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Amazon sees pandemic boosting holiday sales and investment in delivery – Reuters Canada

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(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc on Thursday forecast a jump in holiday sales – and costs related to COVID-19 – as consumers continued to shop more online during the pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, November 5, 2019. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

A company executive added that heightened spending on delivery infrastructure would likely continue over years, and shares fell 2% in after-hours trading.

Since the start of the virus outbreak in the United States eight months ago, consumers have turned increasingly to Amazon for delivery of groceries, home goods and medical supplies. Brick-and-mortar shops closed their doors; Amazon by contrast moved to recruit over 400,000 workers and earned $6.3 billion in the just-ended quarter, its second consecutive record profit.

That has kept the world’s largest online retailer at the center of workplace and political tumult. Democratic politicians this month accused Amazon of holding “monopoly power” over merchants on its platform, which the company disputes. Meanwhile, more than 19,000 of Amazon’s U.S. employees contracted COVID-19, and some staff protested for site closures.

Amazon’s response now includes an estimated $4 billion in costs related to COVID-19 this holiday, up from $2.5 billion last quarter. It is testing employees for the virus and getting protective gear for new hires. It also is working less productively because of social distancing at its warehouses, which accounts for a big part of its pandemic expense, Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said on a call with reporters.

Amazon forecast operating profit to be between $1.0 billion and $4.5 billion, short of $5.8 billion analysts were looking for, according to research firm FactSet.

Competition this holiday remains fierce for the company in retail – and in the cloud. A traditional bright spot, cloud computing division Amazon Web Services (AWS) is dueling with smaller rival Microsoft Corp for business with a big potential during the pandemic, from remote work to cloud-based gaming.

In the just-ended third quarter, AWS sales grew 29%, while Microsoft reported a 48% rise in revenue for its Azure cloud.

‘TIGHT ON CAPACITY’

Still, Amazon’s sales are shaping up to hit a record level. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and richest person in the world, said in a press release, “We’re seeing more customers than ever shopping early for their holiday gifts, which is just one of the signs that this is going to be an unprecedented holiday season.”

The company reported that customers in its loyalty club Prime were shopping more often, renewing their membership at higher rates and, internationally, turning to Amazon much more for video entertainment. Merchants also expanded their budgets for advertising on Amazon in the third quarter versus a contraction during the pandemic’s spring peak.

The question for some analysts has been whether Amazon’s consumer division can keep up with still-growing purchases during the pandemic.

The company has long worked to avoid a repeat of the 2013 season when delays left some without presents on Christmas Day. Amazon now handles more deliveries in house, and this year it moved its marketing event Prime Day – usually in July – to October, letting customers place holiday orders early.

CFO Olsavsky told reporters that the company is “not totally insulated” from challenges its delivery partners may be facing this quarter, though the online retailer feels ready for the holiday season.

“We do think it will be tight on capacity industry-wide, and we’re no exception to that,” he said. “It does behoove shoppers to shop early.”

Olsavsky said on a call with analysts that Amazon’s fulfillment and logistics square footage would be 50% higher this year. He said the company already has spent heavily on expanding its transport capability, part of some $30 billion in capital expenditures and leases through the third quarter. The heightened transportation investment will likely continue over years to come, he said.

For the fourth quarter, Amazon said it expects net sales of $112 billion to $121 billion. That would mark the company’s first over $100 billion and follows a third-quarter revenue beat that analysts such as eMarketer’s Andrew Lipsman did not expect.

“While it was clear that the pandemic-driven shift to e-commerce would keep Amazon’s topline elevated, it surprised by easily surpassing an already high bar,” Lipsman said.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi and Grant McCool

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Chevron Slashes Long-Term Investment 27% Following Oil Slump – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Initiative de journalisme local

Les rassemblements interdits à Noël

Le gouvernement du Québec est finalement revenu sur sa décision initiale et interdira les rassemblements à Noël. Cette décision est prise en raison de la propagation du virus de la COVID-19. «Ce n’est pas réaliste de penser que nous allons réussir à réduire la progression du virus de façon satisfaisante d’ici Noël», a mentionné le premier ministre François Legault lors du point de presse tenu le 3 décembre. Il a ajouté qu’il comptait sur le «sens des responsabilités» des Québécois pour respecter la décision annoncée. Des amendes pourront être remises à ceux qui contreviendraient à cette interdiction. Les mesures annoncées en novembre, telles que l’enseignement à distance dans les jours qui précéderont et suivront le congé des Fêtes, ainsi que la réduction des activités des employeurs pendant cette période, seront maintenues. M. Legault souhaite que la province soit dans ses «meilleures dispositions possibles pour janvier afin de briser la vague». «On focalise beaucoup sur Noël et les rassemblements, mais je pense qu’on doit se pencher sur ce qui se passe dès maintenant, note Dr Horacio Arruda, directeur national de santé publique. Les chiffres sont assez alarmants pour qu’on doive appliquer les consignes à vigueur. Si on attend pour le confinement de Noël, on ne fera pas les gains nécessaires. Il faut que les cas baissent au maximum pour épargner notre système de santé.» Rappelons que le «contrat moral» proposé le 19 novembre permettait aux familles de se réunir lors de deux rassemblements du 24 au 27 décembre. Celui-ci était toutefois conditionnel à l’évolution de la pandémie et à la hausse des hospitalisations liées à la COVID-19. Avec un bilan de 11 823 personnes testées positives à la COVID-19, Laval a connu une hausse de 135 cas en 24 heures. Le total de décès depuis le début de la pandémie augmente à 728. Le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de Laval cumule également 10 298  guérisons, ce qui signifie qu’il y a désormais 797 cas actifs confirmés (-37) sur le territoire lavallois. Parmi les personnes touchées, 26 sont hospitalisées, dont 8 aux soins intensifs. 26 employés de l’organisation de santé sont toujours absents du travail en raison de la COVID-19. Cinq résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) de Laval sont présentement touchées par la COVID-19. Voici la liste complète de celles-ci : Par ailleurs, le Jardin des Saules a été placé dans la catégorie des RPA en situation critique en raison du taux d’infection. Au Québec, le bilan est maintenant de 146 532 cas et 7155 décès. Au total, 737 personnes sont toujours hospitalisées, dont 99 aux soins intensifs.Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval

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Investing in Ontario's Tourism Industry During COVID-19 | Ontario Newsroom – Government of Ontario News

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Ontario Newsroom | Salle de presse de l’Ontario

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Outlook 2021 – Future investment opportunities: green hydrogen – Investors' Corner BNP Paribas

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Read our investment outlook – Legacy of the lockdowns

More on green hydrogen and decarbonisation and sustainable investing


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