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BuzzFeed investors have pushed CEO Jonah Peretti to shut down entire newsroom, sources say

  • Several large shareholders have urged BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti to shut down the company’s news organization.
  • BuzzFeed News has won awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, but is now shrinking through voluntary buyouts.
  • BuzzFeed News has about 100 employees and loses roughly $10 million a year, according to people familiar with the matter.

BuzzFeed is shrinking its money-losing news organization, the company announced Tuesday, amid what people familiar with the matter describe as broader investor concern that the division is weighing down the company.

Several large shareholders have urged BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti to shut down the entire news operation, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private. BuzzFeed declined to comment.

BuzzFeed’s stock closed over 6% higher at $5.27 on Tuesday.

BuzzFeed News, which is part of its content division, has about 100 employees and loses roughly $10 million a year, two of the people said. The company, which also has advertising and commerce divisions, said Tuesday its full-year content revenue grew 9% in 2021 to $130 million.

One shareholder told CNBC shutting down the newsroom could add up to $300 million of market capitalization to the struggling stock. The digital media company went public via a special purpose acquisition vehicle in December. The shares immediately fell nearly 40% in their first week of trading and haven’t recovered.

Peretti has been a vocal champion of the importance of BuzzFeed News for years, calling it “good for the world, good for business, and good for our company culture.” The organization’s newsroom has won several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and a George Polk Award.

“This morning we announced plans to accelerate profitability for BuzzFeed News, including leadership changes, the addition of a dedicated business development group, and a planned reduction in force,” Peretti said Tuesday. “We will prioritize investments around coverage of the biggest news of the day, culture and entertainment, celebrity, and life on the Internet.”

The company has offered voluntary buyouts to fewer than 30 employees, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the decision is private. The buyout is only available to reporters and editors who cover investigations, inequality, politics or science and have worked for the company for more than a year. BuzzFeed plans to make the buyout proposal to the NewsGuild of New York regarding its U.S. staffers.

Rather than shut down BuzzFeed News, Peretti is attempting to make the division profitable. He has a ready-made template: He made the decision to lay off 70 HuffPost staffers last year after acquiring the company from Verizon Media.

“Though BuzzFeed is a profitable company, we don’t have the resources to support another two years of losses,” Peretti said at the time. “The most responsible thing we can do is to manage our costs and ensure BuzzFeed — and HuffPost — are set up to prosper long-term. That’s why we’ve made the difficult decision to restructure HuffPost to reach profitability more quickly. Our goal is for HuffPost to break even this year.”

HuffPost is now profitable, according to a person familiar with the organization.

Editor-in-chief departs

Ahead of the job cuts, Mark Schoofs, BuzzFeed News’ editor-in-chief, told staff Tuesday he’s leaving the company. Samantha Henig, BuzzFeed News’ executive editor of strategy, will run the newsroom on an interim basis.

Deputy Editor-in-Chief Tom Namako and Ariel Kaminer, executive editor of investigations, are also resigning. Namako is joining NBC News’ digital operation as executive editor.

In its fourth-quarter earnings release, Buzzfeed said quarterly revenue grew 18% year over year to $146 million. Profit rose to $41.6 million, up 29% from the same period the year before.

Full-year revenue grew 24% year over year to $398 million. Net income more than doubled from last year to $25.9 million.


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Saudi Arabia could invest $50 billion this year to boost oil capacity

Dubai – Saudi Arabia’s state oil company Aramco, under pressure from the West to boost output amid soaring prices, pledged on Sunday to hike investments by around 50% this year as it reported a doubling in 2021 profits.

Oil prices leapt 50% last year as demand recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, and then surged above $100 a barrel to 14-year highs in February after Russia invaded Ukraine, leading Western nations to urge major producers to increase output.

Aramco said it would boost its capital expenditure (capex) to $40-50 billion this year, with further growth expected until around the middle of the decade. Capex was $31.9 billion last year, up 18% from 2020 — indicating an increase of about 50% for this year at the middle of the guidance range.

Asked if Aramco would pump more oil to fill any gaps in the market left by the war in Ukraine, CEO Amin Nasser said it would produce according to guidelines from the Saudi energy ministry.

