AMZN - Amazon.com, Inc.

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real-time price. Currency in USD
1,764.36
-13.64 (-0.77%)
As of 11:47AM EST. Market open.
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Previous close1,778.00
Open1,773.39
Bid1,762.15 x 1100
Ask1,762.43 x 800
Day's range1,759.34 - 1,775.00
52-week range1,307.00 - 2,035.80
Volume969,530
Avg. volume2,995,827
Market cap874.764B
Beta (3Y monthly)1.57
PE ratio (TTM)78.18
EPS (TTM)22.57
Earnings date29 Jan 2020 - 3 Feb 2020
Forward dividend & yieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-dividend dateN/A
1y target est2,183.86
  • Nike Pulling Its Products From Amazon in E-Commerce Pivot
    Bloomberg

    Nike Pulling Its Products From Amazon in E-Commerce Pivot

    (Bloomberg) -- Nike Inc. is breaking up with Amazon.com Inc.The athletic brand will stop selling its sneakers and apparel directly on Amazon’s website, ending a pilot program that began in 2017.The split comes amid a massive overhaul of Nike’s retail strategy. It also follows the hiring of ex-EBay Inc. Chief Executive Officer John Donahoe as its next CEO -- a move that signaled the company is going even more aggressively after e-commerce sales, apparently without Amazon’s help.“As part of Nike’s focus on elevating consumer experiences through more direct, personal relationships, we have made the decision to complete our current pilot with Amazon Retail,” the company said in a statement. “We will continue to invest in strong, distinctive partnerships for Nike with other retailers and platforms to seamlessly serve our consumers globally.”Some big brands shun Amazon’s platform, where fakes flourish and unauthorized sellers undercut prices -- a recipe that diminishes the value of sought-after labels. The unraveling of the Nike arrangement threatens to reinforce retailers’ unease. Under the pilot program, Nike acted as a wholesaler to Amazon, rather than just letting third-party merchants hawk its products on the site.Amazon operates an online marketplace, essentially a digital mall where merchants can sell products. More than half of all goods sold on Amazon come from independent merchants who pay the Seattle-based company a commission on each sale. Amazon also operates as a traditional retailer, buying goods from wholesalers and selling them to customers.Nike said it will continue to use Amazon’s cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services, to power its apps and Nike.com services.Amazon, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment. The company has been preparing for the move, according to two people familiar with the matter. It has been recruiting third-party sellers with Nike products so that the merchandise is still widely available on the site, they said. Amazon has also been working to stem the flow of counterfeits on the site through various initiatives, including one project that lets brands put unique codes on their products to make it easier to identify fakes.Nike shares rose as much as 1.4% in New York trading Wednesday, while Amazon was off as much as 0.6%.‘Enormous Reach’The question now is whether other Amazon partners follow Nike’s lead. Few other brands possess the kind of muscle Nike has, so it may be harder for them to leave.“Nike has enormous reach and its products are in demand, so it can afford to be selective about where its products are distributed because customers will come find Nike where it is offered,” said Neil Saunders, an analyst at GlobalData Retail. “I don’t think as many brands can be as selective as Nike.”For years, the only Nike products sold on Amazon were gray-market items -- and counterfeits -- sold by others. Nike had little control over how they were listed, what information about the product was available and whether the products were even real.That changed in 2017, when Nike joined Amazon’s brand registry program. Executives hoped the move would give them more control over Nike goods sold on the e-commerce site, more data on their customers and added power to remove fake Nike listings. The news of the Amazon tie-up, which Nike executives called a “small pilot,” sent shoe-retailer stocks tumbling and left many wondering if other major Amazon holdouts would quickly follow.But Nike reportedly struggled to control the Amazon marketplace. Third-party sellers whose listings were removed simply popped up under a different name. Plus, the official Nike products had fewer reviews, and therefore received worse positioning on the site.Leaving Amazon won’t necessarily solve Nike’s problems, which represent a big brand struggling to adapt to selling products in the digital age, said James Thomson, a former Amazon employee who now helps brands sell products online through Buy Box Experts.