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Microsoft, Walt Disney, Gilead Sciences: Stocks That Defined the Week — WSJ

By Francesca Fontana 

This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (February 29, 2020).

Microsoft Corp.

The coronavirus epidemic is roiling some of the biggest names in tech. Microsoft said Wednesday it expected its personal-computing segment, which generated about 35% sales in the previous quarter, to see sales fall short of expectations. This warning came after Apple Inc. lowered its earnings outlook last week as the spread of the virus limited iPhone production and curtailed Chinese demand. Earlier this month graphics chip maker Nvidia Corp. said it expected a $100 million hit to this quarter's earnings. Microsoft shares fell 7.1% Thursday.

Intuit Inc.

The maker of TurboTax is nearing a deal to buy personal-finance portal Credit Karma Inc. Intuit's purchase of the personal-finance portal for about $7 billion in cash and stock would give the bookkeeping-software giant a stronger foothold in consumer finance. The potential acquisition, reported by The Wall Street Journal on Saturday, also would mark Intuit's largest acquisition by far in its 37-year history and the first sizable transaction under Chief Executive Sasan Goodarzi, who took over a little more than a year ago. Credit Karma was valued at roughly $4 billion in a private share sale about two years ago. Intuit shares fell 3.7% Monday.

Walt Disney Co.

There is a new ruler of the Magic Kingdom. Robert Iger stepped aside as chief executive of the entertainment conglomerate Tuesday, naming the company's head of parks and resorts, Bob Chapek, CEO effective immediately. Current and former Disney executives say Mr. Chapek's experience heading key Disney units put him ahead of other potential successors to Mr. Iger, helping him beat out internal competitors such as Kevin Mayer, who oversees the company's streaming service. Mr. Iger will retain significant power over the company as executive chairman, overseeing the company's creative endeavors through the end of next year, when his contract expires. Disney shares fell 3.8% Wednesday.

Marriott International Inc.

Companies with high exposure to travel and tourism are tearing up their 2020 expectations as the new coronavirus spreads. The latest sign came from Marriott, which said Wednesday that fee revenue will take a hit in 2020. The world's largest hotel company could see a $25 million reduction in that revenue a month this year compared with its outlook, assuming current low occupancy rates in the Asia-Pacific region continue. Marriott's CFO said the company has about 800 hotels in the region. Of those, 89 hotels in Greater China -- an area that encompasses mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan -- aren't accepting reservations at the moment. Marriott shares fell 0.1% Thursday.

Gilead Sciences Inc.

The pharmaceutical company is hoping to produce the first medicine specifically approved to treat the new coronavirus. Gilead said late Wednesday that in March it will conduct two studies of its drug, remdesivir, with a total of 1,000 patients across mainly Asian countries, as well as other nations with high numbers of diagnosed patients. Two sets of clinical trials are already studying the drug. If successful, Gilead's studies would help contribute to a larger data set needed to win regulatory approval for the drug. Gilead shares fell 2.7% Thursday.

Best Buy Co.

Unlike many traditional retailers, Best Buy had a happy holiday shopping season. The company said Thursday that sales rose during the critical period at the end of 2019, citing strong demand for phones and appliances. Best Buy has undergone a significant turnaround in the past six years, avoiding the fate of Sports Authority, Toys 'R' Us and other retailers that tend to stock goods focused on a single category. The retailer has shifted strategies, matching prices to competitors, adding services to reduce the company's reliance on new product releases and using its stores to fulfill online orders. Still, shares fell 4.7% Thursday amid a broader market selloff.

Salesforce.com Inc.

Marc Benioff now has the corner office all to himself. Salesforce is ending its experiment with dual CEOs as the business-software provider announced Tuesday that Co-Chief Executive Keith Block would be stepping down just 18 months after taking the job. Mr. Block, a former Oracle Corp. executive, joined Salesforce in 2013 as president and vice chairman. He became co-CEO in 2018 in an unusual setup that paired him with Mr. Benioff, a Salesforce co-founder. Mr. Block had oversight of day-to-day operations while Mr. Benioff led Salesforce's vision and innovation, among other areas. Salesforce shares fell 1.3% Wednesday.

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

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 29, 2020 02:47 ET (07:47 GMT)

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