SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Blue chip profits. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), some of the most widely owned stocked issued their report cards to investors.
TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Too nice? Blackrock CEO Larry Fink tells the chief executives of the largest 500 U.S. companies to stop being so generous with shareholders.
HERERA: Crunch time. Some last-minute tips for the millions of Americans who still haven’t filed their taxes.
All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Tuesday, April 14th.
MATHISEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.
It was report card time today for three Dow components, and the results weren’t so bad. JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) beat estimates, so did Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ). More on those companies in just a moment. And after the bell, it was Intel’s turn. The company which has gotten off to a rough start this year reported earnings that were basically in line with estimates at 41 cents a share. Revenue, though, just short of consensus, at nearly $13 billion, but it was roughly flat with a year ago.
Investors initially like what they saw sending shares higher after the report. One of the biggest challenges for the Dow component Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has been the slowing demand for personal computers, main stay of its business. This quarter, its PC business also took a hit and CFO Stacy Smith says the outlook for that area is just flat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STACY SMITH, INTEL CFO: Our prediction for 2015 is that the PC market will be down in the mid-single digits. As I think about the longer term for the PC market, you know, we’re planning for it to be more flat than a growth market.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATHISEN: Josh Lipton now with more on where the market is headed and how it might impact Intel (NASDAQ:INTC).
JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The PC market is making headlines for all of the wrong reasons, forcing investors to decide whether PC-centric companies are still smart places to commit capital. Worldwide PC shipments dropped nearly 7 percent from a year ago to 68 million units during the first quarter of 2015, according to research firm IDC.
One dig change, last year, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) ended technical support for its Windows XP operating system, forcing companies to upgrade their computers. That tailwind isn’t as strong this year. And that’s a problem for a range of companies, including Intel (NASDAQ:INTC). The tech giant controls the market for PC chips which accounts for more than 60 percent of its sales.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is another company that could suffer if PC demand continues to weaken. Analysts at UBS see meaningful declines in PC shipments in the first quarter, but they still think Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is a buy based in part on attractive valuation.
While the near term outlook is challenging, some analysts argue that the PC market will pick up this year, that’s because they think Window 10, Microsoft’s new version of its operating system due out later this year, will encourage PC demand in the second half.
CHRIS ROLLAND: We’re in this sort of air gap right now in 1Q, maybe into 2Q here. We don’t think that investors should look at the PC market more broadly and think that these quarters are good representations of true natural demand.
LIPTON: But analysts at IDC think global PC shipments will fall 5 percent this year, despite a potential boost of Window 10, investors will have a better indication of who is right when Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) reports earnings next week.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Josh Lipton in San Francisco.
HERERA: Dow component Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) reported quarterly earnings that beat Wall Street expectations, but revenue fell about 4 percent from a year ago. The health care company also lowered its financial guidance for the year ago in part because of the stronger dollar. And that pressured shares. They finish the day slightly lower.
Meg Tirrell has more.
MEG TIRRELL, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Currency strikes again, but this quarter, investors in Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) were prepared. The stronger dollar weighed on the health care giant’s results by 7 percent in the first quarter. Operationally though, the picture looks better. The business grew by 3 percent. Analysts say J&J’s underlining business is in line with expectation. Its consumer products unit saw growth from brands like Tylenol and Motrin, coming back from a series of recalls that took them off of store shelves. Skin care products from Neutrogena and Aveeno, and the mouthwash Listerine also contributed to growth.
J&J’s pharmaceuticals unit grew the fastest in the quarter, driven by new medicines like Invokana for diabetes and the blood thinner Xarelto, as well as older products like Simponi and Stelara for inflammatory diseases.
BARBARA RYAN: J & J’s performance has been driven largely by a very strong pharmaceutical business. People are a little concerned about that going forward. They have obviously competition in hepatitis C. There are some concerns about Remicade, which is about 15 percent of the company’s business, as it relates to patent disputes, as well as biosimilars.
TIRRELL: And as investors questioned the continued growth of J&J’s pharma business, it’s the company’s medical devices unit that’s been lagging. It was the only unit of the three to decline on an operational business in the first quarter. In March, J&J they sold its Cordis business to Cardinal House for $2 billion.
RYAN: They have been focused on getting out of the lower, slower-growth, lower operating margin portions of their business and will they in fact do M&A and pharma.
TIRRELL (on camera): As J&J slims down in some areas, the question is will it expand in others? The company has more than $30 billion in cash, causing some analysts to wonder whether it plans to make a large acquisition.