“Just because Nike walks away from Amazon doesn’t mean its products walk away from Amazon and doesn’t mean its brand problems disappear,” Thomson said. “Even if every single Nike product isn’t on Amazon, there will be enough of a selection that someone looking for Nike on Amazon will find something to buy.”Fewer PartnersShortly after its Amazon pilot began, Nike unveiled plans to overhaul its retail strategy. With more attention aimed at direct-to-consumer avenues, particularly the Nike app and Nike.com, executives said the company would drastically reduce the number of retailers it partnered with.In 2017, Nike did business with 30,000 retailers around the world. Elliott Hill, currently the company’s head of consumer and marketplace operations, told investors that year that Nike would focus its future efforts primarily on about 40 partners.Nike wasn’t specific on what would separate those 40 partners from what it called “undifferentiated retail.” Reading between the lines, it appeared to want partners that gave its Nike brand separate space -- such as Nordstrom Inc.’s “Nordstrom x Nike” shop on its website -- and was less interested in retailers that just placed Nike alongside its smaller competitors.The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Amazon was one of those 40 that Nike intended to prioritize.Analysts said physical sporting-goods retailers would benefit from Nike’s departure from Amazon. The pilot program was an “overhang” to the stock valuation of Foot Locker Inc. that’s now removed, Raymond James analyst Matthew McClintock wrote in a note. Michael Baker of Nomura Instinet called Nike’s decision a modest positive for Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc.Foot Locker was down 0.4% at 9:51 a.m. Wednesday in New York trading, while Dick’s was up 0.6%.What Bloomberg Intelligence Says“Nike’s decision to end its wholesale pilot with Amazon.com is likely aimed at putting more focus on its own direct-to-consumer business, which is a key pillar of its Triple Double strategy. We still believe Nike’s goal for 33% of sales to be digital could be attained ahead of 2022.”\--Poonam Goyal, senior retail analystClick here to read the research.About 68% of Nike’s annual sales come from wholesale channels, down from 81% in 2013. Though wholesale is still the bulk of the company’s sales, in that span Nike’s direct business has grown three times faster than top-line revenue.Nike’s departure will rob Amazon’s brand registry program of a big name -- and potentially stoke the concerns of its partners. Nike’s participation had signaled that Amazon was taking the concerns of major brands seriously.Such brands have expressed frustration that Amazon doesn’t do enough to fight counterfeits. They also fear that giving Amazon too much control over prices will devalue their products.Amazon’s foray into private-label products has added to the fears. The company now sells everything from batteries to mattresses to snacks, further complicating the relationship between Amazon and brands.(Updates with shares in ninth paragraph, analyst comments in 21st paragraph.)\--With assistance from Robert Williams.To contact the reporters on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net;Spencer Soper in Seattle at ssoper@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, ;Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, John J. Edwards III, Cécile DauratFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Disney Rolls Out Disney+ Service, Stirs Up Streaming War
    Zacks

