BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Stocks rebound. The Dow
soars more than 300 points as the bulls beat back the bears for control of
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Major obstacles. Why some of
America`s most beloved consumer brands are now attached to Wall Street`s
most hated stocks.
GRIFFETH: Private eye. The new role investigators are now playing in
boardrooms across the country.
Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this
Wednesday, May 30th.
HERERA: Good evening, everybody. And welcome.
What a difference a day makes. Stocks rocketed higher at the opening bell
and really never looked back, recovering much of yesterday`s losses. Bank
stocks rallied, energy shared soared and small caps hit a record, as
investor concerned over a political crisis in Italy faded.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 306 points to 24,667, the Nasdaq
was up 65, and the S&P 500 rose 34.
GRIFFETH: Oil prices also gained ground, notching their first gain in six
sessions. A report that OPEC will keep crude production curbs in place at
least until the end of this year helped reverse the commodity`s recent
slide on fears about higher production. Domestic crude rose about 2
percent today, settling above $68 a barrel.
HERERA: Oil prices may have ended higher today, but they`re down about 5
percent for the week. And the rise in rates that we`ve been telling you
about have also begun to cool. So, does this quickly-changing narrative
signal a pause or a fundamental shift in the market?
Joining us to offer his insights is Sandy Villere, portfolio manager of the
Villere Balanced Fund.
Welcome back, Sandy. Nice to see you again.
SANDY VILLERE, VILLERE BALANCED FUND PORTFOLIO MANAGER: Thanks, Sue.
HERERA: So, which is it — is it a pause in an overall upside trajectory
or is it a fundamental shift in the way the market is valuing things?
VILLERE: Now, I think it is a pause. You remember we started the year at
246 on the 10-year. We went all the way up to 312. Now we`re back to 285
on the ten-year.
So, I think that that`s a little bit of a pullback but I think rates as the
Fed continues to raise this year are going to put upward pressure on
interest rates. I think you`re seeing that play out in the market, you`re
seeing that with small caps, up about 7-1/2 percent year to date, that tend
to do better in a rising interest rate environment versus large caps, like
the S&P, that`s only up about 1-1/2 percent this year.
Remember, the larger cap multinationals in the S&P tend to export more
expensive good and services. So when interest rates go up, the dollar goes
up which again favors small caps. So, I think small caps can be the place
to be for the rest of 2018.
GRIFFETH: But, you know, there is a huge difference between investing in a
rising interest rate environment and a declining interest rate environment.
So, especially if you`re investing for income. So, what`s an investor who
is looking for income to do right now do you think?
VILLERE: That`s a very tough question right now because if you look at, if
you look at the 10-year and it was right around, let`s say it`s when right
around 3 percent, that`s one scenario. And then you have, on the other
hand, some good income stocks, such as Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) and Kraft
(NYSE:KFT) Heinz, these are all are paying 3 percent dividend yields. But
what you see in 2018 is investors now shifting as rates have come up — as
bond rates have come up from the Procter & Gambles of the world to bonds.
And so, I think, you know, Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) is down about 25
percent year to date. So, I would — I would have some exposure to stocks
and bonds such as in my balance fund where it`s about 70-30 stocks to
HERERA: On that note, thanks for the advice, Sandy. We appreciate it.
Sandy Villere with the Villere Balanced Fund.
VILLERE: Thanks, Sue.
GRIFFETH: Well, one issue that still gets the market`s attention is trade.
And as we reported yesterday, the White House has revived its plan —
revived its plan to move ahead with tariffs on some Chinese goods.
And as Eunice Yoon reports for us now, the response from Beijing was swift
and it was sharp.
EUNICE YOON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: President Trump`s
decision on tariffs isn`t going down very well in China. Soon after the
White House issued a statement, the commerce ministry responded, saying, we
are surprised by the strategic statement released by the White House. At
the same time, it`s half expected.
And today, the foreign ministry said, an international relationships every
time you change, every time you break a promise, the country`s credibility
is damaged. Officially, both ministries said that China wants the U.S. to
meet them halfway in the spirit of the joint statement. However, I spoke
with one official on the Chinese side who`s familiar with the trade talks
and he said that the most important thing that the U.S. and China need to
do is establish mutual trust, but that this latest move isn`t helping.
The Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will be visiting China this weekend to
continue trade talks. Advanced teams are here in Beijing to work out the
details. The official said that the Trump administration strategy appears
to be to pressure the Chinese.
As for whether China will retaliate, the foreign ministry commented on
that, saying China doesn`t want a trade war, but we won`t hide from one.
