BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Earnings delivery.
Business seems to be booming at the big banks. So why do investors run the
other way and send those stocks lower?
No relief. A perfect storm is swirling around the housing market as
borrowers stretch themselves thin just to afford a home.
Fueling a crisis. An in-depth report tonight on the role bitcoin and other
currencies are playing in the opioid epidemic.
Those stories and much more tonight on the NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT. It is
Friday the 13th of April.
And we bid you good evening, everybody. I`m Bill Griffeth. Sue is off
Stocks finished the week lower today, and we will have more on that in just
But begin tonight with the banks and how everything seems to be aligning
for this important sector of the economy and the stock market. J.P.
Morgan, Citigroup (NYSE:C), and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) all reported better
than expected earnings this morning, in part because of interest rates that
are creeping higher, volatility has resurfaced, and regulations have been
relaxed. But the stocks themselves didn`t react today the way you might
expect. All three of them traded lower, despite those solid results.
GRIFFETH: Two big factors helped J.P. Morgan Chase quarterly profit jump
by 35 percent to a record of almost $9 billion. Lower tax rates saved the
bank almost a quarter billion dollars and rising interest rates which
helped push interest income up by 20 percent from a year earlier as banks
are now able to charge more for the loans that they make. Despite a move
lower today, many analysts do think this environment can be a big plus for
CHRIS KOTOWSKI, OPPENHEIMER & CO.: In a rising rate environment, all you
really need for solid double digit earnings growth is low to mid single
digit loan growth because the rising interest rates give you a boost.
GRIFFETH: Citibank says the hikes so far have added about $80 million each
in additional revenue. But it did say future rate hikes will probably
compress that figure. Citi`s profit hit a three-year high, up 13 percent,
with a big boost from a 38 percent jump in equity trading sales. The
uptick in the stock market volatility has been good for banks, volumes are
up, and trading revenues are up too.
That has analysts upbeat, ahead of the reports from the rest of the big
banks, like Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and Morgan
FRED CANNON, KBW (NYSE:KBW): Equities are especially strong, if you want
to play the equity strength. You want to move into Morgan Stanley
(NYSE:MS). So, we like that setup a lot. I think the stronger banks are
going to continue to get stronger. So I would say B of A and Morgan
Stanley (NYSE:MS) are set up quite well.
GRIFFETH: Wells Fargo`s profit was better than expected, but revenue was
down almost 2 percent from a year ago. As Wells is still dealing with
regulatory fallout, it`s considering a $1 billion offer to settle civil
charges related to auto loans and mortgage rate fixing, a potential charge
that may be holding its stock price back.
CANNON: It`s cheap for a reason. And it feels like a value trap, I think,
to a lot of folks at this point in time. They seem to be in that dunce cap
relative to the Fed, so it`s tough to get excited. I mean, at some point,
the stock price will respond, but right now, it just feels like it`s a bit
snake bit as a stock.
GRIFFETH: Steve Dudash joins us now to talk more about the banks tonight.
He is the president of IHT Wealth Management.
Thanks for joining us, Steve. Always good to see you.
STEVEN DUDASH, PRESIDENT, IHT WEALTH MANAGEMENT: Good to see you, too,
GRIFFETH: What`s your version? Why do you think the stocks sold off as
much as they did today? The bank stocks I`m talking about.
DUDASH: The bank stocks sold off because we all knew this quarter was
going to be the big quarter. Ever since the tax bill was floated out there
last summer, we were all leading up to this point, and that`s why you saw
the bank stocks have a run-up in the last 12 months, but it isn`t about
what they did in the past, it`s about what they thought they were going to
do moving forward. We needed them to crush, which they did, but we need
them to continue to crush, to continue to grow at the rates they`ve been
doing. Thirty percent a year, year over year, you can`t have that over and
So, we need to see more strength. We are in a goldilocks period right now
for banks. So, it`s not unrealistic to think that. But certain bank
stocks like Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) have a whole problem going on that you
kind of have to avoid.
