The Recap: Federal appeals courts go two ways on health law’s tax subsidies

July 26

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down a major part of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that the insurance subsidies that help millions of Americans pay for coverage are illegal in three dozen states. ¶ Less than two hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, handed down a contradictory ruling on the issue, raising the possibility of yet another high-stakes battle over the law playing out before the Supreme Court. ¶ The dispute centers on whether the subsidies may be awarded in states that chose not to set up their own insurance marketplaces and left the task to the federal government. ¶ About 5.4 million people signed up for coverage on the federal exchange as of this spring. About 87 percent of them received subsidies.

Business

Mark Zuckerberg is richer than Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The Facebook chairman added $1.6 billion to his fortune after shares of the world’s largest social network closed at a record price Thursday. The surge elevated the 30-year-old’s net worth to $33.3 billion, moving him past Brin, 40, and Page, 41.

Google’s handling of “right to be forgotten” requests from European citizens came under fire by regulators after the search engine company restricted the removal of Internet links to European sites only.

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox agreed to sell its pay-TV businesses in Italy and Germany for $9 billion, gaining funds that it could use to raise an $80 billion takeover bid for Time Warner.

Wal-Mart Stores must provide a shareholder with documents related to the company’s internal probe of allegations that the retailer had paid bribes in Mexico, a court ruled.

McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut apologized to customers in China after regulators closed a meat supplier after a report showed unsanitary practices.

Burger King and Starbucks said their Chinese stores stopped using meat from Shanghai Husi Food, owned by OSI Group of Aurora, Ill., a supplier that local news media accused of selling expired chicken and beef.

AT&T released a 99-page comment to the FCC on the net-neutrality debate, while also weighing in on bandwidth prioritization.

Verizon announced plans to provide Fios subscribers with equal upload and download speeds.

Deals

Yahoo said it will buy Flurry, which helps other companies make apps and design mobile ad campaigns. The terms were not disclosed. Flurry says its analytics are used by 170,000 developers.

Earnings

Apple quarterly profit climbed 12 percent, to $7.7 billion. Earnings topped analysts’ projections for the period as Apple sold 35.2 million iPhones.

Amazon.com posted a loss of $126 million, more than double what was expected, even as sales climbed 23 percent to $19.3 billion. Expenses jumped 24 percent to $19.4 billion as the firm invested in cloud computing, warehouses and gadgets such as the new Fire smartphone.

American Airlines profit more than doubled to a record $1.46 billion; it will pay its first dividend since 1980 and repurchase $1 billion in stock.

AT&T profit slid to $3.5 billion and it missed estimates as more customers paid for devices with installment plans, an option that is denting profits as it cuts monthly service bills.

Boeing profit jumped 52 percent, to $1.65 billion, as its factories churn out 737, 777 and 787 aircraft at the fastest pace ever amid an order backlog shared with Airbus that is valued at about $1 trillion.

Chipotle profit climbed 26 percent to $110.3 million, as customers were undeterred by the chain’s price increases.

Comcast profit was up 15 percent, to $1.99 billion, as more customers signed up for high-speed Internet service.

Delta Air Lines profit rose 17 percent, to $801 million, boosted by its domestic business.

Facebook profit doubled to $791 million as it seems to have figured out the holy grail for media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads. The company has reams of data to ensure that the ads that appear on users’ mobile devices fit their interests and tastes.

Ford climbed to $1.3 billion, from $1.23 billion a year ago, on record earnings in North America and sales in China.

General Motors profit dropped 85 percent, to $278 million, from a year ago. Results were dashed by a $1.2 billion recall campaign and the $400 million it set aside to compensate the families of those who died in cars with faulty ignition switches. GM consulted with outside actuaries to determine the cost, but its CFO warned that it could be larger.

Microsoft profit fell 7 percent, to $4.61 billion as the absorption of the Nokia unit trimmed 8 cents per share from earnings. Microsoft is cutting 18,000 jobs over the next year, mostly related to Nokia.

Netflix profit more than doubled, to $71 million, as new episodes from the hit series “Orange Is the New Black” helped the video service surpass 50 million worldwide subscribers for the first time.

Northrop Grumman profit rose 4.7 percent, to $511 million, beating estimates.

Raytheon profit rose 2.3 percent to $499 million. It had the biggest decrease in sales among the five largest U.S. government contractors.

PepsiCo profit fell slightly to $1.98 billion, from $2.01 billion a year ago, as it cut costs.

Starbucks profit climbed 23 percent, to $512.6 million, helped by increased sales of food at its U.S. cafes.

Verizon profit rose to $4.21 billion, up from $2.25 billion a year ago, before the company bought full control of its U.S. wireless business.

Visa profit climbed 11 percent to $1.36 billion, from $1.23 billion a year ago, as card spending increased.

Economy

U.S. unemployment has fallen much faster than expected in the past six months, from 6.7 to 6.1 percent. And 88 percent of that has been due to declining long-term unemployment.

Washington

Regulators voted by a narrow margin to end a longtime staple of the investment industry — the fixed $1 share price for ­money-market mutual funds — at least for some money funds used by big investors.

The federal government proposed rules to phase out tens of thousands of older tank cars that carry increasing quantities of crude oil and other highly flammable liquids through towns and cities.

Transitions

Alan C. “Ace” Greenberg, who as chief executive officer of Bear Stearns transformed a small bond shop into the fifth-largest U.S. securities firm before it collapsed in 2008 in one of the key events of the global credit crisis, died at age 86.

NASA is investigating ways to put commercial satellites into Mars’s orbit. A network of privately funded satellite relays could take advantage of next-generation, laser-based data links capable of sending information back to Earth hundreds of times faster than the typical American broadband connection.

— From news services and staff reports

9%
ConocoPhillips match on employee 401(k)s

It was the most generous among 250 companies surveyed by Bloomberg. Philip Morris, Amgen, Boston Scientific and Caterpillar rounded out the top five. Among the least generous employers were Costco, Whole Foods and Wynn Resorts, which contribute set dollar amounts into 401(k) plans every year. Dead last was Facebook, which only started offering a 401(k) match in April.

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