If the U.S. insists on being reckless, China will firmly take action to
safeguard its legitimate interests.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon in Beijing.
HERERA: Meantime, a trade deadline looms with the European Union, another
key trading partner. Tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are scheduled
to take effect on Friday. And there are reports tonight that the U.S. will
impose those import tariffs, and it comes as trade officials met on the
sideline of the OECD meeting in Paris.
Joumanna Bercetche is there.
JOUMANNA BERCETCHE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: We`re at the
OECD forum in Paris, where today, the OECD released their updated economic
projections for the world economy, showing a growth rebounding to 3.9
Now, this is the strongest period of growth the world economy has
experienced in years. However, they have cited some clouds on the horizon,
some rifts that policymakers need to be mindful of. And one of them was
Now, this is coming at a very interesting time for Europe because on June
the 1st, the temporary tariff exemptions that were applied from the U.S. on
E.U. imports are set to expire and the expectation is that they may not be
renewed. Now, on the sidelines of this meeting, we know that Cecilia
Malmstrom, who is the European trade commissioner, also met with her
counterpart, the U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and did have
discussions. However, neither one of them have commented on what the final
tariff decision is going to look like.
But in remarks earlier today, Mr. Ross did say that the E.U. is the only
trading partner that has said they will not be willing to engage in
discussions so long as tariffs do end up getting applied. Now, of course,
all of this comes at a time when policymakers have been discussing next
steps on multilateralism and how to improve to multilateralism to make it
more inclusive and to make it more fair.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Joumanna Bercetche, in Paris, France.
GRIFFETH: Meanwhile, economic growth was revised slightly lower here for
the first quarter of the year. In its latest revision, the government said
this morning that the economy grew at a 2.2 percent annual rate between
January and March, down from the previous estimate of 2.3 percent.
Economists say that businesses and consumers slowed their spending it`s
had, but most are expected to see a solid rebound during this current
HERERA: U.S. businesses added to their payrolls in May. According to the
latest ADP survey, private payrolls grew by 178,000, thanks to strong
hiring in construction, education and health care. That report suggests
that the job market remains healthy, but might be slowing just slightly as
the pool of available workers dwindles.
GRIFFETH: The Federal Reserve is refining a rule that governs trading at
bank. The central bank is proposing a change to the so-called Volcker rule
that makes it less of a one-size-fits-all. The move would replace — it
would place the greatest restrictions on banks that do the most trading.
Banks that do less trading would face fewer regulations.
This rule, which is, as you know, a part of the Dodd-Frank banking law that
was adopted after the financial crisis, has often been criticized by Wall
Street as being too onerous and harmful to the functioning of the markets.
HERERA: Well, the latest survey from the Federal Reserve casts an upbeat
view on the economy. The Fed`s Beige Book which is an anecdotal look at
the economy across the country points to a moderate pickup in activity this
Hampton Pearson has more.
HAMPTON PEARSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The latest Federal
Reserve snapshot, the Beige Book, finds economic activity expanded
moderately in late April and early May. Manufacturing really leading the
way, shifting into high gear with more than half the districts reporting a
pickup and one-third classifying activity as strong.
However, on the other side, overall consumer spending was characterized as
soft. And there were also some contacts from around the country, nothing
uncertainty about international trade policy.
All in all, it`s part of what economists see as a mixed economy with some
concerns on the horizon.
BILL STONE, STONE INVESTMENT PARTNERS: The good news is the Fed probably
doesn`t have to move super fast to raise rates. Now, they`re going to
almost surely raise rates in June, but of course, if they go too fast,
that`s when the market gets nervous.
PEARSON: But it`s still all about labor markets. They remain tight across
the country with reports of difficulties filling jobs across a variety of
skill levels, shortages of qualified workers, including truck drivers,
carpenters, electricians, even information technology professionals. Of
course, many firms responding to those talent shortages by increasing wages
and compensation packages.
But, however, the Fed still says overall wage pressures in the aggregate
remain modest. That`s leading economists to see no alarm bells for the Fed
when it comes to future monetary policy.
JOHN STOLTZFUS, OPPENHEIMER ASSET MGMT: Wage growth has been extremely
modest relative to other times when we`ve had economic expansion post a
crisis and recovery period.
PEARSON: The next and perhaps most important economic barometer, just two
days away, the all-important jobs report from the Labor Department on
Hampton Pearson, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, at the Federal Reserve.
GRIFFETH: Time to take a look now at some of today`s upgrades and
Dow component Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was downgraded to hold from buy at Maxim
Group. The analyst there calls the optimism over Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)`s
services business overblown and says the company`s subscription business
will disappoint investors. Price target now $200. That stock fell a
fraction to $187.50.
