Transcript: Nightly Business Report – April 17, 2018

ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Bill Griffeth and Sue

for a second day, thanks to better than expected earnings from some of the
world`s biggest and most recognizable companies.

online? Well, the Supreme Court is deciding whether you will soon have to
pay sales tax on every purchase.

HERERA: Partial outage. The IRS Website`s unexpected message for those
last-minute filers.

Those stories and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Tuesday,
April 17th.

GRIFFETH: And we do bid you good evening, everybody.

They are some of the bluest of the blue chips, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS),
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), UnitedHealthcare, and all three reported
better than expected earnings first thing this morning, adding to evidence
that the strengthening economy is helping to lift corporate profits. It is
a narrative that Wall Street has come to expect and it put investors in a
buying mood again today. The Dow advanced 213 points to 24,786, the Nasdaq
added 124, driven higher by Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and its strong results
that we told you about last night, the S&P was up by 28.

Dominic Chu breaks down the results from today`s big three for us.


season is still on the young side but it is the busiest day for earnings of
Dow components so far. We`ll start with the big bank report. Goldman
Sachs (NYSE:GS), those shares were lower on the day following what was
generally perceived as a positive report. The investment banking giant
posted better than expected profits and revenue, thanks in part to a big
jump in the money it made from trading stocks.

Goldman also raised its quarterly dividend by nearly 7 percent to 80 cents
per share. Similar story with shares of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), the
healthcare and consumer products company also reported better than expected
profits and sales boosted by better international business, as well as more
demand for its cancer-related treatments. Traders though were somewhat
disappointed that the company did not boost its full-year profit forecast.

And then there`s UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH). Of the three down
components reporting before they open, the health insurer was the only one
that posted a stock gained on the day. Again, profits and sales were
better than expected, thanks to strength across the board and less money
paid out for medical benefits. Unlike Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ),
UnitedHealth did boost its full-year profit forecast.

It may not just be about beating profit and sales expectations. Traders
may be looking to see how much more optimistic companies are about tomorrow
before bidding prices up for stocks today.



HERERA: Late today, fellow Dow component IBM reported better than expected
earnings but investors were looking for more. Big Blue earned $2.45 a
share, 3 cents better than estimates. Revenue which has been a sore spot
for IBM grew 5 percent to more than $19 billion. But it appears as if the
company`s guidance was disappointing in that sent the stock initially lower
in after-hours trading.

Josh Lipton has the one key takeaway from IBM`s results.


black eye, down in the after-hours. Lou Miscioscia, an analyst at Pivotal
Research, says gross margins were a problem. Forty-three-point-seven
percent versus expectations of 45.5 percent with 5 percent revenue growth
in the quarter. Miscioscia says he would have expected IBM to deliver
greater operating leverage in the quarter. Still, Miscioscia is an IBM
bull. He was heartened he said by the company`s so-called strategic
imperatives which include cloud, analytics and security jumping 15 percent.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Josh Lipton, San Francisco.


GRIFFETH: Now, as strong as stocks have been, commodities have been even
stronger this year with a number of geopolitical tensions apparently
causing investors to plow money into many raw materials. Is that momentum
expected to continue and at what point could geopolitical headwinds become
a problem for the markets?

Joining us tonight to talk about that more, our friend Art Hogan, managing
director and chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR.

Always good to see, Arthur.

Nice to see you, Bill.

GRIFFETH: Those are the headwinds. We also the tail winds which appear to
be the earnings, you know, the fundamentals that still are meeting these
high expectations for the most part. What do you make of what`s been going
on here lately?

HOGAN: No, it`s interesting. So, I think it brings — on the commodity
side, you bring up an interesting point. Think about the first quarter of
seeing the dollar weakened by about 10 percent. So, obviously, a
beneficiary is going to be the commodities.

And then won`t he have geopolitical concerns, very much like we saw in
Syria and we saw an 8 percent moving oil last week, there`s a fear of a
disruption to supply and that any energy complex. So, those commodity
prices move higher.

And then there`s that sort of harbor of safety when you plow into some of
the precious metals. So, I think that`s seeing some of that bid over the
last couple of weeks.

I think the dollar equation probably remains the same throughout 2018. I
think the geopolitical tensions come and go. So, in terms of a consistent
pattern in any of the commodity complex, I think you need to be a little
bit careful. But I think the strong global growth that we`re seeing is
going to be a driver as well.

