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Company Insiders Are Back in Buying Mode—Even Tesla’s Elon Musk

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

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It’s going to be another absorbing day for


Tesla

investors and others watching the stock.

The electric-car maker’s stock fell 6% Thursday but held above $1,000, perhaps suggesting investors are intent on defending that level. It was a strange day really—social media had expected big news but instead there was no news, apart from CEO Elon Musk selling more stock. He sold another 934,091 shares for $963.2 million, taking the total share sale on his selling streak above 11 million, while also exercising options to purchase 2.2 million shares at $6.24.

The shares were lower again in premarket trading Friday and an open below $1,000 could be a significant milestone.

While there have been other market factors, Tesla stock has fallen 18% since Musk asked


Twitter

if he should sell 10% of his stake on Nov. 6—and he still has to sell another six million shares or so to reach that target.

When the billionaire, who has repeatedly said Tesla is overvalued, first starting his selling spree, insider selling was all the rage, according to InsiderTracking’s INK U.S. insider sentiment indicator. As investors were pushing the

S&P 500
to regular new highs, company insiders were stepping up selling.

That has all changed over the past month as insider optimism has risen around 15%, the daily survey, which monitors insider buying and selling, revealed.

But it isn’t as if Musk is bucking the trend. He has exercised options to buy more than 12 million shares in the past month, actually slightly increasing his overall stake.

Callum Keown

*** Join MarketWatch reporter Jacob Passy today at noon as he speaks with Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American Financial Corporation, on what rising mortgage rates mean for the housing market as 2022 approaches. Sign up here.

***

Pfizer Boosters Approved for Older Teens as Omicron Spreads

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quickly followed the Food and Drug Administration in approving the


Pfizer


BioNTech

Covid-19 booster for 16- and 17-year-olds who got their initial two-dose vaccines at least six months ago.

A study in Japan, based on genome data from South Africa, said Omicron is 4.2 times more contagious in its early stages than the Delta coronavirus variant. Omicron has now been detected in 57 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Of the 43 Americans in 19 states infected with Omicron, three-quarters were vaccinated, and most have experienced mild symptoms including cough, congestion, and fatigue, CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told the AP. One person was hospitalized, and no one has died.

The Biden administration bought 700,000 doses of


AstraZeneca
’s
antibody therapy recently approved by the FDA for those aged 12 and up with compromised immune systems or other adverse reactions to Covid-19 vaccines.

More than 200 million Americans are now fully vaccinated, 60% of the population, and 50 million have received boosters, the CDC said. More than five million children aged five to 11, about 18% of those eligible, have received at least one child-sized dose.

What’s Next: The Biden administration is putting a new focus on at-home testing.


Abbott Laboratories
,
one of the makers of rapid at-home kits, expects its revenue from virus testing to reach more than $3 billion in the second half of 2021, surpassing an earlier projection of $500 million, Bloomberg reported.

Josh Nathan-Kazis and Janet H. Cho

***

Online Prices Jumped for 18th Straight Month

Supply-chain shortages and soaring consumer demand drove online prices up 3.5% in November, the 18th straight monthly increase and the highest jump since


Adobe

began tracking the digital economy in 2014.

Online apparel prices jumped 17.3% in November, the ninth straight month they have risen 9% or more. Also on the rise: the price of flowers and gifts, sporting goods, appliances, and groceries. Prices for computers, jewelry, and books fell.

Consumers overall spent $116 billion online in November, up 13.6% from last year and higher than the 10% increase Adobe had previously projected. This is despite supply shortages that left some store shelves bare.

One-quarter of all consumer spending is conducted online, Adobe said. Its survey tracks more than 100 million products sold online in the U.S.

Retailers have reported a spike in organized thefts that result in stolen and counterfeit products showing up in online sales forums to be bought by unwitting consumers.

What’s Next: The CEOs of 20 retailers, including


Best Buy
,


Kroger
,


Target
,
and


Nordstrom
,
sent a letter to congressional leaders on Thursday urging them to fight organized retail crime, make it easier for shoppers to identify fraudulent online sellers, and clamp down on the resale of stolen goods.

Janet H. Cho

***

Buffalo Starbucks Workers Approve First Union at Company Store


Starbucks

workers at a Buffalo, N.Y., store voted to form the first union at a company-owned store, as U.S. worker activism over wages and working conditions gathers steam. The employees voted 19-8 in favor of the union, under Workers United Upstate New York.

Starbucks executives spent months lobbying Buffalo workers against unionizing and hired 200 Buffalo-area baristas. CEO Kevin Johnson said unionizing would erode and disrupt the company’s direct relationship with its workers.

