SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Golden sales at the Golden
Arches. Appetite for McDonald`s was strong, and investors ate up the stock
as the CEO solidifies the company`s turn around.
BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Ambitious deal. Sprint and
T-Mobile reach an agreement to merge, potentially reshaping the wireless
market if regulators allow it.
HERERA: Feeling crabby? Why one industry is getting pinched just as it
enters its busy season.
Those stories and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Monday, April
GRIFFETH: And we bid you good evening, everybody.
April is now in the books. Stocks finished the day — the month with
gains, making the first month that we`ve seen positive in the past three
for the major averages. And it comes despite a pull back in the market
today. Stocks were a bit lower today by the technology and telecom sectors
despite some strong earnings and a number of announced mergers.
When all was said and done, today, the Dow fell by 148 points. It was up
180 at one time but it finished at 24,163. The NASDAQ was down 53 points.
The S&P dropped 21. But as we mentioned, all of the major averages were
higher for the month.
HERERA: Though strong earnings we just mentioned include McDonald`s, which
was a bright spot in the market today. The world`s largest fast food chain
served up a strong quarter and it did it in part by raising prices. That
raised the stock price by more than 5.5 percent in trading today.
Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG) takes a look at how McDonald`s is putting the gold
back in the Golden Arches.
KATE ROGERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: McDonald`s turn around
is going strong under CEO Bill Easterbrook. Both earnings and revenues
topped analysts` estimates and global store sales blew by four caps, up 5-
1/2 percent. Menu price increases on some items got customers to spend
more. But McDonald`s was also able to learn customers with deep discounts
using it`s $1, $2, $3 value menu, $1 McCafe beverages and $2 McPick 2
R.J. HOTTOVY, MORNINGSTAR SENIOR RESTAURANT AND RETAIL ANALYST: The
company needs a national value program and that`s what we see in the $1,
$2, $3 platform. That`s going to be what drives traffic to the restaurant,
get people in the door, but ultimately what we`re seeing is multiple items
being purchased there and that the average transaction size goes up. Our
company is taking its price point up on some of the higher end, more
premium items. I think that`s a good balance.
ROGERS: Other changes include a move into fresh, not frozen beef for
quarter pounder burgers set to reach 14,000 locations in the U.S. by early
May. The company has been working to upgrade its menu and be more
transparent about ingredients in recent months, even ditching antibiotics
from its Chicken McNuggets and removing soda from Happy Meals.
HOTTOVY: The idea that the company is being more transparent, and moving
to more authentic and national products. I think that`s really resonating
with U.S. consumers, and probably hasn`t gotten the amount of attention it
deserves. That`s something that the U.S. consumer has definitely believe
we`ve seen a shift in the U.S. consumer certainly demand for that at this
point. I think McDonald`s is meeting that.
ROGERS: Beyond that, McDonald`s is working to modernize its restaurants
with table service and kiosk technology in 3,000 U.S. locations,
accelerating the rollout with its tax savings. Its partnership with Uber
eats with delivery available in more than 11,000 restaurants globally also
contributed to growth in the quarter.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG).
GRIFFETH: Let`s talk more about what`s working for the fast food chain and
what may lie ahead.
Joining us tonight, David Palmer. He`s managing director and restaurant
and food analyst at RBC Capital Markets.
Thanks for joining us tonight, David.
DAVID PALMER, MANAGING DIRECTOR AND RESTAURANT AND FOOD ANALYST, RBC
CAPITAL MARKETS: Happy to join you.
GRIFFETH: And actually, sales over seas were better than they were in the
U.S., weren`t they?
PALMER: They were very strong overseas. They`ve bundled together many of
their lead markets in a segment and those include some of Europe, Canada,
Australia. And those markets had 8 percent same store sales growth. So,
Many of those markets are doing the stuff that the U.S. will be doing or is
doing now. They`re essentially seeing the future there with many of the
upgraded assets and food, and they hope that`s where McDonald`s USA is in
one to two years.
HERERA: David, you know, the $1, $2, $3 meal, what impact did that have on
its results today? And you say one of the things that you were watching
very closely was so called check growth. What does that mean and why did
you like it?
PALMER: Well, they rolled out a new value platform, the $1, $2, $3 menu.
And that menu was arguably not quite the success that they were hoping it
would be. They said it was within expectation but their traffic was
negative in the quarter.
Perhaps that value platform will build in popularity over time and it will
help their traffic trends from here as they add the premium items they`re
going to be doing. For instance, they`re going to be doing fresh quarter
pounders hot off the grill made to order burgers, and that`s really tested
great and we`re hoping that by the end of the second quarter we`ll have the
benefit of both traffic and check.
