Axios Closer

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April 28, 2021

🔌 Recharge time! This is the last you'll see of me this week, but Hope King will steer the ship while I'm gone.

🔔 Dashboard — Big Tech earnings edition:

  • 🍎 Apple: Total sales outside the U.S. accounted for over two-thirds of its nearly $90 billion in quarterly revenue, Axios' Ina Fried reports.
  • 👍 Facebook: Strong ad business growth boosted revenue, Axios' Sara Fischer reports. That might slow thanks to Apple's new ad-targeting rules.

Today's newsletter is 611 words, or a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: Back-to-office summer

Illustration of office chair on a “welcome” home mat
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It’s starting: Employers are asking workers to go back to the office this summer. Those callbacks are expected to be more common after Labor Day.

Why it matters: Getting back to normal could undo the total work-at-home routine office workers have adopted.

The latest: JPMorgan expects employees back in person — on a rotating basis — by July, per CNBC. Citigroup workers will trickle in then too.

  • Bloomberg reports ExxonMobil wants Houston-based employees at desks on a full-time basis by mid-May. (A spokesperson would not comment on the report.) 
  • Deutsche Bank — along with a lengthy list of others — will let some people work from home some days "in a structured way," as it reopens, its CFO said today.

Context: 21% of the employed worked remotely as of last month — down from the peak (35%) in May 2020, when the government first reported this datapoint. 

Thought bubble via Axios' Erica Pandey: Even as the back-to-office summer commences, many will stay home, and we’re far from returning to the workplaces we left last March.

  • The return approaches all leave wiggle room ("rotating" or "hybrid"). Companies know that many of their employees have grown accustomed to working from home and want the option to keep doing so.

What to watch: "It's relatively easier to be remote when everyone is remote. The challenge is, when people go back, a stigma starts to rear its head," Nela Richardson, economist at payroll processor ADP, told reporters today. 

  • Who goes back — and is rewarded, advantaged for returning — is a big question, says Richardson.

What's next: Whether the flexibility becomes a worker bargaining chip.

  • "Some people will prefer to work from home more or less days" and are prepared to switch employers to do that, Stanford professor Nick Bloom tells Axios. 

2. Charted: Biden's 100-day market report card

Data: Bespoke Investment Group; Biden through April 27; Chart: Axios Visuals

More Biden 100-day numbers: Migrants, unemployment, vaccinations

3. What's moving

🎵 Spotify said increased subscriber growth and engagement came in part because of the strong performance of Joe Rogan’s podcast. Shares fell 12%. (Axios)

🎮 Sony reported record profits on the back of the animated film "Demon Slayer" and strong sales and demand for the PlayStation 5. The stock fell 2%. (Axios)

🚗 Ford expects to lose roughly half of auto production this quarter, thanks to the chip shortage. The stock fell 3% in late trading. (Release)

👀 Biden will ask Congress for $1.8 trillion in new spending on education, child care and job creation in his address tonight ... The SEC pushed back when it will decide whether to approve a highly anticipated bitcoin ETF ... The new Uber app features: vaccine bookings, car rentals and more.

4. The Fed meeting takeaway

CNBC screenshot

Fed chair Jerome Powell says the central bank is not ready to "think about thinking about" or "talk about talking about" pulling back on easy-money policies, Axios' Dion Rabouin reports.

Why it matters: As the economy has improved and inflation expectations and price hikes have picked up, economists and market participants have wondered aloud if the Fed was open to reducing its massive market assistance sooner than expected.

  • The answer was a resounding no.

P.S. For the history books: The Fed mentioned vaccinations in its official policy statement closely parsed by traders and economists.

  • What they're saying: "Amid progress on vaccinations and strong policy support, indicators of economic activity and employment have strengthened."

5. New details on these viral Crocs

Shot of QuestLove wearing Crocs at the Oscars
Photo: Matt Petit/A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

Remember these gold Crocs donned by Questlove at the Oscars? Whether you will ever be able to buy them is up in the air.

What they're saying: It's "unclear" whether they will be part of a future line of sandals, Crocs CEO Andrew Rees told analysts during its earnings call Tuesday.

  • "It's something that we made in collaboration with the stylists," Rees says.

By the numbers: The Croc hype is real. The company said it expects sales to jump by as much as 50% this year (twice what it called for in February).

  • It's "one of the best-performing stocks in the retail industry," per CNBC.

6. What they're saying

Through this past weekend our year-to-date attendance trends have accelerated at our open parks, increasing to 79% of 2019 levels compared to 51% in the fourth quarter of 2020.
— Six Flags CEO Mike Spanos today on the bigger return of theme parkgoers (more than double what analysts expected). 🎢

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