• First Manned Flight Is Just One Step for SpaceX
    Bloomberg

    First Manned Flight Is Just One Step for SpaceX

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that’s orbiting the Earth with two U.S. astronauts is the picture of New Space Age glamour. It’s a sleek, stylish commercially made capsule that’s destined to be featured beside Italian sports cars in future design textbooks. Just don’t tell that to Elon Musk, SpaceX’s chief executive and chief designer. “Is a Ferrari more reliable than a Toyota Corolla or a Honda Civic?” he once asked a space journalist. The answer, of course, is that the simpler sedans are far more reliable than the well-crafted sports car. So SpaceX, Musk made clear, was going to make Corollas.It’s a practically minded outlook for a company founded on the galactically large ambition to transform humanity into a multiplanetary species. But Musk and SpaceX implicitly understand something that national space programs haven’t really accepted: Success in space exploration isn’t, ultimately, about achieving “firsts” like the moon landing. Rather, it’s repeat business that will establish moon colonies and Musk’s Martian city. To get that business, SpaceX has to show that national space programs, with their expensive, Ferrari-like rockets, capsules and contractors, won’t get there. On Saturday, it succeeded.The 20th century space race wasn’t about the money, it was about the record books. The respective financial strengths of the U.S. and Soviet systems certainly played a role, but when national pride is at stake, performance matters more than costs. For decades, NASA, in particular, internalized that priority by adopting cost-plus contracts with its contractors. Under these arrangements, NASA agrees to pay the value of a project’s development costs, plus an associated fee (often about 10%). It’s an excellent system for encouraging contractors to invest in difficult, long-term projects with hazy costs.But if the goal is to create something that works repeatedly, and on-budget, cost-plus is a problem. After all, if a contractor’s fees increase during project delays, then that contractor lacks an incentive to control costs and finish on deadline. Making matters more difficult, expensive government programs must meet political requirements that no profit-seeking business would ever consider. The development of the 1970s-era space shuttle was spread out over states and produced an outrageously expensive “reusable” rocket that took thousands of hours to prepare for reuse. In 2012, Musk correctly called the shuttle “a Ferrari to the nth power.”By that point, Musk, too, was working with the U.S. government. But unlike traditional NASA contractors such as the Boeing Co, he was doing it on a fixed-fee basis. So, rather than get paid along the way, SpaceX accepted a fixed fee to build a technology, and whatever wasn’t used in development could be kept as profit.That doesn’t mean cutting corners. NASA requires that SpaceX’s technology meet its high safety standards (often to Musk’s chagrin). But it does mean that SpaceX has a strong incentive to find ways to control costs while building cutting-edge technology. For example, rather than try to perfect a single rocket for a flawless first launch, SpaceX opted for iterative design, whereby it launched — and failed — early prototypes repeatedly, as a means to learn from its mistakes and speed up rocket design. It’s an approach that differs substantially from traditional aerospace companies, which spend years and money perfecting a design before flying it (the Ferrari approach). Likewise, SpaceX, freed from political constraints, concentrated its design and testing in single locations, rather than spread it out geographically. It’s what any rational for-profit manufacturer would do.This approach has been fruitful. The rocket that carried the Crew Dragon capsule into orbit is a Falcon 9, from a family of rockets developed for $390 million with assistance from NASA under fixed-price contracts. According to a 2011 NASA report, the cost would’ve been $1.7 billion to $4 billion if the same rocket had been developed using traditional means. More dramatically, the development of the Falcon 9 has reduced the cost of a space launch by a factor of 20, at least. A kilogram launched on the space shuttle, which last flew in 2011, cost about $54,500. A kilogram on the Falcon 9 runs about $2,700.Of course, launching humans into space is more difficult and expensive than launching cargo. Even so, SpaceX managed to lap more traditional contractors. In 2011, NASA announced plans to build the Space Launch System, a massive new rocket to send Americans back to the moon. To save on costs and time, the rocket was to be built using engines and other components from the space shuttle program. Ominously, it was also to be built by the Boeing Co under a cost-plus contract. In 2014, NASA committed to a November 2018 launch date at a cost of $9.7 billion. Then the launch dates started slipping, all to the benefit of Boeing. By March, the launch date had moved to the second half of 2021, with costs escalating to $18.3 billion. If and when it flies, each rocket will exceed $1 billion — more than three times what it cost to develop the Falcon 9.For now, SpaceX’s approach is the clear winner, but its challenges are far from over. Above all, the company must demonstrate that its relatively inexpensive human-capable flights have a commercial market — an idea that’s far from certain. Similarly, the company will need to prove the business case for its longer-term, and substantially more expensive, ambitious exploration program. But today, at least, the Musk’s Corolla is beating the Ferrari by millions of miles.This 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 "Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale."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.

