Kohl’s axes 15 percent of corporate jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Brady Corp. Q4 Profit Tops Estimates; Organic Sales Down 13.7% – Quick Facts

Brady Corp. (BRC) reported fourth quarter earnings per share of $0.53 compared to $0.68, prior year. On average, four analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to report profit per share of $0.52, for the quarter. Analysts’ estimates typically exclude special items.

Fourth quarter sales were $251.7 million compared to $295.3 million, previous year. Analysts expected revenue of $249.47 million, for the quarter. Sales for the quarter declined 14.7 percent. Organic sales declined 13.7 percent and the impact of foreign currency translation decreased sales by 1.0 percent.

Brown & Brown Unit Acquires Brookstone Insurance Group – Quick Facts

Brown & Brown Lone Star Insurance Services, a unit of Brown & Brown, Inc. (BRO), has acquired substantially all of the assets of the Brookstone Insurance Group, LLC. Brookstone provides commercial and personal insurance solutions to customers throughout the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

Brookstone Insurance Group will continue to operate from existing offices under leadership of Lauren Allen and under regional leadership of Tommy Huval. The Brookstone team will become part of the Brown & Brown operations in DFW and throughout the state of Texas.

Gold Futures Extending Recent Gains As Dollar Slips

Gold prices are modestly higher Wednesday morning as the dollar weakened further ahead of Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement, due later in the day.

The dollar, which recovered in late afternoon trades on Tuesday after exhibiting weakness earlier, slid to 92.81 in the Asian session today. It edged up to 92.86 subsequently, but was still down more than 0.2% from previous close.

Gold futures for December were up $6.30 or 0.32% at $1,972.50 an ounce, after advancing to $1,978.00 an ounce earlier.

Silver futures were gaining $0.096 or 0.35% at $27.560 an ounce, while Copper futures were down $0.0060 or 0.21% at $3.0570 per pound.

The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged. Markets are likely to pay close attention to any tweaks to the accompanying statement. The central bank’s latest economic projections may also attract attention.

Abu Dhabi Takes $615 Million Stake in U.S. LNG Exporter Cheniere

Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund disclosed a 5.1% stake in Cheniere Energy Inc., the largest U.S. exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority disclosed its holding in a filing dated Monday, giving it an interest in Cheniere valued at $615 million. It’s Cheniere’s fourth-largest shareholder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Houston-based Cheniere operates two U.S. LNG export facilities: Corpus Christi in Texas and Sabine Pass in Louisiana.

Lilly: BLAZE-1 Interim Data Show LY-CoV555 Antibody Reduces COVID-related Hospitalizations

Eli Lilly and Company (LLY) announced proof of concept data from an interim analysis of the BLAZE-1 clinical trial, showing a reduced rate of hospitalization for patients treated with LY-CoV555. The double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase 2 study evaluated LY-CoV555, a SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody, for the treatment of symptomatic COVID-19 in the outpatient setting. In the study, the primary endpoint of viral load change from baseline at day 11 was met for one of three doses. Rate of hospitalizations and ER visits was 1.7 percent for LY-CoV555 versus 6 percent for placebo. LY-CoV555 was well-tolerated in the study, with no drug-related serious adverse events reported.

“These interim data from the BLAZE-1 trial suggest that LY-CoV555, an antibody specifically directed against SARS-CoV-2, has a direct antiviral effect and may reduce COVID-related hospitalizations,” said Daniel Skovronsky, Lilly’s chief scientific officer and president of Lilly Research Laboratories.

The BLAZE-1 clinical trial remains ongoing, testing LY-CoV555 in combination with a second Lilly antibody, LY-CoV016.

South Africa’s Rand Has Another Go at Key Resistance Level

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South Africa’s rand is testing a key resistance level after a four-day streak that drove it to the strongest level since mid-March.

The currency on Wednesday surpassed 16.35 — the 23.6% Fibonacci retracement from its April high to the February 2018 low — after failing to breach that level three times in the past three months. A sustained break below it could see the rand targeting the 50% retracement at 15.43, followed by the 61.8% level at 14.50.

The rand is the best-performing emerging-market currency this month after Mexico’s peso and Brazil’s real, buoyed by the highest real yields among developing nations and speculation that the South African Reserve Bank’s record policy-easing cycle may be coming to an end.

With the Federal Reserve likely to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future, South Africa’s currency may continue to attract demand from investors who borrow dollars to buy higher-yielding currencies, known as the carry trade. The rand has returned 4% in the carry trade this month.

Kohl’s axes 15 percent of corporate jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Kohl’s said it has slashed about 15 percent of its corporate jobs as it grapples with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wisconsin-based retailer expects to save about $65 million a year as a result of the reductions disclosed Tuesday, which are part of a cost-cutting plan that aims to slash more than $100 million in annual expenses.

Kohl’s did not reveal how many workers were affected by the cuts. The company had about 37,000 full-time staffers and 87,000 part-time associates last year, according to its most recent annual report.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Kohl’s to close all of its stores and furlough 85,000 store and distribution workers in March. The company said its net profits tumbled more than 80 percent year-over-year to $47 million in the quarter ending Aug. 1 even though its stores had reopened and most sidelined workers had returned by that date.

Kohl’s announced the job cuts amid a wave of retail bankruptcies sparked by the virus. Big-name chains including J.Crew, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus and Brooks Brothers have all filed for bankruptcy in recent months.

Kohl’s shares were up 0.2 percent in premarket trading Wednesday at $23.18 as of 8:21 a.m. following a 1 percent drop in the stock price Tuesday.

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