SBUX - Starbucks Corporation

NasdaqGS - NasdaqGS Real-time price. Currency in USD
82.19
-2.33 (-2.76%)
At close: 4:00PM EST

82.40 +0.21 (0.26%)
After hours: 7:33PM EST

Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous close84.52
Open85.02
Bid82.31 x 900
Ask82.99 x 1000
Day's range81.67 - 85.34
52-week range69.03 - 99.72
Volume8,937,603
Avg. volume7,187,286
Market cap94.913B
Beta (5Y monthly)0.53
PE ratio (TTM)28.15
EPS (TTM)2.92
Earnings date27 Apr 2020
Forward dividend & yield1.64 (1.90%)
Ex-dividend date04 Feb 2020
1y target est95.71
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  • Bloomberg

    Mexico Tax Authority Seeks To Claim Victory Over Slim’s Payment

    (Bloomberg) -- Mexico’s tax authority said it won a victory this week in its campaign to boost revenue from corporations when the nation’s largest company agreed to hand over $8.3 billion pesos ($446 million).The agency -- known as the SAT -- said it had “invited a leading Mexican telecommunications company” to review its 2016-2019 tax payments.The company, America Movil SAB, said the payment was related to shifting from one tax regime into another, and wasn’t the result of negotiations with the tax agency. The carrier is owned by Carlos Slim, the nation’s richest citizen.The government’s announcement on America Movil’s payment followed news that the SAT had made claims of 10.6 billion pesos against Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB and 3.9 billion pesos against Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza operator Alsea SAB over its 8.2 billion-peso purchase of a restaurant chain from Walmex. Those claims extend from a review undertaken in the previous administration, according to two people familiar with the matter.Facing a weak economy and bound by a pledge not to raise taxes, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration is trying to lift tax collection in a bid to cover spending. Business groups have said they fear a reign of “fiscal terrorism” that could subject them to strong-arm tactics.The SAT was taken over last month by Raquel Buenrostro, a Lopez Obrador confidant who oversaw an anti-corruption drive in the Finance Ministry. She will now enforce tax reforms from last year that give authorities more power to crack down on evasion, which is rampant in Mexico and blamed for a low tax take.The agency didn’t immediately reply to written messages seeking comment.The tax chief says that there’s a wide margin for increasing enforcement and resolving tax claims that will boost government revenue without having to reform the system. Buenrostro estimated that there is about 1.2 trillion pesos ($64.5 billion) currently in litigation, according to Mexican daily La Jornada.Manuel Aguilar, managing partner at Baker Tilly in Mexico, said in a phone interview that America Movil appeared to have made the payment based on “already established rules”, and that the tax agency was trying to take the credit for a payment that would have happened anyway. There is no evidence yet that the government had implemented a more aggressive strategy to audit major companies, he said.\--With assistance from Justin Villamil.To contact the reporter on this story: Michael O'Boyle in Mexico City at moboyle7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brad Olesen at bolesen3@bloomberg.net, Matthew BristowFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • Bloomberg

    Sanders Says He Had Campaign Best $25 Million Haul in January

    (Bloomberg) -- After raising $25 million in January, Bernie Sanders is ready to kick his campaign spending into high gear, planning big expenditures in Super Tuesday states.The Vermont senator had his single best fundraising month to date, his campaign said, with more than 648,000 individuals, including 219,000 first-time givers, making over 1.3 million donations. By comparison, in the last three months of 2019, the campaign took in $34.4 million, an average of $11.5 million a month.The cash infusion will allow Sanders to add staff in Super Tuesday states while putting $5.5 million toward television and digital ads in 10 states, including expanded buys in delegate-rich California and Texas. His campaign said it would begin advertising in eight new states: Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.“Bernie’s multiracial, multi generational, people-driven movement for change is fueling 2020’s most aggressive campaign for president,” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement. “Working class Americans giving $18 at a time are putting our campaign in a strong position to compete in states all over the map.”The small-dollar donor base has been critical to Sanders’s success, allowing him to raise more money -- $96 million in 2019 -- than any of his Democratic rivals, and those donors continued to support him in January. The most common occupation they listed was “teacher.” The five most common employers listed were Amazon.com Inc., Starbucks Corp., Walmart Inc., the United States Postal Service and Target Corp.The average donation size was $18.72.The January haul came before Sanders’s strong showing in Iowa, where the current count has him in a virtual tie with Pete Buttigieg. The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor had 26.2% of state delegate equivalents, barely edging Sanders’s 26.1%, with 97% of more than 1,700 precincts reporting results.Sanders is currently leading in the RealClearPolitics average for New Hampshire, which votes on Tuesday.Presidential candidates report their fundraising totals monthly in election years, with detailed disclosures on contributors and expenditures due at the Federal Election Commission on Feb. 20.(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Allison in Washington DC at ballison14@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, John Harney, Jon HerskovitzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Ireland Still Refuses to Answer the $14.5 Billion Tax Question