  • Trump is waging a regulatory war against Twitter. He may not have a legal case.
    Yahoo Finance

    Trump is waging a regulatory war against Twitter. He may not have a legal case.

    President Donald Trump’s increasingly heated feud with Twitter may be good for social media impressions, but may not be legally enforceable, according to experts.

  • 3 Buffett Stocks That Are Trouncing Berkshire Hathaway So Far This Year
    Motley Fool

    3 Buffett Stocks That Are Trouncing Berkshire Hathaway So Far This Year

    Three Buffett stocks, in particular, are trouncing Berkshire in 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt many companies, Amazon's business has thrived. The impact of the global novel coronavirus outbreak has turned Amazon's business upside down -- mostly in a good way.

  • Amazon Calls Delivery Drivers Back, Closes Hubs Near Protests
    Bloomberg

    Amazon Calls Delivery Drivers Back, Closes Hubs Near Protests

    (Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. is scaling back deliveries and adjusting routes in a small number of cities including Chicago, Los Angeles and Portland after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked demonstrations around the country, prompting curfew orders.“We are monitoring the situation closely and in a handful of cities we adjusted routes or scaled back typical operations to ensure the safety of our teams,” an Amazon spokeswoman told Bloomberg News.Amazon’s action shows how protests around the country are complicating operations for the e-commerce giant, which was still catching up from a surge in demand tied to the Covid-19 outbreak.In Chicago and Los Angeles, Amazon delivery drivers received messages Saturday night that said: “If you are currently out delivering packages, stop immediately and return home. If you have not completed your route, please return undelivered packages to the pick-up location whenever you’re able to do so.”Amazon was “in close contact with local officials and will continue to monitor the protests,” and would only re-open delivery stations when it’s safe and will plan delivery routes by monitoring demonstrations in every zip code, according to messages reviewed by Bloomberg.(Updated with additional cities in 1st paragraph)For 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.

  • Financial Times

    Amazon blames ‘bad actor’ for racial slurs

    Amazon said a “bad actor” was to blame after listings containing racial slurs appeared on its store within searches for Apple’s AirPod earphones and similar products. Shoppers using Amazon’s UK-facing site and app discovered listings had replaced the product image with an abusive message that contained several instances of the N-word. Many of the listings appeared on the highly coveted and trafficked first page of results for “airpods” or “bluetooth headphones”.

  • 3 Ways to Invest in the Acceleration of E-Commerce That Aren't Amazon
    Motley Fool

    3 Ways to Invest in the Acceleration of E-Commerce That Aren't Amazon

    Online sales have exploded during the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers try to stay home more. Online sales at Walmart, Target, and Best Buy in the first quarter increased by 74%, 141%, and 155%, respectively. Meanwhile, the 800-pound gorilla that is Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) continued its steady march, growing global online sales by 24% (Amazon's fiscal quarter ends a month before the other retailers mentioned).

  • Where Will Tesla Be in 5 Years?
    Motley Fool

    Where Will Tesla Be in 5 Years?

    Since even before its IPO, top electric-car maker Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) has faced tough questions about its future. After that, they were skeptical about the economics of manufacturing a mass-market electric car. Throughout it all, Tesla's reputation, its footprint, and -- for the most part, anyway -- its share price grew and grew and grew (as did its debt load; more on that later).

  • Data show why HBO Max's slow start may not tell the whole story
    Yahoo Finance

    Data show why HBO Max's slow start may not tell the whole story

    HBO Max made its official entrance into the streaming wars on Wednesday — and its day-one performance highlights how consumers are embracing the new platform.

  • Why Is Apple (AAPL) Up 8.2% Since Last Earnings Report?
    Zacks

    Why Is Apple (AAPL) Up 8.2% Since Last Earnings Report?

    Apple (AAPL) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.

  • 3 Stocks That Pay You Monthly
    Motley Fool

    3 Stocks That Pay You Monthly

    For retirees or those planning their retirement, stocks that pay their dividends monthly are particularly attractive investments. With its stock 66% below the 52-week high of almost $8.50 per share hit last September -- or even the $7 level it was trading at just before the COVID-19 outbreak struck -- investors have an opportunity to realize significant capital appreciation with Enerplus while continuing to receive their monthly dividend check.

