Morning Brew - ☕️ Exxon's flex

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May 30, 2024 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

Netflix

Good morning. Worrying news for your breakfast—orange juice futures have skyrocketed to record highs this week, nearly doubling from last year, according to the Financial Times.

Bad weather and disease have decimated the orange crop in No. 1 exporter Brazil so critically that, long term, producers are considering using mandarins to make OJ.

As long as you brush your teeth beforehand, you won’t taste the difference. Or anything, really.

—Matty Merritt, Molly Liebergall, Cassandra Cassidy, Abby Rubenstein, Neal Freyman

MARKETS

Nasdaq

16,920.58

S&P

5,266.95

Dow

38,441.54

10-Year

4.624%

Bitcoin

$67,685.37

American Airlines

$11.62

Data is provided by

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 6:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Stocks fell yesterday as rising Treasury yields spooked investors about interest rates. American Airlines was among the decliners after it cut its guidance for the rest of the year since its sales strategy…failed to spur sales.
 

ENERGY

Exxon shut down activist investors

ExxonMobil logo behind shareholders. NurPhoto/Getty Images

A virtual meeting likely hasn’t seen this much tension since your family tried to play Quiplash during the pandemic. Most shareholders (95%) sided with Exxon Mobil yesterday during the company’s annual shareholder meeting, voting to reelect all 12 directors despite intense drama leading up to the meeting over climate change and shareholder rights.

Some backstory

Earlier this year, Exxon sued Arjuna Capital and Follow This, two activist investor groups that proposed more aggressive targets for emissions cuts. The company, which has the weakest emissions reduction targets among the “oil supermajors” around the world, according to Carbon Tracker, claimed their proposal pushed an “extreme agenda” that would obliterate shareholder value.

  • Arjuna and Follow This withdrew the resolution.
  • But Exxon is forging ahead with its lawsuit, hoping to change the current process and block future resolutions it believes will hurt the company.

The Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have filed briefs in support of Exxon in the suit, but not everyone is a fan. CalPERS, the nation’s largest public pension fund, said last week it would vote against all of Exxon’s current board members, including its CEO, to protest the company’s lawsuit. It claimed the suit’s repercussions could be “devastating” and threaten shareholder power to hold corporations accountable.

It’s not just CalPERS: Seven Exxon shareholders filed documents with the SEC to protest the company’s lawsuit. And just days before the CalPERS announcement, the New York State Common Retirement Fund said it would vote against most of the board because of the company’s climate policies.

Activists are hitting a Big Oil wall. Exxon ended yesterday with an overwhelming win, and last week, Shell shareholders ignored protesters on and around their voting floor. Activist investors pushing for Big Oil to make serious changes for the climate, like Follow This, will need to put their energy toward winning over more shareholders like pension funds and investment firms to succeed.—MM

   

PRESENTED BY NETFLIX

Join the desperate search for a lost son

Netflix

Vincent is one of New York’s leading puppeteers and the creator of a wildly popular children’s TV show. But his world crashes down when his son Edgar goes missing on his way to school.

What happens next? Tune into Netflix’s thrilling new limited series, Eric, to find out. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Victor, a father who becomes more and more volatile and distressed the longer Edgar remains missing.

Witness Victor’s descent into desperation—with a bit of madness thrown in—as his focus turns to Edgar’s curious drawings of a blue monster puppet named Eric.

Can Eric help bring Edgar home? Find out now.

WORLD

Tour de headlines

A Marathon gas station sign JIM WATSON/Getty Images

ConocoPhillips to buy Marathon Oil for $17.1 billion. Big Oil just keeps getting bigger as consolidation continues in the oil and gas industry through a series of megadeals. This time, it’s ConocoPhillips agreeing to acquire Marathon Oil in an all-stock transaction that boosts its shale ownership. “We weren’t necessarily out looking for something, but it was an opportunity that presented itself,” ConocoPhillips CEO Ryan Lance said. Deals have looked opportune for the industry a lot lately. As companies aim to boost their production, $250 billion worth were struck last year, per Reuters.

Former OpenAI board member accuses Sam Altman of “outright lying.” Helen Toner, a former OpenAI board member, opened up to The TED AI Show podcast about what led to the CEO’s short-lived firing. One piece of behind-the-scenes info Toner shared was that the board learned about ChatGPT’s release “on Twitter.” She also said that the board was told by executives that Altman created a toxic atmosphere of “psychological abuse.” The podcast included a statement from OpenAI’s board chair Bret Taylor saying they were “disappointed” Toner was speaking out and that an independent investigation had cleared Altman of much of what she claims.

North Korea sends balloons bearing “filth” over the border. In trashy geopolitical news, North Korea has sent 260 balloons carrying garbage and animal excrement into neighboring South Korea. The dirty drop-offs are retaliation for an earlier balloon barrage sent in the other direction by South Korean activists carrying anti-regime leaflets and K-pop music. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North’s actions “violate international law and seriously threaten the safety of our citizens.”

RETAIL

Abercrombie & Fitch is absolutely crushing it

Street view of an Abercrombie & Fitch storefront Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The retailer you used to hit up on mall trips just to smell the clothes reported its strongest first-quarter earnings ever yesterday, cementing its comeback from a scandal-riddled past.

