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Stock Market Updates: McDonald’s and Beyond Meat, Amazon and More

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Credit…Steve Helber/Associated Press

Shares of Beyond Meat plunged on Tuesday after the company’s quarterly earnings report fell short of expectations and news of Mcdonald’s new plant-based products raised concerns about the companies’ relationship.

The high-flying plant-based meat company surprised investors late Monday when it reported that its third-quarter revenue had only climbed 2.7 percent from the previous year but that higher pandemic-related expenses resulted in a net loss of $19.3 million in the quarter, compared with net income of $4.1 million a year ago. The stock was down about 22 percent in early trading Tuesday.

Earlier this year, shoppers filled their carts with Beyond Meat’s faux burgers as they loaded pantries and freezers during the pandemic. But that buying slowed significantly in the third quarter, executives said. Retail revenue dropped 11.1 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier.

On top of that, investors were also nervous about the lack of details around an announcement earlier in the day from McDonald’s about McPlant, a line of new plant-based products that it plans to introduce to certain markets next year.

Earlier this year, McDonald’s ran a pilot in Canada with Beyond Meat’s products and Beyond Meat said it developed a patty for the McPlant line, but analysts noted that McDonald’s executives were a bit more vague about its suppliers for its new faux-meat products.

“We haven’t made a decision yet about how we’re going to be and which suppliers are supporting our global rollout,” Chris Kempczinski, the chief executive of McDonald’s, said In an interview Monday with CNBC.

Credit…Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

AMC Entertainment announced on Tuesday that it would offer Private Theater Rentals at AMC, which would allow people to reserve theaters for private film showings, an effort to attract customers during a pandemic that has decimated movie theaters across the country.

The offering comes after a four-week trial for the service, which drew 110,000 inquiries around the country — more than four times the number of bookings in all of 2019, without any significant marketing, the company said.

“It’s unprecedented for AMC to receive 110,000 contacts in four weeks about a private theater rental, based only on word of mouth and organic publicity, and we are excited about and appreciative of the interest this has sparked among AMC guests,” said Elizabeth Frank, executive vice president of worldwide programming and chief content officer for AMC.

AMC, the largest theater chain the United States, said guests could rent any of its approximately 600 theaters nationwide through its website and mobile app for a movie screening, with fees starting at $99. New releases are more expensive — “Tenet,” “The War With Grandpa” and “Freaky” could cost as much as $349. The rental fee includes up to 20 tickets.

Independent theater owners have also tested private rentals as a way to bring in revenue as they fight for survival.

The announcement comes as AMC teeters on the edge of bankruptcy, with many people still wary of returning to theaters in large numbers and Hollywood pushing off most major releases until next year. In October, AMC said that existing cash resources would be largely depleted by the end of 2020 or early 2021, and that the company would require additional sources of liquidity or increases in attendance levels to meet its financial obligations.

The company said that AMC would require guests to wear masks and practice social distancing in the auditorium.

Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times

The energy industry has experienced its worst year in decades because of the pandemic, but clean sources for generating electricity have still managed to grow, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.

Consumption of electricity generated by wind, solar and hydroelectric sources will grow nearly 7 percent in 2020, despite the fact that overall energy demand will slump by 5 percent, the steepest drop since World War II, the Paris-based forecasting group said in a report published on Tuesday.

This performance shows that these renewable sources of energy are “immune to Covid,” Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director said at a news conference.

Renewable electricity is growing because of government policies encouraging such investments and strong interest among investors who want to put money into clean energy projects, according to the report.

The world will add nearly 4 percent to its capacity in 2020 to generate electricity from renewables like wind and solar, despite travel restrictions, factory closures and other obstacles caused by the pandemic. Growth next year is expected to accelerate to around 10 percent, as projects disrupted by the pandemic are brought online and efforts by governments in Europe and Asia to kick-start their economies while also tackling climate change ramp up.

Mr. Birol said that a return to the Paris accord on climate change by the United States, as President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged, could give “very strong momentum” to this drive, leading to a doubling of renewables capacity in the United States over five years.