GRIFFETH: Yes, you would not touch Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) right now,
DUDASH: No. No, and, listen, they`ll get through this eventually. It`s a
good company long-term, but they`re kind of going through what Facebook`s
going through right now, and that is, the regulatory eyes are all over
them. They can`t get aggressive with sales, tactics on the inside of the
bank, at least not for the next couple of years.
So, there`s no way they`re going to be able to keep pace with the J.P.s and
Bank of Americas of the world right now. We were on your show three years
ago talking about how good they were at the retail side, which they are
great at. The problem is, they were too good at it and they were doing
things that weren`t up and up, and because of that, now you`re seeing the
So, you just — it`s a value trap. You can`t go after it just because it
looks cheap. There`s a reason why it`s cheap.
GRIFFETH: Now, we get more reports next week. Do you expect them to do as
well as J.P. Morgan and Citibank did today?
DUDASH: Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), you`re probably going to see the exact
same thing on Monday. You`ll probably see the stock pull back a little
bit, because it`s going to say, we beat earnings, we did great, but
everyone is going to be like, we knew that. What are you doing moving
I tell you right this, though. It`s a wonderful sector to be in. You
know, you pick a few of the stocks in there, you buy in on this little dip
that`s going on right now.
The next year or two, they`re going to be raking in money. You`re going to
see some huge profits out of that sector, because of what you guys were
just touching on. So, if you`re looking for a sector to get into, it`s
hard to argue with that area right now.
GRIFFETH: But — so this is all dependent or at least in part dependent on
the Fed continuing to raise rates, right?
DUDASH: But they`re going to. We all know they`re going to. There`s at
least three more rate hikes going.
The real question is, do they continue this next year? But the reality is,
even if they don`t do anymore dramatic three in a year type hikes next
year, with the tax regulation where it is right now, that benefits the
company like a bank that much. And with the rate hikes, you know, your
savings account rates aren`t going up, but those loan rates are definitely
That spread is there. Take advantage of it. The reason why we haven`t
seen huge profits where, yes, some of the trading volume on it, the
investment banking was down, but with all of the extra flow that`s going
out there right now, investment banking is going to pick up. That`s — you
know, how it is, it`s choppy in that area.
So, take advantage of this little dip, buy in at some nice prices for the
right stocks and then move forward.
GRIFFETH: And we will do that now, as a matter of fact.
Steve, always good to see you. Thank you. Steve Dudash with IHT Wealth
Management joining us tonight.
DUDASH: You too, Bill. Take care.
GRIFFETH: As for Wall Street, the decline in bank shares did push the
broader market lower today, adding to the political and trade tensions that
have been weighing on the market lately. When all is said and done, the
Dow was down 122 points today to close at 24,360, the Nasdaq was down 33,
the S&P down 7.
Now, despite today`s decline, the major averages were all solidly higher
for the week. And by the way, oil prices posted their first weekly gain in
three weeks, settling at their highest level — get this — since early
Now, some of those trade tensions hit one stock in particular today, that
is Boeing (NYSE:BA). But the rhetoric this time was coming from Russia,
not from China. Lawmakers there in Russia have proposed a set of measures
that could halt the supply of titanium to the aircraft manufacturer. A
proposal is in response to sanctions recently imposed by Washington.
Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) were off more than 2 percent as a result in
General Electric (NYSE:GE) is restating its 2016 and 2017 earnings due to
new accounting methods. Now the restatement is important to investors in
this widely held stock, because, as we`ve been reporting, G.E. has come
under fire for its lackluster performance and big charges and an SEC
Morgan Brennan has G.E.`s new numbers for us.
What do they tell us tonight, Morgan?
MORGAN BRENNAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bill, I will
tell you that in this latest filing which prints out to about 32 pages, it
is a lot of detail, it is a lot of numbers, but the takeaway here for
investors is that G.E. is restating its 2017 earnings 17 cents lower per
share than previously had been reported its 2016 earnings, 13 cents lower
than it previously been reported.
