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US job growth slows sharply in sign of hiring struggles


Troy Warren #business-all #picks-all


America’s employers added just 266,000 jobs last month, sharply lower than in March and a sign that some businesses are struggling to find enough workers as the economic recovery strengthens.

WASHINGTON (AP) — America’s employers added just 266,000 jobs last month, sharply lower than in March and a sign that some businesses are struggling to find enough workers as the economic recovery rapidly strengthens.

The economic rebound from the pandemic recession has been so fast that many businesses, particularly in the hard-hit hospitality sector — which includes restaurants, bars and hotels — have been caught flat-footed and unable to fill all their job openings. Some unemployed people have also been reluctant to look for work because they fear catching the virus.

Others have entered new occupations rather than return to their old jobs. And many women, especially working mothers, have had to leave the workforce to care for children.

In addition, construction companies and manufacturers, especially automakers, have been left short of parts as a result of clogged supply chains and have had to slow production for now. Both sectors pulled back on hiring in April.

With viral cases declining and states and localities easing restrictions, businesses have added jobs for four straight months, the Labor Department said Friday. But as more people have begun looking for work, more people are being counted as unemployed: In April, the unemployment rate ticked up from 6% to 6.1% in March.

At the same time, optimism about the economic recovery is growing. Many Americans are flush with cash after having received $1,400 federal relief checks, along with savings they have built up after cutting back on travel, entertainment and dining out over the past year. Millions of consumers have begun spending their extra cash on restaurant meals, airline tickets, road trips and new cars and homes.

Most economists expect job growth to strengthen as more vaccinations are administered and trillions in government aid spreads through the economy. Even if another uptick in COVID-19 cases were to occur, analysts don’t expect most states and cities to reimpose tough business restrictions. Oxford Economics, a consulting firm, predicts that a total of 8 million jobs will be added this year, reducing the unemployment rate to a low 4.3% by year’s end.

From month to month, though, the gains in the job market could prove choppy, as Friday’s jobs report suggested.

“This sort of stop-start pace of hiring means the job market recovery could be more laborious than hoped,” said Leslie Preston, an economist at TD Economics. “We continue to expect that with government stimulus and ongoing vaccinations supporting a release of pent-up demand that hiring will return to a more solid pace over the coming months.”

Among industries, the sharpest loss last month was in temporary work, which shed 111,000 jobs. Construction companies added no jobs in April after having added 97,000 in March. Manufacturing lost 18,000 positions after hiring 54,000 the previous month. And transportation and warehousing cut 74,000 jobs after months of solid gains.

By contrast, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues — businesses that have complained the loudest about a shortage of workers — added 331,000 jobs in April, even more than their 206,000 increase in March.

In its report Friday, the government also sharply lowered its estimate of March’s job gain to 770,000 from its earlier estimate of 916,000.

But job postings are now significantly above pre-pandemic levels, evidence that companies are increasingly confident that business is picking up and that they want to hire. Yet there are still about 4 million people who dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic.

In an encouraging sign in Friday’s report, 430,000 people started looking for jobs in April, though not all found work, which is why the jobless rate rose slightly.

As more consumers venture out of their homes to shop, travel and attend entertainment venues, many businesses say they need workers. On Tuesday, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia, customers for the indoor water park and hotel were plentiful. Yet job-seekers for the company’s hiring open house were relatively scarce.

Nick Locastro, general manager for the lodge, said customer demand is running higher than the company can accommodate because it’s still limited to roughly 50% of its capacity by state rules. He said he expects business to return to pre-pandemic levels by summer if capacity restraints are lifted.

Locastro would like to hire about 100 workers — lifeguards, kitchen workers, hotel cleaners and others — to meet that demand. For now, the company has about 400 on staff, most of whom it recalled after it was allowed to reopen in September. The company had about two dozen interviews scheduled for Tuesday, along with some walk-ins.

“We’d love to have more, if you know of any,” Locastro said. “It’s becoming an increasingly more competitive market.”

Other nearby entertainment venues are also staffing up for summer, including Busch Gardens, Kings Dominion and Colonial Williamsburg.

David Earl who worked at Great Wolf for three years until he left to focus on his college classes just before the pandemic, was among those applying for a job Tuesday. For now, Earl, who is 27, is working at a grocery store chain but said Great Wolf pays more. He tells friends that Great Wolf is hiring, but many are still fearful about catching the virus and are reluctant to apply.