Credit…Elliott Verdier for The New York Times

European Union regulators brought antitrust charges against Amazon on Tuesday, saying the online retail giant broke competition laws by unfairly using its size and access to data to harm smaller merchants who rely on the company to reach customers, writes Adam Satariano of The New York Times.

Here’s what you need to know about the suit:

  • The European Commission, the executive branch of the 27-nation bloc, said Amazon had abused its dual role as both a retail store used by millions of vendors and a merchant that sells its own competing goods on the platform.

  • The authorities accused Amazon of harvesting data from the millions of merchants who use its marketplace to spot popular products, then copy them and sell at a lower price.

  • The case, which has been expected for months, is the latest front in a trans-Atlantic regulatory push against Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google as the authorities in the United States and Europe take a more skeptical view of their business practices and dominance of the digital economy.

  • Many in Europe will be watching to see how the Amazon announcement is received by the incoming administration of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is expected to pursue policies that limit the industry’s power.

  • The announcement on Tuesday was just one part of the regulatory process. It can take many months, or even years, before a fine and other penalties are announced. The commission also could reach a settlement with Amazon.

  • Stock markets around the world took a break on Tuesday from the feverish excitement that gripped investors for much of Monday following news of a 90 percent-effective coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer.

  • The S&P 500 was fell slightly in early trading. It had closed on Monday within 1 percent of a record it set in early September.

  • The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose about half a percent on Tuesday, with gains for energy and financial companies. Asian markets were mixed.

  • In Britain, the FTSE 100 index rose 1 percent and the pound climbed 0.7 percent against the U.S. dollar and 0.9 percent against the euro. Many believe the likelihood of a Brexit agreement has increased, in part because of the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the United States. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains a critical sticking point in the final Brexit negotiations, and the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is not expected to want to pick a fight with a president-elect who often refers to his Irish heritage and has warned against a return of a hard border.

  • Talks with the European Union on a trade deal continued ahead of a deadline for an agreement this weekend. The gains came despite an increase in Britain’s unemployment rate to 4.8 percent, a four-year high.

  • Oil prices continued to climb. Futures contracts on West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, rose 1.1 percent to $40.75 a barrel. The price jumped more than 8 percent on Monday. An index of the dollar against other major currencies rose 0.2 percent. The price of gold rose 0.8 percent.

  • The S&P 500 is up more than 8 percent in November, a rally fueled in part by relief over the resolution of the 2020 election and expectations that a split government with Republicans in control of the Senate would curb any substantial policy changes by the incoming Biden administration. News of Pfizer’s vaccine trial added a layer of exuberance to those gains on Monday.

  • But the rally is still susceptible to changes in sentiment, and trading on Monday highlighted this. The S&P 500 gave up one percentage point of gains in the final half-hour of trading after the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said President Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to challenge the outcome of the election — a reminder to investors that political uncertainty could linger.

  • Plus, the United States is still setting records for new coronavirus cases and it could be months before a vaccine is widely available. The economy is still struggling, with no new prospects for economic aid from Washington expected anytime soon, in particular as Mr. Trump is preoccupied with overturning the election outcome.

Credit…Ysa Pérez for The New York Times

Jay Foreman, chief executive of the toymaker Basic Fun in Boca Raton, Fla., is among the employers who don’t believe the pandemic has fundamentally reordered the way millions of Americans should work.

They are recalling their employees even as the coronavirus surges in parts of the country, arguing that a balance can be struck between safety and the need to reunite under one roof, Nelson D. Schwartz reports for The New York Times.

Some employees have come back eagerly after the distractions of working from home. Others have done so reluctantly after asking for a bit more time. And at least one of Basic Fun’s employees has found another job rather than face returning to the office.

Mr. Foreman is not a mask doubter or a coronavirus skeptic. Nor is he a fan of President Trump, who has questioned the efficacy of masks and criticized the lockdowns that have forced many employees to work from home.

But he believes the necessary steps — like mandatory masks, and desks that are spread out, with hand sanitizer stationed throughout the office — have been taken to ensure his workers’ safety. And that means his employees no longer have a choice to stay home.

“We’re back together working as a team,” he said. Mr. Foreman expects the effects of the pandemic to continue for another year, at least, “but there is no way business will be able to be as efficient working from home as when employees are working together.”

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