By the numbers:

  • Sales across Abercrombie & Fitch brands (including Hollister) leaped 22% from Q1 2023 to Q1 2024, crossing the $1 billion mark by a hair and topping analysts’ estimates by ~$40 million.
  • Profits rocked even harder, with A&F raking in $113.9 million, ~23% more than Wall Street expected. That’s almost seven times more net income than the brand reported for the same period last year.
  • A&F also raised its full-year outlook on sales growth from 4%–6% to 10%, topping analysts’ estimates of 7%. This was the retailer’s fifth straight quarter of accelerating revenue growth.
  • The clothing chain’s stock is riding a 52-week ~500% growth rate—more than double Nvidia’s percent stock gains.

The 2000s are (not) calling. Abercrombie & Fitch’s efforts to rehab its old controversial image have apparently worked wonders. Fresher styles, appeal to working millennials (like an affordable wedding collection), cheaper cotton and transport costs, and easing inflation have all helped the brand’s 2020s rebirth.—ML

   

TOGETHER WITH JARROW FORMULAS

Jarrow Formulas

Revamp your routine. Robin Arzón is a Peloton executive, founder of Swagger Society, a two-time New York Times bestselling author, and a mother of two. In other words, she knows how to build (and sustain) a strong routine. We sat down to hear tips and learn about her new role with Jarrow Formulas®. Check out the interview.

SPORTS

The MLB record book got a historic update

Josh Gibson Bettmann/Getty Images

Nearly 80 years after baseball integrated, the record books are going to show it. The MLB announced yesterday it has fully incorporated statistics from the seven Negro Leagues that operated between 1920 and 1948, recognizing the accomplishments of more than 2,300 players previously omitted from the historical record.

All-time stats look dramatically different now, with many categories topped by Josh Gibson, who spent his illustrious career with the Homestead Grays.

  • Gibson leads career batting average with .372, relegating Ty Cobb to second (with .367).
  • He also leads in slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging (OPS), ahead of Babe Ruth in both categories.

Players who competed in both the Negro Leagues and the MLB, like Willie Mays, will have their stats updated to include their time in the Negro Leagues.

Why’d it take so long? The MLB didn’t officially recognize the Negro Leagues as its equal until 2020. Since then, historians have dug up stats from local newspaper archives, but there’s still more to learn: The MLB estimates that it has box scores from about 75% of Negro League games.

Looking ahead…the MLB is set to pay tribute to the Negro Leagues next month in a game between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals at the former home of the Birmingham Black Barons.—CC

   

STAT

Prime number

Two white collar workers staring at their computers and divided by a thick barrier Illustration: Anna Kim, Images: Getty

Feeling lonely? You can take comfort in knowing you’re not alone, according to the Wall Street Journal’s recent look at worker loneliness. A recent survey of 10,000 Americans by health insurer Cigna found that 58% of them called themselves lonely compared to 46% in 2018—and it’s costing companies $154 billion a year in absenteeism. The rise in feeling isolated comes as the workplace is changing to include less face-to-face time. In-office workers spend almost 25% of their time in virtual meetings and only 8% in IRL meetings, per Cushman & Wakefield’s data. Meanwhile, 40% of parents with fully remote jobs said they went days without leaving the house in a 2023 survey by Bright Horizons.

NEWS

What else is brewing

  • BHP won’t continue to pursue its $49 billion bid for fellow mining company Anglo American after the latter refused to extend a deadline for talks.
  • The jury in Donald Trump’s hush money case has begun deliberating in the first criminal trial of a former US president.
  • Kentucky prosecutors dropped all charges against golfer Scottie Scheffler, who was arrested on his way to the PGA Championship earlier this month. “Obviously, he didn’t do anything wrong,” his attorney said.
  • Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito rejected calls to recuse himself from cases related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot following new reports of flags associated with the incident flying outside his homes. He said his wife was the one flying “a wide variety of flags.”
  • Tennis fans say Ticketmaster, already facing the ire of the DOJ and the Swifites, fumbled presales for US Open tickets.
  • Attention iPhone 7 and 7 Plus users: You have until June 3 to file your claim to a piece of a class action settlement over the phones’ audio issues. Payments could be as high as $349 per person.
  • Washington, DC, won’t be panda-less much longer. The National Zoo announced a deal has been struck to get two new giant pandas from China by the end of the year.

RECS

To do list Thursday

Level up your lunch game: Watch this video demonstrating how to wrap a sandwich.

Play: YouTube just made 75+ games available to all.

Touch grass: This map shows what the USDA’s new gardening zones mean for your zip code.

Live like the McCallisters: The house from Home Alone is for sale.

Shop: Get the Excel Desk Makeover bundle for 20% off and let everyone know you’ve got your sheet together.

Don’t go it alone: Join Sidebar’s exclusive leadership program for motivation, accountability, and career-building camaraderie. 93% of members called Sidebar a career game changer. Forge your professional path.*

*A message from our sponsor.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Brew Mini: Today’s puzzle contains a dramatic twist befitting a Greek tragedy. Play it here.

Three Headlines and a Lie

Three of these headlines are real and one is faker than the new butter substitute in your parents’ fridge. Can you spot the odd one out?

  1. French town reels from fortune teller scandal
  2. Billie Eilish says doing three-hour concerts is “literally psychotic”
  3. Weeks after addressing concerns over the safety of her kids’ car seats, Paris Hilton has responded to worried moms who pointed out that her son’s life jacket was on backwards
  4. Is tape preference tied to political beliefs? One study says yes

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ANSWER

We made up the one about tape reflecting political beliefs.

Word of the Day

Today’s Word of the Day is: excrement, meaning “feces.” Thanks to Julie B. from Greenville, SC, for the fragrant suggestion. Submit another Word of the Day here.

         
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