KO - The Coca-Cola Company

NYSE - NYSE Delayed Price. Currency in USD
-0.14 (-0.31%)
At close: 4:00PM EDT

45.12 +0.05 (0.11%)
After hours: 7:00PM EDT

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Performance Outlook
  • Short Term
    2W - 6W
  • Mid Term
    6W - 9M
  • Long Term
Previous Close45.21
Bid45.07 x 3100
Ask45.10 x 1100
Day's Range44.47 - 45.18
52 Week Range36.27 - 60.13
Avg. Volume18,337,350
Market Cap193.571B
Beta (5Y Monthly)0.54
PE Ratio (TTM)19.43
EPS (TTM)2.32
Earnings DateJul 21, 2020
Forward Dividend & Yield1.64 (3.63%)
Ex-Dividend DateJun 12, 2020
1y Target Est52.32
Fair Value is the appropriate price for the shares of a company, based on its earnings and growth rate also interpreted as when P/E Ratio = Growth Rate. Estimated return represents the projected annual return you might expect after purchasing shares in the company and holding them over the default time horizon of 5 years, based on the EPS growth rate that we have projected.
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-17% Est. Return
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  • MarketWatch

    Shares of Twitter, Snap soar amid Facebook ad boycott

    Battered by hundreds of advertisers boycotting content on its platform this month, Facebook Inc.'s apparent losses have led to stock gains for rival social media companies. Shares of Snap Inc. were up 5% in late-morning trading Wednesday, and is up 56% in 2020. Twitter Inc. shares, meanwhile, have advanced 6%, pushing it up 10% this year. Facebook's stock is down 1%. Facebook executives, including Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, met with boycott organizers late Tuesday amid an advertising pause from Coca-Cola Co. , Verizon Communications Inc. , Starbucks Corp. , and Unilever [s:UL].

  • Facebook Scorned by Advocacy Groups After Zuckerberg Meeting

    Facebook Scorned by Advocacy Groups After Zuckerberg Meeting

    (Bloomberg) -- Civil rights organizations criticized Facebook Inc. following a meeting with top executives Tuesday, claiming the company hasn’t taken seriously demands to better police its service from hate speech and misinformation.“Facebook approached our meeting today like it was nothing more than a PR exercise,” Jessica González, co-chief executive officer of Free Press, a non-profit media advocacy group, said in a statement following the meeting. “I’m deeply disappointed that Facebook still refuses to hold itself accountable to its users, its advertisers and society at large.”Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg also met with members of the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change, who have organized a boycott of the company’s advertising products in seeking to prompt change. The executives didn’t “commit to a timeline” to remove disinformation and hate speech, Gonzalez said, but instead “delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands.”“The meeting we just left was a disappointment,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, on a call with reporters.The forum, which lasted about an hour and was held over video conference, was intended to be a venue to discuss proposed solutions to making the Facebook platform less toxic, such as adding executives with civil rights experience to its top ranks and fact-checking political speech, among other changes.“Today we saw little and heard just about nothing,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, who was in the meeting. “The company is functionally flawed.”Since the groups called for the boycott, hundreds of advertisers, including well-known brands such as Unilever NV, Verizon Communications Inc., and Coca-Cola Co., have announced plans to pull advertising from Facebook’s properties over criticism the company doesn’t do enough to police user content. As the boycott grew, Facebook approached the civil rights organizations about a meeting, though the groups refused to meet without Zuckerberg in attendance.“They want Facebook to be free of hate speech and so do we,” Facebook said in a statement following the meeting. The company pointed to efforts it has made in recent years, including a mention of an audit of its policies and practices and noting that it has spent billions of dollars building systems to police its service. “We know we will be judged by our actions not by our words and are grateful to these groups and many others for their continued engagement.”Facebook has defended its attempts to fight hate speech and voter suppression in emails and phone calls with advertisers, talking up the company’s automated systems which find and remove these kinds of posts automatically. The company has also highlighted a voter registration initiative through which it hopes to register 4 million voters before the 2020 election.Greenblatt described Facebook’s claim that it catches 89% of hate speech automatically as an unacceptable number. “The Ford Motor Co. can’t say that 89% of our fleet has seatbelts that work,” he said, adding that it would require a recall. “Maybe it’s time we recall Facebook Groups? Maybe it’s time we recall the News Feed?”Another topic of discussion on the call was the civil rights audit of Facebook’s policies, which the company first started in mid-2018. Facebook, which has said it will publish the full report Wednesday, previewed some of the results with the civil rights groups during the meeting. The audit was carried out by a third party, meaning the results are independent of Facebook, but also that they are less likely to lead to change, Robinson said.“What we get is recommendations that they end up not implementing,” he added. Facebook will make some changes to add “long term civil rights infrastructure” to the company, but Robinson said the details were still “unclear.”What was clear from the outset was that the two sides wouldn’t likely come to a resolution on Tuesday. In a post before the meeting started, Sandberg acknowledged that Facebook needs to do more to fight hate speech, but also said that the company is unlikely to implement all the recommendations from the civil rights audit.The civil rights groups said that their fight with Facebook is far from over. “I believe this campaign will continue to grow,” Greenblatt said. “It will get more global, it will get more intense until we get the answers that I think we are looking for.”(Updates with more details from meeting starting from sixth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Were Hedge Funds Right About The Coca-Cola Company (KO)?
    Insider Monkey