    Disney Rolls Out Disney+ Service, Stirs Up Streaming War

    Competition intensifies in the video-streaming space as Disney (DIS) joins the bandwagon with the Disney+ launch.

  • Skyworks' (SWKS) Q4 Earnings & Revenues Surpass Estimates
    Zacks

    Skyworks' (SWKS) Q4 Earnings & Revenues Surpass Estimates

    Skyworks' (SWKS) fiscal fourth-quarter results reflect deal wins on strength in Sky5 connectivity solutions amid Huawei ban headwinds.

  • Bloomberg

    For Streamers, the Great Unbundling Was Too Good to Be True

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Netflix Inc. broke the cable-TV bundle. Now it’s time to put it back together again, and cable giants like Comcast Corp. look eager to help.It’s true that streaming has created more choices for consumers. You don’t necessarily need to subscribe to a $100-a-month cable package just to access kid-friendly Disney programs or re-runs of “The Big Bang Theory” (or pay extra for the ability to DVR the episodes you’ll miss). There are on-demand apps for both of those now — Disney+, which launched on Tuesday, and HBO Max, which becomes available in May. At the same time, one major consequence of the streaming wars is that they’ve caused a new kind of consumer frustration. It feels like everything is becoming segregated across various services with their own individual paywalls. That requires knowing which TV programs and movies reside where, having to toggle among those different apps — which isn’t as smooth as simply channel-surfing — and managing multiple monthly subscriptions. Sign up for enough of them, and it can easily add up to the cost of good old cable, especially given that a strong internet connection is a necessary component. It’s a situation that’s unsustainable, and already the media and cable giants seem to be eyeing the reintroduction of bundles to make things easier on consumers (and to make their subscriptions stickier).As Comcast’s Matthew Strauss put it, "The great un-bundling could give birth to the great re-bundling.” He should know. Strauss is the former executive vice president of Comcast's Xfinity Services; he was recently put in charge of Peacock, the company’s own streaming product set to launch in April with content provided by its NBCUniversal sports and entertainment division. It will join Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max and many more in the new streaming marketplace."How could someone possibly navigate all these apps? That's not how you watch TV,” Strauss said in a phone interview in September. “My prediction is that we're going to come full circle."Strauss and I were on the topic because Comcast had just made something called Xfinity Flex free to customers who subscribe to the company’s internet services but not its cable-TV packages. Flex is essentially a dashboard where users can access streaming subscriptions. It’s a lot like the home screen shown when powering up a Roku, Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV Stick — a display of tiles teasing different programs or services. The Xfinity X1 cable service is still front and center for Comcast, but Flex is a sign that the company is at least exploring how to cater to what may some day be a mostly internet-only customer base. While it may not be a bundle, it’s not hard to make the leap and envision a day when Comcast tries to offer bundles of streaming apps to its internet subscribers, serving as the go-between for programmers and customers just like it does in the cable world. Walt Disney Co. is already providing some evidence that it’s thinking the same way. As I noted in my column Tuesday, the entertainment giant recognizes that many viewers want more than a single app dedicated to superhero flicks and G-rated content. That’s why, alongside the launch of Disney+, it also began offering a $13-a-month bundle that tacks on Hulu and ESPN+. While Apple Inc.’s own original works such as “The Morning Show” can be watched with an Apple TV+ subscription, the company also has separately taken to aggregating rival apps in Apple TV Channels, where users can sign up on an a-la-carte basis. Similarly, Amazon.com Inc. has Prime Video and Amazon Channels. These aggregation efforts could all be precursors to bundling.Charter Communications Inc. CEO Tom Rutledge, during a September investor conference, discussed the challenges for so-called direct-to-consumer businesses — such as Disney+, CBS All Access, and so on — that traditionally haven’t had to deal directly with subscribers because the cable giants had typically maintained those relationships. Suddenly, programmers are having to handle billing and service issues and come up with customer-retention strategies. (Disney got a taste of this Tuesday, when its brand-new app was hit by technological glitches.) “All of those activities we do on behalf of traditional pay-TV vendors,” Rutledge said. It’s very hard to get “economies of scale in the direct-to-consumer marketplace like we’ve gotten out of the historic business.” That certainly sounds like someone who’s ready to negotiate some new distribution partnerships. Direct-to-consumer is industry jargon referring to how a streaming app bypasses the traditional distributors — flying directly past Charter and Comcast to the end user. So wouldn’t it be something if the winners of the streaming wars turned out to be none other than the cable companies? At the very least, remnants of their bundling model are sure to live on in streaming.To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at tlachapelle@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Investing.com

    Stocks - Wall Street Falls Ahead of Powell Testimony

    Investing.com – Wall Street opened lower on Wednesday as a trade deal between the U.S. and China seemed less likely, while trading was subdued as investors awaited testimony from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on the central bank’s monetary policy.

  • Investing.com

    Stocks - Canada Goose, Tesla Rise Premarket; Amazon, Smile Direct Club Fall

    Investing.com - Stocks in focus in premarket trading on Wednesday:

  • India Imperils Foreign Investment With Telecom Cash Grab
    Bloomberg

    India Imperils Foreign Investment With Telecom Cash Grab

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- For Kumar Mangalam Birla’s textile-to-telecom empire, adversity is a 100-year-old companion. In 1919, when the Indian businessman’s great-grandfather wanted to start a jute mill, the dominant British firm, Andrew Yule & Co., bought all the surrounding Calcutta land. The Imperial Bank, the forerunner of today’s State Bank of India, initially refused Birla a loan.(1)The government of post-independence India stymied the Birla conglomerate with kindness. Soviet-style planning and state socialism protected the family’s legacy licensed firms by keeping competition out. But they inhibited growth. Birla’s father, Aditya Vikram, went to Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines because he wasn’t allowed to expand at home. “I for one fail to see where the concentration of economic power is: with the big business houses or with the government?” he wondered in 1979. Fast forward 40 years, and the 52-year-old current chairman of the group would be justified to reprise his late father’s frustration. The liberalizing spirit of the 1990s Indian economy has lost much of its force. After dismantling the license raj, a system of strict government-controlled production, and encouraging capitalism, New Delhi is gripped once more by a feverish statism that’s making Birla’s shareholders nervous. The slide began before Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, and was one of the reasons why businesses backed his call for “minimum government, maximum governance.” But five years later, relations between private enterprise and the government have turned even testier.Take telecommunications, the main source of investors’ anxiety. Ever since India opened up the state-run sector in the 1990s, the Aditya Birla Group has been an anchor investor. Partners and rivals like AT&T Inc., India’s Tata Group, and Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. came and went, but Birla remained. Currently, the group owns 26% of the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Vodafone Idea Ltd., with the British partner controlling 45%. An Indian court last month directed this bruised survivor of a nasty price war to pay 280 billion rupees ($4 billion) in past government fees, interest and penalties. Overall, India wants to gouge its shriveled telecom industry of $13 billion. The fund-starved government expects operators to cough up more at 5G auctions next year. How long can the Birla boss hang in? With Vodafone Idea saddled with losses and $14 billion in net debt, should he even bother?It’s doubtful whether partner Vodafone Group Plc will linger. This isn’t the first time it has been clobbered by unreasonable government demands. In 2012, India retrospectively changed its tax law to pursue a $2.2 billion withholding tax notice against the U.K. firm. Seven years later, that dispute is far from resolved, and the unit has now been slapped with a new bill.In its half-yearly earnings reported Tuesday in London, Vodafone fully wrote down the book value of its India operations, and warned that the unit could be headed for liquidation. Vodafone’s 42% stake in a separate cellular tower company in the country, once sold, will get used largely to pay off the loan it took to pump capital into the main telecom venture. After that, the U.K. firm will have a little over $1 billion left to support Vodafone Idea, according to India Ratings & Research, a unit of Fitch Ratings. However, the India business would be required to find $5.5 billion just for interest- and spectrum-related payments until March 2022.Will Birla step into the breach?Out of the Indian group’s 26% in Vodafone Idea, about 11.6% is held by Grasim Industries Ltd., and another 2.6% is owned by Hindalco Industries Ltd. Hindalco, among the world’s largest aluminum makers, is battling weak metals demand and a complicated takeover of the U.S.-based Aleris Corp. The bulk of the burden of a telecom rescue — should there be one — would fall on Grasim. It acts as a holding company for Birla’s cement and financial services businesses, apart from directly owning factories that churn out wood-based fiber and chemicals like caustic soda used in soap and detergent.Mumbai-based Emkay Global Financial Services says that in the worst-case scenario, where the government doesn’t back down and Birla refuses to fold his telecom cards, a rescue mounted by by Grasim could cost it 187 rupees per share. If Birla refrains from throwing good money after bad, the value of everything else Grasim owns net of debt is 1,126 rupees a share, or 47% more than the current stock market price. Clearly, the overhang of the Vodafone uncertainty is playing on investor psyche. Once the U.S.-China trade war stops making global textile markets jittery, fiber prices will firm. Grasim, in investors’ view, is better off spending $2 billion on new capacities in fiber, chemicals and cement than wasting any more money trying to salvage the telecom venture.The Indian government should see the folly of effectively turning the telecom industry into a two-horse race between Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., controlled by Mukesh Ambani, the richest Indian, and Bharti Airtel Ltd., which, too, is staggering under a mountain of debt. As IIFL Securities put it, bankruptcy of Vodafone Idea would hurt all stakeholders. Vodafone and Birla would lose control, the government would forgo $1.7 billion in annual spectrum revenue and banks would take losses on their $4 billion-plus exposure.Such an outcome would cast a serious doubt on the ability of private entrepreneurs to flourish, especially if they — like Birla or Amazon.com Inc. boss Jeff Bezos — happen to find themselves in competition with Ambani in a tightly regulated industry. Future investors will think twice. The rift between the government and business wasn’t Modi’s creation, but to allow the mistrust to turn into a chasm would be one of his administration’s gravest mistakes.(1) See, “Aditya Vikram Birla: A Biography” by Minhaz Merchant, Penguin India, 1997To contact the author of this story: Andy Mukherjee at amukherjee@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Patrick McDowell at pmcdowell10@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Disney Streaming Outages Mar Its First Day as Netflix Rival
    Bloomberg

