BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Bouncing back? Consumers
rebounded a bit in April. But retail itself remains a mess. So, what
gives? Is the backbone of the American economy, better known as the
American consumer, healthy or not?
Taking the plunge. Home prices are not for the faint of heart right now.
So what do you do if you`re looking to buy your first home? Some of the
best markets if you`re looking to get in.
And it`s the new retirement. Why senior women are making a strong push to
be this generation`s Golden Girls.
All that and more on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this Friday, May the 12th.
Good evening, everybody. Welcome. I`m Bill Griffeth coming to you from
the New York Stock Exchange. Tyler and Sue have the night off tonight, so
it`s just you and me, OK?
Now, we`ve been telling you this week about the wreck that is retail, and
there was another one today. We`ll get to that in just as moment. But,
first, there was a bit of a rebound by the consumer in April. Spending
rose, albeit less than expected, but it rose nonetheless.
Steve Liesman takes a look at how this could play out in the economy.
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Consumers took a
worrisome break earlier this year. But new data released today suggested
they resumed their spending ways in April, retail sales in April rising 0.4
percent, a touch lower than expected by economists, but a strong
improvement from the prior two months.
Consumers bought cars and electronics and health care and personal care
items. And most of all, they helped shake off the concern about a
weakening economy. Autos, appliances, and building and garden equipment
also did well.
The trouble for investors, consumers didn`t necessarily buy at the stores
run by many of the publicly traded retailers. Sales at general merchandise
stores fell a half point in April. And the earnings reports have been
mixed. But the non-store retail category, which includes the Internet,
rose by 1.4 percent.
DANA TELSEY, TELSEY ADVISORY GROUP: These department stores need to
reinvent themselves. They`re going to look different today than they did a
few years ago. And there`s not going to be as many of them.
LIESMAN: But with plenty of job creation and rising wages, there`s little
reason to believe consumers won`t spend, at least somewhere and that
underpins the belief that after a quarter of record below 1 percent, GDP
seems likely now to jump back to around 3.5 percent.
So, it appears the second quarter rebound is on track, at least from the
early data. And that rebound being led by the willingness of consumers to
spend a bit more freely.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.
GRIFFETH: Now to today`s retail wreck. It was JCPenney. And as Steve
mentioned, consumers spent, but not actually in the stores. And JCPenney
was no exception. Like it`s other big retail brethren, Penney was dogged
by same store sales figures and investors were in no mood. They sent
shares to an all time low before ending down 14 percent.
Courtney Reagan has more on this story for us tonight.
COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: JCPenney rounds
out the week`s department store doldrums. The retailer did post an
earnings gain when a loss was expected. But that`s due to a real estate
sale and lower expenses. Its disappointing comparable sales and revenues
sent shares to record lows. March and April did show sales improvement
after a weak February, with restrained spending as a result of bad weather
and delayed tax refunds.
JCPenney has come a long way since its failed transformation several years
ago, but it`s still lost more than $5 billion in sales in five years, and
is just now closing underperforming stores.
DANA TELSEY, TELSEY ADVISORY GROUP CEO: They`re closing 130 to 140 stores.
They have the categories like Sephora, like appliances that is a driver.
And they`re going to keep looking at their store base. They`re still in
some very good malls and they`re profitable in some of those — even some
of the lower tier malls.
REAGAN: While there are some categories that are performing decently for
the department store, women`s apparel isn`t selling as well as it needs to,
to help lift JCPenney`s sales. The retailer still thinks it can hit full
year goals. But investors and retail experts like former Bloomingdale CEO
Michael Gould are skeptical.
MICHAEL GOULD, FORMER BLOOMINGDALE`S CHMN. AND CEO: I hate to say it, but
I`m of the belief that the department store model was broken the way it
was. It doesn`t mean it can`t be fixed, but it is broken as of the moment.
REAGAN: Gould says it`s broken because the merchandise isn`t unique or all
that special. Consumers have money to spend. But department stores aren`t
offering shoppers what they want. Who is? Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Outlet
stores and small unique versions.
Next week, big box retailers including Walmart, Target (NYSE:TGT), and Home
Depot (NYSE:HD) report results, which may paint a different picture of
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Courtney Reagan.
GRIFFETH: So, why are stores, especially department stores, having such a
tough time right now? It`s because they`re not cheap to run. It`s still
more profitable, though, for many retailers than selling you the items
Courtney is back to tell us why here.
REAGAN: This model was built for CNBC by retail consultancy AlixPartners
to show the profit differential for traditionally store-based apparel
retailer selling a $100 outfit, in-store, online, or a combination. A
typical $100 clothing purchase in-store has associated operating costs like
rent and labor of about $28, and around $40 cost for the goods, leaving a
profit margin of 32 percent.
