Business Briefs – November 7, 2019

Juul Halts Sales of Mint, Its Top-Selling E-Cigarette Flavor

WASHINGTON (AP) – Juul Labs says it will stop selling its mint-flavored electronic cigarettes. The voluntary step Thursday comes days after new research showed that mint was the most popular vaping flavor among many high school students who use e-cigarettes. The federal government is expected to soon unveil its plans for removing most vaping flavors. Mint is Juul’s best-selling flavor.

Hopes Rise That Lifting Tariffs Could Allow U.S.-China Accord

BEIJING (AP) — Prospects appear to have brightened for a preliminary breakthrough in the U.S.-China trade war after the two sides agreed to reduce some punitive tariffs on each other’s goods as part of an initial agreement. A Chinese spokesman announced the development Thursday as talks on ending the trade war progressed — a development that triggered a rally in U.S. stock markets.

Toyota 2Q Profit Up 1% on Healthy Global Sales

TOKYO (AP) – Japan’s top automaker Toyota says its profit edged 1% higher in July-September profit as vehicle sales grew around the world. Toyota Motor Corp. reported Thursday a profit of 592 billion yen, or $5.4 billion, for the second fiscal quarter, up from 585 billion yen last year. Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Corolla subcompact and Lexus luxury models, stuck to a net profit forecast for the fiscal year through March 2020 of 2.15 trillion yen ($20 billion).

Gap CEO Steps Down Amid Slumping Sales

NEW YORK (AP) — Gap says CEO Art Peck is stepping down as the company continues to grapple with slumping sales. Peck, who has been CEO since 2015, will be temporarily replaced by Gap’s non-executive chairman of the board Robert Fisher. Peck will also step down from the Gap’s board. The company is in the midst of splitting into two publicly-traded companies, one for its Old Navy brand and another for the Gap, Banana Republic and its other brands.

Consumer Borrowing Rises, Led By More Auto and Student Loans

WASHINGTON (AP) – Consumer borrowing rose in September at a modest pace, led by higher student and auto loans, though a category that mostly includes credit cards fell for the second straight month. The Federal Reserve says that consumer borrowing increased 2.8% to $4.15 trillion.

As Buffett Seeks Big Acquisition, Berkshire Trails S&P

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway trails the performance of the S&P 500 so far this year and has done so during the lengthy bull market. Buffett has struggled to find a big acquisition to propel returns and some longtime backers think the renowned investor should have been more aggressive in deploying Berkshire’s large stockpile of cash.

Warren Health Plan Departs From U.S. ‘Social Insurance’ Idea

WASHINGTON (AP) – Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan to pay for Medicare for All without raising middle-class taxes departs from the shared responsibility the U.S. has traditionally required for bedrock programs. And that might impact its political viability now and in the future. Big programs for the middle class like Social Security and Medicare rely on broad-based payroll taxes, which has fostered a sense of ownership. Warren wants businesses and the rich to pay.

PG&E Falls Into Deeper Hole In 3Q With $1.6 Billion Loss

(AP) – Pacific Gas & Electric reported another huge loss on Thursday as the fallout from catastrophic wildfires blamed on its outdated transmission lines drive the bankrupt utility into a deeper hole.

The company estimated it’s facing a bill of more than $6 billion this year alone to pay for devastating fires in 2017 and 2018, more rigorous inspection of its electrical equipment, and customer credits for recent blackouts designed to prevent more blazes.

Additionally, PG&E logged a $2.5 billion settlement with insurance companies for the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, bringing its total charges for the fires during those years to $20 billion, according to a filing with regulators.

It added up to a loss of $1.62 billion for the July-September period, a reversal from a profit of $564 million at the same time last year.

That’s a per-share loss of $3.06, or $1.11 when one-time costs are removed. Revenue was $4.43 billion.