The company has said it plans to raise its crude oil “maximum sustainable capacity” to 13 million barrels a day by 2027, and wants to increase gas production by more than 50% by 2030. Its average hydrocarbon production was 12.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day last year.

Aramco made $110 billion in net profit in 2021, up from $49 billion a year earlier and compared with analysts’ mean estimate of $106 billion, according to Refinitiv Eikon. With a rise in both output and prices, analysts expect net profit to reach $140 billion in 2022.

Aramco’s shares rose over 4% in early trade to a high of 43.85 riyals, valuing it at 8.76 trillion riyals ($2.34 trillion).

A $2 trillion valuation was a goal sought by de-facto Saudi leader Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before the company’s record $29.4 billion initial public offering in 2019. He has announced plans to sell more Aramco shares.

The surge in Aramco’s valuation on Sunday moved it above that of Microsoft, though it remains behind Apple’s $2.68 trillion.

The Saudi government said last month that Crown Prince Mohammed, who is leading a huge investment drive to diversify the kingdom’s economy, had transferred 4% of Aramco shares to the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

Boosting capex
“They are ramping up the reinvestment quite substantially and they are likely to use (the free cash flow) to de-lever the balance sheet,” said Yousef Husseini, head of the materials team at EFG Hermes Research.

Aramco said its free cash flow was $107.5 billion last year, compared with $49.1 billion in 2020. It declared a dividend of $75 billion for 2021, in line with its earlier pledge.

The company said it also planned to develop a significant hydrogen export capability and become a global leader in carbon capture and storage technology.

Nasser told an earnings call that global oil demand was growing healthily and spare production capacity was declining.

In a separate statement he said “although economic conditions have improved considerably, the outlook remains uncertain due to various macro-economic and geopolitical factors.”

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Investors come off a strong week looking for more gains now that they have some clarity from the Fed

  • The Fed provided clarity for markets when it hiked interest rates and forecast many more over the next two years.
  • That helped kick off a massive stock market rally, including in growth and tech names, and market pros are watching to see if it will continue in the week ahead.
  • The economic and earnings calendars are light but there are about a half dozen Fed speakers, including Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.
  • “They’re not raising rates enough that it’s really going to hurt the market and investors can focus on earnings again,” said one strategist.

With the Federal Reserve’s first rate hike out of the way, market pros are now debating whether the market can continue the upswing it started in the past week.

A powerful rally in technology and growth stocks helped drive the stock market higher in its best week of the year. The S&P 500 was up about 6.2% for the week, ending at 4,463. The Nasdaq was up 8.2%, and the Dow gained 5.5%.

Consumer discretionary stocks gained more than 9% as the top performing sector, followed by technology, up about 7.8%. Energy was the only major sector to decline, falling 3.6%.

Some of the names that had been most punished like airlines, were among the biggest winners on the week. Airlines were up about 14.7% for the week. High growth names also bounced, with the ARK Innovation Fund, a poster child for growth, jumping about 17.4%. The fund is still down more than 46% over the last six months.

Ukraine will continue to be a focus, and headlines could continue to create volatility in the coming week. Investors are also watching the course of Covid, which is causing shutdowns of Chinese cities and is spreading again at a higher rate in Europe.

There are more than a dozen Fed speeches, including from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell who appears at an economics conference Monday and at an international banking conference Wednesday. The economic calendar is relatively light, with durable goods and both services and manufacturing PMI released Thursday.

“The anticipation of the first rate hike did more damage than the rate hike itself. We got ourselves twisted in a knot, starting in December, with the Fed pivot from transitory inflation to tapering” [bond purchases], said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “That’s kind of behind us now as a headwind. That diminishes the impact that any parade of Fed speakers will deliver.”

The market indeed ignored hawkish comments Friday from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and Fed Governor Christopher Waller, who appeared on CNBC. Both said they want to raise rates faster than the median seven hikes the Fed expects this year.

The Fed released its interest rate forecast Wednesday, when it raised its fed funds target rate range by a quarter point to 0.25% to 0.50%, its first rate hike since 2018. The Fed also said it would look to start reducing its nearly $9 trillion balance sheet at an upcoming meeting.

Tech and growth did well in the past week, and they are the stock groups most hurt by higher interest rates. They typically command higher prices because investors buy them for their future earnings, and easy money makes them very attractive.

