GOING DOWN, GOING BUST, GOING OUT


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AIRBUS LOSES €1.1 BILLION IN 2020. Europe’s premier aircraft builder blamed its loss on canceled or postponed orders for new jetliners as the pandemic scuttled travel.
“Global air traffic reached a low point in April 2020 at the peak of the global pandemic,” CEO Guillaume Faury said in a statement announcing the loss, adding that travel around the world is recovering slowly and at differing paces among regions that will “create uncertainties” for the company into the future.
Airbus delivered 566 airplanes last year and netted orders for 268 new jets, compared to 768 in 2019.
The company’s revenues dropped to €49.9 billion last year against €70 billion in 2019.
Last June, Airbus cast off 15,000 employees, about 11 percent of its workforce.
AIR FRANCE, KLM LOSE €7.1 BILLION IN NET INCOME IN 2020. Passenger traffic plummeted a collective 67 percent last year and revenues dropped 59 percent, the carriers reported.
The conditions created “the most severe crisis ever experienced by the air transport industry,” Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM Group said in a statement quoted by the Wall Street Journal.
European governments have pledged financial support to see their airlines through the crisis.
MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL BOOKS $267 MILLION LOSS IN 2020. The 92-year-old hotel chain reported its second-largest loss on record, behind the $346 million it lost in 2009 during the Great Recession.
Marriott’s fourth-quarter deficit totaled $164 million and 50 cents a share, compared to a profit of $279 million and 85 cents per share for the period a year earlier.
Revenues in 2020’s final quarter fell 60 percent year on year to $2.17 billion, disappointing analysts’ expectations.
Last March, Marriott furloughed about two-thirds of its 4,000-strong headquarters staff, two-thirds of management outside the U.S., and tens of thousands of workers at its hotels.
Increased bookings in China “shows that demand can be resilient when the virus is perceived to be contained, progress can be slowed by significant spikes in virus cases, such as we saw in the U.S. and Europe toward the end of 2020,” Stephanie Linnartz, head of Marriott’s consumer operations, told the Wall Street Journal.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER CUTS 2,000 WORKERS. The British motor works has announced that it will terminate 2,000 of its non-factory workers around the world.
A “full review” of the company’s organization “is already underway,” Jaguar said in a statement accompanying the announcement.
Jaguar is owned by India’s Tata Motors, which lost money in three of its last four fiscal quarters.
The company has said that all new Jaguars will be all-electric by 2025 and that all vehicles it makes will be electric by 2030.
BLOOMIN’ BRANDS LOSES $14.2 MILLION IN PROFITS. The owner of the Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill brands, among others, reported the fourth-quarter drop compared to profits of $28 million a year earlier.
The quarter’s revenue fell from $1.02 billion in the 2019 period to $812.5 million in 2020.
SUN SETS ON SOLSTICE MARKETING CONCEPTS. The self-described “second largest marketer of sunglasses in the U.S.,” with 66 shops and an online store, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Store closures in key markets and stay-at-home orders sank sales to less than half of 2019’s levels. The company also was unable to secure adequate government support to remain viable, it said in a statement.
Solstice will reorganize during bankruptcy and continue as a going concern, it said.
H&M MAY CLOSE 15 PERCENT OF AUSTRALIAN STORES. The Swedish global retailer of clothes and household goods has announced it may shutter seven of its 40 stores in Australia in an attempt to steer shoppers to its online site.
The company closed one store near Sydney last month.
H&M will brief staff soon on the possible closures, The Australian newspaper said.
The company has revealed plans to close 350 stores this year and open 100 new ones.
H&M’s global sales fell 20 percent in 2020.
THAI AIRWAYS RESTRUCTURES TO AVOID BANKRUPTCY. Thailand’s national air carrier is reducing its executive ranks from 740 workers to 500 and cutting levels of management from eight to five as part of its last-ditch attempt to avoid bankruptcy.
The airline, a central element of Thailand’s tourist industry, employs about 21,000 and carried more than 24 million passengers in 2019.
Previous reorganization plans have been rejected by creditors.
If the current restructuring plan also is rejected, the airline will have no choice but to file bankruptcy, the company said.
GUCCI’S REVENUES FALL 14 PERCENT AMID STRATEGIC SHIFT. Italian fashion house Gucci saw fourth-quarter revenues fall 14 percent year on year to 2.3 billion, the company reported, while competitor LVMH Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy SE’s revenues grew by that amount over the same period.
Rival fashion works Dior also grew its revenue during the quarter.
Rolling lockdowns across Europe accounted for a portion of Gucci’s slump, the Wall Street Journal reported, and speculated that some shoppers shunned the brand as being too ostentatious to flaunt during a worldwide economic crisis.
The revenue slide also highlighted Gucci’s overdependence on Chinese tourists visiting its European boutiques, analysts say; when borders closed amid the pandemic, so did Gucci’s cash registers.
The company itself attributed the weakness to an effort to restructure its image to appeal more to customers over age 40.
Gucci is taking sports logos off its products and introducing a line of handbags reminding consumers of the brand’s association with Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Gucci also is developing lines of watches and jewelry intended to appeal to wealthy older shoppers.
Fourth-quarter sales were weakened further by the company’s decision to delay unveiling its cruise collection until late in the period, leaving it with few new products to lure shoppers.
The quarter’s disappointing sales are “irrelevant” in forecasting Gucci’s future performance, Francois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Gucci’s parent company Kering SA, said in comments quoted by the Journal.
HONG KONG STOCK MARKET BECOMING “NASDAQ OF ASIA”. Trading volumes on Hong Kong’s tech-heavy stock market have quadrupled those of the London Stock Exchange, which surrendered its position as Europe’s leading exchange to Amsterdam after Brexit, according to calculations by the Financial Times.
Hong Kong’s volumes have risen to about 60 percent of those on the New York Stock Exchange, the Times reported. 
The Chinese city’s leading Hang Seng index has gained about 13 percent this year.
Chinese investors have put $49.1 billion into the city’s exchange so far this year, compared to about $8 billion during the same span of 2019, the Times reported, with daily turnover averaging $25 billion, compared to $10 billion in early 2020 and $9.5 billion most recently on London’s exchange.
The New York exchange averages $44 billion a day in trades.
Investors see Hong Kong’s listed stocks as better bargains than those on the mainland’s CSI 300 exchange, analysts say.
Hong Kong recently listed the $5.4-billion offering of TikTok competitor Kuaishou, the largest tech IPO since Uber’s in 2019.
Hong Kong’s exchange “is fast being seen as the NASDAQ of Asia, thanks to the continual tech listings that are attracting new capital to Hong Kong,” Angus Richardson, a trade execution manager at CitiGroup, told the Times.

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