We may get more insight next month when J&J hosts its the analyst month focusing on the fastest part of the business.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Meg Tirrell.
MATHISEN: The fellow Dow component JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) saw its profits rise as fixed income trading rebounded. America’s biggest bank by assets reported a bigger than expected quarterly profit of nearly $6 billion on growth in its investment banking, asset management and mortgage lending divisions. That sent shares up about 1.5 percent.
HERERA: Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) also beat Wall Street estimate. But the bank reported a decline in profits from a year ago, its first drop in more than four years. The largest U.S. mortgage lender cited a rise in employee costs as margins came under pressure from low interest rates. Still, the company CFO says business is solid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SHREWSBERRY, WELLS FARGO CFO: We put $5.8 billion in earnings for the quarter, which is our second highest quarter on record. The first quarter of last year had a special item go through that give us an extra penning of earnings. We were $1.5 then and a $1.4 this time around. So, still, from our perspective, spectacular earnings. There aren’t that many companies in the United States that can produce $5.8 billion in a quarter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: That may be, but shares of the bank felt in today’s trading session, down about three quarters of a percent.
MATHISEN: On Wall Street today, Sue, stocks were mostly higher in part because of those earning reports, and also a rise in oil prices. That lifted the shares of Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM).
On the economic front, retail sales rose 0.9 percent in March, biggest monthly gain in a year. And the producer price index rose for the first time since October, up 0.2 percent.
At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained to finish at 18,036. NASDAQ went the other direction, though. It was off about 11 points. S&P kind of split of the difference, it added 3.
HERERA: Ty mentioned the rally in oil prices — well, futures rose on a report by “The Wall Street Journal” that Iran’s oil minister has asked the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC to cut its daily production of oil by at least 5 percent ahead of OPEC’s next meeting, which is in June. That pushed prices higher, sending West Texas Intermediate above $53 a barrel.
The energy markets are also watching developments on Capitol Hill, where a Senate panel voted to approve a bill that would give Congress a vote on any final nuclear deal with Iran.
MATHISEN: The International Monetary Fund is trimming its growth forecast for the U.S. economy — the reason, the strengthening dollar. The IMF predicts the American economy will now grow 3.5 percent this year and next, which is down slightly from its January forecast.
But the agency’s chief economist still describes the U.S. economy as robust.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVIER BLANCHARD, IMF CHIEF ECONOMIST: What’s clear is that, you know, the U.S. economy is in fairly good shape, the fundamentals are good, and the banks are in decent shape, corporations have cash, households have decreased debt. So, as all the margins, it looks like the elements you need for sustained growth are there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATHISEN: As for Europe, the IMF sys that that region’s economy will expand slightly with the global economy, growing at 3.5 percent in 2015, just about in line with last year.
HERERA: The European Union is reportedly ready to announce anti-trust charges against Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Reports say the charges could come as soon as tomorrow and will accuse Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) of abusing its dominant position on Internet searches in Europe.
MATHISEN: Now to China, where the U.S. commerce secretary, along with business leaders, were meeting with Chinese officials. The visit comes at a time of heightened tensions over cyber threats which the U.S. says must be addressed.
Eunice Yoon reports from Beijing.
EUNICE YOON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is on a presidential trade mission in China. She’s here traveling with 24 companies through multiple cities across the country, with a goal to find business opportunities in China’s massive clean energy markets. Her visit comes after President Obama met with China’s President Xi Jinping back in November at a summit when the two agreed on some goals of their own to reduce carbon emissions, as well as tackle climate change.
The visit also comes at a time when American companies have been complaining about what they see as an increasingly hostile business environment. They’re concerned about cyber theft as well as intellectual property violations.
Secretary Pritzker says that these issues came up in her discussions with his Chinese counterparts and that she hope that they wouldn’t become barriers to trade and investment.
PENNY PRITZKER, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: There’s a problem and they recognize they have a problem. But they’re also — China is becoming an innovation economy and they realize they’ve got to — not, they put rules in place and they’ve got to enforce those rules and they’ve got to consistently enforce them, and that’s what we’ve talked about. But it’s a problem.
YOON: Secretary Pritzker is optimistic about the potential for China’s market. From here, she heads to Shanghai and into the south of the country before heading back home at the end of the week.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Eunice Yoon in Beijing.
HERERA: And today, President Obama told Congress that he plans to drop Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. This marks another step in his efforts to improve economic relations with the island nation.