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Question: Which economic headwind is projected to cost Ireland some 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) between now and 2025? No, not Brexit. The answer is corporate tax reform.Last month, Ireland’s finance minister Paschal Donohoe, whose ruling party Fine Gael is struggling in opinion polls ahead of Saturday’s general election, raised this red flag as one of several global risks threatening the small, trade-reliant country of 4.9 million people. As the international loopholes allowing elaborate tax-dodging schemes — made famous by the likes of Starbucks Corp., Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc. — gradually get closed, and as countries around the world start to overhaul the way taxes are collected, Donohoe warned that Ireland should budget for an estimated 500 million-euro hit every year from 2022. His country has been a magnet for the “tax-optimizing” plans of international companies via its 12.5% corporate tax rate and other perks.This may sound like a relatively gentle readjustment, given the slow pace and complex nature of OECD-led tax talks between 135 countries. But the emergence of two ideas — a fairer allocation of corporate profits to where customers and sales are actually located, and a minimum global corporate tax rate — has rattled the Irish. As a domestic consumer market Ireland is tiny, meaning it would probably get less profit to tax. And with a corporate tax rate that’s lower than that of the G20 and most European Union members, a shift to a minimum global levy would reduce Ireland’s attractiveness to multinational companies.You’d hope that this might lead to some national soul-searching. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael and its historic rival Fianna Fail have spent the past few years ensuring Ireland’s wagon is hitched firmly to a low-tax model — one that, according to one research paper, sucked an estimated $100 billion in corporate profits away from other countries in 2015 alone. Sure, the taxes are lucrative, bringing in 10.9 billion euros last year, and are redistributed fairly. But at what cost?The Irish economy is increasingly distorted by its dependence on foreign firms, which account for 80% of corporate taxes and some 10.5% of local jobs(2) , and which offer workers generous accommodation packages even as house prices soar. Domestic companies, meanwhile, are seeing their productivity fall. Ireland’s decision to stand with Apple after the European Commission demanded the company pay $14.5 billion in illegally-avoided taxes shows the power and influence of U.S. tech in particular.Saturday’s election won’t be fought on corporate tax, however. Neither Fianna Fail nor Fine Gael — known as Tweedledum and Tweedledee — see any reason to change Ireland’s economic model, nor its 12.5% rate. Donohoe says careful planning and running a budget surplus is preparation enough. Smaller parties Sinn Fein and the Greens, which have enjoyed a bounce in the polls, are calling for more taxes on property and the rich but would keep the 12.5% levy. Labour, while saying it wants the 12.5% rate to be an “effective” rate (not just a headline one), says it’s open to lowering that rate depending on where companies invest.The importance of foreign direct investment to Ireland’s economy explains why far-reaching tax reform hasn’t quite reached the Irish Overton window, even as voters get more exercised about inequality. Ireland’s recent history is dominated by booms and busts: Squeezing a source of national wealth and jobs might seem self-harming. Even the do-gooder (and famously tax-efficient) rock star Bono once said: “Tax competitiveness has brought our country the only prosperity we’ve known.”But there’s something of the boiled frog about Ireland’s stance, where the heat is being turned up so slowly it will only realize what’s happening too late. A structural shift on global tax rules could be accompanied by a worse-than-expected Brexit outcome. The EU has stood by Ireland during the British negotiations, but that may change once they are over: Other member states aren’t thrilled by Dublin’s tax regime.U.S. President Donald Trump might intensify his trade war on the EU, or pressure American companies to bring jobs and cash back home. The tech firms that populate Dublin might face more EU tax and antitrust rulings. The Irish economy is so dependent on U.S. companies that Goodbody Stockbrokers’ economist Dermot O’Leary calls it “the 51st State.”What can be done? Dropping the appeal against the Apple fine and bringing those billions into the state’s coffers would be a start — all parties, not just Sinn Fein, should be advocating this. Taking a proactive part in OECD-led efforts to revamp tax rules would also help. And spending more on skills, education and housing might make Ireland more attractive to investors at home and abroad, regardless of where tax rates go. Clearly, Ireland will always depend heavily on the wider world. Yet that world is finally waking up on fair taxation.(1) This relates specifically to "FDI-assisted jobs,"involvingcompanies that work through Ireland’s FDI agency.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at llaurent2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at jboxell@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Your Evening Briefing
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    Your Evening Briefing

