Monday morning brought choppy trading on Wall Street, as market participants tried to figure out what economic impact the long-awaited Mueller report on Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. elections might have. As of 11:15 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) was up 56 points to 25,559. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) gained 3 points to 2,804, but the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) was down 5 points to 7,638.
As corporate America starts gearing up for a new earnings season in the next few weeks, individual companies are making headlines with key strategic moves. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is poised to announce a new streaming-video service to go up against Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and others, while American Airlines Group (NASDAQ: AAL) continues to deal with the consequences of the grounding of the 737 MAX line of aircraft by canceling flights and leaving passengers scurrying to reach their destinations.
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Will Apple jump into the stream?
Shares of Apple were down less than 1% as investors await the beginning of a formal event slated to begin at 1 p.m. EDT. Rumors have abounded for a long time that the Cupertino-based iPhone maker would launch a streaming-video service to go up against providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
Some recent strategic decisions from Apple support that theory. The company has made several deals to acquire original content that it could presumably make part of a streaming-video service, and executive hiring over the past few years also signaled an interest on Apple's part to play a more central role in the rapidly evolving television entertainment industry.
Yet skeptics point out that Apple could go in a different, more conservative direction. Rather than trying to go up directly against Netflix and others, Apple could instead build a more collaborative partnership with existing content providers that would leave the iDevice giant more in the business of distributing access to entertainment rather than controlling the production of the content itself. Given the less-than-excited response among some creative professionals in the movie and television business at the prospect of Apple CEO Tim Cook and his executive team dictating terms, it's entirely possible that despite Netflix's success, Apple won't be able to make the impression that shareholders so desperately want it to in its next venture.
American Airlines stays grounded
Meanwhile, American Airlines Group saw its shares fall very slightly Monday morning. The airline company warned investors that it's having considerable trouble in projecting what the costs of not being able to fly its fleet of 737 MAX aircraft will be. Right now, American has 24 such aircraft in its fleet, and it has plans to bulk up its 737 MAX plane count to 100 once current orders are delivered.
American ran around 90 flights daily using its 737 MAX planes prior to their being grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration following the second plane crash involving the aircraft model in less than six months. American has thus far canceled flights involving 737 MAX aircraft through the next month, but it's far from certain whether the FAA action will last longer than that and whether efforts to introduce new software to remedy the aircraft's problems will be successful.
From a business perspective, the situation has only compounded American's challenges. The company was already dealing with substantial increases in fuel costs, and key metrics like revenue per available seat mile and load factors weren't able to live up to expectations. With an uncertain future, American will have to hope that it can bounce back from its MAX-related challenges if it wants to compete effectively in an increasingly difficult airline industry.
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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Dan Caplinger owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends AMZN, Apple, and Netflix. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple and long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.