SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Suddenly silent. The man
known for hiking the price of a life-saving medicine refused to answer questions under oath. But can Congress realistically do anything to curb drug price hikes?
TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Dividend slashed.
ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) becomes the first energy company to slice its
payouts. Will others follow?
HERERA: Open for business. Economic sanctions may be lifted but Western
companies still face big obstacles trying to do business in Iran.
All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Thursday, February
MATHISEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.
High drama on Capitol Hill. It involved grinning, mugging for the cameras,
insulting tweets, the word “imbeciles” referring to members of Congress.
But no testimony. The normally voluble Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of
Turing Pharmaceuticals, refused to testify before a congressional committee
today. It was investigating prescription drug price hikes.
The man known as pharma`s bad boy for raising the price of an older, life-
saving anti-parasitic drug by 500 percent cited his Fifth Amendment right
But as Meg Tirrell reports from Capitol Hill, Shkreli was anything but
MEG TIRRELL, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Representatives from
Valeant pharmaceuticals, FDA, and the pharmacy benefits manager industry
group, were all invited to testify today at a congressional hearing on drug
pricing. But the star witness was the infamous Martin Shkreli. His former
company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, gained notoriety last year for hiking the
price of a 62-year-old drug by more than 5,000 percent.
Shkreli is separately facing federal charges of securities fraud. He
managed to steal the show while not answering any questions.
MARTIN SHKRELI: I intend to follow the advice of my counsel, not yours.
On the advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against
self-incrimination and respectfully decline to answer your question. On
advice of counsel, I invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege.
TIRRELL: Even if Shkreli was silent, his face certainly wasn`t.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Like a Ponzi scheme, it appears that
Turing, made revenues to research and identify the next drug it will
acquire and then impose similarly massive price increases on future
victims. It`s not funny, Mr. Shkreli. People are dying and they`re
getting sicker and sicker.
TIRRELL: Shkreli`s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, who`s defended Michael
Jackson, Jay-Z and other celebrities attributed Shkreli`s responses to
BENJAMIN BRAFMAN, MARTIN SHKRELI`S ATTORNEY: It`s extraordinarily unfair
that Turing has been singled out for the type of unfair publicity that they
have received, and when all of the facts about Daraprim and Turing are
ultimately disclosed, I think everyone will recognize that Mr. Shkreli is
not the villain, he`s not the bad boy. I think at the end of this story,
he`s a hero.
TIRRELL: Brafman said he`s confident Shkreli will be cleared of all
criminal charges. His client took to Twitter minutes after leaving the
hearing to fire shots back at Congress saying, quote, “Hard to accept these
imbeciles represent the people in our government.”
Shkreli is due back in court on his federal charges May 3rd.
Meanwhile, the hearing today didn`t let all others off the hook. Valeant
interim CEO Howard Shiller was dressed down by several congressmen about
price increases his company has taken. He said they`ve made changes to
that strategy and they continue to review it.
The FDA was also questioned about how it can speed up its reviewal process
for generic drugs, with the hope that more competition could help bring
down drug prices.
And in an election year, this issue is expected to stay front and center.
Experts say that Martin Shkreli gives politicians an easy target.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Meg Tirrell ion Washington.
HERERA: So, how much power does Congress really have when it comes to
lowering the cost of prescription drugs?
Joining us now to answer this question and others is Craig Garthwaite.
He`s the assistant professor of strategy at Northwestern University`s
Kellogg (NYSE:K) School of Management where he specializes in health care.
Craig, welcome. It`s nice to have you with us tonight.
CRAIG GARTHWAITE, NORTHWESTERN UNIV. KELLOGG SCHOOL OF MGMT: Thank you.
HERERA: I guess that is the question: does Congress have much power or any
power to control or to lower drug prices?
GARTHWAITE: Congress has some power. It`s important that we split these
drug price increases into two broad groups.
The sort of Turing and Valeant Pharmaceuticals, these are people who are
buying generic drugs and they`re raising the price dramatically and taking
advantage of a market imperfection. For those, Congress can commit to
allowing the FDA to re-import drugs from England if you have a large price
increase. They can speed as they talk about — in the committee, speed the
entry of new generics through the FDA, fast track authority, let new drugs
come onto market, we can solve that.
The other side of the market we talk about high drug prices are innovative
new drugs like the cure for hepatitis C or the oncology products we`ve
seen. And for those, we have to question whether we think the high drug
prices are actually bad, or if we`re giving the proper incentives for the
development of new and innovative products.
MATHISEN: You know, I guess most Americans would say we want innovation,
we think that innovators deserve to be compensated for their breakthroughs
as in the case of Gilead and the hep C thing.
