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General Motors said on Wednesday that it earned $6.4 billion in 2020, a modest decline from the year before, as brisk sales of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles in the second half of the year offset the damage on its business caused by the pandemic in the spring.
The automaker reported that revenue declined 11 percent to $122 billion from $137 billion in 2019, when it reported net income of $6.7 billion.
“G.M.’s 2020 performance was remarkable by any measure, and even more so in a year when a global pandemic caused companies around the world — including G.M. — to temporarily suspend manufacturing,” Mary Barra, the company’s chief executive, said in a letter to shareholders.
The pandemic forced G.M. and other automakers to close all of their North American plants for about 60 days last spring, and caused a deep drop in sales of new vehicles.
Automakers also struggled in the pandemic with a shortage of semiconductors needed for features like touch screens, computerized engine controls and transmissions. New cars can have more than a hundred semiconductors.
The shortage of chips is expected to last well into 2021. This led G.M. to cut its forecast for operating profit this year by $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
In a conference call with reporters, Ms. Barra said G.M. was working with suppliers to ensure it had the chips it needed, and it expected to be able to make up for any lost production over the course of the year.
“The semiconductor shortage won’t slow our growth plans, and without mitigation strategies we still expect to see a very good year for General Motors,” she said. “Right now, we won’t lose any production as it relates to full-size trucks and S.U.V.s throughout the year.”
Among the full-size vehicles the company is counting on is an electric Hummer pickup truck that it will begin delivering late this year. It is one of 30 electric cars G.M. plans to introduce by 2025 as part of a broader goal it set late last month to sell only zero-emission vehicles by 2035.
The company currently makes only a few electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Bolt, but it is spending heavily to increase its offerings and compete with Tesla, the leading electric carmaker. This year, G.M. will spend more than $7 billion on developing electric and autonomous vehicles. By 2025, it plans to spend more than $27 billion on those two technologies.
Ms. Barra said on Wednesday that she and other G.M. officials had spoken with President Biden and his aides about the company’s plans for electric and autonomous vehicles. Mr. Biden has said he intends to step up the fight against climate change and wants the government to help create millions of jobs in renewable energy and auto manufacturing.
“The Biden administration is increasingly aligned around the importance of domestic manufacturing and the need for widespread adoption of E.V.s,” she said. “We look forward to working with the administration on policies that support safe transportation and zero emissions.”
United Airlines plans to invest in and buy as many as 200 aircraft from Archer Aviation, an electric air taxi start-up that announced plans on Wednesday to go public, in a deal that Archer said valued it at about $3.8 billion.
“Part of how United will combat global warming is embracing emerging technologies that decarbonize air travel,” United’s chief executive, Scott Kirby, said in a statement on Wednesday. “By working with Archer, United is showing the aviation industry that now is the time to embrace cleaner, more efficient modes of transportation.”
United is investing about $20 million in Archer, and an additional $5 million will come from Mesa Airlines, which operates regional flights for United and others. The airline’s tentative aircraft order is valued at up to $1 billion, Archer said in a statement. United said it would only purchase the aircraft once they were available and had met its operating and business requirements.
The aircraft, which can travel at speeds of up to 150 miles an hour for up to 60 miles, would be used within the next five years to let United’s customers commute in dense urban areas or quickly reach the airline’s airport hubs, United said. The aircraft are set to debut this year, according to Archer, which is based in California.
The news follows United’s announcement late last year that it plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050, in part by investing in a “direct air capture” plant in Texas that will remove carbon dioxide from the sky and inject it underground.
Archer said it planned to go public via a sale to a blank-check company, also known as a special purpose acquisition company. The combined company is expected to raise about $600 million from investors, including United, the newly formed carmaker Stellantis and others. The company expects to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker ACHR.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
The S&P 500 rose less than half a percent on Wednesday, rebounding from a small decline the day before.
General Motors on Wednesday reported $6.4 billion profit for 2020, as brisk sales of pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles in the fall offset the pandemic disruptions in the spring. Its shares fell about 5 percent, however.
Twitter’s shares rose 14 percent in early trading after the company said on Tuesday that its revenue rose 28 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the previous year.
Lyft jumped about 9 percent after the company’s fourth-quarter revenue — although down sharply from a year ago — was higher than the previous period.
Commodities prices rose to multiyear highs as traders anticipated stronger demand for raw materials to aid the economic recovery. West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. crude benchmark, gained 0.5 percent to $58.67 a barrel, the highest level since April 2019. Brent prices climbed to $61.50 a barrel, the highest since July 2019.
Copper prices, which have been climbing for 10 straight months, approached an eight-year high in London trading. The metal is seen as good predictor for the direction of the global economy given its broad usage, especially for the wiring for power transmission.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index gained 0.3 percent, helped by advances among banking companies. Gains were led by Adyen, a Dutch payments company that handles transactions for companies including eBay, after it raised its growth expectations. Adyen’s shares were at a record high, having more than doubled over the past year.