Such strong demand for workers is expected to grow along with the economy. In the first three months of the year, the economy expanded at a vigorous 6.4% annual rate. That pace could accelerate to as high as 13% in the April-June quarter, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

One government report last week showed that wages and benefits rose at a solid pace in the first quarter, suggesting that some companies are having to pay more to attract and keep employees.

President Joe Biden’s relief package also added $300 to weekly unemployment benefits. Bank of America economist Michelle Meyer calculated that for people who earned under $32,000 a year at their previous job, current unemployment aid pays more than their former job did — a reality that could keep up to 1 million people out of the workforce. In addition, higher stock prices and home values might have led up to 1.2 million older Americans to retire earlier than they otherwise would have.


HT Business

Cinemark Reports $208M Loss, Says “We Are Now Actively on the Road to Recovery”

BY GEORG SZALAI | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren #business-all

The cinema giant reports its latest results, with CEO Mark Zoradi saying: “We are highly optimistic about theatrical exhibition’s resurgence in the U.S. over the coming months on account of a range of factors.”

Cinema giant Cinemark Holdings reported a widened $208 million loss for the first quarter of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic after a year-ago loss of nearly $60 million.

“The company’s financial results continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the exhibitor, led by CEO Mark Zoradi. As of March 31, it had 301 domestic and 78 internationalvenues open. The company has a particularly strong presence in Latin America.

Cinemark had in mid-March opened its cinemas in the greater Los Angeles area with enhanced cleaning and safety protocols. Revenue for the first quarter fell to $114.4 million, compared to $543.6 million in the January-March period of 2020 when news of the virus started being discussed in various parts of the world.

Zoradi said in Friday’s earnings update: “Over a year has passed since COVID-19 prompted the shutdown of our global circuit, and today I am pleased to report that we are now actively on the road to recovery.”

He added: “We are highly optimistic about theatrical exhibition’s resurgence in the U.S. over the coming months on account of a range of factors, including the rapid pace of the vaccine rollout, improving consumer sentiment about returning to movie theaters, recent box office successes and confirmation of consistent product supply. On a global basis, we remain confident that, like the U.S., other countries will quickly recover as lockdowns reign in the virus and vaccines are more widely disseminated.”

Zoradi had on the last earnings call predicted a return to a “normalized” domestic theatrical market in 2022.

MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler, who has a “neutral,” in his report previewing the latest results wrote: “As a broad-based box office re-opening moves closer to becoming a reality, Cinemark remains well-positioned to reemerge from the pandemic in a solid financial position. Furthermore, with management vigilantly focused on continued efforts to streamline expenses and improve productivity, there is optimism a return to normalized revenue and margin levels can be achieved in 2022 or 2023.”

Later Friday, Cinemark announced that it had reached new theatrical exhibition deals with Warner Bros., Disney, Paramount, Sony and Universal. While specifics weren’t revealed, Cinemark said the deals “secure a consistent supply of content and demonstrate a shared commitment to offering consumers the ultimate movie-viewing experience, with compelling content exhibited within the theatrical environment.”

“Cinemark is thrilled to have reached new agreements with our major studio partners, and we are eager to continue providing movie fans an immersive, larger-than-life cinematic environment to see major upcoming films, ranging from the biggest blockbusters to specialty fare to family-friendly content,” Zoradi added in a statement. “In our ongoing efforts to maximize attendance and box office during the pandemic and beyond, our goal is to provide the widest range of content with terms that are in the best long-term interests of Cinemark, our studio partners and moviegoers. We are pleased with these recent developments and are confident we are taking positive steps toward reigniting theatrical exhibition and evolving the industry for a post-pandemic landscape.”

5:39 a.m. This story has been updated to note Cinemark’s new deal with the major movie studios.



HT Business

Why Many of Hollywood’s Top Execs Saw Pay Rise During a Pandemic Year

BY GEORG SZALAI | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren #business-all

Entertainment and media leaders often saw compensation climb in 2020, buoyed by non-salary sources like stock and option awards.

