shares ran out of gas premarket, dropping 9.6%. The electric-vehicle startup plans to start construction next year on a second U.S. manufacturing facility in Georgia, placing a hefty bet on its ability to steadily increase sales in the coming years.
added 3.7% premarket, but that’s not much after the prior day’s 34% loss for the crypto stock. The shares have been subject to large swings since the company went public in October, including more than tripling Oct. 25 on news of a
The failure of the Keystone XL project demonstrated the challenges of building new pipelines in the U.S. and Canada amid galvanized environmental groups and delivered a blow to oil-and-gas companies that now must rely on aging infrastructure.
abandoned Wednesday, and other pipelines for more than a decade, hoping to choke off fossil-fuel usage by making it harder to transport. The success with Keystone XL already has emboldened environmentalists, who in recent weeks have turned their attention to other pipelines in the U.S. and Canada.
But the U.S. and Canada still rely on pipelines to transport fossil fuels that underpin commerce, transportation and heating and cooling. As pipelines become increasingly difficult to build, the countries will become more dependent on older infrastructure that is vulnerable to disruptions. The shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline last month after it was attacked by hackers highlights the potential impact caused by unexpected disruptions to the current network.
“Clearly, we’re relying on the infrastructure we currently have. The question becomes, as we think about filling future demand, and we need to repair or replace old infrastructure, how are we going to handle it?” said
Amy Myers Jaffe,
a research professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School.
Global oil demand is projected to peak in coming years, which could mean projects like Keystone could eventually outlive their utility, Ms. Jaffe said. “We’re not building for the 1950s, we’re building for the 2030s.”
In the past two years, at least four multibillion-dollar pipeline projects that drew protests have been canceled or delayed after encountering regulatory and political roadblocks, and environmental groups are looking to capitalize on the momentum. Some producers also have resorted to transporting oil by rail, a more expensive and potentially more dangerous alternative.
evacuated 44 workers in Minnesota, working on replacing a crude-oil pipeline there, after a group of protesters descended on a pump station in the middle of the state. Native American tribes and environmental groups continue to challenge the Dakota Access Pipeline in a long-running effort that has entangled the company in court for years.
The death of Keystone XL is the latest setback for the oil-and-gas industry. In May, a Dutch court found that
board, a historic defeat for the oil giant that may force it to alter its fossil-fuel-focused strategy.
The trio of defeats demonstrates how dramatically the landscape is shifting for oil-and-gas companies as campaigns directed by environmentalists have spread to investors, lenders, politicians and regulators who are increasingly calling for a transition to cleaner forms of energy.
Cos. dropped its Constitution natural gas pipeline after failing to gain a water permit from New York state.
who made canceling Keystone XL a central plank of his election campaign, has remained mostly mum about other pipeline projects under construction.
Environmental and indigenous groups have sued to stop construction on Enbridge’s project to replace its Line 3 crude-oil pipeline with a larger conduit that will carry oil from Alberta’s oil sands to Superior, Wis., arguing that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to consider the environmental impacts of the pipeline when it granted a water-quality permit.
The company already has replaced sections in other states but has encountered obstacles in Minnesota, where it hopes to complete construction by the end of the year. After Enbridge evacuated workers Monday, the Hubbard County Sheriff’s department arrested 179 people for damaging equipment and dumping garbage on the site.
“The project is already providing significant economic benefits for counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members—including creating 5,200 family-sustaining construction jobs, and millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues,” said the company in a statement on Thursday.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals is expected to make a ruling on a case that challenged the state’s Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the project.
Michigan state officials in November revoked a permit that allowed another Enbridge pipeline to run along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, citing the risk of damage to the region’s ecosystem. Gov.
gave Enbridge a May 12 deadline to shut down the pipeline, but the company hasn’t complied, claiming the governor lacks the authority to do so.
The 645-mile conduit carries more than half a million barrels of oil and natural-gas liquids each day from Superior to refineries in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec.
“Does the Keystone XL cancellation embolden fights against other pipelines? That’s a resounding yes,” said
Great Lakes region executive director for the National Wildlife Federation, which opposes the operation of Enbridge’s pipeline through Michigan.
