By Francesca Fontana 

Noble Energy Inc.

It was another wild, chaotic week for the oil world. Crude prices dropped below zero for the first time Monday, the result of falling demand from the coronavirus pandemic and a failure by energy and oil producers to drop output fast enough. Noble Energy fell 2% the following day, while Chevron Corp. fell 2.3% and Occidental Petroleum fell 2%. Oil prices then rebounded later in the week, sparked by the prospect of fresh U.S.-Iran tensions.

Shake Shack Inc.

Shake Shack is returning a $10 million loan meant to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. The burger chain, which employs more than 8,000 people, is one of several larger restaurant operators that have received funds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The company said Monday that it would return its PPP loan, after raising additional capital from stock investors. Many restaurants and other small businesses said they didn't get funding from the program before it ran out of funds last week. The Treasury Department on Thursday asked publicly traded companies to repay loans they received from the program. Shake Shack shares gained 6.7% Monday.

HCA Healthcare Inc.

Coronavirus is upending how hospitals make money. HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's largest hospital chains, said Tuesday that its first-quarter profit fell as emergency departments and operating rooms emptied out in response to state orders to combat the pandemic. The company suspended its quarterly dividend and joined other companies that have withdrawn guidance in recent weeks, saying it couldn't predict how the pandemic would continue to affect HCA's performance. Many states have required some or all hospitals and surgery centers to suspend procedures that weren't urgent or emergencies, with orders beginning in mid-March. Shares lost 4.5% Tuesday.

Expedia Group Inc.

Expedia has reached a deal to sell a stake to private-equity firms Silver Lake and Apollo Global Management Inc. after widespread travel bans ravaged the online-booking company's business. The Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that the investment is likely to total around $1 billion and could tide the company over until travel restrictions are lifted and the economy recovers. The company named a new CEO and confirmed the investment on Thursday. Demand for its flights and lodging has disappeared as much of the world's population stays at home to limit the spread of coronavirus. Expedia shares added 7.3% Wednesday.

Snap Inc.

People stuck at home are turning to Snapchat to connect with friends during the pandemic. Snap on Tuesday reported a surge in growth in revenue and users on its chat app, surprising analysts who have estimated sharp decreases in digital ad spending in the quarter. Communication with friends on the company's Snapchat app increased by more than 30% in the last week of March compared with the last week of January, the company said. In areas hardest hit by the pandemic, communication with friends on Snapchat increased more than 50%. Snap's performance could bode well for social-media heavyweights like Facebook Inc., which delivers earnings next week. Snap shares soared 37% Wednesday.

Target Corp.

Coronavirus lockdowns are cutting into Target's bottom line. Consumers flocked to stores to stock up in late February and early March, but Target Chief Executive Brian Cornell said Thursday that traffic slowed considerably as shoppers grew more reluctant to venture outside amid the pandemic. Sales from stores weakened significantly in late March and early April, and buying has shifted online through home delivery, store pickup and other services. Throughout, Target experienced a surge in sales of food, household goods and, more recently, office supplies and cooking appliances, while sales of higher-margin goods such as apparel and accessories fell. Target shares fell 2.8% Thursday.

J.C. Penney Co.

One of the dominant department-store chains of the last century appears closer to succumbing to the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Wall Street Journal reported late Thursday that J.C. Penney is in advanced talks with a group of lenders for funding that would keep the department-store chain's operations funded during a court-supervised bankruptcy. The loan package could total roughly $800 million to $1 billion, with some of that money potentially including existing debt. The company has been losing money for years, and with its stores unlikely to reopen soon J.C. Penney has been forced to put aside its latest turnaround strategy. J.C. Penney shares fell 11% Friday.

Write to Francesca Fontana at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 24, 2020 19:38 ET (23:38 GMT)

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