The pandemic hit many media and entertainment giants’ operations and earnings hard in 2020, leading to furloughs and layoffs. Yet a majority of big Hollywood CEOs’ pay packages for the latest year actually rose — some considerably. And a vast majority came in above the median $15.5 million pay seen in the Equilar 100, an annual study of big companies across all sectors.

“We saw CEO pay at the largest U.S. companies decline slightly, by 1.6 percent, in 2020,” explains Amit Batish, director of content at data firm Equilar. “During the pandemic most executives took pay reductions in the form of salary and bonus cuts,” which allowed firms to “conserve immediate cash.” But “long-term stock awards remained intact for the most part.”

That’s why well-publicized temporary salary sacrifices early in the pandemic — from the likes of Live Nation chief Michael Rapino, Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch and Endeavor mogul Ari Emanuel, among others — didn’t leave these leaders with depleted compensation packages, given a vast majority of their packages comes from non-salary sources. Plus, “executive compensation for big media execs has historically, and curiously, ranked on the relatively high side versus peers in many other sectors,” CFRA Research analyst Tuna Amobi notes.


The disparity between pay for top executives and average employees also continued in the most recent year. Despite Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s pay dropping to $37.7 million in 2020, for example, it was still 565 times the size of the median employee’s, down from 578 in 2019. (Across all sectors, the CEO-to-employee pay ratio was 238-to-1, per Equilar.) Batish notes that entertainment sector pay in the latest year “did depend on the industry and company,” though, with some players and divisions seeing “higher performance, such as Netflix, which saw a large spike in subscriptions at the start of the pandemic.”

Notably, Disney was one of the rare entertainment companies where the leadership gave up bonuses for the company’s fiscal year, which ended Oct. 3. The Burbank-based conglomerate explained that “in light of the company’s circumstances,” all its top executives agreed to forgo bonuses in addition to temporary salary cuts that started in April 2020. Executive chairman Bob Iger agreed to forgo his salary through the end of the fiscal year; Bob Chapek, who was promoted to the CEO post in February 2020, agreed to forgo 50 percent of his through late August.

At AT&T, CEO John Stankey’s target bonus and salary, starting with his elevation to the CEO role midyear, was capped at 50 percent upon his request. “If execs didn’t cut their cash bonuses, shame on them,” Hal Vogel, CEO of Vogel Capital Management, says, lauding those who agreed to give up some money for doing “the right thing.”

Some industry heavyweights saw the size of bonuses affected by missed financial targets during the pandemic. For example, Comcast boss Brian Roberts and other top executives gave up their entire salaries for the April-to-September period. The bonuses for Roberts ($7.7 million) and NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell ($5.9 million) amounted to only 75 percent of their target values. But the board credited Roberts for “successfully leading the company during this unprecedented period.” And it lauded Shell, in his first year as CEO of NBCUniversal, as he “effectively led, realigned and mitigated negative COVID-19 impacts on NBCUniversal,” “successfully launched Peacock” and “introduced a new ‘premium video on demand’ strategy to bring movies directly to consumers given movie theater shutdowns and realigned how the television, streaming and production businesses should operate to more effectively compete.”

Others, however, such as ViacomCBS, disclosed no COVID-19 impact on remuneration decisions. The conglomerate behind the newly launched Paramount+ streamer also highlighted that it handily exceeded its financial goals in the first full year after the megamerger that created the firm when adjusting for distorting factors, which was seen as a reference to the pandemic. CEO Bob Bakish, for example, received a bonus of $19.7 million, 60 percent above his target. Netflix, whose co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos made a combined $82 million in 2020, disclosed that its compensation structure was determined in 2019, before the pandemic.

The biggest 2020 pay package in Hollywood went to Jason Kilar, who started as WarnerMedia CEO on May 1 and has overhauled the media giant to prioritize streamer HBO Max. Touting the former Hulu boss’ “unique expertise,” AT&T said a “competitive” offer was needed to attract and incentivize him. The biggest part of Kilar’s calculated compensation was $48 million in restricted stock, even though he will receive only a quarter of the underlying shares each year over a four-year period. So expect a much smaller package for Kilar when 2021 compensation is revealed.



HT Business

Meredith Sells Local TV Stations to Gray Television for $2.7 Billion

BY ETAN VESSING | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren #business-all


Meredith Corp. has reached an agreement to sell its local TV stations, or its Local Media Group, to Gray Television for $2.7 billion.

