Bill Gates reportedly transferred another $850 million in shares to Melinda, taking total transfers since their divorce to nearly $4 billion

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Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing after 27 years of marriage.

  • Bill Gates transferred $850 million in shares to Melinda French Gates last week, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The reported transfer of shares in the equipment manufacturer Deere equates to around 7% of Gates’ stake in the company.
  • French Gates has now received nearly $4 billion worth of stock from Gates since their divorce announcement.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Bill Gates has transferred $850 million more in shares to Melinda French Gates amid the couple’s divorce, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

The Microsoft co-founder transferred 2.25 million shares of equipment manufacturer Deere, brand name John Deere, to French Gates through his investment firm, Cascade Investment LLC, on Thursday, according to a securities filing seen by the Journal.

The total value of publicly disclosed transfers to French Gates now adds up to nearly $4 billion worth of stock since the pair announced their split, after 27 years of marriage, on May 3.

The reported Deere transfer equates to around 7% of Gates’s stake in the company.

Gates and Cascade Investment still owned nearly 29.3 million shares – 9.3% of the company – after the $850 million transfer to French Gates, the security filings said, per the Journal.

Cascade Investment didn’t immediately reply to Insider’s request for comment. The holding company also declined to comment beyond the filings to the Journal.

Insider reported on May 7 that three stocks worth a combined $3 billion were transferred to French Gates after the couple’s divorce announcement. These stocks included 2.9 million shares of automotive retailer AutoNation, 14.1 million shares of Canadian National Railway, and 293.5 million shares of media company Grupo Televisa.

Other stocks that French Gates could receive from Cascade Investment include Republic Services and Ecolab, which are heavily owned positions at the holding company.

The couple’s net worth is around $130.5 billion, according to Forbes.

The news of the Deere transfers comes two days after The New York Times reported that Gates pursued women at Microsoft while he was married to French Gates.

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US stocks slump as global COVID-19 cases increase

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  • The S&P 500 and the Dow on Tuesday continued their slide from last week’s record highs.
  • Global COVID-19 cases are rising, and the US State Department is set to issue a travel advisory.
  • The VIX, Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” was advancing.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Stocks moved lower on Tuesday, edging further from their strongest levels on record over concerns about rising COVID-19 cases worldwide.

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones industrial average were in the red for the second straight session after notching record closing highs at the end of last week.

But on the rise was the VIX, Wall Street’s so-called fear gauge. It climbed by the most in three weeks, indicating that investors expect increased volatility over the next 30 days. A recent survey by Allianz found that many Americans want to stay on the sidelines of the stock market this year, worried that volatility will accelerate and hurt their investments.

Here’s where US indexes stood at 9:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday:

The S&P 500’s consumer-discretionary sector was losing the most ground, with airline stocks down after the US State Department said on Monday that it planned to issue a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for nearly 80% of countries as the coronavirus continues to spread. Shares of United Airlines were lower after the carrier indicated that quarterly losses would continue until air travel recovers to 65% of 2019 levels.

Officials in Japan are weighing a virus state of emergency, and the UK imposed a travel ban for visitors from India because of high case counts there. Argentina is battling another wave of cases.

Elsewhere, Apple will be in focus as it hosts a “Spring Loaded” virtual event at 1 p.m. ET during which it is expected to introduce two iPad Pro models.

Around the markets, a GameStop stake held by Alaska’s revenue department soared by more than 700% last quarter. Alaska also said its Tesla bet had grown to $85 million in 18 months.

Bitfarms, a Canadian bitcoin-mining company, is planning a new mining site in Argentina that it said would be its largest yet.

Gold fell 0.1%, to $1,767 per ounce. Long-dated US Treasury yields rose, with the 10-year yield at 1.61%.

Oil prices rose. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.4%, to $63.60 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, gained 0.8%, to $67.57 per barrel.

Bitcoin rose to $56,079.

