DOW PLUNGES 589 POINTS IN GLOBAL ROUT, AS INVESTORS REEL FROM BREXIT VOTE; FORD DIVES 7%; YUM, OTHER LOUISVILLE STOCKS SLAMMED

A news summary, focused on 10 big employers; updated 5:21 p.m.

Traders at exchange
Anxious traders at the New York Stock Exchange today (New York Times).

The Dow Jones Industrial Average cratered 3.3% this afternoon, tumbling 589 points and wiping out its year-to-date gains as fears gripped markets with Britain’s stunning vote to  leave the E.U. The broader S&P 500 tumbled 3% and the Nasdaq slumped 3.8%. Latest news.

All 10 big-employer stocks tracked by Boulevard fell sharply:

To fully appreciate the magnitude of the losses, consider Kentucky’s richest family, the Browns of Brown-Forman. They saw $201 million of their more than $6 billion in paper wealth evaporate in a matter of hours.

WSJ-1
This morning’s paper.

The impact of last night’s stunning Brexit news for Louisville employers will be greatest for those with extensive overseas footprints and currency exposure.

They include Brown-Forman, which sells 15 brands such as Jack Daniel’s in 160 countries worldwide. The U.K. is the company’s second-biggest market, accounting for 10% of fiscal 2016 sales, according to Brown-Forman’s annual report. Europe, excluding the U.K., was 21%. The U.S. is No. 1, with 46%. The company says foreign markets are increasingly important: “In fiscal 2016, we generated 54% of our net sales outside the United States compared to 41% 10 years ago.”

Other companies likely taking post-Brexit hits include Papa John’s, which operates in 39 countries; Yum in 130 countries and now reshaping overseas operations with a planned China spinoff in October; Ford, which is already reworking its European sales strategy, and Amazon, a relative newcomer abroad.

Boulevard’s Stock Portfolio companies routinely warn investors about risks of doing business outside the U.S. Papa John’s, for one, noted in its annual report that “international operations could be negatively impacted by changes in international economic, political, security or health conditions in the countries in which the company or our franchisees operate.”

Yum’s 14,600-unit KFC Division bears the biggest overseas exposure; it’s in 120 countries, with more than a third — 5,003 restaurants — in China.

uk_tg
Britain’s Guardian.

“Our business,” Yum says in its annual report, “is increasingly exposed to risks inherent in international operations. These risks, which can vary substantially by country, include political instability, corruption, social and ethnic unrest, changes in economic conditions .  . .  as well as changes in the laws and policies that govern foreign investment in countries where our restaurants are operated.”

Also, Yum warns, “results of operations and the value of our foreign assets are affected by fluctuations in currency exchange rates, which may adversely affect reported earnings.”

Boulevard’s Big 10 companies employ 63,000 workers in the Louisville area, and nearly 2 million worldwide.

In non-Brexit news; updated 5:38 p.m.:

HUMANA: California’s insurance commissioner has recommended that federal officials block Aetna’s proposed $37 billion acquisition of Humana, saying the deal would suppress market competition and harm consumers. The official opinion of Dave Jones came just three days after California’s other health insurance regulator, the Department of Managed Care, approved the planned transaction. Just a week ago, Jones urged the federal government to block another mega-merger, Anthem’s $54 billion offer for Cigna also on competitive grounds (Kaiser Health News). Any attempt by Jones to block the tie-up could have serious repercussions because California is the nation’s biggest market.

Late this afternoon, Humana and Aetna said they had extended the end date of their planned merger to Dec. 31, according to a regulatory filing the Louisville insurer filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Humana did not disclose a reason for the extension (SEC document). But in the Aug. 28 merger agreement, the companies said the deal could be terminated at any time if the merger hadn’t been completed on or before June 30 (Hartford Courant). Aetna officials have said they expect the merger to close in this year’s second half, assuming it clears regulatory reviews at the state and federal levels.

Meanwhile, Aetna asked a judge to review a preliminary order by the Missouri Department of Insurance last month that found that the insurer’s planned merger with Humana would harm competition in the state. With that action, Missouri became the first state to rule against the deal, according to legal experts (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).

KINDRED said it had entered into indemnification agreements, each dated yesterday, with CEO Benjamin Breier; COO Kent Wallace; CFO Stephen Farber, and David Causby, Executive Vice President and president of the Kindred at Home division. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing moments ago, the hospital and nursing giant said the agreements “are the company’s standard form of indemnification” (SEC document).

AMAZON announced plans for one of its newest distribution centers, in Georgia’s Braselton, 49 miles northeast of Atlanta, where it will  employ 500 workers. This isn’t the retailer’s the first expansion into Georgia: The company already employs 1,500 at other locations across the state (Investor Place). Also, Amazon is emerging as the nation’s top online fashion retailer, hammering mainstream merchants, including Macy’s and Gap. Amazon fashion sales from January to April this year were up 70% vs. the same period in 2014 (Philly). Amazon’s two Louisville-area distribution centers employ about 6,000 workers.

FORD will release its June U.S. sales figures next Friday, followed by a 10 a.m. ET conference call for the investment community and news media to discuss the results and related market trends (press release).

KFC: New Zealand newlyweds Ashleigh and Louis Davis spent 24 hours in Louisville as part of their honeymoon, with KFC footing the bill for their flights to and from the U.S. after a February wedding day photo snapped outside a KFC restaurant in northern New Zealand’s Whangarei went viral. Ashleigh and Louis flew to Louisville from Wellington on Wednesday, spending the day visiting KFC headquarters and taking a tour of the Colonel Sanders Museum before lunch at — where else — KFC. The couple has another wedding gift to look forward to: a year’s supply of KFC.

Louis, who eats at KFC three times a week, said because his new wife got everything she wanted with their big, traditional wedding, he wanted something that reflected his personality as well. Originally for a photo, he wanted everyone in the groom’s party to be naked, strategically holding the bridesmaids’ bouquets. But Ashleigh wasn’t impressed with that idea.

“I begged her to let me take one photo that I wanted to take.” And that’s what led to the KFC shot (New Zealand Herald).

From Louisville, Louis and Ashleigh will head to Orlando, and then a cruise from Miami to Mexico before flying home (VoxyWHAS and Daily Mail). Here’s the photo seen around the world:

New Zealand KFC wedding

 

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