The company’s national media division includes its publishing unit, which produces magazine titles like People, Entertainment Weekly, Better Homes & Gardens, Travel + Leisure and Martha Stewart Living, among many others. Its local TV business includes 18 TV stations across 13 states, including the CBS affiliates in Atlanta, St. Louis and Phoenix and Fox affiliates in Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon.

“We believe the scale made possible by the combination of the Local Media Group with Gray Television represents a great strategic fit, and we are incredibly grateful to our colleagues for their years of dedicated service and industry-leading work,” Meredith chairman and CEO Tom Harty said in a statement.

The proposed deal will allow Meredith to focus exclusively on its National Media Group, or its magazine division, after the transaction closes.

“We expect the transaction to unlock meaningful shareholder value as it advances all of the company’s financial priorities: reducing net debt, improving financial flexibility, allocating capital to fast-growing digital and consumer opportunities, and providing returns to shareholders,” Harty added.

The company said the divestiture will pay down debt held by Meredith as it “sharpens strategic focus on growth opportunities.” Meredith Corp. also plans to be spun-off as a standalone publicly traded company, to operate under digital and magazine divisions.

The separation of TV and magazines at Meredith continues a more than decade-long trend of media companies splitting their print/publishing and television brands.

In 2013 Rupert Murdoch split his company News Corp. in two, separating its U.S. TV businesses into 21st Century Fox. In 2015, Gannett spun off its local TV business into TEGNA, while keeping its legacy TV newspaper business. Likewise, in 2014 Tribune split its local TV and newspaper business into Tribune Publishing and Tribune Media.



HT Business

Topic Studios, Audible Strike Podcast Production Deal (Exclusive)

by Etan Vlessing | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren #business-all


The slate development agreement aims at four new Audible Original podcasts, starting with ‘The Messenger,’ about a newly-radicalised Islamic in the wake of London’s 7/7 bombings.

First Look Media’s Topic Studios has signed a slate development and production deal to produce four new Audible Original podcasts.

The first podcast for Audible Plus from the deal is The Messenger, where investigative journalist Shiv Malik talks to a newly radicalised Islamist, Hassan Butt, after the July 7, 2005 London bombings, often referred to as 7/7. Also in the pipeline is American ISIS, a portrait of Russell Dennison, a 38-year-old American who went from a dead-end job at a car dealership to becoming a fighter in The Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate.

And Spotlight producer Topic Studios is at work on the untitled Lauren Ober/Gorilla Project, about Koko the female gorilla who rubbed elbows with Mr. Rogers, Betty White and Robin Williams as a pop culture phenomenon; and The Space Within, featuring Dr. Madeline Wyle, an academic and psychologist specializing in trauma and PTSD as she explores the possibility humankind is not alone in the universe.

All four Audible Original podcasts will debut on Audible Plus, the all-you-can-listen subscription audio service. Topic Studios has partnered with other podcast platforms and producers, including iHeartRadio, WarnerMedia Podcast Network, Stitcher, Spoke Media and Transmitter Media.

Earlier podcasts from Topic Studios include Politically Re-Active with W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu, Somebody, Anthem, Missing Richard Simmons and Headlong: Running from COPS and Headlong: Surviving Y2K.



HT Business

Verizon Selling Yahoo, AOL and Media Assets for $5B to Private Equity Firm Apollo

by Alex Weprin | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren #business-all


Verizon will retain a 10 percent stake in the company, which will be called Yahoo.

Verizon is exiting the media business.

The telecom giant is selling Yahoo, AOL and the remainder of its Verizon Media brands to the private equity firm Apollo Global Management in a $5 billion deal announced Monday.

The new company will be called Yahoo and will continue to be run by CEO Guru Gowrappan. Verizon will retain a 10 percent stake in the new company, and LionTree, which served as the lead financial advisor on the transaction, will also be an investor alongside Apollo. Under the terms of the deal, Apollo will pay Verizon $4.25 billion in cash and preferred interests of $750 million.

Verizon had purchased both Yahoo and AOL for nearly $9 billion just a few years ago. More recently, the telecom company sold HuffPost (which it acquired in the AOL deal) to BuzzFeed in an all-stock deal. Verizon also retained a small ownership stake in HuffPost.