So, commodities probably have a little bit of runway, but I think the
earnings season, the fundamentals here are even better than we thought
coming in. You know, it`s one of those quarters where for the first time
in seven years, earnings estimates went up during the quarter, instead of
going down and the beat rate so far with the first 50 companies having
reported in the S&P 500, it`s about six and a half percent. We usually
beat by about three and a half percent. So, so far, so good and the
response has been very good in the market.

HERERA: And, you know, the economy seems to be firing pretty much on all
cylinders, and that`s the good news. But it has a lot of people wondering
and we`ve talked about this the last couple of nights, does it change the
opinion of the Fed with the commodity component added into that equation,
with those higher oil prices?

HOGAN: It`s interesting, Sue, because we always hear from the Fed that, at
least in the energy complex, but that is something that`s transitory.
They`ll look at, you know, the ups and downs and the energy complex and say
those prices tend to be transitory. They like to look at inflation as a
basket, they look at the PCE, the biggest component in that they`d really
like to see pushing inflation higher would be wages.

So, I think the Feds on a pretty clear path right now. The language has
been pretty consistent. They`d like to raise rates three times this year,
that`s what the markets betting on. At the same time, they`re trying to
normalize that balance sheet, which is an ongoing process. So, we`ll see
if that — you know, becomes a headwind for them to get you know to more
done this year. I think the more we see that yield curve tightening, the
difference between the twos and the tens is going to probably slow them

If it gets any tighter than what we`re seeing right now, I bet they put off
raising rates or at least the next time until well into the fall.

GRIFFETH: Along those lines though, Art, theoretically, as the Fed raises
rates, the dollar should be going higher, which would not be good for

HOGAN: Yes, that`s very true and it`s interesting, the conundrum has been
we know exactly what`s going on with the Fed, they`ve been very
transparent. We also know that we`ve got a great deal of issuance this
year, right? So, our with — between tax cuts and our new budget, we
realize how much of a debtor nation we`re going to be, how much we have to
issue in debt. I think that`s what`s been weighing down on the dollar.
It`s if we just had that one component that you bring up, which is our
monetary policy, which is tighter than any other global central bank right
now, I think the dollar would certainly be firmer.

But I think you look at the country and say, wait a minute, you just spent
this much on tax cuts and you just signed the budget, your deficits are
going to be blowing out.


HOGAN: I think that`s keeping the lid on the dollar in the short term.

GRIFFETH: All right, Art. Always good to see you. Thank you.

HOGAN: Thank you.

GRIFFETH: Art Hogan with B. Riley FBR.

HERERA: And to China now, where the world`s second largest economy saw a
growth hold steady amid its trade dispute with the U.S.

The Chinese economy grew by 6.8 percent in the first quarter, which was
better than government targets.

Eunice Yoon is in Beijing and she tells us what`s fueling that growth.


furniture — Chinese consumers were buying more of almost everything and
that helped to lift the economy in the first quarter. Q1 GDP came in at
6.8 percent, retail sales were solid and maintained their strength in
March. But other data like investment and industrial output tapered off.

The strong report card is stirring debate here. Barclays believes a strong
first quarter gives authorities wiggle room to clean up debt and the
environment. J.P. Morgan and Oxford Economics say expect a slower second
half of the year, capital economics is a skeptical of what it describes as
the uncannily stable numbers and believes the economy is cooling down much
more quickly than the government is letting on.

But they all agree that the biggest challenge for China is a trade war,
even China statistics officials said that global uncertainty is the biggest
risk to the economy here though he said that China is confident that trade
frictions won`t change the country stable economic development. And there
are signs that trade disruption is looming.

In a preliminary anti-dumping ruling, China concluded today that U.S.
sorghum is damaging the domestic industry. American companies like CHS
(NASDAQ:CHSCP) will now have to put down a steep deposit for shipments to
China as high as 178.6 percent of the value of U.S. sorghum imports. The
U.S. banned sales of components to Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE and
there are reports of the Trump administration is weighing retaliation
against Chinese restrictions on high tech, like cloud computing — all
developments that add up to greater risk for China`s economic outlook.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon in Beijing.


GRIFFETH: Now, in a tweet yesterday, President Trump accused China of
devaluing its currency, now just days after the Treasury Department issued
a report that did not label China a currency manipulator. In a CNBC
interview, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tried to clarify explaining
that the president`s tweet was in fact a warning.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: It was a warning shot at China and
Russia about devaluation. China has devalued their currency in the past,
in the — matter of fact, up to through 2016, they value — they devalued
it significantly, starting in 2017, right after the president was elected.
They`ve used a lot of their reserves to actually support the currency. So,
you know, the president wants to make sure they don`t change these plans
and he`s watching it.


