Netflix: Tuning out the skeptics
Netflix’s (NFLX) shares rose 24 percent on April 23 after it reported signing up more than 2 million new U.S. customers in the first quarter, exceeding analysts’ estimates. The video-streaming service, which now counts 29.2 million U.S. customers, is the best-performing stock in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index this year, with a rise of 134 percent since January. The strong results come two years after Netflix angered customers by raising prices and trying to split its online streaming business from the DVD-by-mail service. Netflix, which has been signing exclusive studio deals and original shows such as the drama House of Cards, also added 1 million subscribers internationally.
Wal-Mart: Higher pay for the CEO
Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke got a 14 percent raise last year. Duke’s total compensation, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 22, was $20.7 million. The world’s largest retailer is trying to recover from a weak start in 2013. In February it forecast first-quarter profit below analysts’ estimates, as an increase in payroll taxes and delayed tax refunds cut retail spending. Future pay for senior management, Wal-Mart said, will be tied to meeting benchmarks for corporate compliance.
FedEx: A contract with the Postal Service
FedEx (FDX) won a seven-year contract with the U.S. Postal Service valued at about $10.5 billion to carry mail between U.S. airports, fending off a challenge from United Parcel Service (UPS). The new accord to fly Express Mail and Priority Mail locks in FedEx’s current business as the Postal Service’s sole domestic airlift shipper. FedEx will use its existing domestic air network and labor force to handle the postal volume, which is largely processed during the day, after the company’s premium overnight packages have been cleared.
MF Global: Corzine sued
Jon Corzine, the former head of MF Global Holdings, failed to oversee the futures broker, leading to the company’s collapse, according to a lawsuit filed by bankruptcy trustee Louis Freeh. The suit alleges that Corzine, a former governor from New Jersey, and two other senior executives didn’t act in good faith and that they implemented strategies which caused the company to fail. Corzine spokesman Steven Goldberg said there’s no basis to the claim that Corzine breached his fiduciary duties or was negligent.
Huawei Technologies: Giving up on the U.S. market
Huawei says the U.S. won’t become a primary revenue source for its network equipment business for the “foreseeable future.” The company’s waning interest in America comes as lawmakers and regulators increasingly question whether buying Chinese IT equipment leaves the U.S. vulnerable to espionage or sabotage. A March law requires some government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Commerce and National Science Foundation, to work with the FBI to assess potential risks if they buy Chinese IT systems.