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GameStop knows its stock is ‘extremely volatile’ – but leadership says it’s completely out of their control

gamestop store ps5
  • On Thursday, GameStop finally acknowledged the ongoing short squeeze driving its stock price up.
  • GameStop leadership said the stock is “extremely volatile” and out of their control in an SEC filing.
  • The squeeze that began in mid-January has extended into late March, with no signs of stopping.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

GameStop said Tuesday that its stock is -and continues to be – “extremely volatile.”

Moreover, that volatility is “due to numerous circumstances beyond our control.”

The statement in a regulatory filing is the first such statement from GameStop leadership on its ongoing stock price fiasco that’s seen its shares rise as much as 1600% in a matter of weeks.

Under the “risk factors” section of the annual report, the company’s stock volatility is listed as the primary risk factor related to the company’s stock. It specifically cites “short squeezes” as a primary reason for that volatility.

“The market price of our Class A Common Stock has been extremely volatile and may continue to be volatile due to numerous circumstances beyond our control,” GameStop said in the filing.

Gamestop
A 12-month chart of GameStop’s stock value demonstrates the meteoric rises and catastrophic falls of the last few months.

GameStop’s stock value has been explosively unpredictable since mid-January.

Between January 15 and January 27, the price leapt from around $35 to just shy of $350. It’s seen similarly huge dropoffs, but months later it’s still in the $180 range.

The reason, of course, is the much discussed “short squeeze” from a large group of individual investors driving up the company’s stock price in an effort to defeat short sellers betting against the stock. It’s been a major topic of discussion for the past several months for loads of people in media and on Wall Street – except for GameStop leadership.

The company has more or less stayed mum for weeks, and even declined to discuss it on its quarterly earnings call this past week. Instead company leadership focused on the company’s ongoing “transformation” led by Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen.

Since Cohen joined the company’s board in January, taking charge of a “strategic” committee soon after, the company made a string of high-profile hires from the likes of Amazon and Chewy.

It is unclear what Cohen’s specific plans are the future of the company, but he broadly outlined plans in an open letter to the company’s board in late 2020.

GameStop, “needs to evolve into a technology company that delights gamers and delivers exceptional digital experiences,” Cohen wrote in the letter, “not remain a video game retailer that overprioritizes its brick-and-mortar footprint and stumbles around the online ecosystem.”

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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With GameStop’s stock price still exploding, the ailing game retailer is considering selling new units to fund its future

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WallStreetBets is the name of the popular Reddit forum where the initial GameStop short squeeze began.

  • GameStop’s stock price is still wildly inflated at just over $180 per share as of Tuesday afternoon.
  • The ailing retailer may take advantage of that inflated price by selling new units, it said Tuesday.
  • Those sales would fund the company’s ongoing “transformation” led by activist investor Ryan Cohen.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Ailing video game retailer GameStop has yet to cash in on the ongoing stock bubble impact its stock.

As of Tuesday afternoon, GameStop was trading at just over $180 per share – a tenfold increase over where it was before the bubble. But that could be about to change, according to a new SEC filing from GameStop.

“Since January 2021,” the filing says, in reference to when the stock bubble emerged, GameStop leadership has been “evaluating” whether it should “potentially sell shares.”

Read more: These are the kinds of charlatans who show up when Wall Street gets weird

One major issue with GameStop selling its own stock during a bubble is, of course, perception: GameStop leadership knows the current stock value is massively inflated, and selling stock right now could look pretty bad.

The filing acknowledges as much with a list of factors that are impacting its decision, including “capital needs and alternative sources and costs of capital available to us, market perceptions about us, and the then current trading price.”

Any money the company made from those sales could be used “to fund the acceleration of our future transformation initiatives,” the filing says. GameStop is currently amidst a “transformation” led by activist investor, board member, and former Chewy CEO Ryan Cohen.

As the leader of a new committee at the company, Cohen is attempting to do for GameStop what he did with Chewy: take on and defeat Amazon in a specific category of ecommerce.