Well, what`s perhaps most surprising in this filing that we have just
received is the fact they`re also revising lower their revenue numbers for
both of those years. It speaks to the fact that they have implemented this
new accounting standard that is market wide and it really requires many
different companies to change the way they`re reporting revenue on long-
term contracts. But they are also implementing some of their own new
changes to their financial accounting and their methodology around that.
And that, too, has lowered revenue reported for both 2017 and 2016 by
several billion dollars.
Why this matters right now? Well, while Wall Street was largely expecting
these numbers to come out and for the company to restate, it comes ahead of
earnings, which we get next Friday, and which everyone is watching so very
closely, as the new management team in place looks to move forward on its
turnaround for the struggling industrial.
GRIFFETH: Before you go, this is important. Very quickly, these new
numbers, do they say that these are — they`re reporting these numbers now
because simply of the accounting change or in part because they were
overstating earnings and revenue before?
BRENNAN: I think the earnings themselves were restated because of this new
accounting change. The company has been signaling that this would be
coming for the last several months. I have actually seen this in other
industrial companies that I follow, as well, over the last several years,
in anticipation of this new rule taking effect for 2018. That said, they
have made some of their own changes and we`re seeing that play out in the
revenue numbers that they`ve just restated for the last two years, as well.
GRIFFETH: And we`ll see how those earnings are next week.
Morgan Brennan, good job. Thank you.
Time to take a look at some of today`s upgrades and downgrades.
Netflix`s rating was raised from buy to hold at Deutsche Bank. The analyst
there says that Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) has changed the industry in a
profound way. And in doing so, it has given itself a significant lead over
competitors. The company reports earnings on Monday, by the way. Price
target was lifted to $350 a share. Shares of Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) today
rose fractionally to $311.65.
Starbucks` rating was cut to market perform from outperform at Cowan. The
analyst citing concerns about Kraft (NYSE:KFT) coffee competition and
questionable customer loyalty. Price target was lowered to $65. That
stock fell slightly to $59.24.
Eli Lilly`s rating was raised from underperform to market perform at BMO
Capital. The analysts there backing away from negative stances he`s had on
the stock for the past year, saying that many of the obstacles he
previously cited are now priced in. Price target was raised to $79. The
stock was up 43 cents to $79.72 today.
And Dropbox which recently went public was started with a reduced rating by
Nomura Instinet. The company cited the low rate of converting users into
paid subscribers. The price target is now $21. The stock closed the day
down 9 percent at $30 even.
Still ahead, looking for stocks that could benefit from a stronger consumer
and a growing economy? Well, our market monitor has the list of some
names, coming up.
GRIFFETH: President Trump has ordered a review of the Postal Service. He
issued an executive order late last night creating a special task force to
examine its finances. The agency reported a net loss of $2.7 billion in
fiscal year 2017. The president did not mention Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) in
that order, but, of course, he has been vocal about how much the Postal
Service loses on each Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) package that it delivers.
Mixed signals from Fed officials today. The president of the Boston Fed
said more hikes may be needed than the central bank now expects. Eric
Rosengren believes that the labor market may tighten even more and that
inflation is likely to run a bit hotter. The fed has targeted three rate
increases this year and three more in 2019.
But separately, James Bullard, the president of the St. Louis Fed, he took
a more dovish stance, he said the central bank does need to raise
borrowing costs much further, despite the recent reports of higher
inflation, which he says were about as expected.
Sticking with the economy, consumer sentiment recorded a bigger than
expected decline this month. The University of Michigan survey slipped to
a three-month lull amid ongoing uncertainties among U.S. trade policies.
But we should point out that it is still remaining historically high at
Separately, a new report from the Labor Department shows that businesses
posted fewer job openings in February than the previous month. In January,
openings hit a record. The figures suggest a healthy job market in favor
of job seekers right now.