That same $100 outfit with the same $40 cost, but bought online and shipped
free to a shopper from a fulfillment center, has operating costs of $30.
Distribution costs can be four times higher. Overhead, three times more,
when shipping and fulfilling individual orders compared to truckloads to
stores, for a profit margin of 30 percent.
What if a shopper wants to order online but pick up that $100 outfit in-
store? Now, you`re running two channels to fulfill that order. The
operating costs jump to 37 percent. And the profit margin shrinks to 23
Using stores as distribution centers is the least profitable model.
Operating costs soar to 48 percent, even higher overhead and infrastructure
costs to operate the site and the store and ship the goods twice. The
profit is now just 12 percent, 20 percentage points below the margin of a
pure in-store sale.
GRIFFETH: So, what are all the things we`ve been hearing about retailer
Telling us about the health of the consumer, Greg Portell joins us now to
talk about it. He`s lead partner for A.T. Kearney`s consumer products and
Greg, thanks for joining us tonight.
GREG PORTELL, A.T. KEARNEY LEAD PARTNER: Thank you.
GRIFFETH: You say that the economy — that the consumer right now is the
strongest part of the economy, and yet, we`ve had so many store closures
this year, bankruptcies by many retailers. And this week was an especially
difficult week for department stores.
Why the dichotomy? What`s going on here?
PORTELL: Well, the problem isn`t so much with the consumer. The consumer
tends to get blamed for the inability of many retailers to meet that
consumer need. I mean, the data would suggest that consumer spending is
there. The failure comes on the part of most retailers to meet that demand
GRIFFETH: So consumers are spending, it`s just where they`re spending, and
it`s not with department stores right now, right?
GRIFFETH: So, what do they have to do? What`s wrong with the business
model of a department store these days?
PORTELL: Well, A.T. Kearney has done some interesting research on the
consumer at 250, which is really looking at the consumer behavior ten years
out. And what that will show you is a consumer who is much more into
community, authenticity, and experiences, which is, you know, very
difficult to see in many of the traditional department store models.
GRIFFETH: So, we hear that many of these department stores need to be more
online, that`s where people are buying. I mean, the retail sales numbers
for April show the department store sales down 2 percent, online sales were
up 1.4 percent. But you seem to be suggesting it`s more than just having a
presence online for retailers. Yes?
PORTELL: Well, there`s a couple of different types of consumer profiles.
The convenience consumer that`s looking for quick easy purchases for easy
curation of product, that`s going to be hard for department stores to
effectively compete for online. Where department stores can really create
an advantage is actually enhancing the shopping experience, giving a reason
for the consumers to come and experience the store. That`s what`s missing
in today`s world.
GRIFFETH: Are all the department stores created equally? I mean, shall we
just paint them with the same brush? Or are there some that may do better
down the road? What do you think?
PORTELL: Well, the department stores that are going to do better, the ones
that really have a reason for a shopper to go in there, when you look at
some of the dollar stores, Dollar General (NYSE:DG), a discounter such as
TJX, there`s a clear reason for consumers to go into those stores. When
you start getting into the middle of the retail market, you have to ask
yourself, why is a consumer going to come to this particular outlet as
opposed to the many other outlets they have. And that`s where those
retailers start to get in trouble. They lack the identity to draw in the
GRIFFETH: So, you like T.J.Maxx, Dollar General (NYSE:DG), Barnes & Noble
(NYSE:NE) (NYSE:BKS), Columbia Sport. I mean, there are specialty
retailers in many cases here, right?
PORTELL: Yes, they`re specialty retailers because they have a very defined
proposition for consumers. If you think about going into a big box retail
— a big box department store, there`s really little differentiation
between one or the other. The department stores that break out will be
those that really create unique curated experiences for their consumers.
So, you`re going to look to those higher end stores such as a Nordstrom`s,
or Saks (NYSE:SKS), or potentially even a Neiman`s, once they fix some of
the economic issues.
GRIFFETH: Very interesting. Greg Portell with A.T. Kearney — thanks for
joining us tonight.
PORTELL: Thank you.
GRIFFETH: Now to the overall market. All that pain in the retail sector
was more than enough to drag all the indices lower for the weak. Here are
today`s numbers: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by just 22 points,
closed to 20,896 today. The NASDAQ managed to climb by five. And S&P 500
gave back 3 1/2. But for the week, all three of the averages were lower,
Meanwhile in Italy, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin got down to business
with other finances ministers at the G7 meetings there. He talked about
tax reform and trade deals with China.