Strategists say tech can continue to gain in a rising rate environment, now that some of the excesses are wrung out of the group. But they may not be the leaders they once were.

Looking past the Fed

“I think the stage has been set by the Fed for investors to focus on earnings again,” said Julian Emanuel, head of equities, derivatives and quantitative strategy at Evercore ISI. “Bottom line…earnings estimates since the beginning of the year have risen.”

Emanuel said he expects the market could continue to rise in the near term, barring an escalation of geopolitical events. While it appears oil prices may have peaked, he said it is still not clear whether stocks put in the low for the year.

“Sentiment is absolutely horrendous…You put it all together, and we just think it’s a recipe for higher share prices looking out over the next month or two,” Emanuel said. He said investors are now able to discount the fact the Fed has begun its rate hiking cycle.

“We’re there. We know what’s going to happen. We know they’re going to do 0.25% in May. We know they’re going to start QT [quantitative tightening] some time at mid-year,” he said. “They’re not raising rates enough that it’s really going to hurt the market and investors can focus on earnings again.” He expects S&P 500 profits to be up 9.3% this year.

Hogan said the market is leaning towards a favorable outcome for Ukraine, such as a cease fire, although no developments suggest an end is now in sight.

“Everyone is leaning in this direction that this will come to an end in weeks rather than months,” he said. “If not, the market is going to have to recalibrate that.”

This is what the stock charts say

Scott Redler, partner with, focuses on the short-term technicals of the market, and he said after a strong run, the market could digest some of its gains early in the week.

“After an impressive week like this, most active traders are reducing risk into this [S&P 500] 4,400 level, not adding to it,” said Redler. “If we could digest a day or two after quadruple witching that might give us some signals that this could continue towards 4,600.” The quadruple expiration of options and futures was Friday.

Redler said Russia’s war in Ukraine and Fed policy tightening will continue to hang over the market, and that might keep the S&P 500 in a range. “I don’t think anyone is thinking the market goes right back to all-time highs anytime soon,” he said. “I think we’re smack in the middle of a range. This is a very neutral spot not to get short and not to add to longs. We’ll see how we digest this next week. For me, I think oil put the high in for the year, and that could be helpful.”

Oil briefly popped to $130.50 per barrel earlier this month, when investors feared sanctions on Russia would restrict its oil exports and create major shortages. Since then oil has fallen back, and West Texas Intermediate crude futures were trading just under $105 per barrel Friday.

Redler said an important test for the S&P 500 will be to see if it can hold the top third of its range and stay above 4,330. “It if can hold that, the next move could be higher,” he said. “That would show commitment to this week’s actions.”

Technology shares made a strong comeback, and Redler said he is watching to see if they continue to lead. “Tesla helped lead the way all week. A bunch of tech names did break their downtrends,” he said. “Tesla, NVIDIA and Amazon have been buyable on dips…NVIDIA gave clues that the bounce was as believable as it because it was one of the first stocks to cross its downtrend

Apple and Microsoft, both higher on the week, could be important drivers of the market in the coming week.

“Apple and Microsoft haven’t been a headwind but they weren’t a tailwind. If they could outperform a little bit, they could help the broader indices,” Redler said. He said the two stocks, the biggest by market cap, were higher on the week, but they lagged the Nasdaq’s gains because they had they had large sell imbalances during the quadruple witching expiration.

“The stocks with the biggest buybacks have the biggest selling imbalances,” Redler said.

Week ahead calendar


Earnings: Nike, Tencent Music

8:00 a.m. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic

12:00 p.m. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell keynote at the NABE Economic Policy Conference

10:00 a.m. QFR


Earnings: BuzzFeed, Adobe, Poshmark

10:30 a.m. New York Fed President John Williams

2:00 p.m. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly

5:00 p.m. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester


Earnings: General Mills, Winnebago, Cintas, Tencent Holdings, KB Home, Steelcase

8:00 a.m. Fed Chairman Powell at Bank for International Settlements virtual summit