    Disney Streaming Outages Mar Its First Day as Netflix Rival

    (Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co.’s much-anticipated debut of its new streaming video service was marred by technical glitches and crashes for some users, though it still stirred excitement online.New “Star Wars” series “The Mandalorian” was trending on social media, and Twitter users cheered that they were finally able to sign up and watch Disney+ after months of well-orchestrated promotions from the Disney marketing machine.Some users reported trouble getting the app to work as soon as they tried to log on in the early hours of Tuesday morning, when the East Coast of the U.S. and Canada was waking up. Problems reported on the @DisneyPlusHelp Twitter handle ranged from “service not available” to specific issues such as “The early seasons of The Simpsons are in the wrong aspect ratio.”Disney said consumer demand for the service had exceeded its highest expectations. “While we are pleased by this incredible response, we are aware of the current user issues and are working to swiftly resolve them,” a spokeswoman said in a statement, mirroring a tweet on the help-line account.The glitches ramped up from about a hundred reported outages to more than 7,000 within the span of an hour on DownDetector.com. They dipped to about one-tenth of that by midday but were rising again in the evening New York time as consumers returning home from work tried to log on.Disney is hardly the first media company to struggle with the technical side of streaming. In 2014, HBO’s streaming service crashed during the season premiere of “Game of Thrones.” Even technology giants like Amazon and YouTube have had problems, though their glitches happened while broadcasting live sports online, which is seen as more difficult than streaming on-demand TV shows and movies. Disney bought a controlling stake in BAMTech, a leader in streaming technology, to run the back end of its online services like Disney+.Streaming services often struggle when many people try to watch at the same time, said Dan Rayburn, the principal analyst at Frost & Sullivan, who writes for the website Streamingmediablog.com. “It’s hard because of the complexity of the workflow and doing it at scale,” Rayburn said.It’s not just streaming shows smoothly, he added, but also managing the back-end database, like whether a user had paid and setting up a profile.“If in the next two or three hours everything is cleared up, it’s not that big of a deal,” he said. “If this continues throughout the day, this is a real problem.”Crowded MarketIn its quest to turn a nearly century-old entertainment giant into a streaming leader, Disney is entering a market already crowded with heavy hitters, including Netflix Inc., Amazon.com and Apple Inc. And more rivals are diving in soon, such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. next year. The world’s largest entertainment company thinks it can seize the day with a product packed with the company’s best movies and TV shows, including “Star Wars,” Marvel and Pixar films, as well as its library of some 400 children’s movies.“I feel great about what we’ve done,” Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger told a roomful of reporters last week. “I love the app. It’s rich in content. It’s rich in brands. It’s rich in library.”Priced at $7 a month, Disney+ is a bet that the company can attract as many as 90 million subscribers worldwide in five years.It already has some key allies. Some 19 million Verizon Communications Inc. customers will be able to get the service free for the first year, thanks to a deal Disney cut with the carrier. Disney fan club members, meanwhile, got to prepay for a three-year subscription for less than $4 a month.“These are deals you just can’t beat,” said Kevin Mayer, who heads Disney’s direct-to-consumer division and has helped craft the streaming strategy.Disney shares rose 1.4% to $138.58 at the close of trading Tuesday in New York.Disney is looking to make the product accessible to as many people as possible. Customers will get to store their password in as many as 10 devices per family and watch four concurrent streams of movies or shows.The site is designed around five main “tiles,” named after the company’s key brands, including Marvel and the recently acquired National Geographic channel. Disney is spending $1 billion on new programming -- such as “The Mandalorian,” the first live-action “Star Wars” series -- in the first year alone. Disney+ also will offer the “Star Wars” movies in 4K-definition video for the first time.Unlike Netflix, which releases new seasons of programs all at once. Disney+ will put out one episode per week for its original shows. The programs will come out at midnight Pacific time on Fridays -- timing geared toward attracting a global audience, according to Ricky Strauss, Disney’s head of content and marketing for the product.A key part of Disney’s streaming strategy is bundling its services together. For $12.99, subscribers can get a package that includes Disney+, ESPN+ and the ad-supported version of Hulu. Those three services would cost about $18 a month if purchased individually.It’s all coming at great cost to the company. Mayer’s direct-to-consumer division saw its losses more than double to $740 million in the quarter that ended in September. The company doesn’t expect to make a profit on Disney+ for at least five years.But the marketing blitz for the new service seems to have paid off. UBS Group AG analyst John Hodulik surveyed more than 1,000 consumers in October and found some 86% had heard of Disney+. Nearly half were likely to subscribe.The company created its largest cross-promotional push ever, putting solicitations for the new service in Disney-owned hotels and its radio network. Disney also promoted the new service on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Fans watched a preview of Disney+’s new “High School Musical” spinoff on ABC on Friday.“If you haven’t heard about Disney+ by Tuesday,” Strauss said last week. “I promise you will.”Among the new originals on the show is a live-action version of “Lady and the Tramp.” Normally a remake of a classic like that would get a big premiere, a theatrical run and advertising everywhere.In the streaming era, it gets dropped on a Tuesday morning. The question now is whether the Disney magic still comes through without the Hollywood glamour.Either way, Disney doesn’t have much of a choice, said David Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School.“Netflix has changed the nature of the game,” Yoffie said. “If they didn’t participate, they would be left behind.”(Updates complaint reports in fifth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Brandon Kochkodin.To contact the reporters on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at cpalmeri1@bloomberg.net;Scott Moritz in New York at smoritz6@bloomberg.net;Gerry Smith in New York at gsmith233@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net, Rob GolumFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Home Depot Q3 Earnings Preview: Buy Surging HD Stock Near New Highs?
    Zacks

    Home Depot Q3 Earnings Preview: Buy Surging HD Stock Near New Highs?