    (Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every afternoon? Sign up hereAs widely expected, President Donald Trump will remain in office through the end of his term. The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Some Democrats are now second-guessing their strategy of impeaching him for seeking foreign interference with the 2020 campaign. Here are today’s top storiesAs part of his effort to get Ukraine to probe a political rival, Trump withheld almost $400 million in military aid appropriated by Congress for Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression. Now, Democrats say Trump is withholding $823 million Congress allocated for a clean energy program aimed at countering the global climate crisis.Scenes of chaos and despair emerge daily from China’s Hubei province, a landlocked region of 60 million people where the coronavirus was first identified. The province has seen a staggering 97% of all deaths and 67% of all patients. By effectively sealing it off, China hopes to contain the virus.As recently as a few weeks ago, public health experts held out hope that the coronavirus could be largely contained within China. Now some believe a pandemic is likely and are planning for the worst. Pete Buttigieg maintained a narrow lead over Senator Bernie Sanders in the Iowa caucuses as the state’s Democratic Party slowly released more results. We’re tracking the delegates here.Tesla’s incredible six-day, 60% rally left some on Wall Street scratching their heads. It came to a screeching halt on Wednesday. Made to withstand hurricanes and often as big as airplane wings, tens of thousands of wind turbine blades must be replaced each year. But they can’t be easily recycled. Guess where they end up?What’s Joe Weisenthal thinking about? The Bloomberg news director wrote earlier this week about how many expect government spending to play a central role in stabilizing the U.S. economy during the next downturn. But in a new piece for Project Syndicate, the economist Kenneth Rogoff says this is all a fantasy.What you’ll need to know tomorrowU.S. stocks rallied to yet another all-time high. Jeff Bezos sold $1.8 billion of Amazon stock in two days. One of Nike’s newest running shoes isn’t banned—yet. New York City was the biggest loser of jobs in 2019. Bill Ackman sold his stake in Starbucks after a 73% return. Sanders leads in New Hampshire ahead of the state primary. These are the most romantic new spots for a Valentine’s getaway.What you’ll want to read tonight in HyperdriveIn the 1960’s the South Linden neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio was cut off from the rest of the city by the arrival of Interstate 71. More than a half-century later, autonomous technology is helping reconnect residents with the rest of Ohio’s capital. An electric-powered shuttle funded mostly by the federal government will give residents access to services that have slowly vanished from the area. It's one of several experiments arising from the Smart Cities Challenge, an Obama administration program aimed at encouraging midsize cities to develop advanced transportation modes using (among other new technology) electric and autonomous vehicles. To contact the author of this story: Josh Petri in Portland at jpetri4@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: David Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Bill Ackman Sells Stake in Starbucks After Pershing Makes 73% Return

    (Bloomberg) -- Activist investor Bill Ackman has exited his position in Starbucks Corp., arguing in his annual investor presentation that the company is now “firing on all cylinders” after a successful turnaround.The billionaire said in the presentation Wednesday that Pershing Square Capital Management’s investment in the Seattle-based coffee giant returned 73% over 19 months. Prospective returns could “become more modest,” he said.Starbucks “should continue to generate robust earnings growth through one of the world’s most dominant, attractive and profitable brands,” according to the presentation.Starbucks fell as much as 2% in New York trading Wednesday. The shares were trading at $87.40, down 1.1%, at 12:55 p.m.Starbucks U.S. same-stores sales have surpassed his expectations, with average growth of 5% over the course of Pershing Square’s investment, Ackman said, crediting cold beverage innovation as well as in-store operations. He also highlighted an “impressive” performance in China despite intense competition and bold actions by management to improve investor returns, including share buybacks.Discussing his investment in Agilent Technologies Inc. for the first time, Ackman said the company is undervalued and that his firm built its position at an average cost of $76.58 per share, or a 10% discount to current levels. In November, he said his stake in the life sciences equipment maker amounted to about 8% to 9.5% of Pershing Square’s portfolio, or roughly $665 million at the time. He didn’t disclose the size of the position Wednesday.“We believe Agilent’s current valuation represents a discount to intrinsic value and does not fully reflect the company’s high-quality business model, increasing mix of recurring revenue, strong long-term growth potential and significant margin expansion opportunity,” the presentation states.He said he believes there’s potential for a 800 basis point margin improvement at the company based on its best-in-class peers, and that the company could take on more debt to generate more capital.Pershing Square finished 2019 with its strongest performance on record, reporting a 58% return on its investments. Big gains were made on its investments in Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and others, it said. The firm had roughly $8.6 billion in assets under management at year end.The first month of 2020 hasn’t been as strong, with the firm reporting a 1.3% decline on investments through Jan. 31, according to its website.(Updates with additional background starting in fourth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Deveau in New York at sdeveau2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Liana Baker at lbaker75@bloomberg.net, Elizabeth Fournier, Matthew MonksFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Starbucks Challenger Luckin Isn’t All Out of Luck

