Business Briefs – April 3, 2020

Battered Global Tourism Industry Makes Reopening Plans

(AP) – Six months ago, the global tourism industry was celebrating a record year for travel. Now, it’s decimated and facing a recovery that could take years.

Tourism Economics, a data and consulting firm, predicts global travel demand won’t resume its normal pace until 2023.

When tourists do finally return, they will face a changed landscape that incorporates social distancing and other measures to calm residual fears over COVID-19.

Last week, Hilton, Marriott and Airbnb all announced enhanced cleaning procedures worldwide to ease travelers’ minds.

PG&E to Purge Most of Its Board In Fallout From Bankruptcy

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — PG&E will sweep out three-fourths of its board of directors in an attempt to start with a mostly clean slate after the nation’s largest utility emerges from bankruptcy. The decision announced Friday as part of quarterly earnings will leave just three of PG&E’s 14 current board members in place. The San Francisco company is trying to win court approval for its bankruptcy plan by June 30. PG&E went bankrupt after years of neglect culminated in its fraying electrical grid igniting a series of deadly Northern California wildfires.

U.S. Manufacturing Falls in April As Virus Ravages Economy

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturing retreated again in April, a victim of economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, reported Friday that its manufacturing index dropped to 41.5 last month from 49.1 in March. Anything below 50 signals contraction. The news was bad across the board: Production, new orders, hiring and export orders all fell faster in April than they did in March.

Some Meat Plants Reopen, But Trump Order May Not Be Cure-All

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Some big meatpacking plants may soon be reopening. It’s a sign that seems to back up President Donald Trump assertion this week that his order keeping packing plants open during the coronavirus crisis “solved their problems.” But the reality isn’t likely to be so easy. Meatpackers still have a workforce likely to be depleted by illness or unwillingness to risk illness. Even plants that keep the production lines moving will have to do so more slowly.

Back to Work, Owners Make Changes So Workers Feel Safe

NEW YORK (AP) — As small and midsize businesses rehire laid-off employees and get back to work, owners are making substantial changes to their operations to protect staffers from the coronavirus. Many owners realize that supplying masks and gloves won’t be enough to raise safety levels in their firms. So they’re redoing floor plans and operations to minimize contact. They’re also staggering work hours and shifts to cut the number of people onsite. But as they undertake these changes, owners understand they need to consider employees’ feelings; many staffers are anxious about increased contact with others that could make them more vulnerable to catching the virus.

Exxon Profits Drop As Most of World Stays Home, Forgoes Fuel

NEW YORK (AP) — Profits fell at Exxon Mobil during the first quarter as the global pandemic began to erode oil demand. The Irving, Texas oil giant lost $610 million in the first quarter, down 126% from the same time last year. Revenue was $56.16 billion, down 12% year over year. And Chevron Corp. turned a profit in the first quarter, but the company warned Friday its financial picture is likely to be depressed in the future because of reduced demand caused by the coronavirus. Fewer people are driving or flying as the world fights to contain the spread of COVID-19, decreasing the need for fuel.

Buffett Remains Optimistic About Future Despite Coronavirus

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett doesn’t know how or when the economy will recover from the coronavirus outbreak shutdown, but he remains optimistic in the long-term future of the United States.

Buffett said Saturday at Berkshire Hathaway’s online annual meeting that there’s no way to predict the economic future right now because the possibilities are still too varied. Berkshire’s meeting was held without any of the roughly 40,000 shareholders who typically attend because of the virus.

Buffett and Abel discussed the nearly $50 billion loss that Berkshire reported Saturday morning and the huge pile of cash the company is holding.

Berkshire said it lost $49.7 billion, or $30,653 per Class A share, during the first quarter. That’s down from last year’s profit of $21.66 billion, or $13,209 per Class A share.

Anheuser-Busch Wins Latest Round Of Beer Wars Against Molson

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal appeals court has struck down a lower court’s ruling in favor of brewing giant Molson Coors, determining that Anheuser-Busch can advertise and use packaging implying that its rival beers contain corn syrup. The order Friday from a three-judge panel on the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals overturns a federal judge’s ruling from September in Wisconsin. The appeals court says, “If Molson Coors does not like the sneering tone of Anheuser-Busch’s ads, it can mock Bud Light in return.”