    Home Depot stock is up more than 22% in the past six months to easily outpace its industry's 6% average climb and the S&P 500's 10% expansion. So is it time to buy HD before its Q3 earnings release?

  • Bloomberg

    Those Amazon Returns? They’re Killing the Environment.

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- In December, American consumers will return more than 1 million packages to e-commerce retailers each day. It's a flood of unwanted stuff that’s expected to peak on Jan. 2, which UPS Inc. cheekily calls "National Returns Day.”For UPS and other shippers, that's reason for plenty of post-holiday cheer. For everyone else, those tens of millions of packages are a real problem. By one recent estimate, they accounted for 5 billion pounds of landfilled waste in the U.S. alone and an additional 15 million tons of carbon emitted into the atmosphere. At a time when consumers and companies are otherwise rethinking consumption choices in light of climate change, e-commerce returns amount to a hidden environmental crisis.Of course, the “money-back guarantee” is likely as old as retail itself, and many storied brands built their reputations by honoring it. The benefits don't just accrue to consumers; a retailer that stands by its products likely sells more of them. L.L. Bean Inc., the outdoor-goods company, offered a lifetime return policy for more than a century, and prospered because of it. Likewise, recent studies of e-commerce suggest that lenient return policies correlate with more returns and an increase in purchases. As far back as 2010, Zappos.com, the pioneering shoe retailer, bragged that its best customers were the ones who returned the most products.The problem is that consumers are returning more and more every year. In 2018, Americans sent back 10% of their purchases, valued at $369 billion, up from 8% two years earlier. Younger shoppers in particular are more inclined to treat online purchases as rentals, or to buy clothing to try on, then return what doesn’t fit or look good. It’s a global trend: In Sweden, return rates are as high as 60% for some products.The logistical burden of these returns is so heavy it’s inspired an entire industry devoted to dealing with unwanted stuff. But the environmental toll may prove to be more significant. In 2017, Optoro Inc., a company that helps retailers manage their returns, estimated that only 10% of the merchandise it handles ends up back on the shelves. Some is sold on to discounters and recyclers, or routed to charities. But the high cost of transporting, sorting, and repackaging those goods also ensures that billions of pounds of returns end up in landfills and incinerators.Making matters worse, getting those products from a dissatisfied customer's home to wherever they’ll end up is a carbon-heavy process. And because e-commerce products are returned at a much higher rate than traditional ones, emissions exceed what they’d be at brick-and-mortar outlets. By one accounting, 165 billion packages were shipped in the U.S. last year — using about 1 billion trees worth of cardboard. Even as companies like Amazon.com Inc. transition to more sustainable packaging, returns will continue adding to their resource usage.It won't be easy to convince consumers or retailers to curb these practices. The most obvious solution — a ban on free returns — would understandably meet stiff opposition. But a few other steps might help. Companies could adopt carbon-emission labeling on return packages for instance, or stop providing ready-made return labels altogether, which would easily eliminate the use of millions of pieces of paper. They could also experiment with "returnless refunds" for products that can’t be sold again, such as under-garments, cosmetics, and packaged foods. As augmented reality and touch-oriented technologies become more common and affordable, online apparel retailers could deploy them in “digital dressing rooms.”So long as there are shoppers, of course, there will be returns. But with a little added effort from retailers and consumers — and perhaps some ingenuity — they can be friendlier to the bottom line and the planet both.To contact the author of this story: Adam Minter at aminter@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy Lavin at tlavin1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Adam Minter is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the author of “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade” and the forthcoming "Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Walmart (WMT) Q3 Earnings on Deck as Amazon (AMZN) Guns for Supermarket Space
    Zacks

    Walmart (WMT) Q3 Earnings on Deck as Amazon (AMZN) Guns for Supermarket Space

    Walmart (WMT) is set to report its third quarter results before the market opens on Thursday, November 14.

  • Trump Trade, Walmart & Nvidia Previews & Buy CASY Stock - Free Lunch
    Zacks

    Trump Trade, Walmart & Nvidia Previews & Buy CASY Stock - Free Lunch

    All eyes will be on President Trump Tuesday for U.S.-China trade war updates. Walmart, Nvidia, and others are set to report their quarterly earnings. And why Casey's General Stores (CASY) is a Zacks Rank 1 (Strong Buy) right now...

