Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.
I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.
The up-and-down stock market ended Friday on a down note. It wasn’t a good sign for investors who hoped that the solid numbers reported by big banks would kick off an earnings season ending the volatility sparked by increasing trade tensions between the U.S. and China.
Stream dreams: Netflix reports its first-quarter earnings Monday, and Wall Street will be closely watching to see if the popular video-streaming service continues to show strong user growth to support its high-flying stock. The stock has more than doubled in price in the last 12 months, giving Netflix a total market value of $136 billion.
Pay up: Tax day is Tuesday. It comes two days later than the typical April 15 deadline because that’s a Sunday this year and Monday is a holiday in Washington, D.C. It happens. Taxes were due last year on April 18. Next year: Back to April 15. Either way, the Beatles’ lament applies.
Crystal ball: The index of leading economic indicators will be released Thursday. The index is a composite of 10 forward-looking economic stats, including building permits, new factory orders and unemployment claims, and attempts to predict general economic conditions six months out.
State jobs: The California Employment Development Department will release March job and unemployment figures on Friday. In February, job growth slowed to 14,000 net new jobs, down from 48,900 a month earlier.
Monday’s Business section focuses on autonomous cars — specifically, the maps they need to get around. This has led to an all-out mapping war, with dozens of contenders entering into a dizzying array of alliances and burning tens of millions of investment dollars in pursuit of a massive payoff that could be years away. The one to beat: big, bad Google.
Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:
Hot seat: Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was peppered with questions by House and Senate members probing how the information of some 87 million users ended up with a firm working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. The tech billionaire, in his first-ever congressional appearance, apologized and said steps had been taken to prevent further privacy breaches but was lukewarm on government regulation.
Big fine: Wells Fargo & Co. said that it might pay as much as $1 billion to regulators over its mortgage-lending and auto-insurance abuses — the biggest penalty yet for the bank due to its sales-practices scandal. The San Francisco bank said that it was in early-stage discussions with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller.
Bratz bid: Isaac Larian, the California toy mogul behind Bratz dolls, submitted a $890 million bid to buy 356 Toys R Us stores in the U.S. and Canada. The bid came a little more than three weeks after Larian launched a $1-billion GoFundMe campaign to save some of the 735 stores the bankrupt retailer operates in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The crowdfunding campaign was a bust, but Larian said he was able to line up money elsewhere.
Project redux: The developer of Millennium Hollywood, a stalled $1-billion real estate project near the Capitol Records Building, will try again with a new proposal that doubles the number of apartments and condominiums. The project, halted two years ago after the environmental impact report was ruled inadequate, is now dubbed Hollywood Center and will no longer include commercial offices or a public gym.
Big move: The Los Angeles Times will move this summer from its historic art deco headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to a campus under construction in El Segundo. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong — soon to be the new owner of the newspaper — broke the news during his first town hall meeting with the staff, explaining that he wants to create a newsroom for the future.
WHAT WE’RE READING
And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:
Battle lines: The New York Times casts its eye on “an epic battle” in the California housing market. “Pitting a rising tenants rights’ movement against apartment owners, the fight will consume tens of millions of dollars’ worth of organizing effort and political advertising before the November election.”
Pay gap: The Orange County Register points out that pay ratios between chief executives and ordinary workers are being disclosed for the first time across Southern California. “CEOs have managed to plant themselves in a river of money,” says former California Treasurer Phil Angelides. “But the rise in productivity since the 1950s has not led to a parallel rise in workers’ wages.”
Female friendly: The Atlantic, and architects, examine what a workspace built for women looks like. “Materials were selected to optimize female comfort, furniture would be suitably proportioned; there would be spaces to socialize and others in which to retreat.”
Lofty ambitions: The Wall Street Journal says airlines feel your pain when it comes to overcrowded, aging airports. “From Los Angeles to New York to Atlanta and dozens of other airports, airlines and local officials are planning $100 billion in renovations over the next few years.”
Tasty progress: Fast Company checks out the mainstream arrival of plant-based fake burgers as White Castle rolls out Impossible Sliders. “The overall market for plant-based food, driven by the fact that more consumers are becoming interested in the health and environmental benefits and animal welfare, is projected to grow globally by around 40% over the next five years to $6.43 billion.”
Sure, you know sushi and sashimi, but how savvy are you about samurai cuisine? Bloomberg offers a primer in this video on a style of food preparation that rose to prominence in the 1600s, featuring distinctive side dishes. And samurai chefs are getting noticed, with 11 restaurants earning their first Michelin star.
For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Mad props to Laurence Darmiento and Scott J. Wilson for helping put this thing together.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the Business section.