But for now, this 1, 2, 3 menu has had mixed results, and it`s been causing
the stock to bounce around a bit in the near term.
GRIFFETH: Fresh beef, more transparency on the ingredients there,
electronic payments. They`ve upgraded the stores, all to try and beat
these upstarts that have been doing this anyway in the fast food business
and the fast casual business.
What remains to be done for McDonald`s now?
PALMER: Well, they`re going to finish this off because they`re doing about
1,000 experience of the future restaurants, all these digital conveniences
are being added. About 1,000 restaurants per quarter and that`s going to
be done over the next two years. By the end of 2019, the large majority of
restaurants are over 12,000 of the 14,000 in the U.S. are going to be done
at that time, and at that point, these guys are going to have a lot of
digital conveniences both ordering wherever you want but also getting it
wherever you want with the delivery back home.
And this is going to make them ready for the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) future
that we`re seeing, which is, of course, that people want to be able to get
their food at home and they also with the millennials hitting the family
years, they want to have those real ingredients. So this is — this is
really about McDonald`s preparing themselves for the next generation.
HERERA: You mentioned the, you know, fresh food. That brings us to fresh
beef and they`re launching it at kind of the beginning of the — or end the
spring, beginning of summer. What is the risk of that particular move, if
PALMER: Well, the risk is going to be on the operations side, because they
are truly making this, they`re going to call it hot off the grill. But
it`s really going to be cooked for you and by being fresh, it has less cook
time. But still that`s 90 seconds or so, and you can imagine them telling
you to pull up to a curbside lane if you`re in a drive through, but if it`s
not quite ready.
What happens if three or four of those orders come in at successions. So,
an operations challenge could happen. But that would be a rich man`s
problem if they`re having just too much of this being ordered, because
that`s a nice, premium product. And for years, one of the problems has
been their premium side of menu not doing as well as the fast casuals.
GRIFFETH: Before we let you go, I can hear the shareholders out there,
they like what they hear right now about all the fresh beef and things, but
they care about the dividend. Is it going up, do you think?
PALMER: That`s actually pretty good news for these guys. Their capex,
their cap expenditures are elevated clip for the next two years which will
keep their dividend growing with earnings, but after that point, you could
see a nice step change in the dividends. So, for long-term shareholders,
this is going to be a nice dividend story over the next three plus years.
GRIFFETH: David Palmer with RBC Capital Markets, good to see you. Thanks
for joining us again.
PALMER: Thank you.
HERERA: As we mentioned earlier, the telecom sector suffered a sharp pull
back, despite T-Mobile`s agreement to buy Sprint for more than $26 billion.
On Friday, we told you a deal was near and today it was made official. But
Wall Street appears a bit skeptical that the deal will actually get federal
approval. Sprint shares fell 13 percent. T-Mobile was also lower.
Julia Boorstin has more.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: T-Mobile is buying
Sprint for an all stock deal worth $26.5 billion. The third and fourth
largest wireless companies together are creating a giant which will be
called T-Mobile, will have over 120 million customers.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere, who will run the combined company, saying this
deal will allow it to truly compete with even larger AT&T (NYSE:T) and
Verizon (NYSE:VZ). He says that will be a good thing for consumers.
JOHN LEGERE, T-MOBILE CEO: Take that competition and super charge it. You
know, put it on faster speeds, bigger scale, bring lower prices. Take that
I — my commitment, our sole commitment is if you liked that competition
before, you`re going to love what`s coming with this one.
BOORSTIN: But the merger is not a sure thing. Consumer groups caution
that a Sprint/T-Mobile combination would harm consumers by reducing
competition. The Department of Justice is likely to take a hard look at
the implications of the deal.
WALTER PIECYK, BTIG ANALYST: I know regulators are going to look at this
in 4 to 3 and people looking at their wireless that are going higher.
There`s been price increases. Promotions have been down for the iPhone.
It doesn`t look like a competitive market and that`s what the regulator may
BOORSTIN: But Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure who will serve on the board of the
combined company says they`ll argue to regulators that the deal will create
thousands of jobs and is necessary for the U.S. to catch up with China,
which is ahead with the next generation 5G wireless.
MARCELO CLAURE, SPRINT CEO: What makes this merger unique is we`re set to
build the world`s most advanced 5G network and the combination of our
company to allow us to do that. We`ve made a commitment that few people
make, that we`re actually going to offer the best products, best services
at the lower prices. So, we plan to make this market more competitive.
