Business Highlights: Meta, Microsoft, Disney


Facebook parent Meta posts solid 1Q results, stock soars

Facebook parent company Meta’s first-quarter results surpassed Wall Street’s modest expectations on both profit and revenue while the monthly user base of its flagship platform inched close to 3 billion. Meta Platforms Inc. said Wednesday it earned $5.71 billion, or $2.20 per share, in the January-March period. That’s down 19% from $7.47 billion, or $2.72 per share, a year earlier. Revenue climbed 3% to $28.65 billion from $27.91 billion.


UK blocks Microsoft-Activision gaming deal, biggest in tech

LONDON (AP) — British regulators have blocked Microsoft’s $69 billion deal to buy video game maker Activision Blizzard over worries that it would stifle competition in the cloud gaming market. The Competition and Markets Authority said Wednesday that “the only effective remedy” to the substantial loss of competition “is to prohibit the Merger.” The all-cash deal was set to be the biggest in the history of the tech industry. It has faced stiff opposition from rival Sony and is being scrutinized by global regulators over fears that it would give Microsoft control of popular game franchises like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft. The companies have vowed to appeal the U.K. decision.

___ Amazon axes ‘Halo’ fitness devices in cost-cutting move

Amazon is winding down its health-focused Halo devices and membership as the tech giant continues to cut costs. The company told customers on Wednesday that it will issue refunds to anyone who purchased Amazon Halo devices in the past year. It says refunds will also be issued to customers who have unused prepaid Halo subscriptions fees. Amazon introduced its Halo line in 2020 with the launch of a fitness-tracking wristband that worked alongside a subscription service and smartphone app. Since then, it has expanded the line to offer more wearables and a bedside device that tracks sleeping patterns. Amazon said the Halo devices and app will no longer work after August 1.


Fox to hand over documents for 2nd voting machine lawsuit

Fox News has agreed to hand over thousands of documents to voting machine company Smartmatic, which is suing the network for defamation. The case is similar to Dominion Voting Machines’ lawsuit. Last week, Fox agreed to pay Dominion nearly $800 million to avert a trial. Smartmatic also says Fox bears financial responsibility for false allegations that Smartmatic rigged the 2020 presidential election against former President Donald Trump. Among the troves of documents Smartmatic will be receiving are deposition transcripts for Fox founder Rupert Murdoch and his son. Smartmatic wants a $2.7 billion judgment. That far exceeds the $1.6 billion Dominion sought in its suit.


Disney sues DeSantis, calling park takeover ‘retaliation’

Disney is suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the Republican’s takeover of its theme park district, alleging Wednesday that the governor waged a “targeted campaign of government retaliation” after the company opposed a law critics call “Don’t Say Gay.” The suit was filed minutes after a Disney World oversight board appointed by DeSantis voted to void a deal that placed theme park design and construction decisions in the company’s hands. The DeSantis board said Disney’s move to retain control over their property was effectively unlawful and performed without proper public notice.


Bud Light fumbles, but experts say inclusive ads will stay

Bud Light may have fumbled its attempt to broaden its customer base by partnering with a transgender influencer. But experts say inclusive marketing is simply good business, and it’s here to stay. On April 1, transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney posted a video of herself with a Bud Light can with her face on it that the brand sent her, setting off backlash almost immediately. Bud Light’s sales fell 17.6% the week ending April 15, and two top marketers have taken a leave of absence. Still, marketing experts say younger people support diversity efforts and want companies to take a stand on controversial issues.


First Republic shares sink again, down nearly 60% in week

First Republic Bank’s stock slid again Wednesday and an ongoing rout has erased 60% of its value just this week on concerns about the bank’s financial health in the wake of two other bank collapses. Shares slumped almost 30% following an even more severe tumble the previous day after the bank revealed depositors withdrew more than $100 billion last month after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. The bank said late Monday that it was only able to stop the bleeding after a group of large banks stepped in to save it by depositing $30 billion in uninsured deposits.


EU launches overhaul of euro rules as pandemic and war bite

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is overhauling its euro single currency rulebook as economies creak under high debt caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fallout from Russia’s war on Ukraine. The overhaul would see member countries design plans outlining their fiscal targets, any measures they might use to address imbalances and the main reforms and investment they aim to undertake. The EU’s executive branch will recommend ways for a country to ensure that debt and the national deficit are reined in if it misses its targets. The current rules date from the 1990s. European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said Wednesday that “we now face different challenges and economic priorities, and our rules need to reflect these changes.”


Boeing loses $425 million but plans production boost for Max

Boeing says it lost $425 million in the first quarter as it continues to deal with production problems on its airline jets. The loss is more than Wall Street expected. Boeing said Wednesday that revenue jumped 28% from a year earlier, however, beating analysts’ expectations. The company continues to get orders as airlines scoop up new planes to meet rising travel demand. Boeing’s latest production problem involves fittings used to attach the tail to the fuselage on its 737 Max jet. Airlines will have to wait for new planes while Boeing fixes the problem.


The S&P 500 fell 15.64 points, or 0.4%, to 4,055.99. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 228.96 points, or 0.7%, to 33,301.87. The Nasdaq composite rose 55.19 points, or 0.5% to 11,854.35. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 15.54 points, or 0.9%, to 1,730.41.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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