Credit…Jason Henry for The New York Times
Salesforce, the business software giant and San Francisco’s largest employer, said on Tuesday that it would allow most of its employees to permanently work remotely on a full- or part-time basis.
The company, which has 54,000 employees, said most workers would visit the office one to three days a week for meetings and collaborative work. A small population will work from the office four or five days a week, and other Salesforce workers who don’t live nearby or need an office will be fully remote.
Tech companies have been at the forefront of permanent work-from-home policies. In May, Facebook was one of the first to announce that it would allow many employees to work remotely even after the pandemic. Twitter, Coinbase, Shopify and Microsoft have followed suit.
Salesforce said in December it would buy the workplace chat app Slack. Over the summer, as Salesforce and other companies toyed with the idea of returning to the office, Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s chief executive, seemed to acknowledge that office work would be permanently changed.
“I just feel very strongly that we have the ability to do something very powerfully here and to motivate this new workplace, just like we did in the prior workplace,” Mr. Benioff said at the time. “Technology is actually going to become a critical part of managing our workplace, where before it was not part of our culture.”
Salesforce said it planned to redesign offices to create more spaces that foster collaboration, including “café-style seating, open-air conference areas and private nooks, with an emphasis on clean desks and social distancing,” the company said in a statement.
Credit…Yicun Liu/Riot Games
Riot Games, the video game publisher that produced the popular title League of Legends, said Tuesday it was investigating claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination against its chief executive, Nicolo Laurent.
Mr. Laurent and Riot were sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court in January by Sharon O’Donnell, a former executive assistant to Mr. Laurent. In court documents, Ms. O’Donnell said Mr. Laurent repeatedly made sexually suggestive remarks to her, asked her to work at his house when his wife was not home, and told women who worked for Riot that the way to handle stress related to the coronavirus pandemic was to “have kids.”
“Riot Games is a male-dominated culture,” the lawsuit said. Female employees like Ms. O’Donnell were “discriminated against, harassed and treated as second-class citizens,” it said.
When she refused Mr. Laurent’s advances, Ms. O’Donnell said in the lawsuit, he yelled at her, grew hostile, took away some of her responsibilities and eventually fired her in July.
Ms. O’Donnell “believes that this was because she refused to have sex or an affair with the defendant,” according to the lawsuit, which was first reported on Tuesday by Daily Esports.
Riot disputed Ms. O’Donnell’s claim in a statement, saying she “was dismissed from the company over seven months ago based on multiple well-documented complaints from a variety of people.”
Riot said an outside law firm was conducting the investigation into Mr. Laurent and was being overseen by a committee of the company’s board of directors. Riot said Mr. Laurent was cooperating with the investigation.
Riot, which is owned by the Chinese internet giant Tencent, has grown into one of the world’s most prominent video game companies.
Its flagship League of Legends game, released in 2009, brought in more than $1.8 billion in revenue last year, according to an estimate from the research firm SuperData. And the series of professional competitions Riot has built around the game has attracted tens of millions of fans and turned star gamers into e-sports celebrities who can make millions of dollars.
But Riot has also been under fire for what employees have said is a sexist, toxic workplace. In 2019, it agreed to pay $10 million to the 1,000 women who had worked at the company since 2014 to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming gender discrimination and unequal pay.
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which has been investigating Riot since 2018, said last year that the women could be entitled to as much as $400 million, which Riot disputed. It said earlier this month that it was moving forward in court with an effort to seek “class-wide relief” for the women who worked at Riot.
Aunt Jemima formally rebranded itself on Tuesday as the Pearl Milling Company, moving one step closer to permanently abandoning the breakfast product line’s likeness that critics had long said perpetuated a racist stereotype for more than a century. The new name comes from the milling company in St. Joseph, Mo., that pioneered the self-rising pancake mix that became known as Aunt Jemima.
Heineken, the big brewer based in Amsterdam, said on Wednesday it would lay off 8,000 workers, or almost 10 percent of its work force, as it confronts a steep fall in beer sales to restaurants and bars closed because of the pandemic. The company reported an 18 percent drop in net revenue for 2020, and a 79 percent fall in operating profit. Dolf van den Brink, the chief executive, called it a “year of unprecedented disruption and transition.”
Lyft said on Tuesday that revenue for the fourth quarter of 2020 was $570 million, a 44 percent decline from the year before but in line with Wall Street expectations. Losses increased 22 percent, to $458.2 million. Revenue for 2020 was down 35 percent, to $2.4 billion.
Twitter said on Tuesday that its revenue in the fourth quarter last year was $1.29 billion, a 28 percent increase from the previous year and slightly above Wall Street expectations. Profit for the quarter was $222 million, bolstered by a turnaround in income after a significant drop in ad spending earlier in 2020. The company lost $1.14 billion for the year.