BOORSTIN: Still, there are big challenges ahead. The government blocked a
merger of AT&T (NYSE:T) and T-mobile back in 2011, and in 2014, Spring and
T-Mobile abandoned a previous plan combined. But the two companies are
hopeful the regulatory environment has changed, saying they are hoping the
deal will close in the first half of next year.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.
GRIFFETH: And Sprint/T-Mobile was not the only deal announced today. You
had Marathon Petroleum saying it was buying rival Andeavor for $23 billion.
That will create the largest American oil refiner. Shares of Andeavor rose
by 13 percent today, while marathon was up a fraction.
And then there`s Walmart, which is selling its U.K. supermarket business
for about $10 billion. News of that deal sent shares of Walmart up more
than 1 percent.
HERERA: And that`s not all. Marriott Vacations Worldwide is buying
timeshare operator ILG for $4.7 billion in cash and stock. Shares of ILG
rose 4 percent while Marriott Vacations fell nearly 9 percent.
And logistics company Prologis is acquiring smaller rival DCT Industrial
Trust (NYSE:DCT) in a nearly $8.5 billion all-stock transaction. Shares of
DCT climbed 11 percent, while Prologis shares were off 2 percent on the
GRIFFETH: Inflation hit an important milestone last month. The Federal
Reserve`s preferred inflation barometer rose 2 percent from a year earlier.
It is the first time in more than a year that the so-called Price Index for
Personal Consumption Expenditures or PCE achieved the Central Bank`s
target. Economists say the latest target offers fresh evidence that the
long economic expansion is finally lifting consumer prices.
HERERA: Not only has inflation hit a milestone but so has the economic
expansion and that could be good news for the stock market.
Steve Liesman explains.
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The current economic
expansion turns 106, 106 months old, and tying it for the second longest in
U.S. history. When this expansion began in 2009 following the deep
downturn from the financial crisis, the iPad was still a year away from
being released. At eight years and ten months old, the current upturn ties
with the expansion that ran from 1961 to 1969.
It`s almost twice as long as the average expansion but it has another 14
months to break the record held by economic boom that ran from `91 to 2001.
But, of course, that didn`t end well.
Stocks began rallying a few months before the expansion started and have
continued rising. They accelerated to the upside with the election of
President Trump, but it hit a spot of volatility of late. In the `61 to
`69 upturn, stocks gained only about 18 percent. They surged 244 percent
in `91 to `01 expansion, but they`re up more than 180 percent so far this
This has been a growth run like no other. Inflation has averaged about
half the rate of a typical expansion. Unemployment is higher because it`s
surged in the recession. It`s now come down to the lowest levels since
2001. And growth has averaged only half the level of the average
Amid it all, the Federal Reserve has kept rates well below the level that
prevailed in other upturns.
So, will it last? Rates remain low but now they`re rising. Tax cuts can
extend the economics expansion but deficits are rising as well. Banks are
well-capitalized, but asset values are high. Most economists think the
expansion will continue and even take a run at being the longest on record
but it`s shortly after that, later in 2019 or 2020 when many worry that bad
luck or the excesses borne of good times or even just time itself will
catch up with this 106-month-old upturn that has not yet shown its age.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.
HERERA: And the Federal Reserve begins its two-day policy meeting
tomorrow. The Central Bank is widely expected to keep interest rates
steady at the conclusion of the meeting on Wednesday.
Time to take a look at some of today`s upgrades and downgrades. We begin
with Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC)`s rating which was raised to outperform from
under perform in Macquarie. The analyst there has cited an attractive
stock valuation following a challenging few years for the bank which is
certainly an understatement. The price target $61. That stock finished
the day fractionally lower at $51.96.
Spirit airlines saw its rating raise to overweight from underweight by
JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM). The firm cited evaluation as well. And a more
favorable overall cost structure amid rising fuel prices. That price
target now at $46. Shares of spirit rose 23 cents to $35.72.
HERERA: That same JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) airline analyst lowered his rating
on JetBlue to neutral from overweight. The analyst cites the lack of
progress and talks with JetBlue`s pilot`s union. The price is 22 and
shares were lower at $19.19.
Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL)`s rating was cut to equal from overweight by
Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS). The analyst cites a slowdown in its emerging
market operations. The price target there is $69. The stock was off 2
percent to $65.23.
GRIFFETH: Still ahead, why home buyers are not necessarily springing into
action during the spring selling season.