    Were Hedge Funds Right About The Coca-Cola Company (KO)?

    How do you pick the next stock to invest in? One way would be to spend days of research browsing through thousands of publicly traded companies. However, an easier way is to look at the stocks that smart money investors are collectively bullish on. Hedge funds and other institutional investors usually invest large amounts of […]

  • Facebook has an incredible challenge in front of it: Goldman Sachs strategist
    Yahoo Finance

    Facebook has an incredible challenge in front of it: Goldman Sachs strategist

    Facebook won't overcome the yawning advertiser revolt in response to hate content overnight, suggests a Goldman Sachs strategist that specializes in tech investing.

  • Why Coca-Cola Stock Has Fallen 19% So Far in 2020
    Motley Fool

    Why Coca-Cola Stock Has Fallen 19% So Far in 2020

    What happened Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) stock is trailing the market this year. Shares have fallen 19% compared to a 4% decline in the S&P 500 through the end of June, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

  • Facebook Helps Explain Why ESG Investing Matters

    Facebook Helps Explain Why ESG Investing Matters

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- If you’re not clear on Environmental, Social and Governance investing, you’re not alone. The Department of Labor appears to be just as confused. Luckily, Facebook Inc. may serve as an example to help clarify the burgeoning investing movement. The Labor Department issued a proposed rule recently that is being widely interpreted as a ban on ESG investing in retirement accounts. A news release said the rule “is intended to provide clear regulatory guideposts” for corporate pensions and 401(k) plans around ESG investing. What it’s actually doing, however, is sowing utter confusion.  “Private employer-sponsored retirement plans are not vehicles for furthering social goals or policy objectives that are not in the financial interest of the plan,” Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia said. But ESG has nothing to do with furthering social goals or policy objectives. By definition, ESG investing is strictly a financial endeavor, an attempt to improve the performance of portfolios by limiting their exposure to companies whose environmental, social or governance policies, or lack of them, are deemed risky. In that regard, it’s no different from striking a balance between stocks and bonds, investment-grade bonds and junk, stocks of large and small companies, or any number of decisions investors routinely make to manage risk and attempt to boost risk-adjusted returns. Consider Facebook. The social media behemoth has problems. A growing number of big corporate advertisers such as Coca-Cola Co., Starbucks Corp., Microsoft Corp. and Ford Motor Co. are pulling their ads, fearing they might appear alongside hate speech, misinformation and other divisive content routinely posted on the platform. Facebook also faces a slew of antitrust inquiries from Congress, the Justice Department and a coalition of state attorneys general, as well as increasing bipartisan calls to remove legal protections that limit the company’s liability over content posted by users. Complaints about Facebook aren’t new. There have been widespread concerns about how the company handles user data since at least 2018, when news surfaced that Cambridge Analytica had obtained personal data of up to 87 million users. But Facebook has largely ignored its critics, mainly because co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg controls the company and doesn’t appear to share the concerns, at least not enough to do anything meaningful about them. So far, Zuckerberg has made mostly symbolic gestures, such as rolling out a new voter information hub and agreeing to meet with civil rights groups who organized the advertising boycott. Zuckerberg no doubt prefers to wield absolute power, but it’s a risky proposition for Facebook’s shareholders. There is growing evidence that companies with strong governance generally perform better and are less likely to fail than those with weak governance, which also makes them a less volatile and better-performing investment over time. The best ones have policies that hold management accountable and balance the competing demands of shareholders, creditors, workers, suppliers, customers and regulators. Suffice it to say, while Zuckerberg is on the throne, Facebook has few of those checks and balances.That’s a problem because Zuckerberg is the sole arbiter of what is and isn’t a hazard for Facebook, even if all indications are to the contrary. And clearly, not everyone at the company agrees with Zuckerberg’s sanguine outlook. Facebook employees recently staged a virtual walkout, and some senior figures publicly expressed their disapproval of Zuckerberg’s laissez-faire approach to policing content. If there were a greater diversity of opinion in Facebook’s decision-making process, perhaps it would have been more attune to the many threats it now faces.    