10:00 a.m. New home sales

11:25 p.m. San Francisco Fed’s Daly


Earnings: Darden Restaurants, FactSet, NIO

8:30 a.m. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari

8:30 a.m. Initial claims

8:30 a.m. Durable goods

8:30 a.m. Current account

9:10 a.m. Fed Governor Christopher Waller

9:45 a.m. Manufacturing PMI

9:45 a.m. Services PMI

9:50 a.m. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans

10:00 a.m. New home sales

11:00 a.m. Atlanta Fed’s Bostic


10:00 a.m. New York Fed’s Williams

10:00 a.m. Pending home sales

10:00 a.m. Consumer sentiment

11:30 a.m. Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin

12:00 p.m. Fed Governor Waller

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War, inflation and oil cap stocks rebound as yields warn

  • Oil over $100 and extending gains
  • Stock indexes little changed
  • Biden-Xi phone call due at 1300 GMT
  • Yield inversion looms

LONDON, March 18 (Reuters) – Global stocks clung to their gains for the week on Friday but a heady cocktail of rising interest rates, high oil prices and no end to war in Ukraine kept a lid on the rebound as yields sent a warning signal for the economy.

The MSCI world stock index (.MIWD00000PUS) was flat at 695 points, up 5.4% for the week but well below its lifetime high of 761.21 from Jan. 4.

“Sentiment is still pretty cautious, it’s looking for some reason to rally but it’s struggling to find something which it has strong conviction in,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors.

In Europe, the STOXX (.STOXX) index of 600 leading companies was little changed at 450 points, 9% below its lifetime high from early January.

There is some relief that the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday finally embarked on its series of interest rate hikes, and from here on it was a question of watching how the economy evolves and how high inflation goes before peaking, Shah said.

Oil prices remained above $100 a barrel after slim progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine raised the spectre of tighter sanctions and a prolonged disruption to crude supply.

“The conflict I suspect is going to keep simmering in the background and as a result you will probably see oil prices remaining elevated,” Shah said.

Adding to the mix, U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to deliver a warning that Beijing will pay a price if it supports Russia’s war effort when he speaks to China’s President Xi Jinping in a call scheduled for 1300 GMT.

A first Russian external bond default since the Bolshevik Revolution however appears to have been have averted for now. Sources say some creditors have received payment, in dollars, of Russian bond coupons which fell due this week.

In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) was down 0.15% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng steadied following a furious two-day surge. Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) rose 0.6%.

The impact on inflation of ports and supply chains disruptions in China due to a spike in COVID infections, risks being massively overlooked by markets, said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets.

“That is going to be a headwind for valuations and while we are getting a fairly decent rebound at the moment, I really struggle to see us whether or not we can move above the highs we have seen this year,” Hewson said.

S&P 500 futures eased 0.55%, with little in the way of major data ahead of Wall Street’s opening bell.

Problems faced by policymakers whose economies are suffering surging inflation and sagging growth were underscored during a series of central bank meetings this week.

The Fed raised rates for the first time in more than three years on Wednesday, and surprised traders with a more hawkish than expected outlook. The Bank of England also hiked but surprised with a dovish outlook that drove a rally in gilts.

The Bank of Japan offered no surprises on Friday, leaving policy ultra easy, which has kept heavy pressure on the yen.

Meanwhile the gap between two and 10-year U.S. Treasury yields is near its tightest levels since March 2020, when economies were slammed by the start of COVID lockdowns.

The tighter gap means the yield curve is not far from inverting, long a reliable indicator of a likely recession in the following one or two years.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield was last at 2.1655%.

Oil, which had crumbled some 30% from last week’s peak, has bounced hard as traders fret that hope for peace in Ukraine is misplaced. Brent crude futures were last up 1.3% and at $108, have added more than $10 a barrel in two sessions.

“It’s very difficult to get any confidence that you’re going to be able to reliably source commodities out of Russia or Ukraine,” said Tobin Gorey, a commodities strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney. “You’re going to be looking elsewhere and that just tends to get priced up.”

Wheat and corn futures, which are sensitive to Black Sea supply disruptions, have bounced sharply.

Japan’s currency hit a six-year low this week and last traded at 118.83 per dollar. “The next multi-session target may well be the 120.00 psychological level,” said Terence Wu, a strategist at OCBC Bank in Singapore.

The euro hovered at $1.106, down 0.3% on the day

Spot gold hovered at $1,935, down 0.5%, and bitcoin was clinging on above $40,000, down 0.7%.

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