occidental Petroleum Corp. Chevron (CVX) shares fell 2.2% Monday.

Pfizer Inc. (PFE)

The U.S. has agreed to pay Pfizer and BioNTech SE nearly $2 billion to provide millions of Americans with their experimental Covid-19 vaccine free of charge. Under the $1.95 billion agreement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Department will receive 100 million doses of the vaccine should it be cleared by regulators, and can also acquire an additional 500 million. The vaccine has shown promising preliminary results and is set to enter late-stage testing this month. Pfizer shares climbed 5.1% Wednesday.

Spotify Technology SA (SPOT)

The world's largest record company has signed on to Spotify's (SPOT) "two-sided marketplace." The streaming company's new licensing agreement with Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group will put its long-awaited strategy -- involving music companies paying the platform for marketing, data and analytics -- to the test. Universal holds some 40% market share in recorded music in the U.S., and the deal has secured that massive catalog for streaming. Universal was an early adopter of Marquee, the streaming platform's sponsored recommendation that labels can pay to send to Spotify (SPOT) users who are interested in a given artist. Spotify (SPOT) shares added 4.8% Wednesday.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)

Remote work is still driving strong sales for Microsoft (MSFT). The software maker on Wednesday said sales rose 13% to $38 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter, driven by sustained demand for its cloud-computing service Azure. But profit margins declined, which finance chief Amy Hood said reflects Microsoft's (MSFT) investments in increasing its cloud capacity, giving out free software trials and offering flexible financing options for customers struggling with slowdowns in their business. The company said the pandemic has hurt small and medium-size businesses and their spending on Office and Windows software in recent months, and it expects that to continue in the current quarter. Microsoft (MSFT) shares fell 4.4% Thursday.

Hershey Co. (HSY)

Candy sales this Halloween may not be so sweet. The owner of Reese's and Jolly Rancher said on Thursday that it plans to make less themed candy for the holidays due to the pandemic, to avoid having loads of leftovers to pull back or mark down. Trick-or-treating makes up about half of Hershey's Halloween candy sales, while the rest is generated by people buying candy for themselves and family. Chief Executive Michele Buck doesn't expect the potential sales hit to be significant, and Hershey is considering shifting marketing to focus on home candy bowls if it seems like fewer people plan to venture out. Hershey shares rose 5.7% Thursday.

Walt Disney Co. (DIS)

The premiere of " Mulan" is off Disney's (DIS) calendar for now. Disney (DIS) said on Thursday it is forgoing its planned Aug. 21 premiere of the live-action remake of the animated classic as the pandemic roils Hollywood. The entertainment giant said that it is also delaying the release of future installments in the "Avatar" and "Star Wars" series by a year each. Earlier in the week, AT&T Inc.'s Warner Bros. indefinitely postponed the release of " Tenet," an action-thriller from director Christopher Nolan that was expected to be the first big studio movie of the Covid era. Disney (DIS) shares fell 0.8% Thursday.

Write to Francesca Fontana at francesca.fontana@wsj.com


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  07-24-20 1944ET
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