GRIFFETH: On the topic of trade, Secretary Mnuchin said the president`s
reconsideration of the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership has nothing to do
with China, instead he says it`s an effort to partner with other countries
to further the White House`s trade strategy.

HERERA: Despite a rise in those trade tensions the International Monetary
Fund says the global economy is on track to grow nearly 4 percent this
year. That would be the fastest pace since 2011. The upswing is supported
by an increase in investment spending and an acceleration in trade across
the globe.

But the IMF also warned that an increase in tariffs could reduce global
investment and ultimately hurt that growth.

GRIFFETH: Here in the U.S., the closely watched housing market got some
good news and some not so good news today. Housing starts did edge higher
last month, thanks to an increase in apartment construction. But
construction of single-family homes was not as strong and the housing
industry definitely wants to see more building in that area to alleviate a
lack of supply, which is driving up prices for buyers. Two popular
exchange-traded funds though that track the home building sector did both
rise on that report today.

HERERA: Well, it`s time to take a look at some of today`s upgrades and

Disney`s rating was raised to hold from sell at Pivotal Research. The
analysts there says the company appears to be, quote, best positioned among
video-centric media companies. The firm does however see weak fundamentals
overall for the entire industry. The price target is $93. Shares of the
Dow component were up nearly 2 percent to $102.17.

Coke`s rating was raised to neutral at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS). The
analyst there cites improving organic sales growth at the company. The
price target is $46. Shares of Coke rose fractionally to $44.88. Bill?

GRIFFETH: And while upgrading Coke, the same Goldman analyst downgraded
its rival Pepsi to sell from neutral. The analysts cited the laws of
market share in beverages and limited strategic options in the near term
for PepsiCo. The price target, $110. Pepsi stock fell about 1 percent to

Meanwhile, Merck (NYSE:MRK) saw its rating raised to overweight from equal
weight at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS). The analysts they`re cited Merck`s
cancer drug Keytruda, which we told you yesterday has shown great promise
in trials. The price target is $68. Shares of Merck (NYSE:MRK) rose 1
percent to $59.27.

HERERA: Still ahead tonight, the Supreme Court case that could result in
you paying more for what you buy online.


GRIFFETH: Investors paid particular attention today to two stories
unrelated to Wall Street.

One involved a Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) flight from New York to Dallas
which had to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after an engine
failed at about 30,000 feet. Shrapnel from that engine smashed a window,
damaged the fuselage, killed a passenger and injured others. It was the
first passenger fatality in a U.S. airline accident since 2009.

HERERA: The other story is Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX). The coffee chain`s
management will close all U.S. stores and corporate offices on May 29th to
train employees against racial bias. This after the arrest last week of
two black men waiting at a Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) in Philadelphia.

The training will close more than 8,000 company owned stores.

GRIFFETH: Supreme Court justices today heard arguments in a multi-billion
dollar case that will in effect everyone who shops online. The issue is
sales tax, and whether you`ll soon be required to pay it on every single

Ylan Mui is in Washington for us tonight.


sales tax went all the way to the Supreme Court today. The case pits South
Dakota against Internet retailer Wayfair. At issue is whether states can
force online businesses to collect sales tax from you, their customers.

Currently, companies are only required to do it if they have a physical
presence in a state, but South Dakota passed a law in mandating that almost
all online stores collect sales tax and now the question is before the
highest court in the land.

The hearing was combative from the start. Justice Sonia Sotomayor said
she`s concerned about the cost to Internet retailers and about overturning
a previous Supreme Court decision on this very issue. Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg was on the other side, she argued that the old ruling is outdated
and it`s a court`s job to fix it.

One retail trade group said it`s cautiously optimistic for a resolution.

that there is a level playing field, that Main Street retailers and every
other retailer are playing by the same set of tax collection rules, it`s
very important that this court act.

MUI: Both sides are providing very different numbers for how collecting
sales tax could impact businesses, estimates of what it would cost the
company to comply range from $12 to $250,000. Lost tax revenue is anywhere
between $13 billion to $34 billion.

Wayfair said no matter what happens at the Supreme Court, it will continue
to push for consistent rules and a legislative solution.