Our Ylan Mui is in Italy for us tonight.
YLAN MUI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Treasury Secretary Steven
Mnuchin called it a productive day of meetings here in Italy at the G-7
gathering of the world`s most powerful economic officials. I asked him how
he planned to explain President Trump`s controversial America first trade
Here is what he said.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: We`re excited about U.S. trade
policies. And I think you probably saw last night, we made an announcement
of 100-day economic plan with the Chinese. So, I think we`re very happy
with how we`re proceeding.
MUI: That agreement increases market access for U.S. beef producers in
China. It also allows more chicken from China into the U.S. And U.S.
ratings agencies and credit card companies are hoping to do more business
in that country as well.
Now, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was also pressed by his counterparts
at the G-7 on the timeline for tax reform in the United States. The
Italian Finance Minister Padoan said he`s encouraged by what he`s heard so
PIER CARLO PADOAN, ITALIAN FINANCE MINISTER: I`m not worried about U.S.
tax policy. I understand that there is a very ambitious tax reform program
in the United States, and we`re watching closely what is good for the
United States and what would be learned by other countries about tax
MUI: Mnuchin flashed us a thumbs-up a he left the meeting today. He had
one-to-one discussions with finances ministers of Canada, Italy, Germany
and Japan. Tomorrow, he`ll meet with the U.K. Chancellor Phillip Hammond
and then he`ll return home back to the United States.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Ylan Mui in Italy.
GRIFFETH: A late-breaking story this Friday, FedEx (NYSE:FDX), one of
thousands of companies and organizations in more than 70 countries, hit by
a global cyber attack late today. FedEx (NYSE:FDX) said that it is
implementing a quick fix as soon as possible. The attack hit Windows-based
systems and used random ware which locks an infected computer or encrypts
data and then demands payment to release that data. Britain`s public
health system was especially hard hit. Doctors there were locked out of
accessing patient files. And emergency patients needed to be diverted away
from those hospitals.
It is believed the vulnerability was discovered when some NSA hacking tools
were leaked online in March.
For its part, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) said today customers who have
antivirus software and windows updates are protected against this
Coming up, ranking the best markets for first time homebuyers. Some of the
locations may surprise you.
GRIFFETH: Now, we all know that when it comes to housing, for the most
part, it`s a seller`s market right now. But what if you`re a first time
home buyer? Where should you be looking right now?
Zillow is out with a new report ranking the best markets for first timers.
Diana Olick takes a look tonight.
DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Today`s young buyers
are more cash-strapped than previous generations, thanks to high levels of
student debt and slow income growth. Home prices are rising fast, but new
buyers today are more mobile, thanks to technology in the workforce. So
choosing an entry market is key.
Zillow looked at five metrics to determine which local housing markets
would serve first time buyers best. Median home values, potential price
growth, inventory, the number of listings with price cuts, and the break-
even time horizon for buying over renting.
Leading the list, Orlando. Low entry price and lots of inventory, so less
competition. Same with Atlanta. Las Vegas has the most potential for
price appreciation, given its strong economy and population growth.
Dallas got in to a short time to beat the buy versus rent equation.
Cleveland and Detroit have low entry prices. In fact, seven of the top ten
are lower priced than the national median.
But entry price is not everything. Down payment is usually the biggest
challenge for first time buyers. Not only does it determine how much house
you can buy, it also determines the mortgage rate. A 5 percent down
payment in the expensive San Francisco Bay Area, for example, is larger
than 20 percent down in most of the best markets for first time buyers.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in Washington.
GRIFFETH: Sprint and T-Mobile are reportedly in talks once again. And
that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
Bloomberg News says that Sprint and its largest shareholder Softbank have
entered into early talks with T-Mobile regarding a potential merger. The
telecom giants considered a combination back in 2014, but that deal faced
opposition from antitrust regulators at the time. So, now, they`re back at
it again. Sprint shares rose 1 percent to $7.59, while shares at T-Mobile
fell fractionally to $65.55.
AstraZeneca said that its lung cancer drug during a study trial was shown
to significantly reduce the risk of the disease worsening in patients with
inoperable tumors. As a result, the biotech company says it is talking to
authorities now about pursuing regulatory approval. And shares jumped 9
percent on that news to $34.
Health insurer Anthem has thrown in the towel, saying it has ended its
proposed takeover of rival Cigna after a Delaware judge rejected the
company`s motion for a preliminary injunction that prevent Cigna from
exiting the deal. Anthem now says it does not plan on paying Cigna a
termination fee, saying that the company failed to fully comply with its
contractual obligations. Anthem`s shares were off a fraction today to
$181.44, while shares of Cigna were down 1 percent to $162.03.
