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Live Updates: Golden Globes Viewership, Stock Market and Instacart

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the ceremony, which was marred by technical glitches.
Credit…via Reuters

The audience for NBC’s Sunday night broadcast of the Golden Globes

fell dramatically, with 6.9 million people watching the annual Hollywood ceremony, according to Nielsen.

Even by the standards of declining award-show ratings, this one was a whopper. The viewing audience shrank by 62 percent compared with last year’s show, which drew more than 18 million people. It was the smallest audience for any Globes ceremony since NBC started broadcasting the event in 1996.

The show had a lot going against it. Because of the pandemic, it was moved out of its customary January time slot, meaning it lost its usual lead-in, a National Football League playoff game. This year’s event also skipped the red-carpet parade of stars wearing the latest in fashion from name designers.

Hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler on separate coasts, the ceremony took place in front of a small crowd of emergency medical workers and others with essential jobs instead of Hollywood celebrities seated elbow-to-elbow in the cramped Beverly Hilton ballroom as drinks flowed. With winners and nominees beamed in remotely, the night also included technical glitches. And because movie theaters have been shut down, viewers were not as likely to have seen — or even to have heard of — many of the movies that were up for awards.

In the days leading up to the event, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and other news media organizations published articles critical of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization with 87 members that started handing out Golden Globes in the 1940s. The articles noted that the group has no Black members and raised questions about its financial practices.

All awards shows have suffered ratings declines in recent years. But the audience for the Golden Globes had held steady, ranging between 18 and 20 million viewers since 2013. Last year, it even came within 5 million viewers of the Academy Awards, a number that seemed to justify NBC’s 2018 deal to pay $60 million a year for broadcast rights to the Golden Globes.

The audience for Sunday night’s show was only slightly larger than the one for the bare-bones Golden Globes telecast that revealed the winners in 2008 — effectively a news conference — when the ceremony was canceled because of a writers’ strike.

ABC now faces the challenge of trying to figure out ways to entice viewers to its Academy Awards show on April 25. Last year’s Oscars ceremony had an audience of 23 million viewers.

Target reported that its fourth-quarter sales increased nearly 21 percent.
Credit…Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Target’s sales continued to climb in the fourth quarter, surpassing analysts estimates, as the retailer capitalized on the shift in consumer shopping habits to buying online and picking up their purchases in stores.

The company said on Tuesday that its sales in the fourth quarter increased nearly 21 percent, higher than the 17 percent that Wall Street expected.

The strong fourth quarter, buoyed in part by stimulus spending by consumers, caps a year of staggering growth at Target. Target reported that its sales growth for 2020 of more than $15 billion “was greater than the company’s total sales growth over the prior 11 years.”

After years of investment in its online ordering and in-store pickup services, the company has emerged as a top winner during the pandemic, gaining billions in market share from less adept retailers.

Amid such strong results in 2020, the company was also being hailed for its decision to raise its starting wage to $15 an hour last year.

“Target tops a record year with a phenomenal fourth quarter,” Molly Kinder, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote on Twitter. “After — but not despite — raising its starting wage to $15/hour.”

The company did not provide guidance for the coming year. Analysts noted that it would be difficult for Target to top its growth in 2020 as other retailers are likely to see their businesses bounce back in the next few months.

Customers eager to avoid shopping in stores are using Instacart’s app-based grocery ordering service.
Credit…Rosem Morton for The New York Times

Instacart, the grocery delivery company, said on Tuesday that it has raised another $265 million in a funding that values it at $39 billion, more than doubling its valuation for the second time in a year.

Andreessen Horowitz and Sequoia Capital, which are existing investors in Instacart, participated in the latest financing for the eight-year-old start-up. Over the last year, Instacart has raised two rounds of funding totaling $525 million. It was previously valued at $17.7 billion.

The pandemic has supercharged Instacart’s growth. Customers eager to avoid shopping in stores are using the company’s app-based grocery ordering service. Laid-off workers have also turned to gig-economy jobs, like Instacart shopping, to make money. Instacart now has 500,000 shoppers who work on contract.

“This past year ushered in a new normal, changing the way people shop for groceries and goods,” Nick Giovanni, Instacart’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

Instacart has weathered criticism of its business model as it has expanded. Earlier this year, layoffs of some of Instacart’s few unionized workers prompted accusations of union busting. Grocery stores have said the app’s fees of around 10 percent have made it difficult to make a profit.

