Business briefing

The daily business briefing: June 30, 2022

Amazon caps Plan B purchases as sales surge, Spirit postpones shareholder vote on proposed Frontier merger, and more

1

Amazon temporarily caps Plan B purchases

Amazon said Wednesday it will temporarily limit purchases of the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B as demand spikes following the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to have an abortion. Amazon said it will limit customers to three of the so-called morning-after pills, intended to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, to avert a shortage. Rite Aid and CVS temporarily placed similar caps on Plan B purchases, but CVS said late Tuesday it was relaxing the restrictions because sales had "returned to normal." Emergency contraceptive pills are different from prescription "medication abortion" drugs, which are taken within 10 weeks of fertilization.

2

Spirit delays vote on proposed Frontier merger

Spirit Airlines on Wednesday pushed back its scheduled shareholder vote on a proposed merger with Frontier Airlines to allow more talks with Frontier and rival bidder JetBlue Airways. The vote had been scheduled for Thursday, and Spirit rescheduled it for July 8. It was the second postponement; Spirit shareholders had originally been scheduled to vote on the merger on June 10. Frontier and JetBlue both sweetened their bids as the votes approached. Spirit's board has resisted JetBlue's surprise all-cash offer, saying it wouldn't get past regulators. Either merger would create the nation's fifth largest airline.

3

Bed Bath and Beyond replaces CEO Mark Tritton

Bed Bath and Beyond announced Wednesday it is replacing CEO Mark Tritton with Sue Grove, an independent director on its board, until it can find someone to fill the job permanently. The decision came as the retailer reported lower-than-expected quarterly earnings, with sales down 27 percent compared to a year earlier. "We must deliver improved results," Grove said in a statement. "Top-tier execution, careful management of costs, greater supply chain reliability, prudent capital spending, a stronger balance sheet, and robust digital capabilities will all be important to our success." Tritton led the struggling company for three years. His departure, given the company's trajectory, was "inevitable," said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData.

4

U.S. stock futures fall as worst first-half since 1970 ends

U.S. stock index futures dropped early Thursday as Wall Street wrapped up what was, by one measure, its worst first half of a year since 1970. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 1.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 1.3 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively. The Dow rose 0.3 percent on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq edged down less than 0.1 percent. The Dow and S&P 500 are on track for their worst quarter since the second three months of 2020, when COVID-19 lockdowns wrecked the economy, sending stocks plummeting. The Nasdaq Composite has fallen more than 20 percent in the last three months, its biggest such drop since 2008, as the Federal Reserve's aggressive interest-rate hikes to curb inflation raised concerns of a possible recession.

5

Biden administration orders vaccines for fall booster campaign

U.S. health officials announced Wednesday they will buy 105 million more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to use in a fall booster campaign to help fight an expected winter surge. The $3.2 billion deal came as the Food and Drug Administration considers a recommendation from a panel of experts to update the vaccines to target Omicron subvariants now accounting for most new coronavirus infections in the United States. Biden administration officials said the new purchase agreement includes the option to increase the order to 300 million doses, some for adults and some for children. Delivery could start in early fall, but first the FDA will have to authorize new versions of the vaccines.

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