By Francesca Fontana
Cruise companies are experiencing turbulence as the coronavirus epidemic spreads. More than 170 passengers aboard Carnival's Diamond Princess cruise ship have caught the virus, causing about 3,700 passengers and crew to be quarantined for two weeks. Carnival has canceled February cruises on four Costa Cruises ships in China as well as 12 sailings of the Diamond Princess in Japan, and said the virus could weigh on global demand for cruises. Shares fell 2% Thursday.
T-Mobile US Inc.
T-Mobile's takeover of Sprint Corp. will test the idea that three giants in the U.S. wireless market will compete as effectively as four did. A federal judge approved the deal, worth $26 billion when it was struck two years ago, and concluded that the merger wasn't likely to substantially lessen competition. The two companies spent more than seven years pursuing a combination before striking an agreement in 2018 that would create a company closer in size to Verizon and AT&T. Dish will become the fourth major carrier, acquiring airwaves and about nine million customer accounts from Sprint. T-Mobile shares gained 12% Tuesday.
Restaurant Brands International Inc.
The wildly-popular Popeyes chicken sandwich is now outperforming other fast-food mainstays produced by its own parent company. Restaurant Brands said Monday that higher revenue in the fourth quarter was driven by gains from Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen while its Burger King and Tim Hortons chains reported weaker-than-expected sales. Tim Hortons introduced Beyond Meat Inc. plant-based sandwiches last year but recently pulled them after they failed to stir up sales, while Burger King's national rollout of the plant-based Impossible Whopper wasn't enough offset the chain's weakness during the quarter. Shares gained 3.2% Monday.
Google is tangling once again with the European Union's antitrust enforcer. The Alphabet subsidiary told a Luxembourg court Wednesday that European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager had no legal grounds for awarding a multibillion fine for allegedly abusing its dominance over smaller rivals. In 2017, she found that Google stacked the deck in favor of its own comparison-shopping service. A verdict isn't expected until early next year, but the litigation is a test case for Ms. Vestager and the continuing probes into Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Alphabet shares gained 0.6% Wednesday.
Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley is facing scrutiny of his professional ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted sex offender who died in jail last year. The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority is examining how Mr. Staley characterized their relationship to Barclays and how the British lender described it to the regulator, Barclays said Thursday. Mr. Staley told reporters his interactions with Mr. Epstein began in 2000 and "tapered off" in 2013, with their last interaction taking place during 2015. In 2008, Mr. Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution from an underage girl. American depositary shares of Barclays fell 0.7% Thursday.
Even "Toy Story 4" couldn't save Mattel's holiday sales. Growth in its larger brands, such as Barbie and Hot Wheels, wasn't enough to offset weakness for Fisher-Price and American Girl products during the fourth quarter. Toy makers had to contend with a shorter holiday shopping period in 2019 as they continue to adjust to the absence of Toys "R" Us Inc. Mattel also said earlier this week it has closed two factories in Asia and plans to close one in Canada as the company reduces its sprawling manufacturing footprint to reduce costs. Mattel shares fell 3.1% Friday.
Yelp's latest performance is getting poor reviews from investors. The online listings company reported weaker-than-expected quarterly sales Thursday and named a new finance chief as it faces pressure to improve its financial performance. Best known for its reviews of restaurants and other local services, Yelp has been pushing to develop other business lines such as offerings for restaurant operators. In September, the company said it added new features allowing restaurateurs to reach consumers by sharing information on users' Yelp home screens. It also rolled out a feature predicting wait times at restaurants. Yelp shares fell 3.5% Friday.
Write to Francesca Fontana at email@example.com