The risk posed by Facebook’s strongman governance is the “G” in ESG. Not surprisingly, Facebook receives poor marks for governance. Institutional Shareholder Services, a leading provider of ESG ratings, gives Facebook a 10 for governance, the highest risk score on its 10-point scale. And according to various governance metrics tracked by Bloomberg, such as percentage of independent directors and board size, governance has weakened at Facebook over the last decade. For investors worried about the governance risk around Facebook, reducing their exposure to the company, or even eliminating it entirely, is a reasonable financial move — one that is consistent with, in fact prescribed by, the Labor Department’s “longstanding position” that retirement plans “select investments and investment courses of action based on financial considerations relevant to the risk-adjusted economic value of a particular investment.” It’s also the essence of ESG.Scalia and the Labor Department appear to confuse ESG with what would more accurately be called socially responsible investing, or SRI, which attempts to align investors’ portfolios with their values by excluding companies and industries that conflict with those values, regardless of financial impact. It’s no less odd that the Labor Department wants to ban SRI. While I suspect SRI investors will pay a price for mixing their money and their values, there’s little evidence so far that SRI is a drag on portfolios or that it would undermine the “retirement security of American workers,” as Scalia seems to fear. So if 401(k) participants and pension beneficiaries want their money aligned with their conscience, it’s not clear why the Labor Department should stand in the way, particularly when it’s part of an administration that professes devotion to deregulation, small government and religious freedom. But at the very least, the Labor Department should clarify that it’s targeting SRI, not ESG.If the rule stands, one silver lining is that it might promote a clearer separation between ESG and SRI, which would help investors navigate the growing social investing landscape. Funds that blend the two are a particular source of confusion. The iShares ESG MSCI USA ETF, for example, both invests in stocks with strong ESG scores and excludes tobacco and weapons companies. The Labor Department’s proposed rule would presumably disqualify it from inclusion in retirement plans, and thereby discourage more funds from mixing ESG and SRI.  However the rule shakes out, one thing should be clear: When ESG takes issue with companies such as Facebook, it’s about money, not values. If the Labor Department finds that confusing, imagine how ordinary investors must feel.  This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nir Kaissar is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the markets. He is the founder of Unison Advisors, an asset management firm. He has worked as a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell and a consultant at Ernst & Young. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Nifty FAANG and Other 'One Decision' Investment Strategies

    Nifty FAANG and Other 'One Decision' Investment Strategies

    Looking at the stock market today, the first thought that comes to mind is that it is divorced from economic reality Continue reading...

  • More people see ‘value’ and ‘quality’ in a brand’s politics — not products — as Facebook and other companies are finding out fast

    More people see ‘value’ and ‘quality’ in a brand’s politics — not products — as Facebook and other companies are finding out fast

    Consumer brands across all categories are now in the spotlight as to where they stand on social issues. Then, just as businesses were starting to get back to their regularly scheduled marketing, the wave of long-overdue protests and conversations began in support of Black Lives Matter. Consumers expect transparency, accountability, and action.

  • 7 International Stocks to Buy as the World Economy Restarts

    7 International Stocks to Buy as the World Economy Restarts

    China's disciplined approach in isolating and treating those infected with the novel coronavirus allowed the country to re-open sooner. The rest of the world is following China's lead. As the world economy restarts, international stocks will fare the best. Its geographic diversity will work in its favor as strong growth in re-opened countries offsets a temporary shutdown in other places.Savvy investors may build a geographically diversified portfolio, but that is not easy. There are currency exchange rate risks to consider. So, buying worldwide conglomerates may pay off in the long-run. Plus, investors get the benefit of spreading out risks.There are seven international stocks to buy as the world economy restarts:InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips* The Unilever Group (NYSE:UL)* The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG)* Alibaba (NYSE:BABA)* Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO)* Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM)* Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB)* AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) * 7 Utilities Stocks to Buy With Reassuring Dividends Together, these international stocks give investors exposure to a wide variety of sectors. Consumer goods, e-commerce, automotive, and drug manufacturing all have their growth potential. Plus, a re-start will accelerate the near-term growth of companies in their respective markets. Unilever Group (UL)Source: Wright Studio/Shutterstock.com First up on this list of international stocks is Unilever. The Unilever Group is in the news after joining other firms in boycotting ad spending on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) for the rest of the year. This is an unfortunate decision and does signal some risks in holding UL stock. The company reported flat sales growth in the first quarter due to the stay-at-home order. But stockpiling last quarter and the re-opening should lift results.In Q1, Unilever signaled its confidence in its cash flow growth by keeping its dividend levels. As consumers return to stores, Unilever's sales should recover. Still, the company must adjust to the ever-lasting impact of people staying at home. So, instead of relying on ice cream and food that restaurants and cafes buy, the company needs to pivot.Unilever stock has a strong overall rating. As a bonus, the stock offers a good dividend for income investors.Source: Data courtesy of Stock Rover Increasing its focus on laundry detergents, hand sanitizers, and soap products should give profit margins a lift. In the near-term, expect a better entry point approaching. Analysts have a $48.42 price target (according to Tipranks). And if more restaurants are open, Unilever's sales should bounce back in the next quarter. The Procter & Gamble Company (PG)Source: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com Procter & Gamble's priority of ensuring the health and safety of everyone around the world already makes the company a recession-proof holding. Looking ahead, family demands for maintaining health, hygiene, and cleaning will only grow. The devastating virulence of the coronavirus will only increase such needs.In the first quarter, P&G increased its dividend by 6% to about 79 cents a share. And as consumers choose their brands first, sales will increase as people slowly return to their normal lives. From fiscal 2012 to Fiscal 2016, P&G created $10 billion worth of growth and value. It will repeat that feat from the fiscal year 2017 to 2021.By disrupting the market, the company comes out ahead in a variety of sectors. This includes beauty, grooming, family care, and health care.According to Stock Rover, PG stock is worth $160.53. It scores well on quality.PG Industry S&P 500 Quality Score 87 61 79 Gross Margin 49.90% 38.50% 29.10% Operating Margin 21.90% 18.60% 13.20% Net Margin 7.10% 10.10% 8.70% Data courtesy of Stock Rover * 9 Florida Stocks to Avoid as Coronavirus Rates Spike Expect P&G to expand its operating margin as the economic rebound unfolds. Its net margin could exceed that of the industry next. Alibaba (BABA)Source: Colin Hui / Shutterstock.com Alibaba still trades at a discount. The strong growth in e-commerce every quarter suggests that markets continue to underestimate their potential. With China leading the economy's reopening, Alibaba's digital economy business will expand. In the fourth quarter, Alibaba's digital economy gross merchant volume exceeded $1 trillion (slide 3). It now has 960 million global annual active customers (AAC).Investors may forecast Alibaba's revenue growing by at least 17% or higher in the next five years annually. With the following input, Alibaba stock has a fair value of $265.42.Source: Data courtesy of finbox At 780 million China and 180 million international AAC, Alibaba is in a strong position to grow its market share. Plus, consumers will spend more time buying things online. Furthermore, the e-commerce giant has a chance to increase its food and grocery business as customers grow accustomed to buying these goods online.In the cloud computing space, Alibaba Cloud continues to benefit from the increasing demand for video content consumption. Remote working and learning also lifted demand.At a price-to-earnings (P/E) below 30 times, BABA stock has an excellent growth profile against its deep value. Coca-Cola Company (KO)Source: Fotazdymak / Shutterstock.com Just as Unilever cut its ad spending, Coca-Cola said it would do the same. The pop drink supplier is pausing all social media ad spending for July. Again, this suggests that the company's revenue growth is slowing and that its ads are not effective in reversing that decline.KO stock lost nearly one-third of its value in the last five years:Chart courtesy of Stock RoverAccording to Tipranks, analysts have a $51.40 price target. At an 8% discount rate, a 5-year discounted cash flow model would arrive at a similar fair value.Source: Data courtesy of finbox The economy's restart should put KO stock in firmer territory as it cuts unnecessary spending. And as sales recover, profits will expand at a better pace than ever. Collectively, beverage companies "spent over a billion dollars to advertise sugary drinks and energy drinks in 2018." So, strong brand recognition should lead to continued double-digit sales of Coca-Cola products despite the ad spending freeze. * 10 Value Stocks to Keep on Your Short List At a price-to-earnings below 20 times, Coca-Cola shares are too cheap to ignore, especially as international markets reopen. Toyota Motor (TM)Source: josefkubes / Shutterstock.com Automotive companies faced slumping sales at the height of the pandemic-driven lockdown. The easing should lead to a rebound in sales. International stocks like Toyota Motor not only trade at favorable valuations of around 10 times earnings, but have a good performance record.Toyota makes reliable cars that require minimal maintenance. Those who have to go to work and want to avoid public transportation will want to buy a Toyota.Still, Toyota's sales rebound will not happen until after July at the earliest. The company forecasts a 10% drop in production volume in July. This is a solid improvement from the 40% decrease in June. As global demand recovers, domestic production will bounce back. Toyota forecasts sales will recover to last year's levels by the end of 2020. Kimberly-Clark (KMB)Source: Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock.com In a long-term trading range of $130 - $145, Kimberly-Clark stock is ready to break out to the upside. In the first quarter, the company posted non-GAAP earnings of $2.13 a share. Revenue grew 8.2% from last year.KMB stock held up well because of the crazed demand for toilet paper in the last quarter. Looking ahead, the company has a few priorities that will sustain its growth. In addition to protecting the health and safety of its employees and customers, it will manage its global supply chain and manage the business for volatility.For instance, CEO Mike Hsu said: "Like other companies, we haven't significantly pared back our SKU count, and that we've done that in partnership with our customers, who have been very supportive along that journey. And that has increased our theoretical capacity because we have fewer changeovers and less complexity in the plants." * 5 Penny Stocks Under $10 to Buy in June By running efficiently, KMB shares could bounce higher as demand patterns recover in places like Asia, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. AstraZeneca (AZN)Source: Shutterstock Last on this list of international stocks is AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca is not only an international stock idea but it is also a coronavirus vaccine play. The company signed a $127 million deal to produce an experimental vaccine for the Brazilian government. The country will receive material to produce 30.4 million doses later this year. The deal will bring 100 million vaccines. This accounts for nearly half of Brazil's residents. AstraZeneca will transfer the technology if the vaccine works.Brazil is one of the hardest-hit countries of the virus and has more than a million confirmed cases.The company's AZD1222 vaccine is a co-development with the University of Oxford. Italy's pharma giant, Catalent, will manufacture the drug starting in August 2020.AstraZeneca shared its data on three cancer studies. Tagrisso, which treats adjuvant lung cancer, is in Phase III. Imfinzi is in Phase III and treats extensive-stage small cell lung cancer. And Enhertu is in Phase II trials in gastric, lung, and colorectal cancers.On Stock Rover, AZN stock has an 87/100 score on quality. Its gross margin is 49.9% and may potentially rise as the economy re-opens.As of this writing, the author did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. More From InvestorPlace * Why Everyone Is Investing in 5G All WRONG * America's 1 Stock Picker Reveals His Next 1,000% Winner * Revolutionary Tech Behind 5G Rollout Is Being Pioneered By This 1 Company * Radical New Battery Could Dismantle Oil Markets The post 7 International Stocks to Buy as the World Economy Restarts appeared first on InvestorPlace.

  • Coca-Cola Shuts Down Its Odwalla Juice Brand, Eliminates Refrigerated Trucking
    Motley Fool

    Coca-Cola Shuts Down Its Odwalla Juice Brand, Eliminates Refrigerated Trucking

    After spending several years evaluating its Odwalla brand of juice in an effort to find a way to make it profitable, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) announced that it is closing down the brand permanently. The move will end slightly less than 19 years of Coca-Cola ownership of the brand, which it acquired in October 2001 for $181 million. At the time, John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest, called the acquisition "a very smart deal for Coke," while Odwalla CEO Stephen Williamson remarked that "the entrepreneurial spirit of Odwalla will be nurtured by the opportunity for growth that this new relationship presents."

  • TheStreet.com

    Coca-Cola to Discontinue Odwalla Drink Brand

    Coca-Cola is closing its Odwalla juice business as well as a refrigerated-trucking network that delivers fresh drinks to stores. The moves will cut about 300 jobs, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Atlanta drinks giant will stop delivering Odwalla to stores by the end of July and will pick up unsold inventory through August, a spokesperson told The Journal.

  • Gary Vaynerchuk: Most advertisers don't know what they want Facebook to do about hate speech
    Yahoo Finance

    Gary Vaynerchuk: Most advertisers don't know what they want Facebook to do about hate speech

    Marketing veteran and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk weighs in on the controversy swirling around Facebook.

  • Facebook may be headed to the 'graveyard of dinosaurs': former Unilever CEO
    Yahoo Finance

    Facebook may be headed to the 'graveyard of dinosaurs': former Unilever CEO

    Imagine co-founder and former long-time Unilever CEO Paul Polman speaks out on Facebook's recent actions.

  • MarketWatch

    Dow jumps 25 points on gains for Pfizer, Walt Disney stocks

    DOW UPDATE Led by positive momentum for shares of Pfizer and Walt Disney, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is climbing Wednesday morning. Shares of Pfizer (PFE) and Walt Disney (DIS) have contributed to the index's intraday rally, as the Dow (DJIA) was most recently trading 28 points (0.

  • Reuters

    COLUMN-One hundred years of certitude? FAANG-like century bonds clean up: Mike Dolan

    Investors who snapped up Austria's first "century bond" three years ago would have so far doubled their money, outpacing the racy Nasdaq composite with a total return of 101% in dollar terms. Last week, Austria received orders of almost 10 times more than it needed for a brand new 100-year bond, paying an annual coupon of just 0.85%, which was less than half the previous one. In price terms, Austria's 100-year bond from 2017 has matched the stargazing NYFANG+TM index, which includes the FAANGs of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet.

  • Reuters

    REFILE-Facebook frustrates advertisers as boycott over hate speech kicks off

    Advertisements for more than 400 brands including Coca-Cola and Starbucks are due to vanish from Facebook on Wednesday, after the failure of last-ditch talks to stop a boycott over hate speech on the site. U.S. civil rights groups have enlisted the multinationals to help pressure the social media giant into taking concrete steps to block hate speech in the wake of the death of George Floyd and amid a national reckoning over racism.. Facebook executives including Carolyn Everson, vice president of global business solutions, and Neil Potts, public policy director, held at least two meetings with advertisers on Tuesday, the eve of the planned one-month boycott, three sources who participated in the calls told Reuters.

  • Facebook Critics Target One Thing CEO Won’t Cede: Control

    Facebook Critics Target One Thing CEO Won’t Cede: Control

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg took the unusual step on Friday of publicly broadcasting a weekly Q&A with employees. Over a live video feed, the CEO announced a series of updates to Facebook’s policies around hate speech -- the central topic fueling a growing boycott of Facebook advertising.But the new policies, like labeling posts from public figures who break its terms of service, didn’t assuage critics. The coalition of civil rights groups organizing the boycott called the announcement “a small number of small changes.” Demands like adding a high-ranking executive focused on civil rights, providing face-to-face customer service for hate speech victims and removing extra protections for elected leaders were still unmet.And, though it wasn’t officially included on their public list of proposed changes, the boycott organizers also have a more fundamental complaint: Zuckerberg has too much control.“Mark Zuckerberg has way too much power for a company of this size and reach,” said Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns at Color of Change, one of the boycott’s organizers. “He is the one that is blocking progress in this moment.”Zuckerberg, who famously co-founded Facebook as a student before dropping out of Harvard University, has always been the most important person at the company, partly thanks to his out-sized control of its board. Recently, he has consolidated even more power. Since 2018 the founders of Facebook’s other properties, like Instagram and WhatsApp, have left the company, giving Zuckerberg more say over its product empire. And a number of board members -- including former Gates Foundation CEO Susan Desmond-Hellmann and former American Express Co. CEO Kenneth Chenault -- departed in the past two years, many of them over frustrations with Facebook’s corporate governance, according to the Wall Street Journal.For some, the lack of dissenting voices within and around Facebook is worrying. “This behemoth of a company, that’s operating more as a public utility, must be more accountable,” said NAACP CEO and boycott organizer Derrick Johnson.Zuckerberg is not the only important executive at the company. He has long relied on Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to run Facebook’s business and policy divisions, and he has a number of top executives who advise him. But unlike Twitter Inc., which goes out of its way to say that CEO Jack Dorsey does not make content decisions, Zuckerberg is clearly the final say on all things Facebook.“The way decisions escalate in Facebook are very much what you’d expect in any complex organization where there was a hierarchy,” Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president for global affairs and communications, told reporters earlier this month. “For the most difficult decisions, there’s one ultimate decision maker, our CEO and Chair and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg.”As Facebook’s advertising boycott has grown to include household names like Starbucks Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Unilever, the social network has fought back with an information campaign intended to demonstrate how much the company already does to fight hate online. Facebook has repeated a series of statistics in interviews and in emails to advertising partners, including that the company detects 90% of the hate speech it removes from the platform before any user even flags it.The company has also been touting a voting information campaign announced earlier this month with the goal of registering 4 million new U.S. voters before the 2020 presidential election. On Friday, Facebook said it would arrange a third-party audit of its quarterly report detailing how much content it takes down for rules violations.But so far, the piecemeal changes have done little to placate the company’s critics. “It’s unclear what the perfect solution is,” said Mark Shmulik, an analyst at Bernstein Securities. “There’s no kind of silver bullet here to fix it -- it’s a very broad, ambiguous problem.”On the larger issues, Facebook has shown little sign of relenting. Diminishing Zuckerberg’s control over the company is almost entirely out of the question. Repeated shareholder proposals to change Facebook’s voting structure or replace Zuckerberg as chairman have failed to clear the company’s board because Zuckerberg himself has voted against them -- the CEO has almost 60% of the vote thanks to a special class of shares unavailable to public investors. The arrangement has raised the question of who, specifically, Zuckerberg is accountable to.“This is where you have a runaway train,” the NAACP’s Johnson said on Monday on Bloomberg Television. “And that runaway train is causing harm to the public and it’s causing harm to our democracy.”The group calling for a Facebook boycott has several demands around removing hateful content that could prove difficult for the company to adhere to. Facebook said it’s already doing the best it can to find and remove posts promoting hate. In an interview on Bloomberg Television Monday, Clegg said Facebook does not profit off hate speech, and that it had an “industry-leading record” when it came to dealing with issues related to the “dark side of the internet.”But Clegg added: “I don’t want to pretend this is an easy straightforward task, that there is a switch we can flick and all hate speech suddenly disappears.”Hate has always been a problem for open platforms, in part because it’s difficult to define. In some cases, a post that clearly appears to be a rules violation to some people, is considered allowable by others. This dynamic played out late last month after a series of posts from President Trump struck many as a clear threat of violence. However, Zuckerberg said the posts were not actually a violation of Facebook’s policies. The posts remained up and untouched, even though Twitter flagged the same language.At Color of Change, Hatch understands that the social network, with more than 2 billion monthly users, probably cannot remove hate speech entirely, but she believes Facebook can do more within its current structure. “Certainly when things are flagged they need to be removed, and certainly when things are coming from the current president or an elected official, it needs to be removed,” Hatch said.Even though the boycott has trimmed billions off Facebook’s market capitalization, it’s not clear how much influence advertisers will have over the company’s processes. Some of the participating companies are heavy spenders, including Starbucks and Unilever, who together spent more than $30 million on Facebook ads during the first six months of the year, according to Pathmatics, a digital marketing analytics company. However, that’s a small amount compared with the almost $35 billion in sales Facebook is projected to report for the same six-month period.The vast majority of the company’s advertisers are small businesses, not name-brand marketers. Smaller companies rely on Facebook’s direct response ads, which drive specific outcomes like a website visit or an app install. Facebook’s top 100 advertisers accounted for roughly $4.2 billion in sales revenue last year, Pathmatics estimates, or just 6% of all Facebook revenue. So far, only a handful of the company’s 100 top-spending advertisers from 2019 are pulling money from Facebook ads.“As important as these advertisers are to Facebook, it would likely take a far broader advertising boycott over a longer period of time to materially impact Facebook’s ad revenue,” Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analysts wrote Monday in a note to investors. Facebook stock ended the day Monday up 2.1% despite the new additions to the ad holdout.Facebook will have more opportunities to try to alleviate concern this week in a series of meetings, including a round table discussion with advertisers and Facebook executives on Tuesday. Color of Change would also like to meet with Facebook this week -- but the group is holding out unless Zuckerberg also attends, a spokesperson said. It’s possible that the boycott, which is formally running through July, could extend further depending on how Facebook responds, Hatch said.“It’s definitely a live, dynamic campaign,” she said. “We’re hopeful we won’t have to make any further adjustments or asks. But that’s up to Facebook really.”(Updates with details on Color of Change meeting in 21st paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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