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Apple teams up with Alcoa and Rio Tinto on clean aluminum smelting



Apple has teamed up with aluminum producers Alcoa and Rio Tinto on a joint venture aimed at smelting aluminum without emitting greenhouse gases.

The tech company said Thursday that “revolutionary” new technology created by the project replaces the use of carbon, which is normally used in the smelting process, with an advanced conductive material.

Through this method, oxygen is released as a result instead of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, meaning the metal can be produced in an environmentally clean way.

“Apple is committed to advancing technologies that are good for the planet and help protect it for generations to come,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement.

“We are proud to be part of this ambitious new project, and look forward to one day being able to use aluminum produced without direct greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing of our products.”

Aluminum is used in most of Apple’s popular products, including the iPhone, iPad and iMac.

Apple, Alcoa, Rio Tinto and the governments of Canada and Quebec will collectively invest a total of $144 million to fund further research and development into the technology.

The current method of smelting aluminum was discovered by Alcoa founder Charles Hall in 1886. Hall’s method entailed applying a strong electrical current to aluminum oxide, or alumina, the raw material required for producing aluminum. But this method involves burning carbon, and therefore producing carbon dioxide.

Apple said the new process was discovered by three of its engineers, Brian Lynch, Jim Yurko and Katie Sassaman, at Alcoa. Apple, Alcao and Rio Tinto hope to launch the patent-pending technology for commercial release by 2024.

Apple has been ramping up its efforts towards sustainability recently. Last month, the firm claimed that its global facilities were now powered entirely by renewable energy. It also has a recycling robot called Daisy that disassembles iPhones to recover valuable materials.

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CDC says U.S. is seeing ‘distressing trend’ in outbreak



Medics transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where Coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, on July 30, 2020.

Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images

A top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that the agency is seeing a “distressing trend” in the United States’ coronavirus outbreak.

Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, said Covid-19 cases are now growing “really in all parts of the country,” with particularly high transmission in the Midwest.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing a distressing trend here in the United States,” he told reporters on a call. He said the surge is likely due to the arrival of cooler temperatures, adding, “Smaller, more intimate gatherings of family, friends and neighbors may be driving transmission as well, especially as they move indoors.”

“I recognize that we are all getting tired of the impact Covid-19 has had on our lives,” he said. “We’re tired of wearing masks, but it continues to be as important as it has ever been and I would say even more important than ever as we move into the fall season.”

The U.S. is now reporting roughly 60,000 new Covid-19 cases daily, growing nearly 17% compared with a week ago, according to a CNBC analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Figures are based on a weekly average to smooth out fluctuations in daily reporting. Only two states — Hawaii and Virginia — reported declines greater than 5% as of Tuesday.

The U.S. still has the worst outbreak in the world, with more than 8.2 million cases and at least 221,122 deaths, according to Hopkins data.

Health officials and infectious disease experts fear the situation could become dire as flu season begins and hospitals risk reaching capacity.

“If steps are not taken to reduce transmission at the community level, it’ll come to no surprise that health-care systems start to feel a pinch and start to head towards capacity and beyond capacity,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the University of Toronto, told CNBC in a recent interview.

Butler said the U.S. will likely have a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine “very soon,” adding that he is “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine will be available in limited quantities by the end of the year. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on the same call that Pfizer and Moderna, front-runners in the Covid-19 vaccine race, are “very close if not fully enrolled in their trials.”

Butler added every state and jurisdiction has submitted plans to the federal government to distribute a vaccine. The agency had set a deadline of last Friday.

The agency will be providing feedback in the next two weeks, Butler said Wednesday, and the plans are “flexible” as health officials “learn more about which vaccines become available in what amount and when.”

States have less than two weeks to set up distribution centers across the country to meet the Nov. 1 deadline set by the CDC — a monumental undertaking made even more difficult by the fact that a vaccine hasn’t been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration and clinical trials of two of the four leading candidates have been halted.

The comments come days after the Trump administration announced a deal with CVS Health and Walgreens to administer coronavirus vaccines to the elderly and staff in long-term care facilities. The vaccine will be free of charge and available for residents in all long-term care settings, Butler told reporters on Friday.