Fellow Dow component ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) saw its ratings raised to
outperform from sector perform at RBC Capital Markets. The analyst cites
the acceleration of the company`s investments in new energy products. The
price target: $100. The stock rose nearly 4 percent today to $81.50.
HERERA: AK Steel was downgraded to sell from neutral over at Goldman Sachs
(NYSE:GS). The analyst there cites increased competition with the
automotive business. The price target is $4. The stock closed just above
that level at $4.58.
Target (NYSE:TGT) was added to Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)`s top ideas list.
The analyst says the retailer will benefit from aging demographics. The
price target is $86. And the stock rose more than 2 percent to $73.47.
Still ahead, the future of the media industry according to those who run
HERERA: “Consumer Reports” reverses its recent decision and will now
recommend the Tesla Model 3. The recent update improved the car`s braking
distance by almost 20 feet. The Model 3 braking performance prevented the
car from initially getting a “Consumer Reports” recommendation. But
today`s move helped lift Tesla`s shares nearly 3 percent to finish the
trading day on the upside.
GRIFFETH: There is a new perk for Walmart employees. The retailer is now
offering pay for its workers to go back to school, as long as they get
degrees in business or supply chain management.
The country`s largest private employer is partnering with three
universities to offer these degrees to nearly 1.5 million part-time and
full-time employees. As the labor market tightens, Walmart clearly is
hoping that the program will keep those employees at the company. The
benefit was announced today at the start of Walmart`s annual shareholder
HERERA: At Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) shareholder meeting, CEO Jeff Bezos
acknowledged that the company has come under intense scrutiny this past
year and that more scrutiny is expected as the company grows. Protesters
gathered outside the meeting, pushing for the appointment of an independent
director to the board. A shareholder proposal to split the CEO and board
chair positions failed.
GRIFFETH: Twenty-First Century Fox shareholders are going to vote on the
proposed merger with Disney (NYSE:DIS) on July 10th. That puts pressure on
Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) to make a formal offer for Fox`s assets.
That deal and the future of the fast-changing industry was just one of the
topics at the Code Conference, which brings together the biggest players in
Julia Boorstin is there for us tonight.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: With leaders, the
biggest media and tech companies taking the stage at the Code Conference.
And a range of media megadeals pending, the question of why there`s
pressure to consolidate loomed large.
Twenty-First Century Fox CEO James Murdoch saying they see so much
opportunity in having greater scale. When pressed on Comcast
(NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS)`s plan to make a higher bid for Fox than Disney
(NYSE:DIS), he focused on progress on Disney (NYSE:DIS)`s acquisition.
JAMES MURDOCH, 21ST CENTURY FOX CEO: Essentially, we had an agreement with
Disney (NYSE:DIS) and we have an agreement with Disney (NYSE:DIS) which we
find very attractive for our shareholders. It`s an all stock agreement.
We think the prospects for the new firm are very strong.
And we think from a regulatory perspective and we thought as well in
December from a regulatory perspective, that you have a higher certainty of
close. So, when you weigh up all of those factors, that`s really what we
thought was the right thing to do. Now, whether or not — whether or not
the board is asked to consider a different offer from somebody else in the
future, we`ll deal with that as we go.
BOORSTIN: With AT&T (NYSE:T) awaiting a judge`s ruling on whether it will
be able to buy Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), AT&T (NYSE:T) CEO Randall Stephenson
saying consolidation is inevitable.
RANDALL STEPHENSON, CHAIRMAN AND CEO, AT&T (NYSE:T): Nobody knows what the
future is going to look like five or six years from now, but I think the
bet most people are making is, premium content is going to be very, very
relevant five or six years from now. A lot of bandwidth is going to be
required to make all that happen and there are going to be new kind of
business models surrounding this, particularly as it relates to ad-driven
type business models.
BOORSTIN: With AT&T (NYSE:T) looking to grow, it feels pressure from big
tech. One of those big tech companies, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), is feeling
the heat here at the Code Conference.
Fox CEO James Murdoch criticizing Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) ads and how it`s
been used as a platform for manipulation. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel took a dig
at Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) for copying its features but not for copying its
more stringent data protection policy.
EVAN SPIEGEL, SNAP CO-FOUNDER & CEO: What they`ve done is they changed
their products and I think they`ve actually changed their mission, right?
But I think fundamentally, they`re having a really hard time changing the
DNA of their campaign.
And the DNA of their company is all about having people compete with each
other online for attention.