At Chewy, it was pets. At GameStop, of course, it’s gaming.

ryan cohen millennial activist investor 2x1
Activist investor Ryan Cohen, of RC Ventures, owns 12.9% of GameStop’s shares.

Just over two years ago, in early 2019, GameStop’s stock value fell off a cliff: It dropped from about $16 per share to under $4.

And it stayed in that range for just shy of two years.

Even in 2020, while the video-game business (including GameStop) had huge gains during coronavirus lockdowns, GameStop’s stock price remained in the gutter. As recently as last August, the largest video-game retail chain in the world had a stock value of less than $5 per share.

But in the second half of 2020, with big financial names like Cohen and Michael Burry buying up shares in the ailing retailer, things started looking up. The company’s share value gradually increased until it outright surpassed its pre-collapse value in late 2020.

And then things got really weird: Between January 20 and January 26, GameStop’s stock value leaped from just over $35 per share to north of $140 per share. By January 27, it hit new highs of over $325 per share – an over 8,000% increase from just a few months ago.

Two months later, it’s late March and GameStop’s stock value still hasn’t returned to pre-bubble levels: As of this afternoon, it was trading at just over $180.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Ulta Beauty tumbles as profit outlook disappoints and CEO Dillon plans to step down

ulta
  • Ulta Beauty dropped nearly 9% on Friday following quarterly earnings the prior evening.
  • Ulta’s earnings-per-share view of $8.85 to $9.30 fell short of Wall Street’s target of $10.61.
  • CEO Mary Dillion will transition to the role of the board’s executive chair.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ulta Beauty shares were knocked sharply lower on Friday after the cosmetics retailer’s yearly earnings guidance missed Wall Street’s target. The company also said CEO Mary Dillon will step down from the top role.

The company late Thursday forecast fiscal 2021 per-share earnings of $8.85 to $9.30, which includes the impact of about $850 million in share buybacks. Analysts were looking for earnings of $10.61 per share, according to data compiled by Refinitiv. Ulta’s revenue forecast was $7.2 billion to $7.3 billion, below the average analyst forecast of $7.32 billion.

The company in a separate announcement said Dillon will transition to the role of executive chair of its board of directors, with President Dave Kimbell to succeed her as CEO.

Shares dropped 8.5% to close at $318.15. They fell by as much as 12% to an intraday low of $306.06. The stock has gained about 11% this year and has climbed by 54% over the past 12 months.

“Throughout my time with the company, I have worked closely with our board on strategic succession plans, and I believe now is the right time to begin a CEO transition,” said Dillon in the statement, noting that she had led the company for eight years. Kimbell joined Ulta Beauty as chief marketing officer in 2014.

For the fourth quarter ended January 30, Ulta posted adjusted earnings were $3.41 per share, down from $3.83 per share a year ago but higher than expectations of $2.35 per share. Revenue of $2.2 billion was ahead of Wall Street’s projection of $2.08 billion but down from $2.31 billion a year earlier.

Dillon will be nominated to stand for election to the company’s board of directors at its 2021 annual stockholders meeting to be held on June 2.

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Ulta Beauty tumbles 11% as profit outlook disappoints and CEO Dillon plans to step down

ulta
  • Ulta Beauty dropped 11% on Friday following quarterly earnings the prior evening.
  • Ulta’s earnings-per-share view of $8.85 to $9.30 fell short of Wall Street’s target of $10.61.
  • CEO Mary Dillion will transition to the role of the board’s executive chair.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ulta Beauty shares were knocked sharply lower on Friday after the cosmetics retailer’s yearly earnings guidance missed Wall Street’s target. The company also said CEO Mary Dillon will step down from the top role.

The company late Thursday forecast fiscal 2021 per-share earnings of $8.85 to $9.30, which includes the impact of about $850 million in share buybacks. Analysts were looking for earnings of $10.61 per share, according to data compiled by Refinitiv. Ulta’s revenue forecast was $7.2 billion to $7.3 billion, below the average analyst forecast of $7.32 billion.