And it is that time of year with sentiment levels evaluated and the job
market tight, many folks are heading out to buy new homes. But if you`re
going to an open house this weekend, hold on to your wallets. It`s getting
much harder to afford a house.
Diana Olick has that story from Washington for us tonight.
DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: In the heart of
spring, it is the perfect storm — home prices, interest rates, housing
demand, all rising amid a critical shortage of homes for sale. It`s
slamming affordability and causing more buyers this spring to overstretch.
Affordability is projected to weaken this year at the fastest pace in a
quarter century, according to Arch Mortgage Insurance.
Affordability, which is based on a homeowner`s monthly payments, we can buy
5 percent in the first quarter of this year and could weaken by another 10
percent by the end of the year. Some markets will be worse. The average
monthly house payment in Tacoma, Washington, could increase 25 percent.
Boston, up 21 percent. Philadelphia, Detroit and Las Vegas could also see
20 percent increases in the average monthly payment.
THERESA TAYLOR, MILLER WILLIAMS CAPITAL PROPERTIES: We keep thinking it`s
going to get better. And it`s not getting better.
OLICK: Theresa Taylor has been selling homes for almost a decade and says
she is seeing more buyers than ever getting in over their heads.
TAYLOR: We have some concerns when we see people putting so little deposit
money down, and you can literally see on paper, you can see them stretching
to make this happen. And if there were more inventory, that wouldn`t be
OLICK: And the risk keeps rising. The share of borrowers with debt
payments of more than 45 percent of their income more than tripled in the
second half of last year and continues this year, according to CoreLogic
(NYSE:CLGX). Part of that is that Fannie Mae loosened its standards a bit,
but clearly, demand was waiting.
The bulk of demand is at the entry level, but that`s where supply is worst,
while high end homes are more plentiful.
AARON TERRAZAS, ZILLOW CHIEF ECONOMIST: Rising mortgage rates, rising home
values over the next year. I think that`s going to increase and magnify
that divide between what`s happening at the top and what`s happening at the
bottom of the market.
OLICK: Increasing the divide between the haves of housing and the have-
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in Washington.
GRIFFETH: General Motors (NYSE:GM) is cutting jobs and that`s where we
begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The auto maker said that it plans to eliminate more than 1,000 positions at
its Ohio plant due to falling Chevy Cruz sales. The location that makes
the compact vehicle has experienced weakening demand as more consumers do
shift away from those smaller vehicles to the SUVs and crossovers that
everybody loves right now. GM shares off a fraction today to $38.73.
PNC Financial said that its quarterly results were held by strength in its
commercial unit and by higher interest rates. Earnings at the regional
bank were in line with estimates, but revenue came in a little light. The
bank said that it plans to set aside more money this quarter for loan
losses and added that loan growth is likely to slow. PNC shares were off
by 4 percent to $145.46.
And Tesla`s CEO Elon Musk said that he expects the automaker to be
profitable and cash flow positive in the third and fourth quarters of this
year. Musk also reiterated that the company would not immediate to raise
additional capital this year. That upbeat outlook lifted shares of Tesla
by 2 percent to $300.34.
And Alaska Air reported a 6-1/2 percent rise in traffic in March from a
year ago. The airline also gave an upbeat outlook for the first quarter
overall. Shares soared by 6 percent to $63.95 today.
Now to our weekly market monitor, who is positive on the economy. He has a
list of companies that he says will benefit from strong economic growth and
consumer spending. He is John Traynor, the chief investment officer at
People`s United Wealth Management.
John, welcome back. Good to see you.
JOHN TRAYNOR, PEOPLE`S UNITED WEALTH MANAGEMENT CIO: Good to be here,
GRIFFETH: Do you think that the — that your feelings about the economy
are reflected properly in the stock market right now?