In this case, I think what rankles is Mr. Shkreli`s company went out and
brought a drug that had very little — an old drug, dating back to the
1950s, that had very little competition, and saw that. And, quote, “took
advantage” of, as you say, a marketplace imperfection. Have I got that
sort of right?
GARTHWAITE: That`s exactly the difference. Daraprim is an old drug. It`s
a critical drug for people who need it, but it has no patent protection.
The only reason we don`t see more people entering is there are only about
10,000 prescriptions a year. And so, it`s not really profitable for a
second company to come in.
Given that fact, Congress could do things like allow the FDA to say that a
very large generic price increase is equivalent to a drug shortage and in
drug shortage, we can re-import drugs from Western Europe —
MATHISEN: At a lower price.
GARTHWAITE: That would bring the price down.
MATHISEN: The same drugs?
MATHISEN: Bring British Daraprim over at a much lower price, because they
get it at a lower price?
GARTHWAITE: Exactly. To be clear I`m talking about that only for sort of
these older generic drugs with small patient populations.
HERERA: You also say that Congress can change the patent length in terms
of how long a company can hold a patent on a particular drug, if they are
the sole supplier of it. Explain that a little bit more for me.
GARTHWAITE: What we`re saying is for the innovative drugs like Gilead`s
Sovaldi that cured hepatitis C, rather than trying to implement price
controls or trying to determine what`s the appropriate price, Congress does
want to decrease the amount of profit pharmaceutical companies are making,
they could look at other tools they have like the patent length. That`s
well within their control.
And maybe we don`t want to have as long of a patent length as we used to
have, or as long of a patent length for drugs as we do for software, other
areas. That`s a fine thing to look at but we have to be very clear that if
we do that, if we lower profits for these drugs, it decreases the
incentives in the margins to develop new ones. And I think we all want new
oncology products like Keytruda that Jimmy Carter took to reduce his
cancer, that hepatitis C patients are taking.
These are all things we want and the conversations we should be having is a
less on price, and how much do we want to sacrifice cost for innovative?
That`s a productive but perhaps politically popular conversation.
MATHISEN: I want to ask you a tough question, but I need a quick answer:
how much would allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of drugs retard
the expansion or the rise in drug pricing?
GARTHWAITE: It really wouldn`t do much. We require Medicare cover
basically every drug. Because of that, you can negotiate all you want on
price as a group, but the pharmaceutical firms know you have to cover their
drug in the end. If you want to use Medicare to lower prices, what you
have to do is allow them to exclude drugs, that`s going to mean some
seniors won`t get the drugs that they want.
HERERA: All right. On that note, Craig, thank you so much for your
perspective and shedding light on what is a top of mind topic right now.
GARTHWAITE: Thank you for having me.
HERERA: Craig Garthwaite with Northwestern University`s Kellogg (NYSE:K)
School of Management.
MATHISEN: Well, there`s relative calm on Wall Street today, though the
session was choppy, stock swings were noticeable, but they weren`t of the
magnitude that investors have become accustomed to lately. By the close,
the Dow Industrials rose 79 points to 16,416, had been up as much as 150 at
session highs after opening lightly lower. NASDAQ gained 5, and the S&P up
a whopping 3. As for oil, prices settled down about 2 percent.
HERERA: ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) did something many oil companies do not
want to do, it slashed its dividend by a lot. In the face of tumbling oil
prices, shares fell more than 8 percent as the energy firm also reported a
loss for the quarter.
And now, the question is, which companies might be next?
Morgan Brennan takes a look.
MORGAN BRENNAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: ConocoPhillips
(NYSE:COP) slashed its quarterly dividend by two-thirds in what CEO Ryan
Lance (NASDAQ:LNCE) called a, quote, “gut-wrenching decision.” The largest
U.S. independent producer, Conoco is the first major oil company to cut.
And while the yield had soared to 8 percent, the move came faster than many
on the street anticipated. The reason stocks sank in today`s trading.
At a time when oil majors like ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX),
BP, and Royal Dutch Shell continued to defend their dividends, Conoco`s
move could be seen as harbinger of more cuts to come if crude stays this
low and credit markets tighten. Analysts say it all comes down to the cash
pile, and whether a company can pay out shareholders without borrowing to
JEFF CURRIE, GOLDMAN SACHS: I think it goes to the point, cash is king in
this market. Anything you can do to conserve cash and ride this out, the
better position you`re going to be.