There have been several bills proposed to try to solve this issue, but none
of them have turned into law. And that`s why all eyes are on the Supreme
Court, a final decision is expected in June.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Ylan Mui in Washington.


HERERA: As Ylan laid out, that Supreme Court ruling could impact consumers
and change the landscape of the retail industry.

Joining us to talk about that is Burt Flickinger. He`s managing director at
retail consulting firm Strategic Resource Group.

Welcome back, Burt. Nice to have you here.

see you, Sue and Bill.

HERERA: You know, we hear that the court is a little conflicted. There
was a lot of back and forth between the justices and the attorneys today.
But let`s go through the two scenarios one. That that this ruling is
overturned what would that mean for businesses both big and small.

FLICKINGER: Overturning, Sue, would really help businesses overall,
because you`ve had an accelerating retail Ice Age. Most evidence as you
report you and Bill reported well with the bankruptcy and liquidation sale
this month of Toys “R” Us. So, if you have a level playing field “The
Salon” just reported, then you`ve got retailers investing in growth,
hiring, and you actually have more price competition. So, it`s more
competitive and better pricing for consumers overall.

GRIFFETH: But we did hear that the some of the justices were expressing
concern about the burden this would put on smaller retailers, who would
have to keep track of all the various sales tax laws in each state. Now, I
know you believe that there is a software package that they can use, but
what about the cost involved in the logistics and everything?

FLICKINGER: In terms of the cost in logistics in the 1980s, a lot of
retailers were complaining that and visit and vendors in terms of us
bringing online debit cards and credit cards to businesses, that was very
easy and profitably increased sales. The software is so cost effective and
efficient, whether it`s the apps developed at Cornell University where I
teach, or anywhere across the U.S. or the world, that it`s very easy for
the retailers and also it`ll systemize things so that ultimately retailers
can build sales.

HERERA: And if it`s not overturned?

FLICKINGER: And if it`s not overturned, Sue, they`ll be economic
consequences of epic proportions. We`re not this year, but in 2019, 2020,
you`ll see a retail collapse like the 1930s and the Great Depression or you
and Bill reported well in the financial crisis of 10 years ago. We`re
already going to have 12,000 stores closed this year. So, it`ll hollow out
retail and hurt jobs and actually the shoppers and taxpayers will pay more
because you`ll lose the commercial property taxes and you`ll lose the sales
tax which is a third of all local and state revenue.

GRIFFETH: Quickly before I let you go here, the couple of justices
mentioned as well. They wonder whether this is even in their jurisdiction
and Ylan mentioned that Congress has brought up a few bills to change that
law doesn`t it belong in Congress? It`s where they make laws and taxes.

FLICKINGER: It does belong in Congress, Bill, but at the same time, Judge
Kennedy deserves constructive credit for bringing this to the court because
it was a court decision as you and Sue reported, 25 years ago on a catalog
business, that`s real retail regression when all this was less than $200
billion. Now, it`s over $5 trillion and very important for the economic
future viability of retail in the U.S.

HERERA: Well, we`ll know in June one way or another. Burt, thank you so

FLICKINGER: Keep our fingers crossed for the best.

HERERA: Burt Flickinger with Strategic Resource Group.


GRIFFETH: Sue, CSX (NYSE:CSX) tops expectations and that is where we begin
tonight`s “Market Focus”.

After the bell today, the railroad operator said a decline in operating
costs helped profits rise. Companies revenue inch higher as well. Shares
of CSX (NYSE:CSX) initially popped in the after-hours trading, the end of
the regular session up a fraction at $56.57.

Also out after the bail tonight, United Continental reported results that
improve from a year ago. The company also gave earnings guidance for 2018
that was in line with expectations. Shares of United Continental initially
soared in the afterhours. They finished the regular session up a tick at

And, Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) which makes robotic medical devices
reported a rise in profits. After the bell today, the company said that
strong demand for its Da Vinci system helped the company top expectations.
Shares were initially higher in the after-hours. They ended the regular
session up 4 percent at $435.45.

HERERA: Tesla said it was temporarily halting production of its model
electric vehicle as that automaker continues to face manufacturing
challenges. Tesla said it wants to address those assembly line issues, so
it can ramp up production. Tesla shares closed down more than 1 percent to

The FDA is optimistic about GW Pharma`s experimental epilepsy medication,
which is derived from marijuana. The FDA said the treatment in combination
with another drug was effective at reducing the number of seizures a
patient`s experienced during three study trials. The favorable review
makes a potential approval of that drug more likely. Shares of GW Pharma
jumped 11 percent to $134.13.