Verizon Media includes Yahoo, which still has significant scale through its Yahoo News and Yahoo Finance portals, as well as Yahoo’s popular email service. It also owns, which remains a popular homepage for many web users, as well as some niche news sites like Engadget and TechCrunch. Verizon Media also includes an advanced advertising business, which was created by merging the adtech teams of Yahoo and AOL.

The sale officially marks the end of Verizon’s efforts to become a competitor to Google and Facebook in the digital advertising space. Much of that effort was spearheaded by Tim Armstrong, a former Google executive who was CEO of AOL when Verizon acquired it. After a short-lived rebrand as “Oath,” Armstrong left the company in 2019, and the media assets rebranded as Verizon Media.

“Verizon Media has done an incredible job turning the business around over the past two and a half years and the growth potential is enormous,” said Hans Vestberg, Verizon’s CEO, in a statement announcing the deal. “The next iteration requires full investment and the right resources. During the strategic review process, Apollo delivered the strongest vision and strategy for the next phase of Verizon Media. I have full confidence that Yahoo will take off in its new home.”



HT Business

Liberty Global CEO Michael Fries’ 2020 Pay Falls to $44.9 Million

by Etan Vlessing | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren #business-all


The head of John Malone’s international cable giant, which owns Virgin Media, earned $123.2 million in 2019, mostly from performance-based stock awards as part of a front end-loaded, multi-year pay package.

Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global, John Malone’s international cable giant, saw his overall pay package for 2020 shrink to $44.9 million, compared to a pay packet of $123.2 million in 2019 that was part of a front end-loaded, multi-year compensation package.

The $123.2 million overall compensation package for 2019, part of a new five-year contract renewal, included a multi-year remuneration target, certain levels of stock appreciation and amounts aggregated into a single year lump amount. Fries total recurring compensation in 2019 was $44.7 million.

Fries earned a salary of $1.54 million last year, down from a salary of $2.3 million in 2019. And he took home no bonus in 2020, after nabbing a $5 million bonus in the year-earlier period. The Virgin Media owner unveiled Fries’ overall compensation in an SEC filing issued on Friday.

The biggest part of Fries’ pay packet remains stock awards, where he received $16.85 million last year, compared to $79.1 million in stock awards earned in 2019. And the Liberty Global CEO received $15.5 million in option awards in 2020, compared to $20.1 million in option awards nabbed in 2019.

Fries also received $10.2 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation last year, compared to $15.2 million received in 2019.

Liberty Global recently agreed to make an all-cash public tender offer for all publicly held shares of Swiss pay TV and telecom company Sunrise Communications in a 6.8 billion Swiss franc ($7.4 billion) deal.



HT Business

Warren Buffett’s firm reports $12B profit before its meeting

By JOSH FUNK, Associated Press

Troy Warren #business-all


Warren Buffett’s company reported a nearly $12 billion profit in the first quarter a year after a major loss when the value of its stock investments plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Warren Buffett’s company reported a nearly $12 billion profit in the first quarter a year after a major loss when the value of its stock investments plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Berkshire Hathaway said Saturday that it earned $11.7 billion, or $7,638 per Class A share, during the first quarter as the paper value of its investment portfolio rebounded. A year earlier, Berkshire reported losing $49.7 billion, or $30,653 per share.

The conglomerate said that besides the investment gains, profit also improved at all its major divisions — including insurance, utility, railroad, manufacturing and retail companies — as the economy continued to recover from the pandemic during the first three months of this year. But Berkshire said it can’t predict how the coronavirus will affect the economy going forward.

CFRA Research analyst Cathy Seifert said she was surprised that Berkshire’s many economically sensitive businesses didn’t improve more during the quarter given how much the economy has recovered, but that it looked like the company controlled costs well at its major divisions.

Buffett has long said Berkshire’s operating earnings offer a better view of quarterly performance because they exclude investments and derivatives, which can vary widely. By that measure, Berkshire’s operating earnings improved to $7.018 billion, or $4,577.10 per Class A share. That’s up from $5.87 billion, or $3,617.62 per Class A share a year ago.

The four analysts surveyed by FactSet expected Berkshire to report operating earnings of $3,792.36 per Class A share.