Deutsche Bank lowered its rating on General Electric (NYSE:GE) to an
outright sell from a hold, citing valuation concerns and weak earnings.
The bank also warned that GE may be forced to cut its dividend as well.
Shares of GEe fell 2 percent to $28.27. They were one of the biggest drags
on the Dow today.
Remember when we told you about 2 million unauthorized customer accounts
that Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) had created? Well, the bank may have opened a
lot more than previously thought. In a court filing, lawyers representing
customers told a judge that they believe the bank created 3.5 million fake
accounts. A bank spokesperson says the new estimate was a hypothetical
scenario and does not reflect actual authorized accounts. Shares of Wells
Fargo (NYSE:WFC) down 1 percent today to $53.02.
And Boeing (NYSE:BA) says it has now resumed test flights of its 737 MAX
jetliners. We told you earlier this week that the company had suspended
activity due to engine problems. But Boeing (NYSE:BA) says it has received
a green light from air and safety regulators to fly those planes again.
Shares, though, did fall 69 cents to $183.25.
Our market monitor has names of tech stocks that he says are not overbought
right now. One of his picks is catching all the blame for the wreck in
retail these days that we`ve been telling you about. This is his first
time on the program. He is Rob Bartenstein, the CEO of Kestra Private
Rob, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us tonight.
ROB BARTENSTEIN, KESTRA PRIVATE WEALTH SERVICES CEO: Thank you, Bill.
Good to be with you.
GRIFFETH: I`m very anxious to get to your third pick. But let`s take
these things in order. You like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) right now, even
though it`s at all-time highs and people are thinking it just can`t keep
the growth rate going that it`s had recently.
You disagree, I guess.
BARTENSTEIN: Yes, I would strongly disagree that it can`t keep the growth
rate that it`s at. I think if you look at the last five years as the
roadmap, Amazon`s been able to develop its cloud computing business very
significantly. Obviously, the prime membership and prime businesses which
include their prime video, which is movies and television and other
content, as well as music, their last mile delivery service and their
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is firing on all cylinders. At this stage of the
game, it`s kind of hard to tell in some places where the Internet ends and
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) begins.
GRIFFETH: And a lot of people are buying it because of the cloud business
as well, right?
BARTENSTEIN: Correct. Yes, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) web services is a big
component and a big driver of that business. They`ve been able to build
that very successfully.
GRIFFETH: Your second pick, not a household name, but it`s a very
intriguing business, Tower Semiconductor (NASDAQ:TSEM). Tell us about
BARTENSTEIN: Yes, Tower Semiconductor (NASDAQ:TSEM) is an interesting
story, they work in the semiconductor business, obviously, buying up parts
and divisions of companies that have been overlooked or underutilized.
They then bring those together, create synergies, and do it very
effectively. So, they supply semiconductors to the likes of Texas
Instruments (NYSE:TXN), Samsung, and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC).
That business is going gangbusters. They`re in the right business at the
right time. Yes, they reported great earnings on Monday. The stock is
kind of broken out from its price range above $23 and now we think can
he`ll get into the upper $20s.
GRIFFETH: OK. Now your third pick. Snap. I had to check to make sure
that I was looking at what you do like rather than what you don`t like. We
all know what happened to Snap this week, after they reported their first
earnings report after going public, they lost 18 percent.
Evan Spiegel, their co-founder and CEO, lost $1 billion in his holdings.
You like the stock at these levels. Why?
BARTENSTEIN: I really do like the stock at these levels. And, first of
all, these levels now is close to the original IPO price. But I think what
you`re seeing with — and there`s no way to sugarcoat a $2 billion loss in
your first quarter. So, that`s clear. But I think what you`re seeing is a
company that is obviously in the very early stages.
Snap literally has 50 percent of the eyeballs in America between the ages
of 18 and 34 every day for 30 minutes. Those eyeballs are going to turn
into revenue for the company over time. And they are — you`re going to
watch Snap really develop into an augmented reality platform that`s going
to drive a lot of revenue over the next several years.
GRIFFETH: Well, we will see.
BARTENSTEIN: We will see.
GRIFFETH: I know you`re playing the contrarian play there, but it`s
interesting to hear you take that side of the trade. Rob, thanks for
joining us tonight.
BARTENSTEIN: Good to be with you.
GRIFFETH: Rob Bartenstein with Kestra Private Wealth Services.