BRENNAN: Conoco had dramatically cut capital spending, something it did
again today as well. But with crude at $30 a barrel, management felt that
wasn`t enough to address the shortfall. Some analysts worry Royal Dutch
Shell could be next, despite company comments to the contrary, thanks to a
portfolio of pricey offshore projects. And Chevron`s promise to maintain a
payout through 2017 has been questioned as well, though its Oregon natural
gas project should help cash flow next year.
But throughout the energy sector, this has become an issue as equity prices
have dropped dividend yields have jumped, averaging 4 percent after
recently hitting their highest level since at least 2000.
According to FactSet, some names that could be ripe for reset, Williams
companies which yield a staggering 14 percent. ONEOK (NYSE:OKE) which
yields 10 percent. Murphy Oil (NYSE:MUR) which pays out 7 percent.
So, while for now at least, most oil majors may be defending their
dividends, analysts warn energy stocks with yields over 6 percent might
best be approached with caution.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Morgan Brennan.
MATHISEN: The White House will propose a $10 per barrel oil fee in its
2017 budget. The money collected if it is ever collected will be used to
invest in clean transportation projects and if approved would be phased in
over five years. The fee would be paid for by oil companies. But many say
the likelihood of it passing a Republican-controlled Congress is slim to
HERERA: After a batch of soft economic data this week, we got more today,
including the job market. The number of Americans filing applications for
unemployment benefits rose.
And as Hampton Pearson reports, there`s growing concern among some
economists that the labor market is losing momentum.
HAMPTON PEARSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: One day before the
Labor Department`s January jobs report, more signs of a possible economic
slowdown. Planned job cuts surged by 218 percent last month, according to
a leading outplacement firm.
Among the 75,000 announced layoffs, more than 22,000 were in retail, where
Walmart has announced plans to close 269 stores nationwide. And another
20,000 energy sector jobs will be lost due to slumping oil prices.
JOHN CHALLENGER, CHALLENGER, GRAY & CHRISTMAS, CEO: These are the highest
cuts since last summer and they`re coming primarily to two big industries,
our retail which we often see after the holiday selling season, and then
PEARSON: First-time clients for unemployment increased by 8,000 last week,
suggesting some loss of labor market momentum, following reports earlier
this week that the overall economy grew just 0.7 percent in the fourth
Leading economists still expect payrolls to increase by 190,000 in January
with the unemployment rate holding steady at 5 percent. However, it`s far
below the December surge which saw 292,000 new hires. At the same time,
brand-new data show worker productivity declining, and labor costs for
employers are increasing, creating some tough choices for businesses.
JOHN RYDING, RDQ ECONOMICS, CHIEF ECONOMIST: We have a labor cost problem.
And that labor cost problem`s for American businesses. And now American
business is responding in one of two ways. They can try and raise prices
which gives the Fed a problem if they succeed, or profits get squeezed.
PEARSON: Market watchers may look to tomorrow`s jobs data as a possible
speed bump to slow down future Fed rate hikes, while most workers will be
looking for signs of higher wages.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Hampton Pearson in Washington.
MATHISEN: Weak data have increased the talk of a possible economic
recession and some are looking to the stock market for signs that one may
be coming. But is the market a good predictor?
Steve Liesman takes a look.
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Back in 1966, the
eminent economist Paul Sanderson famously quipped that the stock market had
predicted nine of the last five recessions. So, we went back to see, is
that accurate? How good is the stock market at predicting recessions?
We looked at every bear market, using information from the financial
research firm Bespoke, every bear market in the post-war period, and there
have been 13 of them. And they`re denoted by the bear claws right there.
You`ll see the second, why some of them are red and some of them are white.
Now, we look at the next screen what you see is these are the recessions.
Each one of the red claws here show you that they did predict recessions.
What`s the record? Sanderson, 9 of 5, that`s like shooting 55 percent from
the field. This 13 of 7 is 53 percent. So that quip turns out to be
Now, is there information in there that investors can use? And there
actually is. We did a little bit more work on this.
What you see is that the average length of a bear market is 362 days. No
recession, in other words, those bear markets that don`t predict
recessions, they`re a little bit longer at 192 days. The recessions, bear
markets that do predict recessions, are longer, 508 days, raising the
question as to whether or not the bear markets themselves have a very
negative those bear markets themselves have a very negative impact and have
caused their recessions.
And you get a lead time of 253 days. So the lesson from all this is, don`t
panic. But beware the bear.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.
HERERA: Still ahead, what are nervous investors to do? Advice from
investment professionals to keep your money on track.