MATHISEN: And still ahead, are U.S. companies issuing too many dividends at the expense of future growth? The head of the world’s asset manager thinks so.
MATHISEN: Walmart prevails in a shareholder case we told you about last week. An appeals court in Philadelphia has overturned a district court ruling that would have required the world’s largest retailer to include a shareholder proposal in its proxy the SEC had declined to include. The proposal called for the company’s board to set policy on selling assault-style weapons.
The SEC refused to include it on the grounds that if approved, the proposal could interfere with the Walmart’s day-to-day operations.
HERERA: Results now from CSX (NYSE:CSX), the railroad operator reported an increase of quarterly profit of 45 cents a share, that’s a penny better than estimates. Revenues were also higher than a year ago. CSX (NYSE:CSX) said freight volumes grew and it was able to charge higher rates and that help pushed shares initially higher.
The company also announcing a $2 billion share buyback and a dividend hike to 18 cents a share.
Morgan Brennan joins us now with the one key takeaway from the report.
Pretty good report this time around.
MORGAN BRENNAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: It was a pretty good report. But down to the numbers, the strong dollar and low energy prices, specifically natural gas, cheaper natural gas, did cut into some of the volume, particularly for coal shipments, which you got to remember is still one of the biggest businesses for railroad, especially the eastern rails like CSX (NYSE:CSX). So, that was certainly a head wind. That’s expected to continue being a headwind.
But the good news here is despite that, we did see overall a volume increase. We saw more other types of goods moving across the rail network and we did see that the stronger pricing. That’s why you saw the earnings beat for CSX (NYSE:CSX).
Now, the question now, is this really the first rail company to report their earnings for Q1.
BRENNAN: So, is this a company specific story where they did better than expected, or are we going to see this play out across the other railroads as well? Remember, we saw Norfolk Southern (NYSE:SO) warning on their earnings on Monday night. So, it could be a real interesting play in terms of what their earnings look like, and how much these coal shipments affect these companies.
HERERA: And you’ll be covering it all for us. Morgan, thank you so much — Morgan Brennan.
MATHISEN: Morgan riding the rails.
MATHISEN: Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) are talking merger, and that’s where we begin tonight’s “Market Focus”.
The two companies are in discussions over a deal that would create a global networking behemoth. They say a potential merger would take the form of a public exchange offer by Nokia (NYSE:NOK) for Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU), but it’s not a done deal yet. Shares of Nokia (NYSE:NOK) off 4 percent to $7.96. Alcatel popped 13 percent to $4.93.
Avon is considering a possible sale of its North American business and it is exploring strategic alternatives, that according to “The Wall Street Journal.” The beauty products company canceled its analyst meeting for next month, partly because it is reviewing its structure. The stock put on some lipstick today, up 14 percent to $9.15.
An executive at J.C. Penney accidentally emailed sales information to an analyst. The information was disclosed before it was supposed to be, but the good news here, if there is good news, it was actually positive. The company has seen same-store sales rise this quarter. That exec hit the send button, today investors hit sell. Shares were off 2.5 percent to $9.15.
HERERA: Procter & Gamble’s chief A.G. Lafley appears to be preparing to step down, according to “The Wall Street Journal”. The consumer products giant could see a change at the top as soon as this summer. Shares were a fraction higher to $83.60.
Zillow saw its shares drop after it offered investors weak guidance. The online real estate company saying profit and sales for the full year would be well below Wall Street estimates. Shares fell more than 1 percent to $91.65.
MATHISEN: Blackrock chairman and CEO Larry Fink has a message for other chief executives: stop worrying about the short-term. As first reported by “The New York Times (NYSE:NYT)”, Fink sent a letter to the head of the nation’s 500 largest companies, saying too many firms are paying dividends and buying back stock in part to keep shareholders placated and ward off activists.
These steps, Fink contends, harm long term value and may be doing companies and their investors a disservice.
J.P. Eggers is professor of management at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Professor Eggers, welcome back. Good as always to have you.
So, does Mr. Fink have it right, partly right, mostly right, what?
J.P. EGGERS, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY’S STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: I think in general, he’s really got this right. There is a significant difference in the incentives for short-term, versus long-term shareholders, especially if we’re thinking about things like innovation and R&D.
And so, to the extent that companies feel the need to return capital to shareholders, that they would have been spending on innovation or growth efforts that will help long-term shareholders and long-term growth of the company, then getting the money back to shareholders is a bad plan as far as long-term shareholders like most mutual fund investors would be.