TRAYNOR: Well, we think the economy is doing very well. There`s a lot of
give and take in the stock market right now. And actually, we think
there`s a little excess nervousness in the stock market right now. If you
just take a look at the economy, the stock market should be doing a little
bit better. And we think that this volatility is actually giving investors
a little buying opportunity in the market right now.
GRIFFETH: Well, let`s look at three stocks that you like right now, and
the first one, right out of the bat, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). I can never
remember a time when there hasn`t been any skepticism about Jeff Bezos`
company, but it seems to be especially high right now, with the president
tweeting about it all these days.
You like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) here, I guess, right?
TRAYNOR: We like Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), because if you take a look at
what`s going on in the retail industry, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is dominating
the conversation there. You know, the transactions, whether — wherever
you`re shopping, transactions are going online, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is
leading that. You`re correct in your prior comment that some of the
turmoil in Washington has given investors, we think, a buying opportunity
in a very good company that`s really positioned nicely for the years ahead.
GRIFFETH: And how important is its cloud business to your forecast, as
TRAYNOR: The cloud business is critical. If you take a look at Amazon`s
income statement, almost virtually all of their income is coming from the
cloud business. So, we want to see the cloud business continue to do well.
We think it will continue to do well. But that will support the rest of
their business going forward.
GRIFFETH: We`re focusing on the banks right now with them reporting
earnings, especially the money center banks, but you like the regionals.
And in particular, you like KeyBanc, right?
TRAYNOR: Correct, correct. Headlines today were primarily about the
larger money center banks, but we really think that some of the regulatory
changes that are in process right now will help the smaller regional banks.
The regional banks are also more exposed to the domestic economy.
So, you know, yes, the banks were hit today, but we think going forward, as
your prior guest said, we think the banks are set up for very good earnings
GRIFFETH: And finally, quickly, if you can, one of the grand old companies
in technology, you like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) here.
TRAYNOR: We do. When you see turmoil in the market, you tend to want to
own the bigger companies and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) in our tech sector is
one that we want to make sure is in every client`s portfolio.
GRIFFETH: Well done. John Traynor, always good to see you. Thank you for
joining us tonight.
TRAYNOR: Thank you. Thank you.
GRIFFETH: John with People`s United Wealth Management joining us tonight.
Coming up, how bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are being used to finance
America`s deadly opioid crisis.
GRIFFETH: As you no doubt know, America is facing an opioid crisis.
Overdose deaths are increasing and so is the economic cost. And it`s being
fueled in part using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Ylan Mui is following the money in this special report for us tonight.
YLAN MUI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: There`s a new generation
of criminals quietly driving the deadly spike in opioid overdoses. They`re
flooding the country with the illegal drug fentanyl and they`re hiding
Here in Utah, authorities accuse these crypto-savvy college kids of routing
the fatal narcotic through suburban Salt Lake City while working at an eBay
(NASDAQ:EBAY) call center.
GREG SKORDAS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They were entrepreneurs looking for ways
to make money. They are alleged to have gotten into a dark hole.
MUI: A dark hole that started on what`s known as the Dark Web, an
encrypted online network where criminals can conduct their business. Sites
like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) or CNBC.com, that`s just a tiny sliver of the
Internet. Experts believe the dark web makes up as much as 94 percent of
what`s online. Access is fairly simple, but requires a special browser.
Matthew Swensen is a cyber crimes special agent at the Department of
MATTHEW SWENSEN, CYBER CRIME SPECIAL AGENT, DHS: We`re going to take a
look at the Tor network.
MUI: He shows CNBC how easily the Tor network can disguise his identity
SWENSEN: There`s going to be a series of relays, basically, which are
different computers that the traffic is going to bounce in between.
MUI: And is that what makes it private?
MUI: So people don`t realize that we`re in Fairfax, Virginia.
The dark web looks a lot like the open web. Sites like this operate like
Dream Market operate like eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), but they sell illegal goods
instead. Drugs are clearly displayed and sellers even have star ratings.