“We’re very pleased,” said
executive director of the Sierra Club, which opposes both Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota and Michigan. He said the successful Keystone XL effort has taught them important lessons on how to oppose other projects. “It has taught us to never give up,” he said.
Enbridge pointed to the dramatic impact of the Colonial Pipeline’s six-day closure last month as an example of the consequences of scuttling energy infrastructure. The shutdown of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline, caused by a May 7 ransomware attack, spurred a run on gasoline across the Southeast, leaving thousands of gas stations without fuel for days.
During a Senate committee testimony Tuesday, Colonial Chief Executive
emphasized the scale of the pipeline, noting 50 million Americans rely on it to carry fuel to gas stations, as it provides almost half of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.
“Not only do everyday Americans rely on our pipeline operations to get fuel at the pump, but so do cities and local governments, to whom we supply fuel for critical operations, such as airports, ambulances and first responders,” Mr. Blount said in written testimony.
Prices for soybean oil shot to an all-time high last week, powered by growing demand from the biofuels sector.
Soybean-oil futures on the Chicago Board of Trade have soared almost 70% this year, closing at nearly 72 cents per pound on Friday. That topped the previous high hit in 2008. The climb makes soybean oil one of the year’s best-performing assets among a basket tracked by The Wall Street Journal, along with other commodities like lumber, corn and hogs.
Soybean oil is commonly used as an ingredient in foods like cereals, bread, and other snack foods. Demand for the vegetable oil is growing, however, from the biofuels industry, a chief part of the push toward renewable energy highlighted by President Biden’s call for the U.S. to cut carbon-emissions levels in half by 2030.
“Biofuel, particularly renewable diesel, is a key driver of the demand picture on the vegetable-oil side as we look forward,” said
president of Archer Daniels Midland Co.’s agricultural services and oilseeds business unit.
The U.S. Agriculture Department expects the biofuels sector to consume 12 billion pounds of soybean oil in the 2021-22 marketing year—up from an estimated 9.5 billion pounds in 2020-21, according to its monthly supply-and-demand report published in May.
Producers are racing to keep up. Production capacity for soyoil in the U.S. is expected to grow to 935 million gallons in 2021, nearly double from where it was last year, according to data from
By 2023, that capacity is expected to swell to over two billion gallons annually.
“The enthusiasm for this new generation of renewable fuels mimics what we saw in the early days of the ethanol boom,” said
chief commodities economist with StoneX.
ADM said last month that it would invest $350 million into building a new soybean-crushing plant—where raw soybeans are made into products like oil and meal—in Spiritwood, N.D. ADM said the facility will open before the 2023 harvest, processing as much as 150,000 bushels of soybeans a day.
ADM isn’t the only major agricultural company investing. Cargill said in March it would spend $475 million improving its soy-crush facilities across seven states, bettering their efficiency and boosting production.
Cargill in April announced a joint venture with the Love’s Family of Companies to construct a new renewable diesel plant in Hastings, Neb. Once opened, the plant will supply the market with 80 million gallons of renewable diesel a year, Cargill said.
“Our view is that we need to have some kind of presence in the renewable-fuel market, to know about it,” said Roger Watchorn, head of Cargill’s agricultural supply-chain operations.
Major energy players outside of agriculture are also piling in.
in April confirmed it had bought a stake in an Iowa-based soybean-processing plant and would buy 100% of the soybean oil produced there—expected to total roughly 4,000 barrels a day.
“With some of the new entrants into the market, they’re looking to secure their supply chain,” said Alan Weber, a founding partner of Kearney, Mo.-based biofuel consulting firm MARC-IV.
While other feedstocks, such as used animal fats, make better renewable fuel, there simply isn’t enough of those waste products available, said Juan Sacoto, director of North American agribusiness consulting with IHS Markit Inc. About 40% of all beef tallow and 80% of all reclaimed yellow cooking grease are already being sold for biofuels, constituting roughly two billion pounds of each.
“There’s not enough of these fats and greases, so they turn to vegetable oil,” said Mr. Sacoto, adding that IHS projects that the biofuels industry will need 20 billion pounds of feedstock this year—a figure expected to double in the next five years.