Most of the potential vaccines require two doses, although Johnson & Johnson’s requires just one shot, and some of them need to be transported and stored at varying and specific temperatures. Once a vaccine is approved, it will likely be released in stages, with the elderly and health-care workers getting it first, health officials have said.

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Slack stock sinks after Morgan Stanley says losing to Microsoft, Zoom



Stewart Butterfield, chief executive officer of Slack Technologies Inc., right, with Allen Shim, chief financial officer of Slack Technologies, Inc., on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during the company’s initial public offering (IPO) in New York, U.S., on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Whatever benefits Slack saw in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic appear to have dissipated because large companies are choosing rival collaboration products, according to Morgan Stanley.

Slack shares closed down 6.3% after Morgan Stanley analysts downgraded the stock to the equivalent of a sell rating and said the company is losing out to Microsoft and Zoom.

“Massive work from home demand for collaboration tools may end up doing more harm than good for Slack,” wrote the analysts, who have a $27 price target on the stock. “We see higher risk at current levels.”

In late March, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield published a lengthy thread on Twitter about how rapidly the world of work was changing. It included details about Slack’s customer growth and his view that a market transition the company expected to occur “over 5-7 years just got fast-forwarded by 18 months.”

The stock jumped 17% that day and continued rising into early June. But quarterly results showed that Slack wasn’t seeing the type of acceleration that Zoom was experiencing. According to Morgan Stanley, Zoom has gained “ubiquity” in video, while at the same time Microsoft has been making Teams, which competes directly with Slack, easily accessible to its massive customer base.

Slack vs. Zoom and Microsoft this year


“In many cases, Slack did not have the opportunity to properly pitch its differentiation, and in our view, the customers that have standardized on Microsoft Teams are not looking back,” wrote the Morgan Stanley analysts.

In addition to heavy competition from Microsoft and Zoom’s developing of more products around video, Slack also faces pressure from Google and the “long tail of collaboration vendors,” they wrote.

Since peaking on June 3, Slack’s stock has dropped 28%, while Zoom has more than doubled and Microsoft has gained 16%.

WATCH: Slack, Box and Okta CEOs at CNBC @Work Summit

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Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) Q3 2020 earnings top estimates



A customer carries a Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. bag outside a restaurant in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, July 20, 2020.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Chipotle Mexican Grill on Wednesday reported quarterly same-store sales growth of more than 8%, but a shift to delivery is boosting costs and resulting in fewer drink purchases, which dragged down its net income.

Shares of the company fell more than 5% in after-hours trading.

Here’s what the company reported for the quarter ended Sept. 30 compared with what Wall Street was expecting, based on a survey of analysts by Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $3.76, adjusted, vs. $3.47 expected
  • Revenue: $1.6 billion vs. $1.59 billion expected

Chipotle reported third-quarter net income of $80.2 million, or $2.82 per share, down from $98.6 million, or $3.47 per share, a year earlier. A higher volume of delivery and steak orders and more expensive beef increased costs, which were partially offset by menu price increases, less salsa usage and lower avocado prices.

Excluding $28.7 million in legal expenses and other items, the burrito chain earned $3.76 per share, topping the $3.47 per share expected by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Net sales rose 14.1% to $1.6 billion, narrowly beating expectations of $1.59 billion. Same-store sales climbed 8.3% in the quarter, hitting a peak in August. Strong demand continued into September, but the company was lapping higher same-store sales growth due to the launch of its carne asada option last year in that month.

For the second consecutive quarter, digital sales more than tripled. Online orders accounted for nearly half of all sales, and about half of Chipotle’s digital customers chose to have their orders delivered.

Delivery service revenue, which includes delivery and service fees paid by customers to Chipotle through its app and website, made up 1.3% of its net sales. The company said that revenue charged to customers doesn’t fully cover the commission fees it pays to third-party delivery providers, such as DoorDash and Grubhub.

The company opened 44 restaurants and permanently closed 3 during the quarter. Twenty-six of the new locations had Chipotle’s drive-thru lanes, which are only for picking up digital orders.

Chipotle once again declined to provide an outlook for 2020, citing the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Read the full earnings report here.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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