Their preferred method of payment: bitcoin.
SWENSEN: This one, the unit price is going to be 0.475 bitcoin which right
now is about $4,680. It looks like he only accepts bitcoin.
MUI: While every bitcoin transaction is public, no one can see who owns
the coins. That makes it appealing to criminal seeking anonymity on the
Internet. But demand for both bitcoin and fentanyl is so hot right now,
dealers are spilling on to the open web, even offering discounts for
payment in bitcoin.
GREG NEVANO, HSI DEPUTY ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: We need to continue to be
diligent. And one of the ways that we do that is through our border
enforcement security teams. We`re right on the ground at these mail
MUI: Facilities like this U.S. postal inspection station at New York`s JFK
Airport, where Customs and Border Protection estimates 40 percent of all
fentanyl mail seizures go down.
Customs officers have to search all of these packages, either by hand or
with one of the dogs over here, to find the fentanyl that people have
bought online, usually with bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, and had
shipped directly here to the United States from overseas.
You put the packages through an x-ray machine and if they find something
suspicious, they can open it up right here, to see if there`s a white
powdery substance inside. Then they take it to a detention center where
they test it, scan it and figure out if it really is fentanyl.
Two years ago, Customs found seven packages of fentanyl. So far this
fiscal year, they found 150.
FRANK RUSSO, CBP: The majority are coming from China and Hong Kong.
MUI: And these products are being bought online?
RUSSO: Absolutely, using the dark web.
MUI: What kind of fentanyl are you seeing come through here?
RUSSO: The fentanyl that we`re seizing here is about 90 percent pure,
which just a couple of grains will create an overdose for you.
MUI: Ohio is ground zero of the opioid epidemic and fentanyl is the
leading cause of drug deaths.
LUKAS, ADDICT: Most of the guys are pretty cool.
MUI: Lukas, who asked us not to use his last name, overdosed on heroin
laced with fentanyl five times before ending up here, the Mary Haven
Treatment Center in Columbus. Lukas got his fix from a local drug house.
The end of the line in a supply chain that`s killing an average of 45
people a week in Ohio, a bona fide seller`s market.
LUKAS: You would ask the dealers, where`s the dope that`s killing people?
You seek that.
MUI: You want the dope that`s killing people?
MUI: As a kid for crypto tells CNBC, their own studies show a different
PERIANNE BORING, CHAMBER OF DIGITAL COMMERCE PRESIDENT: Cryptocurrencies
do not kill people. Opiates are killing tens of thousands of people a
MUI: But in Utah, bitcoin is what authorities say financed Aaron Shamo`s
fentanyl enterprise, a supply chain that prosecutors suspect caused 28
deaths after users overdosed on his pills. When police raided Shamo`s home
and alleged stash house, they seized bags of cash and at least 500 bitcoins
according to court documents. They were worth about $750 each when he was
GREG SKORDAS, AARON SHAMO`S ATTORNEY: They had alleged that they were
going to forfeit it at some point. Usually you would expect that to be
done when a case is resolved, when a defendant is adjudicated. But in this
case, the value of bitcoin was going into the thousands of dollars, even
over $10,000. And so, the government came to us and said, this is a
valuable asset. We don`t want to lose that value.
MUI: Shamo, who declined to be interviewed, is pleading not guilty. His
trial starts in August. And if convicted, he faces a mandatory sentence of
life in prison.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Ylan Mui.
GRIFFETH: And you can read more about cryptocurrencies and America`s
opioid crisis on our Website at NBR.com.
Before we go, another look at the day on Wall Street, on this Friday the
13th. The Dow fell by 122 points to 24,360. The Nasdaq was off by 33.
The S&P down 7.
But despite the declines today, the major averages did finish solidly
higher for the week overall.
That is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. I`m Bill Griffeth. Thanks so
much for watching, everybody. Have a great weekend. We`ll see you again
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