By Dan Fitzpatrick 

Exxon Mobil Corp.

The ground underneath the oil industry is getting slicker. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC suffered significant defeats Wednesday as environmental groups and activist investors step up pressure on the oil industry to address concerns about climate change. First a Dutch court ordered Shell to sharply reduce its carbon emissions, and then hours later an activist investor won at least two seats on Exxon's board. Exxon's shares rose 1.2% Wednesday. Inc.

A titan of the tech world wants to direct one of Hollywood's most fabled studios. Inc. said Wednesday it agreed to buy MGM Holdings, a pact that would turn a film operation known for classics like "Singin' in the Rain" and "Rocky" into a streaming asset for the e-commerce giant. The deal is part of a larger consolidation in the media world; last week AT&T agreed to combine its media assets with Discovery Inc. A MGM purchase would mark Amazon's second-largest acquisition in history, behind its $13.7 billion pickup of Whole Foods in 2017, and highlights the premium that content is commanding as streaming wars force consolidation. Amazon's shares rose 0.2% Wednesday.

Bank of America

A big bank is hanging up on the cold call. Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch Wealth Management unit is banning trainee brokers from pushing hot investments on anyone who will pick up the phone, a practice once widely viewed within the industry as a rite of passage. On Monday Merrill rolled out a revamped adviser-training program that prohibits participants from cold calling and directs would-be brokers to use internal referrals or LinkedIn messages to land clients instead. The decision comes after the program's 3,000 trainees were told to stop outbound recruiting efforts to find new customers last year after problematic phone calls. Bank of America's shares were up 0.5% Monday.

Best Buy Co.

Is America running out of TVs? Best Buy is rushing to have enough televisions and appliances to sell in its stores this year amid surging demand from American consumers. Comparable sales at Best Buy shot up 37% during the company's quarter that ended earlier this month as it worked to navigate supply-chain challenges, and the company expects "some level of inventory constraints" through the rest of 2021, according to Best Buy Chief Executive Corie Barry. The situation is a sharp turn from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic a year ago, when many retail executives worried aloud about whether shoppers would ever return. Best Buy's shares rose 1% Thursday.

Ford Motor Co.

A plan by Ford to boost its electric-vehicle production is picking up speed. Ford executives told investors Wednesday that they expect 40% of the company's global sales to be fully electric by 2030, and that the company would boost spending on electric-vehicle development to $30 billion by 2025, roughly one-third more than it forecast earlier this year. The pledges are part of a tech-centric strategy to electrify much of Ford's vehicle lineup and sharply grow its commercial truck and van business. Its shares rose 8.5% Wednesday.

HCA Healthcare Inc.

A national hospital chain wants to Google its patient health records. HCA Healthcare Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google unit announced an agreement Wednesday to develop healthcare algorithms from digital health records and internet-connected medical devices. The companies said this would help improve operating efficiency, monitor patients and guide doctors' decisions. HCA said patient records would be stripped of identifying information before being shared with Google data scientists and that the hospital system would control access to the data. Google has previously reached deals with other prominent U.S. hospital systems that granted access to personal patient information, drawing public scrutiny. HCA shares rose .77% Wednesday.

HP Inc.

Will demand for the PC wane once the pandemic fades? HP Inc.'s chief executive expects personal computers to remain a hot item into next year, he said Thursday as the company posted a roughly 27% jump in second-quarter revenue and raised its full-year earnings outlook. A pandemic-fueled run on computers helped HP deliver strong results despite a semiconductor shortage that is denting some industries. Personal-computer sales registered their strongest growth in a decade last year, underscoring a shift from mobile devices brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, according to industry data. Investors may not yet be convinced the run can continue. HP shares dropped 8.9% Friday.

Write to Dan Fitzpatrick at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 28, 2021 19:15 ET (23:15 GMT)

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