Berkshire continued its streak of major stock repurchases by investing $6.6 billion in its own stock during the quarter. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company spent $25 billion on repurchases last year. Seifert said investors will applaud the significant buybacks.

But Berkshire is still sitting on $145.4 billion in cash and short-term investments because Buffett has struggled to find major acquisitions for the company for several years.

Later on Saturday, Buffett will spend several hours answering questions at an online version of Berkshire’s annual meeting. Buffett will be joined in answering questions by Berkshire vice chairmen Charlie Munger, Greg Abel and Ajit Jain. The company is holding its meeting online for the second year in a row because of the coronavirus pandemic. Normally the event draws a crowd of more than 40,000 to Omaha, Nebraska.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. owns more than 90 companies, including the BNSF railroad and insurance, utility, furniture and jewelry businesses. The company also has major investments in such companies as Apple, American Express, Coca-Cola and Bank of America.


HT Business

Eli Broad, Billionaire Entrepreneur Who Reshaped Los Angeles, Dies at 87

by the Associated Press | HollywoodReporter.Com

Troy Warren #business-all


Broad provided much of the money and willpower used to reshape Los Angeles’ once moribund downtown into a burgeoning area of expensive lofts, fancy dining establishments and civic structures like the landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Eli Broad, the billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur who co-founded homebuilding pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc. and launched financial services giant SunAmerica Inc., died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 87.

Suzi Emmerling, a spokeswoman for the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, confirmed his death to The New York Times. She told the newspaper that Broad died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after a long illness.

It was Broad (pronounced brohd) who provided much of the money and willpower used to reshape Los Angeles’ once moribund downtown into a burgeoning area of expensive lofts, fancy dining establishments and civic structures like the landmark Walt Disney Concert Hall. He opened his own eponymous museum and art lending library, the Broad, in 2015 in the city’s downtown.

Broad’s estimated net worth Friday was listed at $6.9 billion, according to Forbes.

As a young accountant in the 1950s, Broad saw opportunity in the booming real estate market. He quit his job and partnered with developer Donald Kaufman and began building starter homes for first-time buyers eager to claim their slice of the American Dream. The company eventually became KB Home, one of the most successful home developers in the nation.

Nearly 30 years later, Broad spotted opportunity once more and transformed the company’s insurance arm into a retirement savings conglomerate that catered to the financial needs of aging baby boomers.

In the process, Broad became one of the nation’s wealthiest men, with a financial empire estimated by Forbes magazine in 2009 at $5.4 billion. Forbes ranked him as the 42nd on its list of richest Americans.

He also gained a reputation for being a driven, tenacious dealmaker.

“If you play it safe all of the time, you don’t get very far,” Broad told Investor’s Business Daily in 2005.

Outside work, Broad used his wealth and status to bring about civic, educational, scientific and cultural improvement projects, particularly in Los Angeles. The New York native had moved to the city’s tony Brentwood section in 1963. His charitable foundations donated millions to such projects, particularly those aimed at improving public education, and established endowments at several universities across the nation.

In the 1990s, Broad led the campaign to help raise money to build the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and was a major underwriter of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art, among other institutions. An avid art hound since the 1960s, Broad had a collection estimated to be worth $500 million in 2003.

In 1984, he established the Broad Art Foundation to lend works from his collection for public viewing.

A decade later, he famously purchased Roy Lichtenstein’s “I … I’m Sorry” for $2.5 million at an auction with a credit card and donated the more than 2 million frequent flier points he racked up to students at the California Institute for the Arts. In 2008, with his money, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art opened its new Broad Contemporary Art Museum featuring works from Broad’s collection.

Broad also exercised considerable political muscle. A Democrat, he led the push to lure the party’s national convention in 2000 to Los Angeles. He sometimes split with his party, however, most notably in 1972 when, disillusioned with Sen. George McGovern’s campaign, he served as co-chair of Democrats for Nixon.

Years after Nixon resigned the presidency in disgrace, Broad told Los Angeles Magazine that his efforts on Nixon’s behalf were something “I hate to admit to.” But it wasn’t the last time he would support a Republican. He also backed his close friend, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, with whom he shared a mutual vision of public school reform.

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Broad was born June 6, 1933, in New York City but raised in Detroit. His father was a house painter and small business owner.

Broad earned his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University in 1954. In 1991, he endowed the university’s Eli Broad College of Business and Eli Broad Graduate School of Management.