At the same time, if the company really is sitting on the cash, like in many cases like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and other companies have been doing, then returning the capital isn’t necessarily a bad sign for future growth, but it still can be — if it’s driven by the shareholders as opposed to the company’s perspective, then maybe we’re taking the wrong view as how the growth prospect should be managed.
HERERA: And how much of this has to do, Professor, with the fact that activism has become so popular in the last couple of years, sometimes very successfully for shareholders and other times, it’s been an extremely messy process?
EGGERS: So, I mean, activism is obviously a big issue for many boards and CEOs to deal with. It certainly has been on the rise, maybe specifically around certain issues, spinoffs being one of the benefits. But in many cases, the return of capital hasn’t been as beneficial. Short term, it may look good, but long-term, it isn’t always necessarily a good thing for the firms.
And yes, to the extent that CEO’s are trying to respond to activist shareholders or ward off their attempts to get them to do something with the capital by returning some of it earlier, that may not be the right strategy for firms.
MATHISEN: Where do you come down — we’ve sort of detoured here to a discussion of activism. Where do you come down on it? Is it mostly constructive and helpful or is it mostly destructive?
EGGERS: So, in general, I would say that most of the activism that’s out there that goes beyond the monitoring of the CEO to make sure that they’re not engaging in kind of self-interested behavior tend to be value-destroying, because for the most part, there’s no way that those activist investors have got better information about how to run the company than the CEO does. If they really have better information, then the board should be firing the CEO and bringing in somebody new. That CEO better have a different perspective.
You know, the shareholder activism exists as a check for CEO self interested behavior. And so, from that point of view, it can be very helpful. But as far as actually directing strategy, that’s really the job of the CEO and the board of directors.
HERERA: Very quickly, Mr. Fink also advocated holding on to a stock for a longer period of time and a change in the capital gains rate if indeed an investor does so. What is your take on that?
EGGERS: Certainly, that would encourage the type of behavior that he’s trying to look for, right? At least to some extent — though, in the sense that it would discourage kind of short-term ownership of the stock. But, really, we’re only be taking about the change of one year to three years, and so, the true short-term investors who are holding less than a year anyway wouldn’t be effected at all, only people holding longer than a year but less than three.
You know, I don’t have the data in front of me, but my guess is that is not the bigger population we’re thinking about. I think we’re still looking at this short-term, few months, six-month, eight-month perspective, versus the long-term, 20-year plus perspective.
And so, I’m not sure that this policy change would necessarily have the big impact that Fink is looking for.
MATHISEN: J.P., thank you very much. Always great to see you.
EGGERS: Absolutely. Thank you very much.
MATHISEN: J.P. Eggers, New York University’s Stern School of Business.
HERERA: Coming up, Tax Day is almost upon us and it’s not just the government that’s after your money. A look at the top tax scams and what you can do to protect yourself.
Government that is after your money. A look at the top tax scams and what you can do to protect yourself.
MATHISEN: Here is what to watch tomorrow: the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book is out and it could offer some insight into the health of U.S. economy, which frankly has felt beige lately. The European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will face questions after the ECB’s policy meeting. You don’t want to miss that. And we will have plenty of earning reports. But the big one to watch is Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). And that’s what on the agenda for Wednesday.
HERERA: The Labor Department to proposed new retirement rules designed to provide more consumer protection for savers. These new rules which we have discussed here on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT would require brokers who offer retirement advice to ask in their customer’s best interest, a so-called fiduciary standard. That move is designed to deter brokers from stirring favors into high fee products. But Wall Street argues that overly strict rules could limit the availability of retirement products.
MATHISEN: One more day to go until the tax deadline and the IRS is warning filers to beware of tax related scammers.
Eamon Javers has more on the threats and what you can do to protect yourself and your money.
EAMON JAVERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Watch out for scammers. That’s the message today from the IRS as tax season comes to a close. Officials there put together their annual dirty dozen list of the worst scams taking advantage of taxpayers today. And they say an old-fashioned scheme is back in a big way. Phone scams, in which crooks pretend to be IRS agents to bully people into giving up personal information or even their hard-earned cash.
TERRY LEMONS: We’re seeing this in every part of the country. It is an amazing phenomenon. We’ve got thousands and thousands of complaints about it. It’s a very aggressive scam and it continues to grow.