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- China’s Luckin Coffee Inc. hasn’t been having much luck lately. The last thing a retail business in the middle of a breakneck expansion needs is a deadly virus that keeps consumers off the streets and away from malls. What could be more damaging? Perhaps an attack by short-sellers branding your business a fraud.Shares in Nasdaq-listed Luckin Coffee plummeted 11% Friday after Carson Block’s Muddy Waters Capital tweeted that it has a short on the stock, citing an unattributed 89-page report it had received that alleged the chain has accounting issues and a broken business model. It could have been worse. Luckin shares were down as much as 27% before rival short-selling firm Citron Research defended the company, saying it was long the stock and the coffee chain’s business in China was “on fire.” Luckin called the allegations “misleading and false” in a filing Monday. Its shares closed 3.5% lower.Whatever the merits or otherwise of the anonymous report — which Muddy Waters said it found credible and Andrew Left’s Citron said would “fall short on accuracy” — Luckin faces serious challenges from the coronavirus, which has caused some cities in China to impose travel restrictions, manufacturers to halt output and the government to extend the Lunar New Year holiday. At the same time, the coffee chain has a couple of key advantages that should enable it to ride out the disruption.First is its delivery model. Unlike Starbucks Corp., which prides itself on its cozy seating areas, Luckin mostly sells coffee for consumption outside. As of the end of June, 2,741 of 2,963 outlets were “pick-up stores.” Just 123 were so-called relax stores where buyers drink on the premises, and the rest were delivery kitchens.In an environment where authorities are telling people to stay at home to avoid spreading the virus, such a business may prove more resilient than one like Starbucks, which sells coffee partly as a social experience. Seattle-based Starbucks has closed more than half its 4,292 outlets(6) in China because of the viral outbreak. Luckin, which overtook Starbucks with 4,500 stores across the country by the end of last year, hasn’t given comparable figures.Second is Luckin’s financial position. Founded less than three years ago, the company has been expanding at a furious pace, almost quadrupling its number of stores from 1,189 in the third quarter of 2018. Such a rapid build-out is financially draining — especially when the company has a strategy of sacrificing profits by offering discounts to lure customers. That makes Luckin’s January fundraising look particularly fortuitous.The coffee chain raised a combined $778 million from an additional share sale and a convertible bond offering, more than the $645 million it took in from its May initial public offering. It sold shares at $42 each. The stock reached a high of $50.02 on Jan. 17, almost triple the IPO price, and has since dropped more than a third to close at $32.49 on Friday.The opportunely timed sale gives Luckin a war chest to survive the hit to consumption from the virus epidemic, which if it follows the same trajectory as the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak should be contained by summer.To be sure, there are longer-term concerns hovering over Luckin, particularly the sustainability of a business model that appears to rest largely on offering near-permanent discounts. While the advertised price of Luckin’s coffees is from $3.50 to $4 each, most customers pay as much as 50% less in practice. When the company started selling tea in July, it drew business with a “buy 10 get 10 free” promotion. Luckin’s third-quarter loss widened to 484.9 million yuan ($69 million) from 531.9 million yuan a year earlier.For the time being, though, Luckin looks safe.  (Adds Luckin’s statement in the second paragraph.)(1) As of the end of last year.To contact the author of this story: Nisha Gopalan at ngopalan3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nisha Gopalan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and banking. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones as an editor and a reporter.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • Buttigieg Names His Favorite Beatles Song: Campaign Update
    Bloomberg

