Business briefing

The daily business briefing: October 20, 2021

Netflix earnings rise as 'Squid Game' boosts global subscribers, Proctor & Gamble raises toiletry prices due to supply crunch, and more

1

Netflix earnings rise with a boost from 'Squid Game'

Netflix on Tuesday reported a sharp rise in third-quarter earnings as it added 4.4 million subscribers, beating its projection for 3.5 million new subscribers and bringing its global total to 213.6 million. The video-streaming company benefited from the popularity of Squid Game, a South Korean dystopian survival drama that the company called its most popular TV series ever. Netflix said 142 million households had at least sampled the program, which was its No. 1 show in 94 countries. The company has stepped up production of shows delayed by the coronavirus pandemic in the first half of the year, and sought "new growth opportunities," including video games being tested in some markets.

2

Procter & Gamble to hike prices on toiletry items due to supply problems

Procter & Gamble said Tuesday it would raise prices on more toiletry items and other household goods as supply-chain bottlenecks raised its costs more than expected. The company, one of the nation's largest consumer goods manufacturers, said it recently told retailers it would start charging more for some grooming, skin care, and oral care products, in addition to previously announced price hikes on home, laundry, and other consumer products. The news was the latest sign of intensifying pressure manufacturers and retailers are fighting as inflation remains high due to raw material price increases and logjams at ports and warehouses. Colgate-Palmolive, General Mills, and Kleenex maker Kimberly-Clark are among other consumer goods companies that have announced price hikes in 2021.

3

Facebook reaches discrimination settlement

Facebook agreed in a settlement announced Tuesday to pay a $4.75 million fine and up to $9.5 million to eligible U.S. workers who were discriminated against in favor of foreigners with special visas seeking high-paying jobs. Facebook also will train its employees to observe anti-discrimination rules, and expand advertising for recruitment. The Justice Department's civil rights division said the social media company "routinely refused" to recruit and hire U.S. workers, including U.S. citizens, people granted asylum, refugees, and legal permanent residents for jobs it was reserving for temporary visa holders. Facebook sponsored the so-called H-1B visa holders to help them get "green cards" so they could work permanently. Critics say tech companies use this practice to get foreign workers who will work for lower pay than U.S. citizens.

4

Stock futures unchanged ahead of more corporate earnings

U.S. stock index futures were flat early Wednesday ahead of earnings reports from large technology companies that could provide indications of how they were affected by supply problems and inflation. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq were little changed several hours ahead of the opening bell. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained about 0.7 percent on Tuesday, their fifth consecutive day of gains and their longest winning streak since August. The Dow rose by 0.6 percent. Netflix released a strong earnings report on Tuesday as subscriber growth exceeded its expectations. United Airlines also reported after the bell, beating analysts' expectations thanks to the continuing rebound in travel demand after the coronavirus slowdown.

5

GE, Union Pacific latest contractors complying with vaccine order

More large employers, including General Electric and Union Pacific, are making coronavirus vaccines mandatory for their workers to bring themselves into compliance with the Dec. 8 deadline for federal contractors. The two companies employ more than 300,000 workers in the United States. President Biden signed an executive order in September requiring workers for government contractors to get COVID-19 shots as part of his administration's push to get more Americans vaccinated. Boeing, International Business Machines, and Raytheon Technologies are among the federal contractors that previously imposed vaccine mandates. The administration also plans to make companies employing 100 or more workers to require vaccinations or regular COVID-19 testing for their workers. That policy will be spelled out in an Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule.

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