Global supply issues are also a factor pushing vegetable-oil prices higher. In Southeast Asia, coronavirus-related labor shortages have reduced production of palm oil, an oil used for similar purposes. Palm-oil stocks world-wide are at their lowest level in four years. Few expect a quick turnaround, said Kyle Holland, a pricing analyst with research firm Mintec Ltd.
“The sentiment now from the market is that it’ll be a very long time, even into 2022, until the market gets back to normal,” said Mr. Holland in a virtual conference in May.
Rising soybean prices in the U.S. are also pushing gains in soyoil, with the most-active futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade jumping as high as $16.43 per bushel in May, their highest level since September 2012. A major source of demand comes from China, which is rebuilding hog populations after African swine fever caused the nation to cull roughly a third of its herd.
Some question how much longer soyoil prices can climb, with consumers noticing prices at grocery stores are on the rise.
“The price response for soyoil in the U.S. has people questioning how big can it get before hitting a tipping point,” said Mr. Watchorn.
China’s banking and insurance regulator said Thursday that it had approved Ant Group’s application to set up a consumer-finance company, the first regulatory milestone in the fintech giant’s restructuring of its business.
Ant will hold a 50% stake in the new entity, registered in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing, with the rest held by six other shareholders. The company, Chongqing Ant Consumer Finance Co., is licensed to conduct consumer lending and other operations.
Bitcoin edged up 2% from its 5 p.m. ET price, trading at about $40,900. The digital asset has rebounded sharply from its Wednesday intraday low of $30,444.93, but is still down over 18% since 5 p.m. last Friday.
IHS Markit’s preliminary U.S. manufacturing index for May, due at 9:45 a.m. ET, is expected to hold at 60.5, unchanged from its end-of-April reading, and the services index is expected to tick down to 64.3 from 64.7.
U.S. existing-home sales, due at 10 a.m., are expected to inch up to an annual pace of 6.02 million in April from 6.01 million a month earlier.
shares gained 2.7% ahead of the bell after it reported higher profit and sales for its fiscal second quarter due to strong market conditions and broad improvement across divisions and geographies—but it expects increased supply-chain pressures for the rest of the year.
shares rose 1.3% premarket. The cruise operator said it was planning to resume Alaska sailings in July, in what would be among the first sailings out of the U.S. since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rival
Tencent’s stock has lost a fifth of its value—nearly $200 billion—from its January peak as sharply higher regulatory scrutiny has sunk the whole Chinese tech sector. Alibaba, which was hit by a record $2.8 billion fine for anticompetitive behavior, has lost one-third of its value since October.
Monday morning begins the process of unwinding Ma Bell’s expensive foray into the world of big media. Under the terms announced, AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit will combine with Discovery to create a new stand-alone media titan expected to generate annual revenue of about $52 billion by 2023. It also will create a more focused—and less indebted—AT&T. Net debt is expected to fall by $43 billion once the deal closes sometime in mid-2022.
Much of those borrowings came from the company’s $81 billion acquisition of Time Warner, which closed barely three years ago. The relatively abrupt about-face can be chalked up to a rapidly changing media landscape in which investors have heavily incentivized Hollywood’s content giants to pour capital into streaming. That created some unique pressures for AT&T, which also has a capital intensive wireless and fiber optic business to run along with a generous dividend to maintain. Investors never warmed to the company’s big media aspirations; AT&T’s stock has badly trailed the broader market since the company announced the Time Warner deal in late 2016. The shares rose 2% Monday morning.
Discovery, meanwhile, has earned some kudos on Wall Street for its efforts to build a more focused streaming offering. Discovery+ launched in the U.S. in January, and
of MoffettNathanson estimates the service is already on pace to reach 11 million domestic subscribers by the end of the year. Still—at just under $11 billion in trailing 12-month revenue—Discovery ranks below many other media outlets in scale, including
The move isn’t quite a cash out for AT&T. Citigroup analysts noted Monday that the structure of the deal as a tax-free spin limits the amount of cash and deleveraging for AT&T, which said Monday it has “resized” its annual dividend payout ratio to about 40% to 43% of anticipated free cash flow, down from its last-stated goal of a little over 50% of free cash flow. AT&T adds that it will reach its target ratio of 2.5 times net debt to adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization by the end of 2023—a year earlier than planned.