  • Bloomberg

    Dell Unveils Subscription Model to Counter Amazon, Microsoft

    (Bloomberg) -- Dell Technologies Inc. will offer business clients more flexible, on-demand buying options for products like servers and personal computers, seeking to counter the lure of cloud services from Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp.Customers will now be able to use Dell’s hardware based on their consumption, as a service, or through a subscription, the Round Rock, Texas-based company said Tuesday in a statement.Dell and its hardware peers have been under pressure to offer corporate clients the flexibility and simplicity of infrastructure cloud services. Public cloud titans such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure have cut demand for data-center hardware as more businesses look to rent computing power rather than invest in their own server farms. Rival Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. said in June that it would move to a subscription model by 2022. Research firm Gartner Inc. predicts 15% of data-center hardware deals will include pay-per-use pricing in 2022, up from 1% in 2019, Dell said.“We really think it’s an important time for Dell to simplify the way we offer our portfolio and meet customers’ needs,” Sam Grocott, Dell’s senior vice president of product marketing, said in an interview. “This type of a model – as a service – was born in the cloud. As organizations have leveraged this model in the past, they have come to like it.”Dell is making it easier for clients to upgrade their hardware since they don’t have to spend a large amount of capital expenditures upfront, but can pay a smaller amount each month that counts toward a company’s operating expenditures. For the consumption programs, customers pay for the amount of storage or computing power they use. Companies can also hire Dell to completely manage their hardware infrastructure for them.While Dell’s overall sales climbed 2% in the quarter that ended Aug. 2, demand for its servers and networking gear dropped 12% in a reversal from last year, when there was unprecedented customer interest in the products.Dell still expects the vast majority of customers to pay upfront for products in the next three to five years, Grocott said.To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Will E-Commerce Sales Drive Walmart's (WMT) Q3 Earnings?
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  • Bloomberg

    TikTok Revamps Lobbying as Washington Targets Chinese Ownership

    (Bloomberg) -- TikTok, the popular music-video app, is building up its fledgling lobbying operations to counter stepped-up pressure in Washington over its Chinese ownership and wage an escalating battle with Facebook Inc. for viewers.The company, which registered its first lobbyist in June, is seeking to add a U.S. policy chief, plans to further expand its internal policy staff and is reshuffling outside lobbyists, according to people familiar with its plans.The policy chief position is a new one and will help shape the company’s advocacy priorities and oversee its growing lobbying operations, said two people familiar with the moves.TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Inc., also has hired Monument Advocacy, a public affairs and lobbying firm known for its expertise in technology policy, according to another person familiar with the matter. The person said TikTok is winding down its relationship with lobbyists at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, which has close ties to Facebook.The relationship between Covington and Facebook was one reason for TikTok’s decision to break with the firm, the person said. Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan formerly co-chaired Covington’s data privacy and security practice. Facebook also hired Covington to help work on its anti-conservative bias report released in August. Covington’s Jon Kyl, a former Republican senator from Arizona, headed up that review.The lobbying push is part of TikTok’s effort to calm U.S. regulators and policy makers and try to persuade them that it’s really a U.S. company, said one of the people. Concerns are growing that TikTok could pose a national security threat because of its Chinese ownership and the risk that the government in Beijing could get access to the app’s growing troves of user data.Facebook has underscored Washington’s concerns about TikTok as it combats its own scrutiny from lawmakers and antitrust enforcers.Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg insinuated during an October speech at Georgetown University that protesters in Hong Kong use Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform “due to strong encryption and privacy protections,” whereas “mentions of these protests are censored, even in the U.S.” on TikTok.Monument Advocacy counts Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. as clients, but doesn’t work directly with Facebook, unlike other firms TikTok spoke with, the person said. Monument does represent an industry coalition on government surveillance that includes Facebook.TikTok, Monument and Facebook declined to comment. Covington didn’t respond to requests for comment. The lobbying changes haven’t yet been disclosed in public filings.ByteDance is expanding its operations aggressively across the U.S., hiring staff in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York. The app has logged more than 564 million installations this year and has been downloaded 1.45 billion times since launching, according to data from Sensor Tower, a San Francisco-based market intelligence firm that tracks the global app market.U.S. officials are reviewing whether ByteDance’s $1 billion purchase of social media startup Musical.ly two years ago to merge it with TikTok poses a national security risk, Bloomberg News has reported. That panel, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius, has toughened scrutiny of acquisitions of American companies under President Donald Trump and is paying closer attention to how deals can give foreign buyers access to data about U.S. citizens.“We have no higher priority than earning the trust of users and regulators in the U.S.,” a TikTok representative said in a statement earlier this month.Lawmakers had pushed for a review, saying that TikTok poses a potential counterintelligence threat. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York wrote a letter with Republican Tom Cotton of Arkansas to U.S. Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire. They expressed concerns about foreign interference in American elections and the security of user data on the app, in addition to national security fears.The company was also the focus of a hearing earlier this month during which one Republican senator blasted it as a threat to global data security.“All it takes is one knock on the door of their parent company, based in China, from a Communist Party official, for that data to be transferred to the Chinese government’s hands whenever they need it,” said Josh Hawley of Missouri, a frequent tech critic.TikTok has rejects the notion it’s controlled by the Chinese government or that U.S. user data is at risk.“We are not influenced by any foreign government, including the Chinese government,” the company wrote in a blog post last month. “TikTok does not operate in China, nor do we have any intention of doing so in the future.”ByteDance, which began lobbying this summer, registered its in-house lobbyist Eric Ebenstein in June and brought on Covington in July, paying it $110,000 during the third quarter, according to federal disclosures. The company spent a total of $120,000 on lobbying from July through September.TikTok also announced last month that it had tapped another top legal and lobbying firm -- K&L Gates LLP -- to advise it on policies around transparency and content moderation, though the firm won’t be lobbying.Former Representative Bart Gordon, a Tennessee Democrat who led the House Science and Technology Committee, is on the account, as is former Republican Representative Jeff Denham, who represented a district in California.\--With assistance from Kurt Wagner and Sarah Frier.To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.net;Megan Wilson in Arlington at mwilson297@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, Jillian Ward, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Buy Walmart Stock Ahead of Q3 Earnings with WMT Near New Highs?
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  • Bloomberg

