Mar 2, 2021

Axios Closer

Welcome back to Axios Closer.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 fell 0.8%.

  • Biggest gainer? Fox Corp. (+9%). Biggest decliner? Solar power company Enphase Energy (-8%). No major news for either company, so...¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Today's newsletter is 684 words, or a 2½-minute read.

1 big thing: What's ahead for new female CEOs

Jane Fraser (L) and Rosalind Brewer. Photos: Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images; Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

The number of women at the helm of America’s biggest companies pales in comparison to men, but it's newly growing.

  • Jane Fraser took over at Citigroup this week, the first woman to ever lead a major U.S. bank.
  • Rosalind Brewer will take the reins at Walgreens in the coming weeks (March 15) — a company that's been run by white men for the past century.

Why it matters: Their tasks are huge.

  • In Fraser's case, they include overcoming the perception of a "glass cliff," a heavily researched phenomenon of women being elevated as a company is in need of a cleanup.

What’s going on: Fraser, who’s been at Citi for nearly two decades, is stepping up as the bank has faced an onslaught of trouble in recent years.

  • Brewer is taking over as Walgreens plays a big role in the country's largest undertaking: getting the masses vaccinated.
  • Walgreens also faces existential threats: Insurers are pinching pharmacy profits. Brick-and-mortar pharmacies are also less essential in the Amazon era, when people can order what they need online.

What to watch: 31 out of 500 of America's biggest companies are run by women, including Fraser and Brewer.

  • It's both dismal and a feat, given it's close to an all-time record.

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2. 🚀 Charted: Record day for latest Reddit target
Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

This could be the latest Reddit-fueled short squeeze: Rocket Companies had its biggest percentage gain (+71%) since going public last summer.

  • The company, which owns Rocket Mortgage and other companies, is shorted heavily by hedge funds, per CNBC.
  • It has the attention of the r/wallstreetbets crowd: "I like RKT [the ticker]. $1.7M all-in, let’s gooo YOLO," one user posted. It's still no GameStop.

The view from Wall Street: "We believe the trading reflects retail/Reddit activity like we’ve seen in other stocks recently," an analyst wrote.

  • The hype will fade, though it's unclear when, he said.
3. What’s moving

🛍️ Big day for retail. Here's your roundup...

  • Target said sales jumped by over $15 billion last year. How big is that? It's more than its total sales growth over the past 11 years. Shares fell 7%. (AP)
  • Kohl's said it will bring back dividends and buybacks as it faces pressure from an activist investor. (Reuters)
  • Shipping delays caused Nordstrom's inventory of clothes and other items to swell — and the company warned it wouldn't sell through it until next quarter. Shares fell over 1% in late trading. (CNBC)

👀 Also on the radar ... Biden's pick to lead the SEC promised a market review after GameStop chaos ... Merck will help produce rival J&J's vaccine in an effort to boost shot supply ... Dave Portnoy, Barstools Sports founder turned heavily followed day trader, is throwing his weight behind an ETF that tracks social media sentiment.

4. First look: New business buy-in on gun safety

Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords is launching a new gun safety effort with the heft of corporate America, her anti-gun violence group plans to announce tomorrow.

Why it matters: Companies have used their weight to influence the gun safety debate as the number of mass shootings in America swells.

  • DICK'S banned sales of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines in the wake of the Parkland shooting in 2018. Some banks stopped lending to companies that manufacture AR-15-style rifles.

What to watch: The group will work with the companies to "ensure products and corporate policies are designed with gun violence prevention in mind," per a release seen by Axios.

5. Norman Rockwell paintings to help Boy Scouts fund abuse payouts

New development in the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case: The embattled organization has proposed setting up a fund to pay the more than 85,000 scouts accusing the group of sexual abuse, per a filing.

  • Details: It will include upward of $300 million from local councils, insurance policies and sales of its vast collection of Norman Rockwell oil paintings.

The proposal by no means final — is already facing criticism from lawyers representing the victims.

Catch up quick: The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy last year as it was inundated by cases from former scouts who say they were sexually abused under its watch, threatening its solvency.

6. What they're saying
"The harder we push to close the output and inflation gaps, the better the outlook for the euro area economy. And the faster we get there, the stronger our growth potential will be."
— European Central Bank member Fabio Panetta today, with a Daft Punk tribute, and proof their lyrics can liven up even the driest economic conversations.

🍺 Here's another Daft Punk classic to close out your Tuesday. (Yes, the iconic duo is still broken up.)

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