CEO Daily: Tuesday, April 28th

Who’s in charge here? Dupont CEO Ellen Kullman’s fight with activist investor Nelson Peltz may be moving to the board room. The proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended DuPont shareholders elect Peltz and one of his compatriots to the DuPont board next month. ISS recommendations don’t guarantee success. But the fact that the company’s stock rose more than 4% after the recommendation adds pressure on shareholders, who won’t be eager to see the stock drop on a Peltz loss. A Reuters report quotes “sources close to the company” saying DuPont is open to a “negotiated settlement” with Peltz prior to the board meeting.
There was some comfort for Kullman in the ISS recommendations, which said Peltz should get only two board seats, not the four he is seeking, and added that DuPont is “not a broken company.”
The embattled DuPont CEO can also take comfort from this: at least she’s not in France — where Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn faces a boardroom power grab by the French government.
Enjoy the day. And please let us know if you are finding the CEO Daily useful.
Alan Murray

Top News

 Apple's iPhone fuels strong sales growth

“It’s tough to find something in the numbers not to like.” That's the statement shareholders and Wall Street analysts like to hear on a conference call, and that quote can be attributed to Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, after the technology gadgets maker released yet another beyond-solid financial performance. Revenue jumped 27% for the latest quarter, with iPhone sales up 40% compared with a 15% rate for the overall market, as calculated by IDC. Though the numbers were solid, that doesn't mean Wall Street couldn't express a little disappointment in the slowing sales of the iPad.  Fortune

 ESPN sues Verizon over customized TV plans

The busted Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal was must-watch TV last week. Too bad it hogged the spotlight from another important story in the cable world: a looming battle between telecom firms and content providers. Verizon Communications last week began offering customized TV plans that allow viewers to buy a basic set of channels, a move to combat growing interest in streaming services like Netflix. Content providers complained, though ESPN this week also filed a lawsuit in the matter, claiming the new FiOS TV packages breached a contract covering how the sports TV network is to be distributed. It is an important fight as "cord cutting" becomes more popular and consumers, particularly Millennials, walk away from cable.  WSJ (subscription required)

 Audi invests fuel made from CO2 and water

An Audi research center in Germany has created the first batches of diesel fuel with a net-zero carbon footprint — made from carbon dioxide (CO2), water and renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power. The oil industry, already beset by low prices due to higher global inventory, need not worry about a threat from "green" fuel — at least not yet. The project, created in partnership with a greentech company called Sunfire, is still deemed a "research" venture and commercialization is still likely several years away. However, Audi has already brought to market similar synthetic fuel in the form of compressed natural gas that is used in its Audi A3 g-tron cars.  Fortune

 Tyson Foods to cut human antibiotics in chicken flocks

Just a day after Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle said it went GMO-free, Tyson Foods made its own splashy launch by announcing plans to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in its chicken flocks by September 2017. Interestingly, Tyson's move aims to help the company meet a deadline recently outlined by McDonald's to have its U.S. restaurants gradually stop buying chicken raised with human antibiotics over the next two years. Though Tyson is a key chicken supplier to McDonald's, the company said its plans are part of an ongoing effort and go "beyond one customer."  Reuters

Around the Water Cooler's bitcoin inspired SEC filing

Online retailer has been a fan of bitcoin for quite some time. Now, the company's admiration for the virtual currency could remake the stock market. The retailer, in a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, said it may issue up to $500 million in stock or other securities using technology akin to the online software system that underpins bitcoin. Overstock made headlines in 2014 when the retailer said it would accept the currency. At the time, CEO Patrick Byrne called digital currency an important part of the future and said bitcoin attracted him because it is a form of money that no government can will into existence.  Wired

 The companies that are winning (and losing) on Twitter

Twitter is a tough tech format to master. A lot of blunders can occur in 140 characters (or less). Corporate tweeters face even greater challenges than well known celebrities. They are trying to sell, sound natural and support customers. And of course, some are doing a better job than others. Who is winning the Twitter wars? Harvard Business Review looked at 50 companies that really get Twitter, and 50 that don't, gauging which accounts displayed the best and worth empathy. Among the victors were American Airlines, Bank of America, and Mattel, while Burberry, Starbucks and American Express were at the bottom of the heap.  Harvard Business Review

Is Facebook causing political dysfunction?

Social media — a wonderful tool utilized to connect us to our closest friends and complete strangers. But could it also be one of the primary causes of political dysfunction in the United States today? At a panel discussion held on Monday, moderated by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, President Clinton's first Treasury Secretary Rob Rubin seems to think it could be a factor. Rubin said he believed social media played "an enormous role in public opinion," but also to some extent, it has created an echo chamber. Rubin adds that elected leaders should be committed to governance, and that finding common ground should be a goal to bridge divides.  Fortune

 How to avoid that hefty tax bill: buy art

When Andy Warhol was creating pop art, he likely didn't see himself used as a tool to avoid paying a tax. But the owner of a Warhol painting was able to avoid paying more than $20 million in U.S. capital gains after the sale of a Warhol painting by putting half of the $80 million in proceeds into a tax exempt private foundation. The rest were used to buy more paintings, and that's allowed under a provision in the tax code that allows investors to defer capital gains by buying similar property of equal or greater value. The exchanges have increased in popularity, attracting some scrutiny from Washington. Bloomberg

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