At 20, he passed Michigan’s certified public accountant exam, becoming the youngest person at the time to do so. The following year, he married his hometown sweetheart, Edythe. The couple had two sons, Jeffrey and Gary. His wife and sons survive him, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Eager to leave school and start his career, Broad began working for several clients, including Kaufman. Soon Broad took note of the real estate market and began studying the field, reading industry journals and using his accounting know-how to analyze the business. He gradually became convinced there was money to be made.

In 1957, at the age of 23, he went into business with Kaufman, selling homes in the suburbs of Detroit. The first homes sold for about $12,000, about 10 percent less than competitors because they were built without customary basements and in about half the time.

Kaufman and Broad took their approach West, first to Arizona then California. They relocated the company’s corporate headquarters to Los Angeles in 1963, two years after it became the first homebuilder to go public.

In 1971, Broad bought an insurance company as a hedge against the boom and bust cycles of the housing market. As he had done prior to venturing into real estate, Broad began doing research on the insurance market and saw financial planning for retirees as a better business. He began shifting the subsidiary’s focus toward selling annuities and other retirement savings products.

The company was renamed SunAmerica in 1989, with Broad as its chairman and chief executive. In 1998, New York-based American International Group acquired SunAmerica for $16.5 billion.

Two years later, Broad stepped down as chief, but retained the title of chairman.

“I will do the things that I enjoy doing and things that I could have the most value with rather than doing the day-to-day things,” Broad told The Associated Press at the time. “I like to work. Right now I probably work 80 hours a week. … I still see myself working close to 40 hours at SunAmerica/AIG and maybe 40 hours at other things.”

In recent years, Broad spent much of his time engaged in philanthropic work through his foundations, advocating for public education reform, promoting the rebirth of Los Angeles’ downtown as a commercial and residential center and other causes.

In 1999, the Broads founded the Broad Education Foundation, with the goal of improving urban public education. The foundation committed more than $500 million toward the cause in its first five years.

Broad took a CEO’s approach, believing that troubled schools often could be vastly improved if they were better managed by their principals.

“These are huge enterprises,” Broad said of urban school districts in an interview with Forbes magazine in 2003. “You don’t start at the bottom. You start at the top.”



HT Business HT Foodie

McDonald’s comes roaring back as restrictions ease

By The Associated Press

Troy Warren #business-all #foodie-all

The bounceback for McDonald’s as restrictions were lifted across the U.S. was so strong in the first quarter that the company surpassed sales during the same period even in 2019, long before the pandemic broadsided the country.

McDonald’s revenue jumped 9% to $5.1 billion for the January-March period, better than most had expected.

Last year at this time stores were closing globally and the world sheltered from spiking COVID-19 infections, so an improvement in sales during the same stretch this year was expected. How easily it topped 2019′s first-quarter sales of $4.95 billion, however, was not.

U.S. same-store sales, or sales at locations open at least a year, rose 13.6% in the January-March period. Fewer diners visited, and many dining rooms remain closed. But those who did visit ordered more. McDonald’s said new products, including a crispy chicken sandwich and spicy nuggets, helped draw customers.

Any restaurant company with drive-thrus, such as McDonald’s, escaped the worst of the economic damage over the past year because they could continue to sell food even during the worst stretches of the pandemic. The Chicago company has drive-thru windows at nearly all U.S. stores and two-thirds of stores in its biggest European markets. And at least 30,000 stores worldwide now offer delivery.

Worldwide, same-store sales rose 7.5%, well above the 5% gain analysts forecast. Strong sales in China and Japan helped offset softness in France and Germany, the company said.

Net income rose 39% to $1.5 billion. Adjusted for one-time items, the company earned $1.92 per share, easily beating Wall Street’s forecast of $1.81, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

McDonald’s shares were flat in premarket trading Thursday.

Other major fast food chains are seeing a similar rebound as most of the world emerges from the pandemic. Revenue at Yum Brands — which owns Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC — jumped 18% in the first quarter. The company reported this week that same-store sales rose 9%, with an especially strong performance in the U.S.

Like McDonald’s, sales at Yum restaurants outpaced sales two years ago before COVID-19 shook the world.

Starbucks also reported better-than-expected results for the quarter this week, with sales up 11%.