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Johnson & Johnson sets aside $3.9B amid baby powder lawsuits

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Johnson & Johnson sets aside $3.9B amid baby powder lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson has socked away $3.9 billion to help cover the costs of thousands of lawsuits it’s facing over accusations that its baby powder is laced with asbestos.

The pharmaceutical giant revealed its 2020 litigation expenses in a Monday regulatory filing, saying the money was “primarily associated with talc related reserves and certain settlements.”

Some 25,000 plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson related to its talc-based baby powder, according to the filing, many of whom claim they got cancer after using the product.

The New Jersey-based company has faced baby powder safety concerns since a 2018 Reuters investigation found it knew for decades that asbestos — a toxic substance that can cause cancer when inhaled — was mixed in with the talc.

A Missouri court ordered the company last year to pay about $2.1 billion in damages to 22 women who linked their ovarian cancer to its products in a case that J&J is appealing to the US Supreme Court.

“The company continues to believe that it has strong legal grounds for the appeal of this verdict, as well as other verdicts that it has appealed,” J&J said in the Monday filing.

A New York court in November awarded $120 million to a Brooklyn woman who got cancer that she blamed on asbestos exposure from using J&J’s baby powder.

The company announced last May that it would stop selling its iconic talc-based Johnson’s Baby Powder in the US and Canada. J&J attributed the decision to changing consumer habits as well as “misinformation around the safety of the product and a constant barrage of litigation advertising.”

With Post wires

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Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott marries Seattle science teacher

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Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott marries Seattle science teacher

MacKenzie Scott — the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — has married a science teacher who works at a Seattle private school, according to a report.

Scott, one of the world’s richest women noted for her philanthropy, wed Dan Jewett, a teacher at Lakeside School, a source told the Wall Street Journal.

In a December blog post to Medium, Scott said she donated nearly $4.2 billion to charity in a span of four months to support struggling American during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott helped Bezos start Amazon in 1994. The two divorced in 2019.

Her Amazon author page currently says she “lives in Seattle with her four children and her husband, Dan,” the report said.

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Boeing CEO waived pay but got compensation worth $21 million

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Boeing CEO waived pay but got compensation worth $21 million

Boeing CEO David Calhoun declined a salary and performance bonus for most of last year but still received stock benefits that pushed the estimated value of his compensation to more than $21 million, according to a regulatory filing Friday.

The aerospace giant struggled last year with the continuing fallout from two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jetliner and a downturn in demand for planes because of the pandemic. Boeing lost nearly $12 billion and announced plans to cut about 30,000 jobs through layoffs and attrition.

Calhoun, who became CEO in January 2020, received $269,231 in salary for the period before he disavowed his salary in March. He also got $289,715 in other compensation, mostly perks such as the use of company planes, retirement benefits and home-security expenses.

The company said Calhoun gave up about $3.6 million by declining most of his salary and a $2.5 million bonus.

But most of Calhoun’s compensation — valued by Boeing at more than $20 million — came in the form of stock benefits that will vest in the next few years, assuming he remains CEO.

Those grants include $7 million worth of stock for returning the Max to service after it was grounded in 2019, $10 million worth of shares to compensate for pay he left behind at his previous job at The Blackstone Group, and $3.5 million in long-term incentive awards. All would vest over the next three years.

Calhoun, 63, was a longtime Boeing board member before being named CEO after the firing of Dennis Muilenburg in December 2019.

The Chicago-based company filed its proxy statement ahead of its April 20 annual shareholder meeting, which will be conducted online.

Shareholders will elect 10 directors. Pension funds in New York and Colorado are suing current and former board members and executives, including Calhoun and Muilenburg, in a Delaware state court. The funds accuse directors of lax safety oversight during the development of the 737 Max and after the first of two crashes that killed 346 people.

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Tech rebound pulls stocks out of a slump and to weekly gain

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Tech rebound pulls stocks out of a slump and to weekly gain

Wall Street ended sharply higher after a volatile session Friday, with the Nasdaq rebounding at the end of a week that saw it extend losses to about 10 percent from its previous record high.

All three main indexes bounced back from losses earlier in the day, with investors in recent sessions spooked by rising interest rates that offset optimism about an economic rebound.

Microsoft rallied 2.15 percent, boosting the S&P 500 more than any other stock, with gains in Alphabet, Apple and Oracle also lifting the index.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields hit a new one-year high of 1.626 percent after nonfarm payrolls increased by 379,000 jobs last month, blowing past a rise of 182,000 forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

Focus is also on a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill as a sharply divided U.S. Senate began what was expected to be a long debate over a slew of amendments on how that money would be spent.

The Nasdaq logged its third straight weekly decline after a recent spike in Treasury yields dented demand for high-flying technology stocks.

Rising interest rates disproportionately hurt high-growth tech companies because investors value them based on earnings expected years into the future, and high interest rates hurt the value of future earnings more than the value of earnings made in the short term.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is around 8 percent below its Feb. 12 closing high.

Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said his firm in recent days has bought shares in a handful of growth companies whose prices have been pummeled in the recent selloff.

“Next week, I would expect volatility to continue, with pockets of opportunity, with certain things that sold off potentially rebounding,” Dollarhide said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.85 percent to end at 31,496.3 points, while the S&P 500 gained 1.95 percent to 3,841.94.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.55 percent to 12,920.15.

In a busy session, volume on U.S. exchanges was 17.4 billion shares, compared with the 15.3 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent, the Dow added 1.8 percent and the Nasdaq lost 2.1 percent.

In Friday’s session, the S&P 500 energy sector index surged 3.9 percent to over a one year high as oil prices soared.

Oracle jumped more than 6 percent after Barclays upgraded the business software maker to “overweight” expecting improvement in the IT spending environment.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.86-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.12-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 55 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 225 new highs and 134 new lows.

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