The company in a separate announcement said Dillon will transition to the role of executive chair of its board of directors, with President Dave Kimbell to succeed her as CEO.

Shares dropped 11% to a low of $308.32 as trading in the regular session got underway. The stock had gained 21% so far in 2021 and has climbed by nearly 68% over the past 12 months.

“Throughout my time with the company, I have worked closely with our board on strategic succession plans, and I believe now is the right time to begin a CEO transition,” said Dillion in the statement, noting that she had led the company for eight years. Kimbell joined Ulta Beauty as chief marketing officer in 2014.

For the fourth quarter ended January 30, Ulta posted adjusted earnings were $3.41 per share, down from $3.83 per share a year ago but higher than expectations of $2.35 per share. Revenue of $2.2 billion was ahead of Wall Street’s projection of $2.08 billion but down from $2.31 billion a year earlier.

Dillon will be nominated to stand for election to the company’s board of directors at its 2021 annual stockholders meeting to be held on June 2.

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Home Depot will surge 35% for 5 key reasons, according to Bank of America

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  • Bank of America raised its price target for Home Depot’s shares to $360, which would mark 35% upside from Tuesday’s closing price. 
  • Home Depot’s capacity to spend $6 billion to $10 billion in share buybacks is a potential driver for earnings per share, the bank said. 
  • The investment bank said the retailer has been consistent in posting double-digit monthly same-store sales growth.  
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Home Depot’s  sales growth and the potential for up to $10 billion in share buybacks are among five reasons to buy into the home-improvement retailer, Bank of America said Wednesday, raising its price target on the stock to $360 from $355.

In a note on Wednesday, the investment bank reiterated its buy rating on the company. The higher call would represent upside of 35% from Tuesday’s closing price of $267.24.

Shares of Home Depot were under pressure Wednesday following a 3% decline the day before, after the company did not provide fiscal 2021 profit guidance as it monitors how consumer spending will evolve.

Home Depot’s fourth-quarter revenue of $32.26 billion was higher than a year ago and beat Wall Street’s expectations of $30.7 billion.

Bank of America said Home Depot’s fourth-quarter results marked the third consecutive quarter of same-store, or comparable, sales growth of more than 20%. It said monthly comparable sales figures have run consistently above 20% since May 2020 and that Home Depot has indicated it was seeing that pace in February.

“This illustrates HD’s consistent and strong execution within a strong category of retail,” wrote BofA research analysts led by Elizabeth Suzuki.

Alongside sales growth, BofA outlined four other reasons it said investors should consider Home Depot shares worth buying:

Capacity for share buybacks

Home Depot had $7.9 billion in cash on its balance sheet as of January 31, which the investment bank said is more than 3 times the average year-end cash balance of the previous five years. The retailer plans to keep a cash cushion of at least $4 billion throughout 2021 but BofA expects the company to spend at least $6 billion on share repurchases throughout the course of the year.

Home Depot, however, “could buy back as much as $10 billion in shares without cutting into its cash threshold, by our estimates,” the analysts said. “We view this as a significantly underappreciated upside risk” to per-share earnings.

Above-average wallet share

There should be a shift in consumer spending to “away-from-home” categories in the second half of 2021, but “home is still the place to be (and spend) for now,” said the bank as it referenced year-to-date spending data and its proprietary indicator of consumer spending at home improvement stores.

Taking market share

Home Depot estimates it has captured 275 basis points of market share growth between 2018 and 2020 as a result of its One Home Depot initiative, according to the note.

The “company’s performance during the pandemic underscores the benefit of these initiatives, and illustrates the advantage of being the #1 retailer in the category with a very healthy balance sheet, i.e. the ability to out-invest competitors,” wrote BofA.