The company delivers goods from 600 retailers across 45,000 stores in the United States and Canada. It has expanded beyond groceries to include office supplies, sporting goods, prescription drugs and pet supplies from chains including Staples, Dick’s Sporting Goods, CVS and Petco.

Instacart said it planned to use the new funding to hire more employees and to expand business lines including advertising for consumer packaged goods companies and enterprise software for retailers.

In a statement, Jeff Jordan, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said his firm had been impressed by the way Instacart had shown resilience in the pandemic and “met the moment of 2020.”

The company has been named as a candidate to go public. In January, it appointed Mr. Giovanni, formerly of Goldman Sachs, as chief financial officer.

The Senate Banking Committee will weigh Gary Gensler’s confirmation as the S.E.C. chairman in a virtual hearing.
Credit…Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times

President Biden’s picks to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are laying out their regulatory agendas before the Senate Banking Committee.

Gary Gensler, the nominee to chair the S.E.C., and Rohit Chopra, the C.F.P.B. nominee, spoke about a number of consumer-centric topics, including transparency and accountability in the financial markets and protections for people dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

The committee chairman, Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said both men were fitting picks to serve “at a time when so many people don’t feel like they have a voice in our economy.”

He added, “After years of allies of the largest corporations and the biggest banks running these agencies, and setting government up to fail, Mr. Chopra and Mr. Gensler are here to fight for everyone else.”

But Republicans will be challenging both nominees over their views of the limits of regulatory power. Pat Toomey, the ranking Republican, said he worried Mr. Gensler would push the bounds of the law to promote a progressive agenda including on climate change. He also described the agency Mr. Chopra was nominated to lead as “hyperactive.”

Senate Democrats told DealBook that they welcomed additional discussion on increased corporate disclosure:

  • “I’ll be carefully watching Gary Gensler’s answers on issues like climate risk disclosure, corporate diversity, and investor protection,” said Tina Smith of Minnesota.

  • Bob Menendez of New Jersey intends to ask about increased disclosure of corporate political spending, a representative said. He wants companies to reveal more about their donations and seek shareholder approval for spending.

  • Chris Van Hollen of Maryland is curious about the rules and limits on the timing and disclosure of insider stock trades.

And then there is GameStop. Mr. Brown railed against Wall Street during the meme-stock frenzy, and that episode is sure to come up on Tuesday. A representative for Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said that he intended to ask Mr. Gensler about payment for order flow.

Cynthia Lummis, Republican of Wyoming and the first senator to invest in Bitcoin, will focus on the nominee’s commitment to “financial regulations that foster innovation,” according to a representative. Mr. Gensler, who teaches blockchain courses at M.I.T. and is also a former Goldman banker, should be game. Alluding to his job at the intersection of finance and technology, the banker-turned-regulator-turned-academic cautiously acknowledged the promise of fintech in his statement and said rules must evolve with new tools.

Republicans are also wary of Mr. Chopra, who would lead an agency whose enforcement powers had waned under President Trump.

Mr. Toomey said during Tuesday’s hearing that Mr. Chopra had been hostile to businesses in the past, including for-profit colleges. In his opening statement, Mr. Chopra focused on the challenges consumers face as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Consumers continue to discover serious errors on their credit reports or feel forced to make payments to debt collectors on bills they already paid or never owed to begin with, including for medical treatment related to Covid-19,” he said.

Michelle Gass, the chief executive of Kohl’s, in 2010. A group of activist investors is demanding changes at the retailer.
Credit…Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

The chief executive of Kohl’s, Michelle Gass, is standing firm against one of the main demands made by a group of activist investors that has taken a 9.5 percent stake in the retailer — selling its properties and then leasing them back.

“We don’t believe sale-leaseback is right for us right now,” Ms. Gass said in an interview on Tuesday, citing the company’s strong investment grade rating and low interest rates that allow for less-constrictive financing options.

The investors — Macellum Advisors, Ancora Holdings, Legion Partners Asset Management and 4010 Capital — revealed their stake in Kohl’s last month. They detailed a long list of complaints and demands in a letter to Kohl’s shareholders and pushed to add nine directors to the company’s 12-member board. They also pushed for sale-leaseback transactions, which they said could bring in $3 billion that the company could put to use by buying back stock.

When asked about the activists’ demands, Ms. Gass said the company would “love to find a common ground.” Adding nine seats, though, is “a control play — and that we are not supportive of,” she said.

Kohl’s said on Tuesday that it was bringing back a dividend and a stock buyback program.