HERERA: Oil prices rose today after Israel`s Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu claimed to have new information that shows Iran ran a secret
program to produce nuclear weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: These files conclusively proof
that Iran is braze generally lying when it says it never had a nuclear
weapons program. The files prove that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: Some say the prime minister`s information is not new, but the
comments sent oil prices higher to above $68 a barrel. President Trump has
until May 12th to make a decision on the Iran nuclear deal.
GRIFFETH: The Department of Justice is urging the judge overseeing the
AT&T (NYSE:T)/Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) antitrust case to at least consider
alternative remedies if he does not block the proposed merger. During his
closing arguments today, that attorney for the government said that the
judge should consider allowing AT&T (NYSE:T) to buy parts of Time Warner
(NYSE:TWX) but not the Turner Cable Television channels. He also implied
that other structural changes to the deal could be made to soften the
impact on consumers.
HERERA: Boeing (NYSE:BA) is one of the best performing Dow stocks this
year and it was the top performer in the blue chip index last year. Now
that company is looking to soar even higher. Not simply by delivering more
planes and fighter jets or rockets, instead Boeing (NYSE:BA) is targeting
Phil LeBeau has more.
PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Boeing (NYSE:BA) CEO
Dennis Muilenburg had plenty of reasons to smile at the aerospace giant`s
annual meeting in Chicago. After all, production of commercial airplanes
is running at a record rate and defense orders are rising. But it`s the
global services business, which includes everything from supply chain
management to digital services, that Muilenburg is keen to develop.
DENNIS MUILENBURG, BOEING CHAIRMAN & CEO: We`re continue to focus in a few
primary areas. One is to grow our services business so where we can find
strategic acquisitions that complement our organic investment in services.
That`s a top priority.
LEBEAU: The service businesses made up 16 percent of Boeing (NYSE:BA)`s
record setting revenue last year. It`s far smaller than the defense and
commercial airplane operations. And those two divisions continue to grow
at healthy clips. In fact, Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737, its most popular
commercial airplane, has a backlog that is still growing so Boeing
(NYSE:BA) may have to increase production even more than already scheduled
in order to keep up with demand.
MUILENBURG: The general trend here is upward pressure and we believe we
have the capacity to go higher if we need to.
LEBEAU: The challenge for Muilenburg and his team will be developing and
acquiring new businesses while making sure the traditional operations don`t
miss a beat. If Boeing (NYSE:BA) can do both, then the stock is primed to
soar even higher.
Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Chicago.
GRIFFETH: Arconic slashes its profits for the year. And that`s where we
begin tonight`s market focus. The metals maker said the rise in the
aluminum prices caused by new import tariffs would cut into earnings growth
this year, but the company does see revenue rising at a faster clip. For
the latest quarter by the way, Arconic topped expectations, but investors
clearly focused on that weaker profit outlook, sending shares down 20
percent to $17.81.
Meanwhile, AK Steel topped expectations as higher selling prices helped
offset a decline in shipments. The company said that it expects to sell
more product this quarter, thanks to rising demand for steel from the
automotive and manufacturing industries. Shares of AK Steel fell 3 percent
though to $4.59.
And strong demand for Botox led to earnings beat for drug maker Allergan
(NYSE:AGN). The company also increased its four-year outlook at a time
when the company`s future remains unclear. In an effort to improve
Allergan (NYSE:AGN)`s stock price, the board has been considering an array
of options, including selling units, acquisitions, and even splitting up
the business. But today, the CEO said he was not a proponent of a major
strategy shift and shares fell as a result by 5 percent to $153.65.
HERERA: Diamond Offshore said an increase in new drilling contracts helped
it report a smaller than expected loss. Revenue fell but that also beat
estimates. The company also it`s seeing some persistent headwinds in its
floating rig division. Shares fell more than 3 percent to $18.39.
Weight loss company Nutrisystem topped expectations after the bell. The
company said results were helped by strength in its direct to consumer
business. The company also raised its full year guidance. Shares
initially popped in after hours and also ended the regular day up 1-1/2
percent to $29 even.
GRIFFETH: Sue, the number of signed contracts to purchase existing homes
barely budged in March, and that was before the rise in mortgage rates.
So, what will the rest of the spring market look like, especially for the
youngest of buyers?
Diana Olick reports for us tonight.
DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: March was the official
start of spring, but home buyers didn`t exactly spring into action.
Pending home sales, which measures signed contracts for existing homes,
were basically flat compared to February and 3 percent lower compared to
March of last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. It
was the third straight month of annual decline. The realtors continue to
blame the severe shortage of homes for sale, as well as weakening
affordability. Sky high prices have more borrowers putting less down on
After holding steady for two years, the share of conventional loans backed
by Fannie Mae with down payments of less than 10 percent rose last year and
the expectation is it will move even higher this year.