The union push drew national attention. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a progressive from Vermont, tweeted congratulations to the workers “on the HISTORIC achievement.” Workers at a second Buffalo Starbucks voted not to unionize, while votes at a third store are being contested.

Workers at


Activision Blizzard

are initiating a strike after employees walked out in protest over how the company handled alleged workplace misconduct, gender pay discrepancies, contract workers, and sexual harassment. The ABK Workers Alliance aims to formally unionize employees.

Workers at


Deere
,


Mondelez International
’s
Nabisco unit,


PepsiCo
’s
Frito-Lay unit, and commercial truck maker Volvo have all gone on strike recently.


Kellogg

workers represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union remain on strike.

What’s Next: The National Labor Relations Board ordered a new vote in the campaign to unionize an


Amazon.com

warehouse over working conditions in Bessemer, Ala., saying the e-commerce retailer violated labor laws ahead of the failed union vote. An Amazon spokeswoman called the decision “disappointing.”

Connor Smith and Janet H. Cho

***

Dreamliner Delays Force American Airlines to Cut Routes


American Airlines

is cutting some international flights next summer after a delay in


Boeing
’s
production of the twin-aisle 787 Dreamliner. Boeing slowed production to correct quality issues, many of them with parts from suppliers, the company has said.

The biggest airline by passenger traffic won’t fly to Edinburgh; Shannon, Ireland; or Hong Kong, and will fly less often to Shanghai, Beijing, and Sydney, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Seasonal flights to Prague and Dubrovnik, Croatia, are being cut, and American will delay new routes such as one from Seattle to Bangalore, India.

Boeing 787s are set to restart in April 2022, which is later than expected.


United Airlines

had expected eight delivered by the end of this year, the Journal reported, citing a securities filing this summer. Boeing told Barron’s it “deeply regrets” the effect on customers.

Vasu Raja, American’s chief revenue officer, said in an internal memo reviewed by Barron’s that without the new wide-bodies “we simply won’t be able to fly as much internationally as we had planned next summer or as we did in summer 2019.”

What’s Next: The airline’s summer schedule isn’t final yet and could be affected by Covid-19. American is using every wide-body aircraft it has for long-haul flights, planning a full schedule to London, Dublin, and Madrid and adding flights from New York to Doha, Qatar.

—Liz Moyer

***

Daimler Truck Rises on Debut After Spinoff From Mercedes

Shares of


Daimler Truck

rose by 4% on their Frankfurt debut, as markets passed judgment on the long-expected spinoff of the commercial-vehicle division of Mercedes car maker


Daimler AG
.

The stock was trading at €29.10 ($32.80) in midday trading, up from its €28 listing price.

Daimler AG shares fell 15% as a consequence of the spinoff. The company, which will be renamed Mercedes-Benz AG, will keep a 35% stake in the now-listed truck unit. The other 65% was spun off to the group’s shareholders.

Daimler Truck expects that by 2030 production of electric vehicles will have reached 60% of its sales.

“Now is when things really get going for Daimler Truck,” CEO Martin Daum said of the split, which was announced in February.

What’s Next: The soon-to-be named Mercedes group can now focus on how best to spend the €60 billion it says it wants to invest by 2026 on electrification, digitalization, and autonomous driving.

Pierre Briançon

***

Do you remember this week’s news? Take our quiz below about this week’s news. Tell us how you did in an email to [email protected].

1. Which department-store chain is the activist firm Engine Capital urging to consider selling itself or separating its e-commerce business, arguing that the retailer has underperformed the stock market and its peers?

a. Kohl’s

b. Macy’s

c. Dillard’s

d. None of the above

2. Which business unit is Intel planning to take public next year in a deal that could be valued around $50 billion, in a move to improve the semiconductor giant’s fortunes?

a. Internet of Things

b. Data Center Group

c. Mobileye

d. Client Computing Group

3. In response to China’s human-rights abuses, the Biden administration is planning the following action in the coming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing:

a. No athletic participation and no diplomatic representation

b. No athletic participation but there will be diplomatic representation

c. Athletic participation and diplomatic representation

d. Athletic participation but no diplomatic representation

4. Which public company believes it has created the world’s largest lab-grown steak at 3.67 oz., with real bovine cells that mature into muscle and fat?

a. MeaTech 3D

b. Beyond Meat

c. Nestlé

d. Sysco

5. The Labor Dept. reported that initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs, fell to 184,000 in the week ended Dec. 4, the lowest level in how many years?

a. More than 20 years

b. More than 30 years

c. More than 40 years

d. More than 50 years

Answers: 1(a); 2(c); 3(d); 4(a); 5(d)

Barron’s Staff

***

—Newsletter edited by Liz Moyer, Camilla Imperiali, Steve Goldstein, Rupert Steiner

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