MATHISEN: Increased volatility, slowing public growth, plunging crude, the
issues are familiar. They`re nerve-wracking ones to investors. And it`s a
topic of conversation among the hundreds of investment advisers gathered in
Mike Santoli is there talking to some of the men and women who manage your
MIKE SANTOLI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The market`s wicked
start to 2015 has put a bit of a scale into retail investors and volatility
is the talk of TD Ameritrade`s annual LINC Investment Adviser Conference in
Orlando. According to an adviser survey unveiled here, 29 percent say
investors are less willing to take risks than they were just three months
ago, forcing advisers to soothe raw nerves.
The anxiety is especially high among investors closer to retirement.
BILL PERRYMAN, PERRYMAN FINANCIAL ADVISORY: My clients, you know, tend to
be closer to my age. So they`ve been through 2000 to 2002, they`ve been
through 2008. So I think their concern is, oh, I know what this feels
like. Are we getting ready to have another 2008?
SANTOLI: Advisers too are cautious. More are skeptical of the U.S.
economy`s strength than at any time since 2009. But it`s not just the
markets and the economy that have Main Street investors unnerved.
TERRI BOLDEN WARD, UNITED CAPITAL: We`ll muddle through until the fall
election, and then once the president is elected, the markets like the
certainty. We`ll see the markets go one direction or the other and
hopefully it will reduce some of the volatility.
SANTOLI: Of course, advisers are in the business of helping their clients
stick to a long-term plan. So, in a way rough markets are when they can
prove their value to investors who might be tempted by less expensive so-
called robo advisers or automated investment services.
TOM NALLY, TD AMERITRADE INSTITUTIONAL PRESIDENT: 2008 and 2009 actually
prepared investors and advisers for what we`re seeing today. 2008 some
advisers got caught flat-footed and you saw a lot of communications coming
in from clients, where now advisers have the infrastructure built and they
recognize, we need to be more proactive with our clients to help talk them
through these types of situations.
SANTOLI: Because when the markets get scary, many investors run the risk
of losing sight of their long-term goals.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Mike Santoli in Orlando.
HERERA: LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) shares tumble in after-hours trading, and
that is when we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The companies set current quarter profit and revenue will come in below
Wall Street estimates. The professional social network cited weakness in
some businesses outside of North America. That warning comes despite
strong results in its most recent quarter. Shares dropped sharply in
after-hours trading as you can see there. But in the regular session, the
stock was fractionally higher to $192.28.
Clothing retailer Ralph Lauren posted a decline in sales for its latest
quarter missing expectations. Unseasonably warm winter, stronger dollar,
and fewer North American tourists hurt its holiday sales. The retailer
also cut its sales outlook for the current year. That news sent Ralph
Lauren shares down 22 percent to 89.95.
And a similar story over at the retailer Kohl`s (NYSE:KSS) which saw shares
fall after cutting its earnings forecast for 2015. The retailer cited poor
sales during the holiday season and sluggish demand for winter products.
The company is expected to report full fourth quarter results later this
month. Kohl shares fell nearly 19 percent to $41.51.
MATHISEN: Viacom (NYSE:VIA) named Philippe Dauman as the company`s next
executive chairman replacing Sumner Redstone. The decision came during a
board meeting today and follows news yesterday that Mr. Redstone had
resigned from the same post at CBS (NYSE:CBS). Shares of Viacom (NYSE:VIA)
gained more than 1 percent to $45.34.
Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) and Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT), two of the world`s biggest toy
companies, have reportedly held talks about merging. As first reported by
Bloomberg, Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) approached Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) late last year
and the companies have held talks off and off since. No comment from
either company. Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) shares up over 1 percent to $32.29,
Hasbro (NYSE:HAS) also higher by 1 percent to $75.90.
Dunkin` Donuts reported better than expected earnings despite declines in
same-store sales and traffic at its U.S. locations. The company citing
increased competition as the reason for the decline there. Dunkin` Donuts
shares soared 6 percent to $43.36.
HERERA: Iran`s economic isolation may have ended weeks ago when the
nuclear deal was implemented and sanctions were lifted. The country hopes
to see $50 billion in foreign investment.
But as Kayla Tausche reports, that challenge is getting it there.
KAYLA TAUSCHE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Iran is open for
business, inking billions in deals in France and Italy following sanctions
relief for infrastructure. Oil and gas pipelines and commercial aircraft.
The problem: finding a way to get that money from the companies to Iran.
MATTHEW LEVITT, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: It`s the new
gold rush. But all businesses will have to be financed somehow and that`s
going to have to involve banks.