  • Forget Boeing: This Aerospace Company Proved Its Stock Is a Better Buy Now
    Motley Fool

    Forget Boeing: This Aerospace Company Proved Its Stock Is a Better Buy Now

    Heico is a diversified, low-debt option for investors interested in buying into an aerospace recovery.

  • 3 Great Reasons to Buy Disney
    Motley Fool

    3 Great Reasons to Buy Disney

    Its new streaming service is a hit, theme parks and sports are restarting, and the current price looks like a great buy for long-term investors.

  • Instagram May Be About to Unlock Billions in New Revenue
    Motley Fool

    Instagram May Be About to Unlock Billions in New Revenue

    Instagram is going to share some revenue with users. The move could generate billions in revenue for the Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) subsidiary and put it in greater competition with Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) YouTube for both talent and ad sales. For reference, YouTube generated $15 billion in gross revenue last year.

  • Elon Musk Has Forgotten Tesla's Market
    Motley Fool

    Elon Musk Has Forgotten Tesla's Market

    The Tesla CEO's aggressive criticism of stay-at-home orders could alienate wealthy coastal liberals, who make up the brand's core demographic.

  • Walmart's Low-Cost Approach Wins Again
    Motley Fool

    Walmart's Low-Cost Approach Wins Again

    Walmart's (NYSE: WMT) fiscal first-quarter 2021 (ended April 30, 2020) results were strong, faring better than many other retailers that had to shut down their physical stores. Sure, management admitted that the coronavirus pandemic drove increased demand as people ran out to buy the company's goods. The Walmart U.S. business had a same-store sales (comps) increase of 10% and Sam's Club's comps rose 12%.

  • The common thread underlying the riots, COVID, China, Twitter and Trump
    Yahoo Finance

    The common thread underlying the riots, COVID, China, Twitter and Trump

    All this news is really one story. It’s about how we’re being distracted from facts and real underlying issues.

  • Bloomberg

    Twitter-Trump Spat Signals New Chapter for Social Media

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- It was a momentous week for social media. After years of trying to have it both ways, Twitter — one of the industry’s major platforms — moved to hold President Donald Trump accountable for the content in his posts under the same rules it applies to the general public. This decision to regulate some of Trump’s most controversial posts has now sparked a blacklash from the president, and spawned a new uncertain chapter for the industry.It all started on Tuesday, when Twitter Inc. added a fact-check warning label to two of president’s posts about mail-in voting.  In response, Trump threatened  in a set of tweets Wednesday to “strongly regulate or close” down social-media platforms. He followed up by signing an executive order late Thursday that seeks to limit some of the broad liability protection social media companies have under federal law. Undaunted, Twitter escalated the situation early Friday by putting up a notice that obscured one of the president’s posts about protests in Minneapolis, which included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter said it violated the platform’s rules on “glorifying violence.” The back-and-forth will likely continue, but either way, this is a turning point. Historically, Twitter and Facebook have walked a fine line when regulating content on their platforms, flagging or removing the most egregious posts while turning a blind eye to some polarizing content, including potentially misleading posts from elected officials. Critics have argued social media firms are incentivized to elevate content with binary takes that spur outrage, often with misinformation, as it drives more viral engagement over nuanced discussion with context.  On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported Facebook had glossed over internal research that showed its algorithms were feeding users more and more divisive content.Facebook has implemented a fact-checking program that reduces the distribution of false news, while Facebook and Twitter require the removal of hateful and threatening posts and employ algorithms to help them detect and deter the spread of misinformation by the general public. The social media firms have vigorously shuttered posts on anything that threatens physical harm, but have generally shied away from regulating posts from politicians, citing political free speech and newsworthiness factors. So the flagging of Trump’s posts marks a departure.Conspicuously, Facebook has taken a different tack than its competitor. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News this week, “We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” referring to Twitter’s fact-check labels on the president’s mail-in voting posts. He added his company “shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.” Zuckerberg’s position to shy away from the controversy is curious, given Facebook does have an official policy to regulate anything that could promotes “voter suppression.” Clearly, there is a line there. For Twitter, led by CEO Jack Dorsey, the platform’s actions followed inflammatory tweets from the president in which he posited conspiracy theories alleging, without evidence, that cable-TV news host Joe Scarborough may be involved with a murder decades ago. Twitter’s lack of action on the conspiracy posts spurred wide criticism questioning why  Trump was being held to a different standard, versus the average user. If anyone else had tweeted something similar in such a blatant manner against the rules, their account would have likely been suspended or shut down. Twitter’s terms of service clearly says: “Abuse/harassment: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so.” It seems the added spotlight may have pushed Twitter to move this week.Will it hurt Twitter? The company’s shares have taken a hit, for sure — the stock fell 9 percent in the past three days. But Twitter has had many single days with bigger declines. Moreover, Twitter and Dorsey have endured multiple attacks from the left and right, without seeing users or advertisers flee. Now, with another presidential election just months away, they made a calculated gamble that it was time to take a stand. It will be hard to retreat from here.When the dust settles, Trump’s threats will likely be seen as political theater without any lasting ramifications for Twitter’s business. Technology companies will challenge the president’s executive order in court on the grounds he can’t unilaterally change precedent without Congressional approval. Yes, there may be additional legal fees, but the executive order’s effects aren’t imminent and it will likely get struck down by the courts in time. The irony is, if Twitter does lose its legal protections and can be sued for defamatory content generated by its users, Trump’s Twitter account would be the prime candidate for deleted posts as the company would try to protect itself from lawsuits. Of course, the last thing the president is going to want to do is give up his direct line to his nearly 80 million followers. For all his bluster, he needs Twitter and doesn’t really have the power to shut down the service.As Twitter tightens its policy, it must also make sure its senior executives are held to a higher standard in all their public conduct as well — including vetting its new leadership when they are elevated to crucial policy roles. This is important, so the company doesn’t to open itself up to criticism or perceptions of bias under the current microscope of scrutiny. But at the end of it all, this week’s shift is an important step. Twitter is doing the right thing and that counts for something.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.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.