    Google Gets Access to Health Data With Ascension Partnership

    (Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google is working with one of the biggest U.S. health-care providers to develop new digital tools, giving the internet giant deep access to the personal health information of millions of Americans.The partnership with Ascension, a nonprofit, Catholic health-care provider with more than 150 hospitals in 20 states, is wide-ranging and includes developing new software that uses artificial intelligence to improve patient outcomes, Ascension said Monday in a statement. The Wall Street Journal reported the partnership earlier, and said the deal had originally been struck last year.All information-sharing complies with federal privacy laws and Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling, the health-care company said in the statement. The partnership hadn’t previously been disclosed, including to patients whose data may have been involved, the Journal reported. As part of the work, Google employees may have had access to data including hospital records and patient names, but the company declined to elaborate.Google and other big tech companies have been pushing into health care in recent years. Apple Inc. asks its Apple Watch users to opt in to studies on heart rate, while Amazon.com Inc. has bought an online pharmacy and partnered with other corporations on a health venture called Haven. Google, for its part, has built a significant health-care team and is experimenting with using artificial intelligence to improve health care.To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at gdevynck@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Amazon Confirms Plans for Store Under New Grocery Brand

    (Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. plans to launch a new supermarket brand distinct from the Whole Foods Market chain the company acquired two years ago, a sign of the retail giant’s hunger for a slice of the grocery market beyond high-end organic food.The company has posted four job listings for “Amazon’s first grocery store” in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. An Amazon spokeswoman confirmed the listings, and said the store would open in 2020. The brand will be distinct from Whole Foods and will have a conventional checkout line, unlike the cashierless Amazon Go convenience stores, she said. Amazon’s plans for the store were reported earlier by CNET.The e-commerce company purchased Whole Foods in a splashy $13.7 billion deal two years ago, but has yet to make much headway in the $900 billion U.S. grocery industry. The Whole Foods brand, finicky about what is allowed on store shelves based on its healthy image, clashes with Amazon’s desire to give customers whatever they want. Amazon rival Walmart Inc., which captures about 25% of all U.S. grocery spending, sells items such as Pepsi and Cheetos that shoppers can’t find at Whole Foods. Grocery industry analysts have speculated that Amazon might branch out with a new store where such products won’t be seen as betrayal to the brand.Online grocery shoppers prefer in-store pickup options to home delivery by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, and Amazon needs more stores to meet that growing demand, said David Bishop, a partner with research firm Brick Meets Click. In-store pickup requires more stores closer to shoppers -- about 3 to 5 miles from their homes -- than grocery delivery services, he said.“The reason Amazon needs to expand its physical footprint is an accelerated demand for grocery pickup service as opposed to delivery,” he said. “Shoppers have a greater sense of control when they pick up their groceries at the store in a secure location rather than worrying about it being left at their house.”Amazon’s sales from physical stores, the vast majority of which are purchases at Whole Foods stores, declined 1.3% from a year earlier to $4.19 billion in the third quarter. Amazon said the total doesn’t include online sales from Whole Foods, but the Seattle-based company doesn’t break out that figure.Woodland Hills is an upscale suburban neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Amazon planned to open dozens of grocery stores under a new brand, starting with an outpost in Los Angeles.(Updates with analyst’s comment in fifth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Matt Day in Seattle at mday63@bloomberg.net;Spencer Soper in Seattle at ssoper@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.