The daily business briefing: February 26, 2020

Harold Maass
The New York Stock Exchange
Scott Heins/Getty Images

1.

Stocks continue to struggle after worst 2-day drop since 2008

U.S. stocks plunged for a second straight day Tuesday, capping their worst two-day loss since 2008. After the Centers for Disease Control issued a dire warning about the likelihood of a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. that could cause widespread disruption, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 879 points, or nearly 3.2 percent. The S&P 500 fell by about 3 percent. CNBC noted that "the last time the S&P 500 fell more than 3 percent two days in a row was in November of 2008 during the financial crisis," citing Bespoke Investment Group. The day before, the Dow plummeted by 1,031 points or 3.6 percent, its biggest one-day drop in two years. U.S. stock index futures fell early Wednesday. "Investors are clearly expecting more bad news — and rather than wait for it, they are selling," Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said in a note. [CNBC]

2.

Bob Iger steps down as Disney's CEO

Disney on Tuesday announced that longtime CEO Bob Iger, who oversaw a banner year for the company in 2019, would be stepping down effective immediately. He will be replaced by Bob Chapek, the parks division head and a 27-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company. Iger, fresh off the successful launch of a new streaming service and box office domination, will assume the role of executive chairman until his contract ends on Dec. 31, 2021. "With the successful launch of Disney's direct-to-consumer businesses and the integration of 21st Century Fox well underway, I believe this is the optimal time to transition to a new CEO," Iger said in a statement. Iger has headed The Walt Disney Company for the past 15 years. [The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times]

3.

Report: Tesla, Panasonic ending solar-panel joint venture

Tesla is ending its partnership with Panasonic to produce solar cell panels at a factory in upstate New York, Nikkei Asian Review and other media outlets reported Wednesday. The decision followed years of difficulties ramping up output at the Gigafactory 2 facility. The companies started the joint venture in 2016, with Japan's Panasonic making solar cells to be used in Tesla's Solar Roof panels, which are designed to look like regular black roof tiles. Panasonic's cells reportedly fell short of the goal of achieving the right look with the cost and efficiency Tesla wanted. The companies, which declined to comment, reportedly plan to continue collaborating on batteries for Tesla electric cars. [Nikkei Asian Review, The Associated Press]

4.

Starbucks to offer Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich in Canada

Starbucks announced Wednesday that it would start selling a Beyond Meat plant-based breakfast sandwich in the company's 1,200 Canadian stores starting next week. It will be the first time the company has offered imitation meat. The sandwich will include cheddar cheese and egg on an artisanal bun. The deal with Starbucks, the world's biggest coffee chain, marked a victory for Beyond Meat in its battle with rival plant-based meat producers, such as Impossible Foods and Nestle's Sweet Earth, for space on the shelves and menus of stores and fast-food outlets. In November, Dunkin' Brands Group Inc. said it was putting its Beyond Sausage Sandwich on the menu at all its U.S. stores. [Reuters]

5.

Bayer chairman stepping down as company makes progress on Roundup settlements

Bayer said Wednesday that its chairman, Werner Wenning, was stepping down as the company made progress toward settling claims that its weedkiller Roundup causes cancer. "We have made and continue to make progress in handling the legal issues in the U.S. That's why now is a good time to hand over to my successor," Wenning said in a statement. Norbert Winkeljohann, a member of Bayer's supervisory board since 2018, will take over in late April after the annual shareholders' meeting. Bayer, which bought Roundup maker Monsanto in 2016, last year started settlement negotiations with lawyers for U.S. plaintiffs claiming Roundup, which contains glyphosate, caused their cancer. The number of plaintiffs reached 42,700 last year. Analysts predict the cases could cost the company $12 billion. [Reuters]