  • 2 Stocks to Bankroll Your Retirement
    Motley Fool

    2 Stocks to Bankroll Your Retirement

    Disney is relying on a vaccine for the coronavirus to get back to full-fledged operations because so many of its businesses rely on large crowds. Alphabet will benefit when advertisers hurt by the outbreak ramp up spending again. The coronavirus outbreak is causing disruptions in some of Disney's most lucrative operations.

  • Here's Why The Best Is Yet to Come for Roku
    Motley Fool

    Here's Why The Best Is Yet to Come for Roku

    You might think that the streaming platform company's fortunes will sour once stay-at-home mandates ease. Think again.

  • Bloomberg

    Donald Trump Is Angry at Twitter, on Twitter. It's Great for Business

    (Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed fury at Twitter Inc. this week for fact-checking him and putting a warning label on a message that seemed to invoke violence. But that anger has been channeled through his favorite medium -- Twitter itself -- which is likely to be good for the company’s business, despite Trump’s harangue.“Look at how much he uses Twitter,” said Rich Greenfield, an analyst at Lightshed Partners. “Advertisers want to be where eyeballs are, and people are turning to Twitter for this news.”For years the San Francisco-based company has been under pressure to enforce its content rules against Trump. This week, for the first time, the social network took action in two separate instances. First, it appended a fact-check label to two Trump posts that said mail-in voting would lead to fraud. Then, on Friday, Twitter added a warning filter to other tweets for violating its rules against promoting violence. The actions prompted retaliation from Trump, including more angry tweets and an executive order calling for social media regulations to change.Attention is Twitter’s most valuable asset. Though the company may be facing serious questions about its approach to troublesome content, its revenue comes from the ads it can slot between users’ posts -- the more posts, the more slots Twitter can make money from. During busier news cycles, such as elections and sports events, and even the coronavirus pandemic, new users tend to sign up and spend more time on their feeds. Trump has made Twitter more essential, since much of what the president says shows up on Twitter first.Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s job was threatened earlier this year -- not by Trump, but by Elliott Management, an activist investor that called for changes including boosting usage of the product, which is a fraction of Facebook’s size. The company in March reached an agreement with Elliott that set ambitious targets for daily active users, accelerated revenue growth and greater market share in digital advertising. Those goals seemed even tougher in late March, when Twitter slashed its quarterly sales forecast and warned of a loss because marketers were spending less during the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.The summer Olympics and professional sports leagues may not be giving users a reason to tune in to Twitter right now, but Trump’s tussle with the company is its own kind of must-watch contest.“My guess is that the controversy spurs engagement, or at least doesn’t reduce engagement,” said Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.What’s more, advertisers may appreciate Twitter taking a stronger position on misinformation and harmful content, even if the violator is the president. Advertisers don’t want their content to run alongside anything that could hurt the perception of their products -- a value known as “brand safety.”“Advertisers care about brand safety and truth, and from what I’ve seen, most brands support the actions that Twitter is taking,” said Pete Stein, CEO of Huge, an agency that represents brands including McDonald’s Corp. and Vanguard.That’s also set up a clearer contrast between the company and its social-media peers, most of which have been under fire for lax enforcement against offensive or inappropriate content. Twitter is the first to take action on Trump’s posts. On Facebook Inc.’s main app and Instagram, where Trump made the same posts, the messages remain online with no additional context from the company. Facebook has similar content policies, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided his company should be especially hesitant to weigh in or take action on posts from political leaders.For 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.

