By Francesca Fontana 

Alaska Air Group Inc.

Uncle Sam wants to get into the airline business. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that the U.S. government would take stakes in beleaguered airline carriers in exchange for billions of dollars in direct grants to the companies, part of a $2 trillion economic rescue package, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The legislation passed this week includes $25 billion in direct funding for passenger air carriers on top of loans and loan guarantees available through the Treasury. Alaska Air Group shares gained 8.9% Thursday.

MGM Resorts International

MGM Resorts is rolling the dice on a new boss as it rides out the coronavirus pandemic. Bill Hornbuckle, the company's president and chief operating officer, is taking over as acting chief executive after exiting Chief Executive Jim Murren, who announced his plans to leave last month, stepped down from his post on March 22. MGM Resorts also said board member Paul Salem, of Providence Equity Partners, will succeed Mr. Murren as chairman. MGM Resorts and other casino operators have closed down temporarily and implemented widespread layoffs and furloughs in response to the spreading coronavirus. Shares gained 0.4% Monday.

Occidental Petroleum Corp.

Occidental Petroleum is cutting salaries for its U.S. employees by up to 30%, one of many U.S. companies looking to slash expenses as the new coronavirus spreads across the country. The Houston company is facing plunging oil prices, high debt from an ill-timed acquisition and falling demand due to a halt in economic activity because of the new coronavirus. Chief Executive Vicki Hollub's salary will be reduced by 81% and the oil-and-chemical company's top executives' pay will be cut by an average of 68%, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, while employee bonuses and perks, such as gym memberships and commuter subsidies, are set to end in April. Occidental shares rose 12% Wednesday.

Ford Motor Co.

Ford and its rival General Motors Co. agreed to help produce equipment for those suffering from the new coronavirus as concerns about machinery shortages mounted in certain areas of the U.S. Ford and 3M Co. employees are working to boost manufacturing of 3M's respirators, the companies said Tuesday, and are also working to develop a new respirator that could be produced in a Ford plant. GM said Friday it would work with a partner to make ventilators at one of its plants. Separately, General Electric Co.'s health-care unit and Ford are working to expand production of a simplified version of a GE ventilator that could help patients with respiratory problems tied to Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Ford shares gained 23% Tuesday.

CVS Health Corp.

Pharmaceuticals are still plentiful but cleaning supplies and paper products are under more strain. That was the message Tuesday from the chief executive of CVS Health, who spoke virtually at The Wall Street Journal's Health Forum. He said the company's supply of pharmaceuticals remains steady even as the new coronavirus roils global manufacturing and distribution markets and that the pharmacy giant hasn't experienced any difficulty securing important medications for people with chronic disease. But the pandemic has taxed its operations in other ways. Its retail operations for household basics are under strain as demand intensifies for cleaning supplies and other products. The company is seeking to fill 50,000 positions and offering its workforce bonuses and child care to keep them on the job. CVS shares added 2.4% Tuesday.

Walt Disney Co.

More housebound consumers are streaming videos, but advertisers aren't following. The streaming uptick experienced by Walt Disney's Hulu, AT&T Inc.'s HBO and Amazon.com Inc. has created more available ad time, but advertiser demand is falling as much of U.S. economic activity stalls. SpotX Inc., which helps publishers sell video ads, said travel, hospitality and real-estate marketers cut ad spending through its platform by more than 70% from March 16 to March 22, compared with the previous seven days. But there are some promising areas: SpotX saw gaming ad spend nearly quadruple, while it rose 97% for lotteries and 89% for alcohol. Disney shares rose 4.6% Thursday.

Comcast Corp.

NBCUniversal Chief Executive Jeff Shell has tested positive for Covid-19 and is recovering at home, the most senior media executive known to have tested positive for the new coronavirus. The company's NBC News network also has lost a longtime staffer to the virus; the network said that audio technician Larry Edgeworth died from complications related to coronavirus on March 20. Mr. Shell succeeded Steve Burke as chief executive of the Comcast Corp. unit earlier this year. In his Thursday memo to staff, Mr. Shell wrote that he has been able to work remotely in Los Angeles and is improving every day. Comcast shares rose along with the broader market Thursday, gaining 9.4%.

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 28, 2020 22:21 ET (02:21 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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