And, activist hedge fund Starboard Value recently said it was seeking for
board seats at Newell Brands. Today`s Starboard CEO said the maker of
Sharpie markers is undervalued, adding its merger with consumer products
company Jardin was a mistake.


JEFFREY SMITH, STARBOARD VALUE CEO: It`s a great company, great employees.
Unfortunately, it`s — you know, it lost its way with this with this merger
and it didn`t go as well as it should have and $10 billion — $10 billion
of value has been destroyed since the merger. The company deserves better,
the shareholders deserve better and frankly the shareholders have asked us
to continue in order to try and put some better people on the board and
improve the case for change and the case for operational change and
improvement at the company.


HERERA: Shares of Newell Brands rose 4 percent to $27.37.

GRIFFETH: Coming up, cyber threats are multiplying fast and the Department
of Homeland Security is outlining its plan of attack.


GRIFFETH: A new European Union proposal would force technology companies
to hand over user data to law enforcement officials. The proposal involves
data like emails, text messages and pictures that is stored on servers
outside the block. Now, officials say the proposed law is necessary
because the current legal procedure between countries to obtain electronic
evidence takes months.

HERERA: The secretary of homeland security is focused on cyber threats.
The number of attacks is growing and they`re becoming increasingly
sophisticated, targeting governments, private companies and even

Deirdre Bosa reports from San Francisco on the secretary`s plan to strike


(NYSE:EFX) breach, WannaCry ransomware, NotPetya attack, and Facebook`s
Cambridge Analytica scandal — last year, nearly half of all Americans had
sensitive personal information exposed online as a result of these major
attacks. And the threat now spans from government to private companies to
our homes and offices.

Against this backdrop, the RSA Computer Security Conference here in San
Francisco this year kicked off with a keynote from Department of Homeland
Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, where she laid out the agency`s cyber

getting dimmer not brighter. I hate to be the Debbie Downer of cyber
conferences, but I begin each morning with an intel briefing that covers
everything from terrorist plots to drug smuggling, and I see, as many of
you do, that digital threats are multiplying faster than we can keep up in
many cases.

BOSA: She said that her department is adopting a more proactive approach
in response to the evolving threat and that offensive cyber attacks are on
the table and talks with other U.S. government agencies. At the same time,
a group of more than 30 tech companies led by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) signed an accord today that pledge to protect people
from malicious cyber attacks. They also vowed not to aid governments,
including that of the United States to carry out cyber attacks, but
committed to come to the aid of nation on the receiving end of an attack.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) president Brad Smith has played a major role in the
effort and for years has argued that the world needs a digital Geneva
Convention that would set norms for cyberspace behavior.

BRAD SMITH, MICROSOFT PRESIDENT: It pledges us to strengthen defense to
protect customers everywhere. It also says we won`t help governments
launch cyber attacks as you said against innocent citizens and enterprises.
This is a world where we are seeing some governments do that and we`re
taking a principled approach and say that`s not something that we want to

BOSA: Secretary Nielsen welcomed the initiative from the private sector
but cautioned against a digital Bill of Rights for citizens, saying it
depended on what was in it. But that a digital norm of responsibility is

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Deirdre Bosa, San Francisco.


GRIFFETH: Finally, tonight, an IRS nightmare on Tax Day. Wouldn`t you
know? For the most part of the day, parts of the IRS Website were down.
Those who tried to pay their tax bill due today directly with their bank
account got an error message instead. The agency`s acting commissioner
just happened to be on Capitol Hill today. He told lawmakers that there
were also problems if you were filing with software from H&R Block
(NYSE:HRB) and TurboTax.

But if you are one of the many procrastinators, there is some relief.
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin reported late today that those affected will get
an extension and the agency is working to get the site back up and running.
We hope.

HERERA: We certainly hope.

Before we go, here`s another look at the rally on Wall Street today. The
Dow advanced 213 points. The Nasdaq added 124. S&P 500 was up 28.

Have you filed?

GRIFFETH: I certainly have.

HERERA: I have too. Thank goodness.

That does it for us tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for joining us.

GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffith. Have a great evening. Get those taxes in.
See you tomorrow.


Nightly Business Report transcripts and video are available on-line post
broadcast at 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) 2018 CNBC, Inc.


This entry was posted in Transcripts. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply