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Fitch Ratings cut the credit rating of Kraft Heinz to below investment grade on Friday, a blow for investors such as Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway. Only one more rating agency needs to downgrade Kraft Heinz bonds to “junk” before its credit qualifies as a “fallen angel,” when an issuer loses investment-grade status. Berkshire Hathaway has 325 million shares of Kraft Heinz, or 27% of shares outstanding. The stock fell 3.5% following the Fitch downgrade. “The downgrade reflects Fitch’s view that Kraft’s leverage will remain elevated above 4x for a prolonged period due to ongoing EBITDA challenges and limited near term debt reduction potential,” the rating agency said in a release. “Fitch estimates the company may need to divest up to 20% of its projected 2020 EBITDA to support debt reduction necessary to reduce leverage to below 4.0x versus 2019 leverage of 4.8x.”
The University of Michigan’s February reading on U.S. consumer sentiment topped economist expectations as consumers shrugged off worries about the coronavirus. The index came in at 100.9, beating a Dow Jones estimate of 99.5. Richard Curtin, chief economist of the Surveys of Consumers, said only 7% of survey respondents mentioned the coronavirus “when asked to explain their economic expectations in early February.” âImbert
Semiconductor ETFs SMH and SOXX rose to record all-time intraday highs on Friday, putting them on track for their best week since June. Nvidia is fueling the games, with that stock up more than 6% following earnings. âFrancolla, Stevens
Stocks opened little changed on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hovered around the breakeven line, while the S&P 500 gained 0.2%, boosted by earnings from Nvidia and Expedia, among others. The NASDAQ Composite was the top-performer, gaining 0.3%. For the week, the major averages were up at least 1% and were headed for back-to-back weekly increases. The weekly increases come even as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise. âStevens