JAVERS: Also in the top three, a cyber crime tech called phishing — phony emails designed to look official and demanding personal information. And a big revenue generator for criminals is identity thief the IRS says, where criminals file bogus tax returns and then pockets the refunds the IRS sends along.
So, how can you protect yourself? The IRS says to watch out for phones and e-mails that come in out of the blue.
LEMONS: The best advice for people, if you get a call out of the blue from the IRS threatening you, being aggressive, that’s not how we do business. The best advice is just to hang on.
JAVERS (on camera): The IRS says there are a number of other scams out there to watch out for, including fake charities, tax return preparer fraud, and they also say to watch out for tax return preparers who charge fees based on a percentage of the refund that goes to the taxpayers, as if you need anything else to stress you out during the tax season.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Eamon Javers in Washington.
MATHISEN: The IRS warns of other scams as well. For the full list, you can find it on our Web site, NBR.com.
HERERA: And the IRS has processed about 100 million returns. That’s about two-thirds of the total tax returns, the agency expects to receive this year. If you are one of the millions of Americans that have yet to file, we have some tips for you.
Joining us now is Sharon Epperson.
Good to have you here, Sharon.
SHARON EPPERSON, NIGTHLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Good to be here.
HERERA: So, what are last-minute mistakes that you can avoid that might end up costing you some money?
EPPERSON: Well, the first thing is, of course, you don’t want to leave any money on the table, right?
EPPERSON: You want to make sure that you can get every tax break that you can. And so, a lot of folks think, well, I have to get everything together and itemize my deductions. Sometimes, the standard deduction might be best for you. So, you want to check to see if your home is paid off, if you live in a state that doesn’t have income tax, you may be OK with just a standard deduction, and that could be an easy to get some money right away.
The other thing to think about is the state tax refund, if you do get a refund, you don’t need necessarily to claim all as income necessarily to get that deduction. You need to kind of figure out how much is taxable. So, that’s something to consider. And the last thing is those investments that didn’t so well, and the ability to carry forward and know that you can do that, that’s something people need to know.
MATHISEN: The losses that you took and realized in the tax year 2014.
EPPERSON: Exactly. And past years, too.
MATHISEN: If you can’t get it done, you can file for an automatic extension but that does not mean you don’t have to pay what you owe, right?
EPPERSON: That’s exactly right.
MATHISEN: I always remember the words — an extension in time to file is not an extension in time to pay.
What if I find myself, either I’ve taken an extension or not, what if I find myself owing tax but short of cash to pay it? What would I do?
EPPERSON: And that’s a lot of people. And, of course, they want you to pay something, anything up front.
EPPERSON: But even if you can’t do that, you can enter into an installment plan with the IRS. You can go online and do an online payment agreement, you can file a form to do that, but the key part is definitely file because the penalty of not filing is so much greater and realize that once you set up these installment agreement, you are also going to be facing some penalties but there’ll be a lot less steep as if you had not file —
HERERA: Or pay as much as can you.
HERERA: And then go into the installment plan because you do get charged interest for what you owe, right?
EPPERSON: They do get charged interest with what you owe. So, in that —
MATHISEN: Penalties and interests and they pile up month by month.
MATHISEN: And they are steep.
EPPERSON: And they’re steep, and they’re steep.
HERERA: What about next year? I mean, let’s put it all behind us. Say we’ve done everything right and we’ve filed and, you know, we are done, but we’re looking ahead to next year.
EPPERSON: This is the time to look at your documents and figure out if you did owe or if you got a big refund, you need to do something differently with your withholding. If you are self-employed, that means to change your estimated tax payments and make sure you make those estimated tax payments. But if you get a form from your employer, then this is the time to go back and look at the W4 form and see what you can withhold, whether you are doing the right allowances and some people say, well, I put in zero and I still owe this money. What should I do?
Realize you can have even more money taken out on a monthly basis, or whatever —
HERERA: So, up your withholding.
EPPERSON: Up you withholding by a dollar now.
MATHISEN: Also, a terrific time to do some budget tweaking because you got all your numbers in front of you and you know what you spent.
EPPERSON: That’s exactly the time to do it.
MATHISEN: We’ve got to leave it, unfortunately, but it’s a good time.
MATHISEN: Sharon, thanks.
HERERA: All right. That’s NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. I’m Sue Herera. Thanks so much for joining us.
MATHISEN: And I’m Tyler Mathisen. Have a great evening, everybody. We’ll see you right back here tomorrow night.
HERERA: Tax night.
MATHISEN: Tax night, yes.
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