The move should still create a cleaner story for AT&T going forward. The company was never going to land the sort of multiples investors have lavished on other media giants diving head first into streaming. And its pressing need to invest in expensive technology like 5G to keep its network business competitive made this a bad time to also keep up with the billions being poured into new streaming content by everyone from Disney to
North America’s sawmills can’t keep up with demand, which has sent wood prices on a meteoric rise. Don’t expect new mills to start popping up though.
Executives in the cyclical business of sawing logs into lumber said they are content to rake in cash while lumber prices are sky-high and aren’t racing out to build new mills, which can cost hundreds of millions dollars and take two years to build from the ground up.
In doing so they are breaking with conventional wisdom in the commodities business, which states that the cure for high prices is high prices. Usually when prices for raw materials rise, refineries and smelters ramp up, farmers plant larger crops, wells are drilled, mines dug. New supplies flood into the market and prices retreat.
Though lumber futures eased off last week’s all-time highs, they remain more than twice the pre-pandemic record. Meanwhile, cash prices for framing lumber and structural panels reached new highs, according to pricing service Random Lengths.
have set nine-figure budgets to boost efficiency and output at their existing mills, particularly in the South where there is a glut of cheap pine timber. Some forest-products executives said they are considering acquisitions with their fast-accumulating cash. But there aren’t many new mills on the drawing board for North America.
“We are going to be ultra cautious on what we do in those regards,”
told investors last month when the company reported record quarterly profits. “We don’t mind at all having a little extra cash around for sure, considering what this industry goes through.”
U.S. lumber-making capacity has risen about 11% over the past five years, according to Forest Economic Advisors LLC. New mills in the pine belt between Georgia and east Texas have helped offset closures that have shrunk Canada’s capacity, but there isn’t much coming behind them. Idled facilities are restarting in Florida and Mississippi. A couple small mills are under construction out West. Four bigger mills have been announced but not begun in the South, the firm said.
who advises forest-product executives and investors as managing partner in the Houston office of consulting firm
said the lumber boom has prompted clients to ask about building mills. He said he tells them they are too late.
Besides the time and money it takes to build a modern mill, equipment, from microprocessors to heavy machinery, is in short supply. So are the sort of workers needed to operate a computerized mill, especially in the rural places where timber is abundant, Mr. Hesters said.
“Trying to build capacity and make investments that have a lot of lead time at the top of a cycle is historically a good way to lose money,” Mr. Hesters said.
U.S. wood-product manufacturing peaked in January 2006, according to the Federal Reserve. A sharp decline that year foreshadowed the housing market’s collapse. The least efficient mills shut down while others were consolidated. Big Canadian sawyers West Fraser, Canfor and
An example is in Summerville, S.C., where Interfor is boosting output at a lumber mill that it bought in March from a cardboard maker. The lumber boom has pushed up asking prices for mills, though, which may impede deals like that, forest-product executives said.
Meanwhile, stock analysts are advocating for mill companies to return cash to shareholders. BMO Capital Markets analyst
said it is hard to see how mill companies can spend their windfalls without destroying value, given the frothy market.
“It’s a lot of sailors hitting the town with a lot of money in their pocket, so silly things can happen,” he said on Canfor’s earnings call. He applauded Interfor’s move Wednesday to pay a special dividend of $1.65 a share.
Added shifts and new equipment should increase output on the margins, but mill executives expect supplies to remain tight and for prices to remain high into next year.
“Even if there was an opportunity to build inventories, distribution channels would be reluctant at current market prices,” said
Interfor’s head of sales and marketing.
Companies that buy wood from mills to distribute to builders, manufacturers and retailers have been limiting orders to exactly what customers need for fear of getting stuck with high-price inventory and falling prices, said
whose family owns and operates Sherwood Lumber Corp.
The Melville, N.Y., company annually sells about a billion board feet of framing lumber to truss manufacturers, building-supply companies and shipping-crate makers. The firm doesn’t expect additional supplies before late next year or even 2023 and has been trying to manage its risk in the white-knuckle market by taking positions in the futures market.
“This is our job,” Mr. Goodman said. “We’re a middleman. We can’t not have stuff on the shelf.”
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, it seemed like life was going to get a little better before it got a lot harder. As it turns out, both are happening at the same time.
