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DJ Amazon.com, Chevron, Peloton: Stocks That Defined the Week

· 02/05/2021 19:36
By Francesca Fontana

Amazon.com Inc.

Jeff Bezos is stepping back from Amazon. The CEO will hand the day-to-day reins to Amazon's cloud-computing guru Andy Jassy and become executive chairman later this year, the company said Tuesday. Mr. Bezos started Amazon.com in 1994 as a scrappy online bookseller, and under his leadership the company became America's largest online retailer and leading cloud-computing service provider, playing big roles in Hollywood, bricks-and-mortar groceries and logistics. Amazon shares fell 2% Wednesday.

Chevron Corp.

Two of Standard Oil's biggest descendants considered a reunion. The leaders of Chevron and Exxon Mobil Corp. discussed merging their companies last year, following the coronavirus outbreak that put them under tremendous financial strain. Such a deal would reshape the oil industry and reunite the two offshoots of John D. Rockefeller's oil monopoly, which was broken up by U.S. regulators in 1911. The talks were preliminary and aren't ongoing, but could come back in the future. But a merger of the two largest American oil companies could encounter regulatory and antitrust challenges under the Biden administration. Chevron shares added 1.4% Monday.

Alphabet Inc.

Global ad spending is on the mend, helping Google's parent company reach new heights. Alphabet posted a record $56.9 billion revenue on Tuesday, with its Google search and YouTube units driving its performance in the quarter. The internet titan's earnings reflected a continuing recovery in advertising spending, which took a hit in early 2020 when people paused travel plans and other purchases in response to the pandemic. YouTube revenue soared 46% in the quarter, as advertisers flocked to the video-sharing platform amid the pandemic. The company said the platform now reaches more users between the ages of 25 and 49 than all cable networks combined. Alphabet shares rose 7.4% Wednesday.

Merck & Co.

Mr. Bezos isn't the only chief executive who announced he was relinquishing the title. Merck's Kenneth Frazier will retire as CEO at the end of June and will be succeeded by Chief Financial Officer Robert Davis, the drugmaker said Thursday. Under Mr. Frazier's leadership, Merck became a leader in cancer immunotherapy and in the development of the drug Keytruda, now one of its top sellers. Mr. Frazier was a leading industry voice in recent years encouraging companies to hire more Black employees. Just four of the chief executives of S&P 500 companies -- or 1% -- are Black, including Mr. Frazier. He has also steered Merck through criticism from politicians and patients about how the industry prices its medications. Merck shares lost 1.7% Thursday.

Peloton Interactive Inc.

Peloton is backpedaling on the launch of its new treadmill, due to its shipping woes. The at-home exercise company said on Thursday that it would delay the much-anticipated product release and start shipping its equipment by air in an effort to ease extreme delivery delays. Peloton's logistics problems stem from surging demand for its pricey stationary bikes -- especially during Covid-19 -- as well as shipping logjams and weather disruptions. To address monthslong wait times and delivery cancellations that prompted social-media backlash, the company cut back marketing and doubled the size of its customer-service operation. It said it expects delivery times to return to normal by the end of June. Peloton shares fell 5.9% Friday.

Ford Motor Co.

Auto makers are slashing production thanks to a global semiconductor shortfall. Ford said Thursday it plans to cut production of its F-150 pickup truck -- the nation's top-selling vehicle and the company's biggest moneymaker -- because of the shortage. Car makers use semiconductors in everything from engine-control units and transmissions to the large tabletlike displays embedded in the dashboard. Chip manufacturers are working to rebound from shutdowns last spring, while demand rises with increased use of technology during the pandemic. Ford executives warned that losses of vehicle production globally in the first two quarters could trim $1 billion to $2.5 billion from its pretax bottom line this year. Ford shares added 1.2% Friday.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE ADR

It's time for Tiffany & Co. workers to go back to the office. A month after acquiring the U.S. jeweler, the French luxury giant LVMH told its New York City employees to return to the office two days a week beginning March 1, as LVMH starts to integrate the company. Tiffany will join a small list of large New York companies that have required employees to return to the office during the pandemic, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. LVMH's acquisition of Tiffany closed on Jan. 7, after a tumultuous few months in which it tried to back out of the deal. American depositary shares of LVMH added 1.6% Friday.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 05, 2021 19:36 ET (00:36 GMT)

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