In brief: BP CEO reassures investors
LONDON – BP chief executive Tony Hayward on Friday apologized to investors for the Gulf oil spill and assured them the company had “considerable firepower” to cover the cost.
Investors seeking an estimate of that cost, or an update on future dividend payouts, were left wanting, however. BP has spent more than $1 billion so far containing and cleaning up the oil, but it also faces untold liabilities.
Hayward struck a penitent tone in BP’s first comprehensive update to shareholders since the April 20 rig explosion.
“We will work tirelessly to rebuild the confidence of the American people, and of the world, in BP,” Hayward said. He was trying to reassure skittish investors who have lost more than $70 billion in the last six weeks, telling them BP would have money left over for a dividend after covering the spill costs.
Walmart to buy back stock
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s CEO told shareholders Friday that the company is positioning itself for 20 years of worldwide growth and that it plans to hire a half-million employees over the next five years.
The company also unveiled a new $15 billion stock buyback. But it was short on specifics on how it will turn around weak business at its U.S. Walmart stores as the rest of the retail industry, including its key competitor Target Corp., has started to heat up.
CEO Mike Duke also said the company must further tighten its expenses to keep its hallmark low prices lower than the competition.
“Walmart must widen the gap here. We will win on price leadership, and we will win big,” he said.
Lehman art to be sold
NEW YORK – More than 400 works from the corporate contemporary art collection once displayed at Lehman Brothers will be auctioned this fall to help pay creditors of the failed investment bank, Sotheby’s announced Friday.
The selected works from the Neuberger Berman and Lehman Brothers Corporate Art Collection are scheduled to be sold on Sept. 25, pending bankruptcy court approval, the auction house said.
The collection, which Sotheby’s says is valued at more than $10 million, includes works by some of the leading artists of contemporary art, including Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince and Julie Mehretu.
Sale proceeds will go to creditors of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in September 2008, helping spark one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression. It was the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history.
•The dollar surged to its highest level against the euro in more than four years Friday as a report showed hiring in the U.S. remains weak, while a Hungarian official’s warning about the state of his country’s economy deepened anxiety over Europe’s debt crisis.
•Interest rates fell sharply in the bond market Friday as a disappointing government report on hiring led investors to buy safe investments. Heavy demand for Treasurys drove rates lower. The yield on the 10-year note, which is tied to rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, fell to 3.22 percent from 3.37 percent late Thursday.
•Just months after a cold snap in Florida killed many tomato plants and sent supermarket prices skyrocketing, farmers have an unexpected surplus and prices have plummeted.