TAUSCHE: The deal reached over Iran`s nuclear program, lifted sanctions on
banks outside the United States. But harsh rules still apply to U.S.
financial institutions. Any foreign bank that does business in Iran must
ensure no part of that transaction touches or gets routed through the
account of a U.S. company or citizen for years. There are clear reasons
the White House is still cautious of this activity.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Some of it will end up in the hands of the
IRGC or other entities, which of which are labeled terrorist. You know, to
some degree — I`m not going to sit here and tell you that every component
of that can be prevented.
TAUSCHE: The banks are also concerned for their reputations.
BILL MCGLONE, LATHAM & WATKINS: For banks and financial institutions,
which have been targeted by very significant penalty actions in recent
years, there`s going to be — I think a very cautious incremental approach.
TAUSCHE: Those penalties have topped $15 billion in the last decade,
mostly from the Department of Justice, enforcing U.S. rules on foreign
banks operating here. Former Attorney General Eric Holder warned them of
that fact in 2014 while announcing criminal money laundering charges
against French bank BNP Paribas.
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Banks thinking about conducting
business in violation of United States sanctions should think twice before
they do so, because the Justice Department will not look the other way.
TAUSCHE: A recent treasury memo outlined exactly what non-U.S. persons and
companies can do now. They can invest in Iran`s natural resources and do
business with Iranian nationals not blacklisted by the U.S. government. It
also said Iran can issue sovereign debt and credit cards for its citizens.
MasterCard (NYSE:MA) CEO Ajay Banga old investors that may take five to ten
AJAY BANGA, MASTERCARD CEO: There has to be a whole change in the
sanctions regime that allows companies like us and our competitors and
banks to operate freely in Iran. That has yet to be seen.
TAUSCHE: Some exceptions have been made for trading carpets, pistachios,
medical products and humanitarian aid. The rest of the U.S. economic
sanctions are not expected to be relieved until 2023. In the meantime,
Iran may be open for business, but many businesses have yet to figure out
whether they can be open to Iran.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kayla Tausche in New York.
MATHISEN: Coming up, why this weekend is also game time for one Silicon
HERERA: Just days from the big game, the city of San Francisco is playing
defense, working to prevent a logistical transportation nightmare for fans
in the city trying to get to the stadium miles away.
But as Jane Wells reports, one company has a solution.
JANE WELLS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The Super Bowl has come
to San Francisco. And not everyone likes it, protests, construction,
security. Traffic is bad on a good day here. And this week around Super
Bowl City, at times it`s been a nightmare.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is trying to help, letting the host committee use its
employee shuttles for game day fans. And Uber has taken the lead on the
Super Bowl of logistics.
BEN AHMEDOD, UBER DRIVER: There`s going to be huge demand, that`s for
WELLS: Long-time Uber driver Ben Ahmedod hopes to profit from that Sunday.
There are over 40,000 Uber drivers in the Bay Area. And for the first
time, the company has become an official sponsor of the Super Bowl, paying
the host committee an undisclosed amount somewhere south of a half million
AMY FRIEDLANDER HOFFMAN, UBER HEAD OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: This is our
hometown. You know, the Super Bowl is here. Six years ago, we didn`t
WELLS: Uber`s Amy Friedlander Hoffman Ubered me to a parking lot a 15-
minute walk from Levi`s Stadium. This is what the company gets by being an
official part of the game.
So, tell me what we get.
HOFFMAN: All right. So, we have a lot. Today this looks like a parking
lot. But for game day, we`re going to turn it into the Uber experience.
And so that means a few things.
That means we will have hundreds of cars that will be here, ready and
waiting, drivers that will be ready and waiting for people.
WELLS: If I were a Lyft driver how close could I get to pick someone up?
HOFFMAN: A lot farther.
AHMEDOD: I think it`s going to be extremely important to have a pickup
WELLS: Ahmedod said without an official parking lot, security around the
stadium might force fans to walk at least a half hour to find him.
But this being San Francisco, nothing corporate ever goes down well. Some
Uber drivers are now protesting fare cuts and they`re reportedly vowing to
shut down the Super Bowl on Sunday, ironically at the time when they can
make more money when fares will rise due to demand.
While some Uber drivers may be unhappy, Uber the company has tried to make
riders happy, delivering puppies as a tie-in to the puppy bowl. But Sunday
will be the test as this San Francisco startup turned juggernaut finds out
whether it`s worth it to play ball with the Super Bowl.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Jane Wells, San Francisco.
HERERA: I hope it`s a good game.
MATHISEN: I hope it`s a good game, too. I think it may be, we shall see.
HERERA: I hope.
I`m not going to ask you who you`re rooting for.
HERERA: That — for NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for
MATHISEN: And thanks from me as well. I`m Tyler Mathisen. Have a great
evening, everybody. And we`ll see you here tomorrow night.