    Buttigieg Names His Favorite Beatles Song: Campaign Update

    (Bloomberg) -- The 2020 candidates have been asked a lot of questions over the last year, but there’s always a new one.At a campaign event at Lincoln High School in Des Moines on Sunday, Pete Buttigieg was asked his favorite Beatles song, and he quickly came up with an answer that managed to keep on message.“I feel at this time it has to be ‘Come Together,’” he said.He’s not the only presidential candidate who has favored that song. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, whose exploratory bid for an independent campaign fizzled last year, ordered baristas in Washington to write the phrase on coffee cups during a fiscal dispute in 2012.No word on which Fab Four song the rest of the field favors, but Bernie Sanders has been known to walk on stage to John Lennon’s “Power to the People.”Yang Says He Would Pardon Trump (2:26 p.m.)Picture this: President Andrew Yang declaring the “long, national nightmare over” and pardoning Donald Trump.On ABC News’ “This Week” Sunday, the Venture for America founder said that he would consider following in the footsteps of Gerald Ford and pardon his predecessor.“It’s a very, very nasty pattern that developing countries have fallen into where a new president ends up throwing the president before them in jail, and that pattern, unfortunately, makes it very hard for any party to govern sustainably moving forward with a sense of unity among their people,” Yang said.Ford’s pardon was very unpopular and may have contributed to his loss to Jimmy Carter in 1976.Of course, Yang might not need to do it. Trump infamously tweeted in 2018 that he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself. And Trump’s lawyers even seemed to back up that idea in a confidential letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.Warren Volunteers Have Their Own Child Care Plan (12 p.m.)Elizabeth Warren has a plan for universal child care. Some of her volunteers in Iowa have a plan of their own.Parents who want to attend caucus night in Iowa City on Monday night can go online to sign up for free child care provided by a group of Warren volunteers.The sign-up form even provides a link to Warren’s website with a note about her universal child care plan.The Warren campaign said they appreciated the effort.“Accessibility and opportunity are important to our campaign, and we do everything we can to make sure everyone who wants to can volunteer and participate on caucus night,” said Warren’s Iowa communications director, Jason Noble.COMING UP:Some of the Democratic candidates will debate again in New Hampshire on Feb. 7.The first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses will be held Feb. 3. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 11. Nevada holds its caucuses on Feb. 22 and South Carolina has a primary on Feb. 29.CNN will host town halls featuring eight presidential candidates in New Hampshire on Feb. 5 and 6.(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)\--With assistance from Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou.To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Teague Beckwith in Des Moines at rbeckwith3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    It’s Only February and We’re Already Miserable