LAWRENCE YUN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS CHIEF ECONOMIST: I think we
are beginning to see that people are struggling to come up with down
payment and, hence, going for the minimum that is needed.
OLICK: Millennials are getting hit hardest having to stretch their budgets
the most because there are so few entry-level homes for sale. Millennials
were the primary drivers of homeownership last year but fell back in the
first quarter of this year.
GLENN KELMAN, REDFIN CEO: American workers are looking for affordable
homes right now wherever they can find them. It has become a real crisis.
OLICK: Now, they`re facing higher mortgage rates as well. The weak March
sales numbers came in even before rates jumped at the start of April.
Kelman says maybe higher rates will cool demand and actually help.
KELMAN: If there were two buyers for every house instead of three, it
might actually be healthy for the market.
OLICK: Home prices usually lag sales by a few months but sales have
weakened for a while and prices just continue to surge higher in this
cycle. This supply crisis is now bordering on historic, changing the rules
of how housing generally works and pushing more potential buyers out of the
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in Washington.
HERERA: Coming up, a shortage of workers is leaving one industry feeling
GRIFFETH: Detroit is no longer under state oversight, allowing the city to
regain control of its finances. The decision by the Financial Review
Commission comes more than three years after the Motor City emerged from
the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. City officials recently
reported three consecutive budget surpluses.
HERERA: Well, as the weather gets warmer, you can bet that the crabbers
along Maryland`s eastern shore are preparing for their season. But this
year, they`re facing a major obstacle, not enough workers because of
tighter restrictions on immigration. Ylan Mui has our story.
YLAN MUI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Crabbers have worked the
docks here on Hooper`s Island, Maryland, for generations, hauling in live
crabs and picking (INAUDIBLE).
To get that famous jumbo lunch meat, D.W. Hall relies on about two dozen
women from Mexico to pick it by hand. The workers are here on temporary H-
2B visas. Owner Bryan Hall said he was lucky to get their paperwork
approved. There were so many applications he had to enter a federal
BRYAN HALL, D.W. HALL AND SONS OWNER: We got lucky. We got our visa is.
Without them we`d be out of business. We had to shut our doors.
MUI: That`s what happened down the street at Russell Hall where instead of
cracking claws, all you can hear is the ticking of the clock.
HARRY PHILLIPS, RUSSELL HALL OWNER: As you see, we have an empty picking
room. Nobody here.
MUI: Harry Phillips runs the seafood plant but he`s not sure for how much
PHILLIPS: This is a killer. We are starting a new building, knowing we
were going to get our workers. We`ve always gotten them in the past and
right now, I can almost jump overboard because, what am I going to do?
MUI: Businesses here say they can`t find locals to take these jobs. The
work can be grueling. The women protect their fingers with tape and the
positions only last a few months, but one of the country`s biggest labor
unions says that argument doesn`t hold water.
WILLIAM SPRIGGS, AFL-CIO CHIEF ECONOMIST: What you have is employers who
need to get approval for the visas very early in the year claiming in
January. I can`t find someone who wants to do this job in the summer and
then they bring in foreign workers and then when Americans go to look for
the job in the summer, it`s, oh, well, I already have people so you can`t
MUI: But out on Hopper`s Island, Aubrey Vincent has already invested more
than $50,000 in new equipment for workers who may never show up.
AUBREY VINCENT, LINDY`S SEAFOOD CO-OWNER: Everything pretty much in this
area is on hold including, we`ve got a boiler over in this area that we had
purchased in order to increase our capacity. Unfortunately, now, we`ve
also put a hold on this.
MUI: The Department of Homeland Security says it does plan to increase the
number of visas next month, but we don`t know by how many. And the
industry is worried it will be too little too late.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Ylan Mui at the seafood market in
GRIFFETH: Finally tonight, as expected, it was a record weekend at the box
office. “Avengers: Infinity War” pulled in an eye-popping $630 million
worldwide during its debut, giving Disney (NYSE:DIS) the largest global and
North American debuts ever. The movie opened almost everywhere over the
weekend except in China. It opens in that country in mid-May.
HERERA: Here`s another look at the day on Wall Street. The Dow fell 148
points, the NASDAQ was off 53, S&P 500 dropped 21. Despite today`s
declines, some major averages were all higher for the month.
And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for
GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffeth. Have a great evening. See you tomorrow.
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