  • Are Stocks Out of Control? What We Learned in May
    Bloomberg

    Are Stocks Out of Control? What We Learned in May

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The stock market is not the economy. Perhaps that’s never been as clear as during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Even as nations stare down the inevitability of long, deep recessions and unprecedented levels of unemployment, U.S. stocks as measured by the S&P 500 Index have rallied for two straight months after plunging in February and March.    There are a few reasons for optimism. First, there was the quick response by the government to pump trillions of dollars into the economy and financial system. And with the rate of new infections slowing, people are emerging from lockdowns into new socially-distanced economies. But the outlook is far from sunny. Covid-19 continues to kill thousands of people globally every day, there is no vaccine, and mandatory social-distancing rules (and fear) are contributing to what is forecast to be the worst recession since the Great Depression and squash corporate earnings for the foreseeable future. And that’s without accounting for a renewed worsening of U.S.-China tensions.Are stocks completely out of control? Bloomberg Opinion columnists have been pondering that very question:Jamie Dimon Captures the Stock Market Moment: “This is a recovery based so far on asset-price inflation rather than any economic data. Central bank and government action may have restored financial valuations but real incomes will still suffer dramatically for a long while to come … The stock market is looking even further into the distance than usual to justify its valuations, which is sometimes hard to square away against a constant stream of dire economic statistics and evaporating company earnings.” — Marcus AshworthFor Markets, It's the Economy's Direction That Matters: “It’s important to recognize that the magnitude of the weakness in the data is not driven by what we would think of as typical business cycle dynamics where a negative shock expands over time throughout the economy. Instead, we literally flipped a switch and told companies to close. You can’t feign surprise at layoffs in the leisure and hospitality sector when restaurants and entertainment venues are all shuttered overnight.” — Tim DuyOptions Market Signals a Dire Picture for Stocks: “The market prices of options play a vital role in informing market participants of what risks lie ahead, and given market efficiency, they often tell a reliable story. When viewed through the lens of options prices, the current equities rally appears tenuous.” — Alankar and ScholesWhat’s Keeping Stocks Afloat? The ‘Microsoft Market’: “No company has defied the pessimism more than Microsoft Corp., and for a lot of sensible reasons. The Seattle-based maker of global business and consumer software led all publicly traded companies most of the year with a $1.4 trillion market valuation.” — Matthew A. Winkler More ReadingStocks Have Reached a Tipping Point: John Authers Stock Prices Make Lofty Promises That Earnings Can’t Keep: Nir Kaissar Bank Stocks Are Either Cheap or Signal More Pain: Brian Chappatta All the Stocks Are the Same Now: Matt Levine Stock Traders Should Heed the Lessons of the 1930s: Gary ShillingThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lara Williams manages Bloomberg Opinion's social media channels.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.

  • Pfizer Provides Update on Phase 3 PALLAS Trial of IBRANCE® (palbociclib) Plus Endocrine Therapy in HR+, HER2- Early Breast Cancer
    Business Wire

    Pfizer Provides Update on Phase 3 PALLAS Trial of IBRANCE® (palbociclib) Plus Endocrine Therapy in HR+, HER2- Early Breast Cancer

    As announced today by the Austrian Breast & Colorectal Cancer Study Group and the Alliance Foundation Trials, LLC, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) reports that following a preplanned efficacy and futility analysis, the independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) of the collaborative Phase 3 early breast cancer PALbociclib CoLlaborative Adjuvant Study (PALLAS) determined that the trial is unlikely to show a statistically significant improvement in the primary endpoint of invasive disease-free survival (iDFS). Patients currently receiving palbociclib in the study will be advised about next steps by their physicians and long-term follow up of all patients will proceed as planned. No unexpected new safety signals were observed in patients receiving palbociclib.

  • Will Exxon and Chevron Cut Their Dividends?
    Motley Fool

    Will Exxon and Chevron Cut Their Dividends?

    Through good times and bad, the two oil giants have supported their dividends. Can they do it again this time around?