The right investments

In terms of investments, the acquisition of industrial products company HD Supply late last year could add another “4-5% in top-line growth in 2021 above comp” and provide exposure to post-pandemic “reopening” opportunities through the maintenance, repair & operations, or MRO, market. 

“Additionally, HD’s investments in hourly wages and benefits for associates should attract talent, engender loyalty, and limit attrition as other retailers follow suit,” said BofA.

Shares of Home Depot traded at $254.84 at 11:57AM E.T. on Wednesday. 

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Oatly, the vegan milk company backed by Oprah, confidentially files for IPO

Milk Tasting Oatly

Oatly AB, the vegan milk company with backers including Oprah Winfrey and Jay-Z, has confidentially filed for an initial public offering with US regulators, according to a statement from the company on Tuesday.

The planned listing will take place after a review process by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing offered no additional details. 

The vegan food and drink company, whose parent company is Malmo, Sweden-based Havre Global AB, has grown in popularity in recent years thanks to strong demand, particularly from millennial and Generation Z consumers.

Before the pandemic, consumption of dairy milk had already been falling, as the preference for alternative milk options rose. Once the lockdowns began in the US, sales of oat milk spiked 347.3% the first week of March, according to Nielsen. Consumers stocked their pantries with the alternative plant-based milk known to have a longer shelf-life.

Oatly, which entered the US in 2017, has also partnered with Starbucks as well as other cafes throughout the US. The popular brand, which also makes ice cream and yogurt, can be found grocery stores as well.

In July 2020, the company received a $200 million investment from a group of investors led by Blackstone, Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at a valuation of $2 billion. The company earlier this month has been speculated to go public this year, CNBC first reported.

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SoFi to go public via SPAC backed by billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya

Chamath Palihapitiya, social+capital partnership, sv100 2015
Chamath Palihapitiya of Social+Capital Partnership speaks onstage at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 at The Manhattan Center on April 29, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

  • SoFi is going public via a SPAC backed by billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya, according to an announcement made on CNBC on Thursday.
  • SoFi will be valued at nearly $9 billion and the personal finance company is expected to receive up to $2.4 billion in proceeds from the deal.
  • SoFi was founded in 2011 and was valued at $4.3 billion in its last private funding round.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

SoFi is going public via a merger with a SPAC backed by billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya.

Palihapitiya made the announcement on CNBC on Thursday, and Reuters first reported talks of the deal this morning, citing sources familiar with the matter.

SoFi will utilize Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp V to go public. Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp V traded up as much as 50% in Thursday trades.

The deal will value SoFi at nearly $9 billion and provide up to $2.4 billion in proceeds to the company. SoFi last raised $500 million in 2019 at a valuation of $4.3 billion. 

SoFi was founded in 2011 and offers a mobile first personal finance service that includes student loan refinancing, investment services, credit cards and insurance. 

“SoFi’s innovative, member-first platform has demystified financial services for millions of Americans and simplified the process for those looking to apply for loans, invest their money, obtain insurance and refinance their debt, among many other tasks that were previously arcane and needlessly complicated,” Palihapitiya explained in a press release.

Read more: Buy these 30 stocks that handily beat the market in 2020 and are poised for the best global returns in 2021, RBC says

SPACs, or blank check companies, have seen a surge in popularity over the past year as companies utilized the vehicle to quickly go public, sidestepping the traditional IPO route that could be time consuming and costly. Palihapitiya himself has backed a number of successful SPACs including Virgin Galactic and Opendoor

Palihapitiya said of SoFi, “SoFi’s innovative, member-first platform has demystified financial services for millions of Americans and simplified the process for those looking to apply for loans, invest their money, obtain insurance and refinance their debt, among many other tasks that were previously arcane and needlessly complicated. Additionally, the acceleration of cross-buying by existing SoFi members has created a virtuous cycle of compounding growth, diversified revenue and high profitability.

With more than $70 billion raised from SPACs in 2020, Goldman Sachs expects more than $300 billion to be raised via SPACs over the next two years.

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