A booming PC market helped Intel deliver better-than-expected revenue for the first quarter. Total revenue adjusted for the pending sale of the company’s memory business came in about $1.1 billion higher than the midpoint of Intel’s own projection just three months ago as the company’s PC-related revenue rose 8% year over year to $10.6 billion. Revenue in the much smaller Mobileye, programmable solutions and Internet of Things segments also came in higher than Wall Street’s estimates.
But being one of the world’s largest chip makers in the midst of a global chip-production shortage wasn’t enough. Intel’s data-center business, which sells processors to cloud-computing giants to power their fast-growing services, saw its revenue slump 20% year over year—its worst drop on record. The segment faces a challenging comparison with a 42% revenue boom in last year’s first quarter, leading Intel to blame the slump on “cloud inventory digestion.” An even sharper drop in data-center operating profits brought segment operating margins to 23%—a record low for a business that has averaged operating margins of 41% over the past eight quarters.
Not surprisingly, Intel’s share price slumped 2% following the results Thursday afternoon. The sharp drop in data-center margins suggests Intel could be losing further ground to rivals such as Advanced Micro Devices, which is using more advanced production processes at
to field its most competitive chips in years. Intel played down this prospect during its conference call Thursday, instead chalking up the margin pressure to the costs of producing its latest data-center chips on its new and much-delayed 10-nanometer production process.
Whatever the case, the results will temper some of the enthusiasm that has built up for Intel lately. Before the results, the stock had jumped 18% since the company named Pat Gelsinger its new CEO in late January. Mr. Gelsinger laid out an ambitious plan last month to regain the company’s momentum in the most advanced chip-making processes while also opening its factories to producing processors designed by other companies. The plan smartly capitalizes on the industry’s current moment with even the president of the United States calling for billions to subsidize domestic chip-making operations.
But chip-making is the ultimate long game in tech. New fabrication facilities take two to three years to build and equip. Meanwhile, Intel has to keep its own chips competitive while closing its production gap with TSMC, which just boosted its planned capital expenditures for this year to $30 billion—more than 50% above Intel’s own target. Mr. Gelsinger noted Thursday that Intel also plans to be “aggressive on market share.” That is another expensive plan.
military-training division for $1.05 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, in a move that would expand the Canadian aerospace company’s defense business.
An agreement is expected Monday, assuming talks don’t fall apart, the people said.
The unit includes three main businesses: Link, which provides military training in the U.S.; Doss Aviation, which provides flight training to the U.S. Air Force; and AMI, which designs and makes simulator hardware. The business, which has about $500 million in annual revenue, is expected to be based in Tampa, Fla., after the deal’s close, the people said.
Saint-Laurent, Quebec-based CAE expects the deal to be accretive to earnings per share and forecasts cost savings of roughly 35 million to 45 million Canadian dollars a year in the second year post-close, the people said. It is to be funded by a private placement of roughly C$700 million, equivalent to about US$549.4 million, from two institutional investors, they said.
CAE has a market value of around C$9.5 billion. It has historically specialized in flight simulators and training devices and has been broadening its reach through several deals in recent months, though none anywhere near the size of the deal being discussed for the L3Harris unit.
The Canadian company is a market leader in training pilots for commercial jetliners and makes flight simulators for the
737 MAX and other jets, which has left it hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic-driven slump in global air travel.
CAE, which also produces health equipment such as ventilators, has looked to expand and improve margins at its defense business, hiring two senior executives from L3Harris.
Melbourne, Fla.-based L3Harris, which has a market value of $38 billion, was formed by the 2019 merger of Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies Inc. It was at the time the largest-ever defense-industry merger, with a transaction value of more than $15 billion. It was eclipsed by the 2020 combination of Raytheon Co. and
The defense industry’s outlook has improved during the pandemic, a reversal after years in which commercial-aerospace spending growth looked more promising. Companies with large portions of revenues dependent on commercial spending, including Boeing and its suppliers, have suffered as people sharply cut back on business and leisure travel.
The sale of the military-training business would take L3Harris most of the way to meeting its target of divesting itself of assets accounting for as much as 10% of sales and using all of the proceeds for share buybacks. It sold its airport-security unit for $1 billion to