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The Word of 2019 Isn’t ‘Plastics’: CEO Daily

Good morning.

Can you name a company that is 139 years old and was one of the two best performing stocks of the S&P 500 in the last 12 months?

Hint: it’s not a tech company. But if you had invested in it 12 months ago, you would have earned a stunning return of 91% – compared to just 2% for the S&P 500 as a whole.

Give up? It’s Ball Corp., best known for those iconic glass jars. The company sold off the jar business two decades ago, and now makes most of its $11.6 billion in revenue off of aluminum beverage cans. Thanks in no small part to the war on plastic, aluminum beverage cans are booming.

“Plastics have become the bad guys,” says Chip Dillon of Vertical Research Partners. “And the cheapest alternative to plastic is aluminum.” While 70% of an aluminum can can be recycled, just 3% of a plastic bottle can be.

You can read Lucinda Shen’s fascinating story on Ball Corp. here.

What does that mean for plastics? That’s a question Fortune will put to Dow CEO Jim Fitterling, who will be joining us September 4-6 at the Fortune Global Sustainability Forum, taking place at the Hilton resort on pristine Fuxian Lake in Yunnan Province, China. If you missed the Ball boom, but are wondering what the next environmentally-driven business trend might be, you should join us. Apply here, or shoot me a note.

By the way, China played a starring role in the turn against plastics by banning imports of plastic waste for recycling last year. We’ll explore that topic, too, at the September event.

More news below.

Alan Murray


Argentine Shock

The defeat of conservative Argentine President Mauricio Macri in weekend primary elections hammered the country’s economy, as investors took fright at a return to populist, Peronist policies. The peso lost 15% against the U.S. dollar and some of Argentina’s most-traded stocks halved in value. The Merval index dropped 31%. Stay tuned for the main presidential election in October. BBC

Markets Fall

Rattled by the Argentine crisis and escalating unrest in Hong Kong, global markets are still nervous after yesterday’s trade-war-inspired day in the red. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell by 2.01% and the Shanghai Composite by 0.63%. Australia’s ASX 200 fell by 0.33%. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 had also dropped 0.69% at the time of writing. U.S. futures look crimson, too. Reuters

CBS and Viacom

CBS and Viacom are reportedly on the cusp of announcing they’re getting back together. According to the Wall Street Journal, the stock exchange ratio for the deal will be roughly 0.59-0.60 CBS share for each Viacom share (and that report sent Viacom’s share price down almost 5%.) WSJ

Uber Shares

Uber’s share price hit a record low of $37 yesterday. The price has now fallen around $18% since the ride-hailing firm’s IPO in May. Its latest drop was precipitated by Uber’s results last week that showed a $5.2 billion quarterly loss, largely fuelled by stock-based compensation costs. CNBC


Tumblr’s Tumble

Verizon is reportedly going to sell the image-centric blogging platform Tumblr to WordPress firm Automattic for, some say, less than $3 million. Remember when Yahoo paid $1.1 billion for the site? A lot can happen in six years. Fortune

Visioneers Assemble

SoftBank is trying to get the startups funded by its mammoth Vision Fund to form an ecosystem, and has set up a crack team of veteran executives within the fund to achieve this aim. The CEOs of Vision Fund portfolio companies (which skew towards the transportation sector) will reportedly meet in Los Angeles next month. Financial Times

Power Surge

Texan electricity prices shot up by 36,000% yesterday afternoon, thanks to extreme heat spiking demand. The state’s grid operator has been warning that the shuttering of unprofitable coal-fired power stations has been constraining its supply margins. Today seems set to be another scorcher in Texas. Bloomberg

African American Finance

A McKinsey & Co. study shows how many African Americans lack access to banking services—the banks have fewer branches in non-white neighborhoods—which makes life more expensive for them, as they have to use pricey services such as check-cashing counters. The report states: “Black families are being underserved and overcharged by institutions that can provide the best channels for saving.” Reuters

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.