Up next, why having a roommate is one of the hottest trends in today`s new
GRIFFETH: Having a roommate in your 20s, that`s commonplace. But did you
know the fastest growing group out there now looking for a roomie are older
women? Call it golden girls 2.0.
Our Jane Wells looks at the new retirement from Tempe, Arizona.
JANE WELLS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Sixty-nine-year-old
Mariam Ephraim and 55-year-old Meeghan Kanaval are strangers who moved in
together. Kanaval needed a cheap room.
MEEGHAN KANAVAL, TENANT: I work in the nonprofit sector. If you know
anything about that, we don`t make a ton of money.
WELLS: Efraim needed someone to care for her pet if she`s hospitalized or
call 911 if she falls, which has happened.
MARIAM EPHRAIM, HOMEOWNER: That`s a very frightening thing when you can`t
get up and there`s nobody there.
WELLS: It`s great, mostly. Think of them as the new Golden Girls.
This home in Los Angeles was used as the exterior for “The Golden Girls.”
But that `80s show is even more relevant today.
Airbnb says seniors are their fastest growing host demographic with women
in the majority, and sites like Silvernest connect people 55 and older who
are looking to share rooms. That`s the site which brought these two
KANAVAL: I like it. I think it`s a really good idea.
WELLS: Silvernest charges homeowners $29.99 for about three months to find
potential roommate matches. And roommates pay the site the same amount for
a background check if requested. Seventy percent of the homeowners on the
site are women and 55 percent of the potential roommates are.
EPHRAIM: Turns out she and I are both originally from the Midwest. We
both like sci-fi movies.
WELLS: But they`ve also learned that moving in together in their golden
years is different than in their 20s.
KANAVAL: You live by yourself. You`re set in your ways. You don`t have
to deal with other personalities or other issues. Really?
WELLS: Meeghan has learned to deal with Mariam`s cats and Mariam has
learned to respect Meeghan`s privacy.
And which Golden Girls do they most resemble?
KANAVAL: I`m across between the wild child and Rue McClanahan and Bea
EPHRAIM: I`m Bea Arthur. Can`t you see that?
WELLS: And these days, there are a lot of Bea Arthurs out there.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Jane Wells, Tempe, Arizona.
GRIFFETH: And finally tonight, a pair of earrings to be sold next week in
Switzerland could become the most expensive ever to hit the auction block.
Robert Frank takes a look for us.
ROBERT FRANK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: They are named
Artemis and Apollo. And like their Greek namesakes, they make an unusual
pair. Yet, these two earrings are likely to become the most expensive ever
sold at auction.
Sotheby`s next week is set to auction off a pair of earrings in Geneva that
could together fetch nearly $70 million. The pink stone is the Artemis
Pink, a 16 carat fancy intense pink estimated to sell for $18 million. Its
brother, Apollo, is even more rare, a 14.5 carat internally flawless blue
diamond that was mined in South Africa and could sell for up to $50
And while they were cut into pear shaped stones to match, they`ll be sold
separately at the auction. Diamond dealers say the buyer could turn either
into a necklace or ring or keep them both as earrings.
DAVID BENNETT, SOTHEBY`S JEWELRY DIV. WORLDWIDE CHMN: I would love it if
they were sold to the same person. Very often when we`ve sold things
separately, they do end up with the same buyer. But it also gives the
possibility of somebody who wants the blue or the pink to buy them as well.
FRANK: Now, color diamond prices have surged in recent years as the
world`s super rich look for easily portable and appreciating stores of
wealth. The pink and blue are the most desirable. The $59.6 carat pink
diamond called the Pink Star sold last month by Sotheby`s for $71.2
million, making it the most expensive diamond ever sold at auction.
Christie`s sold the 14.6 carat Oppenheimer Blue Diamond more $57.5 million
last May. Prices for Pink Diamonds, well, they`re up 360 percent since
2005. And Blue Stones are up 161 percent over the same period. Now, that
doesn`t mean your wedding ring is now worth more. Common colorless or
white diamonds have been flat or declining in prices in recent years.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Robert Frank.
GRIFFETH: And that is our show for tonight. I`m Bill Griffeth. Have a
great weekend, everybody.
Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post
broadcast at http://nbr.com. The program is transcribed by ASC Services II
Media, LLC. Updates may be posted at a later date. The views of our guests
and commentators are their own and do not necessarily represent the views
of Nightly Business Report, or CNBC, Inc. Information presented on Nightly
Business Report is not and should not be considered as investment advice.
(c) 2017 CNBC, Inc.
<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2017 CNBC, Inc. Copyright 2017 ASC
Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States
copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted,
displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of
ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>