By Francesca Fontana
Home Depot Inc.
DIY is propping up Home Depot. Locked-down customers turned to more do-it-yourself repairs during the coronavirus pandemic, boosting sales at the home-improvement giant. But the increase wasn't enough to offset costs from boosting workers' pay and benefits in the recent quarter, the company said Tuesday. Home Depot kept its stores open as much of the country shut down. Home Depot shares fell 3% Tuesday.
Hertz Global Holdings Inc.
Hertz has a new driver at the wheel during a tumultuous time. The car-rental company named Paul Stone as its president and chief executive and moved ahead on its preparations to file for bankruptcy. Hertz and rivals such as Avis Budget Group Inc. and Enterprise Holdings Inc. have come under financial pressure due to plunging ridership, while its financing costs are rising. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Hertz is planning to seek chapter 11 protection in the coming days after failing to reach a standstill agreement with top lenders. Hertz shares fell 7.5% Friday.
A weapon to slow or halt the coronavirus pandemic could be on the horizon. Drugmaker Moderna said on Monday that the first human study of its experimental coronavirus vaccine showed promise in some of the healthy volunteers who were vaccinated. The results offered a preliminary but promising sign about one of the most advanced coronavirus vaccines in development, and suggested Moderna was on track to produce the vaccine for possible emergency use in the fall. The vaccine still has much to prove -- the results don't show whether it actually protects people exposed to the new coronavirus -- but the initial results buoyed optimism and helped lift the broader market. Moderna shares gained 20% Monday.
When consumers rushed to stock up on essentials during the pandemic, many looked to Walmart. The country's largest retailer said on Tuesday that U.S. comparable sales rose 10% in the recent quarter, during which the new coronavirus upended consumer buying habits, forced many competitors to temporarily close and led more than 30 million Americans to file for unemployment. Walmart sales got a boost in April when shoppers spent government stimulus money, the company said. The company said it absorbed about $900 million in additional costs related to Covid-19 and hired 235,000 new hourly workers to help it staff stores. Walmart shares fell 2.1% Tuesday.
Plans are brewing at Starbucks for more drive-throughs to offset losses from dining. The coffee company said Thursday that it is accelerating a schedule to build drive-through and to-go only locations in the next 12 to 18 months rather than three to five years due to the pandemic. Starbucks will also close locations in unpopulated malls. Since it closed dine-in operations starting in March, Starbucks opened more than 85% of its owned U.S. stores to drive-through, delivery and carryout earlier this month. The company has said it expects 90% of its stores to reopen by early June. Starbucks shares fell 0.4% Thursday.
People are working and playing from home. That is welcome news for Nvidia, which makes chips that help power laptops, data centers and videogame consoles. The company's revenue rose 39% in the recent quarter from a year earlier. The company said late Thursday that its data-center sales rose 80% to a record $1.14 billion, lifted by the shift to cloud computing as workers log on remotely. Millions of people have been playing Nintendo's world-building game "Animal Crossing" on its Switch console, which uses Nvidia chips. Revenue at its games segment increased 27% to $1.34 billion. Nvidia shares added 2.9% Friday.
Mark Zuckerberg is embracing the work-from-home shift. The chief executive is shifting Facebook toward a substantially remote workforce over the next decade, permanently reconfiguring the tech giant's operations. The remote-work changes for new hires will roll out initially in the U.S. and apply only to senior engineers at first. Within 10 years, Mr. Zuckerberg expects as many as half of Facebook's employees to work from home, he told the Journal on Thursday. Facebook is moving gradually because the shift will require new techniques and tools to compensate for the loss of in-person office interactions, he said. Facebook shares added 0.6% Thursday.