Netflix, Procter & Gamble, Intel: Stocks That Defined the Week
By Francesca Fontana
Netflix has a steady stream of new subscribers. The company said
Tuesday it topped 200 million paying customers for the first time
after adding a record 37 million in 2020. The streaming giant's
continued growth comes in the midst of heightened competition from
tech giants and media conglomerates. A new rival, ViacomCBS Inc.'s
Paramount+, is slated to launch in March and will exploit a key
advantage media companies have over their tech competitors:
cross-promotion. Netflix shares surged 17% Wednesday.
Microsoft is betting big on driverless cars. The software giant
on Tuesday joined a group of companies that will invest more than
$2 billion in General Motors Co.'s driverless-car startup, Cruise.
Under the terms of the deal, Cruise will use Microsoft's Azure
cloud-computing platform to help it roll out autonomous-vehicle
services. GM said Microsoft would be its preferred cloud provider
and help it streamline supply chains and roll out new digital
services to customers. In recent years, the tech giant has been
aggressively pushing its cloud-computing business, where it rents
server capacity and software tools to customers. Microsoft shares
rose 1.8% Tuesday.
UnitedHealth Group Inc.
More patients are returning to doctors' offices, taking a toll
on UnitedHealth's health. The parent company of insurer
UnitedHealthcare recorded a smaller profit in the recent quarter as
it saw rising medical costs tied to Covid-19. UnitedHealth said
Covid-19-related costs represented 11% of health-care activity in
the quarter, and about half of the 65,000 Covid-19 admissions
during the quarter came in December. The company also paid more in
medical costs to cover insured members who sought care they had
avoided or postponed earlier in the coronavirus pandemic.
UnitedHealth shares fell 0.4% Wednesday.
Procter & Gamble Co.
Shoppers are paying up to keep themselves and their homes clean.
Procter & Gamble reported an 8% surge in sales in the latest
quarter, fueled in part by demand for its high-end products. The
maker of Tide laundry detergent and Pampers diapers said consumers
are increasingly willing to pay more for products from expensive
dish soap to a $300 electric toothbrush, despite a tough economy
and high unemployment. A shift toward higher-end staples is
especially good news for P&G, as its products are usually among
the pricier items in grocery stores. P&G shares fell 1.3%
The fate of Donald Trump's Facebook page is out of Mark
Zuckerberg's hands. The social-media giant said Thursday that the
former president's Facebook and Instagram accounts will remain
suspended as members of its outside oversight board determine
whether posts Mr. Trump made before the U.S. Capitol riot violated
the company's community standards and values. The independent
panel, which has been likened to a Supreme Court for content
decisions, is an international group of academics, lawyers and
human-rights advocates. Mr. Trump's accounts were first disabled
after he encouraged protests of the election results and his
supporters stormed the Capitol in a Jan. 6 attack that left five
dead. Facebook shares added 2% Thursday.
The pandemic is keeping drivers off the roads and out of
wrecks--and auto insurance profits high. Insurance-seller Travelers
saw profit surge 50% in its latest quarter, fueled in part by
strong results in its car-insurance business. Government
stay-at-home orders and business restrictions led to a dramatic
reduction in driving starting last March. The number of miles
driven has rebounded since then, but roads in many parts of the
country remain less crowded as many people continue to work from
home. Not everyone will cheer Travelers's outsize profits in its
auto-insurance business. Since last spring, consumer-activist
groups successfully pushed insurers to provide refunds and now
contend that auto insurers should share more of their windfall.
Travelers shares added 2.6% Thursday.
Intel's new leader will have a lot on his plate. Incoming Chief
Executive Pat Gelsinger said Thursday that the chip maker plans to
outsource more chip production after the company posted net income
for 2020 of $20.9 billion, down from the year-earlier period. The
announcement rounded off a year during which Intel was surpassed in
market valuation by rival Nvidia Corp. and dropped by Apple Inc. as
a supplier for Mac chips. While Intel benefited from booming demand
for PCs in the work-from-home economy, much of the added buying
involved lower-cost laptops that aren't as profitable. Intel shares
fell 9.3% Friday.
Write to Francesca Fontana at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 22, 2021 21:26 ET (02:26 GMT)
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