The tussle at Kohl’s is notable because activist investors have recently avoided picking fights with department store chains given the broader challenges the industry faces and the rocky track record activists have had, like William A. Ackman at J.C. Penney and Starboard at Macy’s. And retailers have pushed back against the sale-leaseback strategy, which can temporarily jolt a stock price but can also leave a retailer with less flexibility in the longer term.

“I’ve seen this playbook before,” Terry Lundgren, a former Macy’s chief executive, told CNBC last month. Under Mr. Lundgren’s leadership, Macy’s resisted pressure from Starboard to do its own sale-leaseback program. Kohl’s can improve its performance “with or without outside influences from these investors or other investors,” he said.

Kohl’s on Tuesday reported earnings that topped analyst expectations. Sales still fell — from $6.54 billion to $5.88 billion, as its stores were forced to close in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus — but online sales jumped 22 percent and accounted for 42 percent of all total sales.

Other retailers like Target have declined to provide an outlook, but Kohl’s forecast an increase in its net sales over the year prior and an operating margin of up to 5 percent.

“We feel very confident in our guide,” Ms. Gass said.

Gideon Lichfield will be responsible for Wired U.S. as well as international editions of Wired, including in Britain, Italy and Japan.
Credit…Condé Nast

Condé Nast has named Gideon Lichfield as the new global editorial director of Wired.

Anna Wintour, Condé Nast’s chief content officer and the global editorial director of Vogue, made the announcement in an internal memo on Tuesday.

“I am so happy he is bringing his expertise to Wired, and am so excited for the future of the title,” Ms. Wintour wrote in the memo. She said Mr. Lichfield would be responsible for Wired U.S. as well as international editions of Wired, including in Britain, Italy and Japan.

Mr. Lichfield joins Wired with extensive experience in tech and business journalism, most recently at MIT Technology Review, where he had been the editor in chief since 2017. He helped start the digital news site Quartz in 2012 and was previously at The Economist.

Mr. Lichfield said in a news release from Condé Nast that he was “thrilled to be given the chance to work with the excellent journalists at Wired and continue evolving its legacy.”

“Wired is iconic, and it’s been pivotal to shaping technology’s place in the culture,” he said.

He will start on March 22.

The statement noted that Wired saw a 15 percent growth in web traffic last year and reached 44 million people a month across all its platforms.

Nicholas Thompson, who became Wired’s editor in chief in 2017, was appointed chief executive of The Atlantic in December.

The shuffle at Wired is the latest in a series of industry shifts as a variety of publications hunt for top editors. Vox Media announced The Atlantic’s Swati Sharma as the new editor in chief of in February. The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Reuters and HuffPost are continuing their searches.

University of Hawaii employees monitor a Board of Regents meeting via Zoom. The teleconference company’s revenue surged more than 300 percent in its fiscal year.
Credit…Audrey Mcavoy/Associated Press
  • The S&P 500 was down slightly on Tuesday, a day after it gained 2.4 percent, the biggest one-day gain since June, and the Nasdaq and Dow Jones industrial average jumped by the most since early November.

  • Traders are recovering from a volatile few days when a sell-off in government bonds rattled the equity markets. This week, the rout has mostly eased. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes fell to 1.41 percent on Tuesday.

  • Analysts at RBC Capital Markets said markets had been testing the central banks’ resolve to keep interest rates low globally and that policymakers would have to take action to drive this message home.

  • “However, we remain convinced that the structural upward pressure on yields remains,” they wrote in a note. “The reopening of the economies coupled with sizable fiscal spending programs and supply constraints will make it difficult for bond markets” to gain. Bond prices rise when their yields decline.

  • Shares in Zoom were down 4.5 percent after rising more than 6 percent in early trading. The video conferencing company said its revenue surged 326 percent in its past fiscal year to $2.65 billion.

  • Stock indexes across Europe were mostly higher. The Stoxx 600 Europe gained 0.2 percent.

  • The annual inflation rate for the eurozone was 0.9 percent in February, the same as the previous month and in line with economists’ expectations, data published Tuesday showed. “These numbers represent the calm before the storm,” Claus Vistesen, an economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, wrote in a note. In a few months, he wrote, inflation will jump to reflect the change in energy prices over the past year.

  • Most stock indexes in Asia dropped after China’s top financial regulator said that the high leverage in the financial system needed to be reduced. Guo Shuqing said he was “very worried” about bubbles in China’s property sector and that bubbles in U.S. and European markets could burst.

New York Times

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