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- February can feel like no man’s land. The holidays are over and the weather is crummy. The gentlest iPhone chime sounds like a bugle call in the morning and you need two Americanos to have a civil conversation. Over the past week or so, you’ve been holed up in your cramped apartment and your inbox is overflowing with alerts about the spread of a deadly virus. Like 84% of the population, you’re probably stressed, according to a recent study by Cigna Corp. and Asia Care Group.The cost of burnout is no longer just emotional. The global economy loses $1 trillion a year in productivity as a result of depression and anxiety, the World Health Organization found. While the U.S. puts $133.2 billion, or 4% of its annual health expenditure, toward treatment, that proportion reaches 19% in Australia, 18% in Singapore and 17.6% in Hong Kong, Cigna says.The good news is that there’s a solution, and it’s cheap. The bad news is that it’s difficult. After years of considering mental health to be a personal affliction, focus is turning to the role employers can play. The type of changes needed – better communication and support from managers, for example – require a shift in attitude more than financial resources. In Asia, however, the very wokefulness that’s made mental health a priority for Fortune 500 CEOs and U.S. presidential candidates is uncomfortable territory.“My family never, ever talked about this topic. It’s a taboo,” said Deborah Seah, a 38-year-old Singaporean who lived with bipolar disorder for more than two decades before it was diagnosed. As a girl of eight, she recalls going to the kitchen of her family’s high-rise apartment in the middle of the night, looking out the 11-story window and fighting the urge to jump.More than 90% of people in Asia say they’re stressed, and eight out of 10 feel like they operate in an “always on” culture. These can be early symptoms of burnout, which is marked by chronic exhaustion, cynicism and detachment from your work, as well as feelings of ineffectiveness.Seah experienced her first burnout episode in 2016, while working at an academic institution. She recalls the rising levels of stress as managers kept pushing work on her plate. She also felt pressure to keep her mental condition under wraps because colleagues gossiped viciously. Managers who knew of Seah’s struggles urged her to stay quiet.Seah remembers breaking into sobs in the washroom, hoping no one would see, and coming home to dinner, where she would erupt into screams. Her husband begged her to quit her job, but she couldn’t let go: “I didn’t want to give up my career,” she said. Seah eventually admitted herself to Singapore’s mental-health institute when she began to feel suicidal. Successive burnout episodes were equally dramatic, with daily panic attacks, hot and cold flashes, uncontrollable shivering and the inability to get out of bed.Beyond social stigmas, Asia’s often inflexible work culture can be a hurdle, too. In a recent survey of Hong Kong employees by Deacons, a law firm, 65% of respondents cited long hours as their primary concern, closely followed by “domineering” senior management and uncommunicative bosses.The trouble is, even flexible work arrangements have their pitfalls. Ben,(1) 43, started his career in public relations in London, and moved to Singapore in 2013. He struggled with depression and anxiety after his father and half-brother died unexpectedly within less than a year of each other. He was relieved to get a transfer to Hong Kong for a change of pace, and was initially encouraged by the corporatespeak about working from home and unlimited vacation time.Very quickly, Ben found that working anywhere meant working all the time. He was pulling 12-hour days and putting in time on weekends; he compulsively checked his phone for messages. A much-anticipated trip with his wife to the tropical island of Flores, east of Bali, was spent on a deck chair: “I saw it over a laptop,” he recalls.It also became apparent that making a big transition during a period of emotional strain was a bad idea. When Ben asked for help with his workload, his manager said he should be able to cope. As the demands increased, Ben’s symptoms became physical: He lost weight, his cheeks hollowed and his skin turned ashen. One day, he simply couldn’t get up, and stayed bedridden for a week.Though Ben worked for a U.S.-based company, he felt caught between Asia’s cultural expectation of being in the office and the 24/7 demands of his industry. “When I was working in London, our general rule was if you saw someone working late regularly, you would take them aside and say, ‘Hey what’s going on? What’s wrong?’ whereas in Asia, it’s celebrated much more.”Ben eventually decided to leave his job and took seven months off. Now he does contract work in the marketing-services industry, and tries to stick to a four-day week.In 2018, Gallup Inc., a market-research company, looked at the main causes of burnout, as well as what employers and managers can do. What’s striking is how simple some of the solutions appear to be: Employees whose managers are willing to listen to their work-related problems are 62% less likely to be burned out, and those who have the opportunity to do projects where they excel are 57% less likely to experience frequent episodes, the study found. Does a trillion-dollar problem really come down to intangibles such as making work purposeful, promoting teamwork and giving positive feedback?Seah, the Singaporean, eventually left her job, and now works as an executive assistant at Oracle Corp. In her application, she included her volunteer work as an ambassador at “Beyond the Label,” a government initiative to raise awareness about mental health. Seah marvels at the California-based company’s openness to her condition and the willingness to let her work from home. “The approach and attitude of my manager makes a whole world of difference.”The workplaces of the future should not only better equip its managers with soft skills, but give employees the time and space to care for themselves. Think about it: With people working well into their 70s, careers can plausibly span half a century; a recent study puts the age of peak unhappiness smack in the middle, at 47.2. The key to heading off burnout, then, may be clearing your calendar. The Wall Street Journal recently chronicled the experience of one insurance executive who took a two-year sabbatical. The break actually accelerated her progress: She returned to work and became a CEO.For those who can’t afford to put their paychecks on pause, even mini breaks or meditation can help. One Singaporean-based app, MindFi, has breathing exercises that even allow skeptics like me to keep their eyes open. Managing stress this way should be natural in cities like Hong Kong and Singapore. After all, “Asia is the home of meditation,” says Bjorn Lee, MindFi’s founder. “What happened?”There’s perhaps no better time to put these tools to work. The spread of the coronavirus has produced stress triggers that are both extraordinary (with thousands of confirmed cases) and mundane (it’s more difficult to get your Starbucks coffee). With millions of people on lockdown, companies from HSBC Holdings Plc to Facebook Inc. have asked staff to work from home. The novelty of wearing your pajamas all day can wear off quickly when you’re squinting at a tiny laptop screen and keeping your toddler’s sticky fingers off the keyboard. But if you’re safe and virus-free, this could be a welcome opportunity for a deep breath. A baby showed up on one of my video conferences last week — I can’t imagine I’m the only one who cracked a smile. (1) Ben asked that we keep out his surname.To contact the author of this story: Rachel Rosenthal at rrosenthal21@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Rachel Rosenthal is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. Previously, she was a markets reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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