The Week's Top Stories: Uber IPO and Bezos' Challenge

April 12, 2019

From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.

  • Uber IPO: The most anticipated IPO of the year took a major step toward becoming reality when Uber filed its required paperwork Thursday with federal regulators. The ride-hailing giant is seeking to raise $10 billion at a valuation that could be as high as $100 billion. According to the filing, Uber completes 14 million trips a day, but still lost $1.8 billion last year. Uber's biggest North American rival Lyft ($LYFT), which has been a public company for only two weeks, has struggled since its market debut. Investors question whether either of the two companies will ever be able to turn a profit. See more.

  • Disney's Streaming Play: Disney ($DIS) unveiled new details about its forthcoming streaming platform, Disney+, at an investor event in Burbank, Calif. The service will serve as a repository for Disney's vast content library, including the Star Wars franchise, Marvel Studios, and Pixar. The new service will be available in the U.S. on Nov. 12 for $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for a year-long subscription. The House of Mouse said it's planning to spend $1 billion next year on original content, and it forecast it would have 60 to 90 million Disney+ subscribers in five years. Netflix ($NFLX), the leading streaming service, counts 139 million paying subscribers worldwide. See more.

  • Madewell IPO: J.Crew said it was exploring a possible IPO for its popular Madewell brand as soon as the second half of 2019. Spinning off Madewell, which is J. Crew's fastest-growing brand and now accounts for more than 20 percent of overall sales, would be a way for the beleaguered retailer to generate much-needed cash. J. Crew is carrying $1.7 billion in debt as it seeks to turn itself around after a difficult few years. Sales at Madewell, meanwhile, climbed to $529 million last year. The company known for its preppy workwear said its main goal for the year is a return to profitability. See more.

  • Bank Earnings: Earnings season kicked off in earnest with two of the country's largest banks beating analysts' expectations. JPMorgan Chase ($JPM) shares jumped after the company posted record revenue and profits, due in no small part to the strength of its consumer banking division. Wells Fargo ($WFC) followed with its own beat on earnings per share and revenue, though its stock slipped on the bank's weak outlook for net interest income. Bank stocks have been lagging the broader market over the last month after the Fed signaled it would pause rate hikes. Next week will bring earnings from Goldman Sachs ($GS), Citi ($C), Morgan Stanley ($MS), and Bank of America ($BAC).

  • Bezos' Challenge: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos issued a challenge to his fellow retail executives: match or beat the $15-an-hour minimum wage his company is offering. Bezos wrote in his annual letter to shareholders that a competition among retailers for who could raise wages the most would "benefit everyone." Amazon ($AMZN) boosted the minimum wage it plays its employees last year after fierce opposition to working conditions at the e-commerce giant ー but it also cut some benefits and stock grants at the same time. Walmart's ($WMT) chief of corporate affairs, Dan Bartlett, answered Bezos' call to action with his own on Twitter: "How about paying your taxes?" The retort was a reference to Amazon's federal income tax bill for 2018, when the company paid nothing on $11 billion in pre-tax profits.

ーBy Carlo Versano