BOORSTIN: Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) COO Sheryl Sandberg on stage with CTO Mike
Schroepfer responding by saying they`re taking responsibility and investing
big, even though it will hurt their bottom line, to make sure this doesn`t
SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, FACEBOOK: We can get better, we can be more
transparent. We can put a lot more resources and a lot more thought with
technology automation and people.
BOORSTIN: Sandberg and Schroepfer also talking about all the changes
they`ve made in the past two months and the ways they`re complying with new
European privacy regulations.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Rancho Palos Verdes,
HERERA: Sales impressed at Dick`s Sporting Goods, and that`s where we
begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The retailer reported stronger than expected earnings and revenue, quelling
fears that business performance would be impacted by the company`s decision
to stop selling guns. In fact, Dick`s said it thinks new customer visits
have increased as a result of that policy. The company also raised its
earnings guidance for the full year and the shares jumped nearly 26 percent
Michael Kors has reported earnings that topped expectations. But the
handbag maker`s full year profit outlook sparked some concerns. The
company said increased investment in its Jimmy Choo brand would be cutting
into earnings growth in 2018. So, the share sold off, down more than 11
percent to $60.41.
And DSW (NYSE:DSW) grew its sales and improved its margins in the latest
quarter. The shoe retailer also said it launched a new loyalty program
that it hopes will generate additional growth. The company didn`t update
its earnings guidance specifically for the year, however. And that
disappointed some investors. DSW (NYSE:DSW) shares finished down more than
5 percent to $24.61.
GRIFFETH: Watch maker Movado said that strong demand for many of its
brands helped overall sales edged past expectations. The company added
that e-commerce performance was a bright spot for the company in the
quarter. Movado also raised its four-year earnings forecast. Shares
ticked higher by 16 percent today to finish the day at $49.20.
And after the bell tonight, cloud software company Box reported a narrower
than expected loss and higher revenue. The company also gave guidance for
the current quarter that was ahead of street estimates. But still, shares
initially traded lower in the extended session, erasing a more than 1
percent gain that we saw when shares ended the regulation session at
HERERA: Big consumer brands are facing unprecedented challenges. We`ve
been telling you about familiar names, most recently, Campbell`s Soup, that
are seeing sales slide as they struggle to keep up with changing consumer
Tonight, Sara Eisen takes a closer look at the stumbles that have put these
well-known companies on the defensive.
SARA EISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Many of America`s best
known brands are hurting, from Playtex to Palmolive, Cheerios to Velveeta,
they`re facing real questions about how to stay relevant.
Take Campbell`s Soup, which is now in the middle of a strategic review
after the abrupt retirement of its CEO Denise Morrison. It represents a
lot of what`s going wrong at consumer companies, like missing key insights
about their customers, such as shift to eating soup as an appetizer instead
of a main course. The company didn`t innovate enough to address the
change, according to industry insiders.
Other companies have tried to catch up by buying successful smaller brands
that are growing, like General Mills (NYSE:GIS) buying Annie`s, known for
its organic mac and cheese, or Campbell`s Soup buying Bolthouse healthy
But they haven`t managed to learn from their acquisitions. Instead of
integrating the startup cultures into their existing products and
processes, the companies have absorbed the startups into their existing
bureaucratic cultures. They also haven`t been able to hold onto top talent
and founders after a few years of a transition, missing the opportunity to
have successful entrepreneurs who founded disruptive startups.
And the problem is bigger than just losing touch with their customers. The
big brands are also getting squeezed by a war between retailers with Amazon
(NASDAQ:AMZN)`s Whole Foods, Kroger (NYSE:KR), Walmart, all slashing prices
to compete, squeezing food margins.
But some venerable brands are managing to change with the times. Conagra,
for instance, has managed to revitalize its frozen food business.
KEN GOLDMAN, J.P. MORGAN SENIOR EQUITY ANALYST: Think about what frozen
entrees were ten years ago, you still call them TV dinners half the time.
Now, look at around, you`ll see these power bowls. Bowls themselves are
made up of biodegradable material. Companies like Conagra have done a
terrific job of making those brands more relevant.
EISEN: Estee Lauder, Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) and Unilever (NYSE:UN), according
to analyst Ali Dibadj of Bernstein have all managed to stay relevant with
the consumer as well, and have done a better job integrating acquisitions
and learning from them.
Unless companies start to adjust, this is a group that experts say could
feel more market pain, see big deals to cut costs and spin off brands and
many will be holding onto the past.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Sara Eisen.
GRIFFETH: Now, as a result of those missteps, investors no longer love
consumer staple stocks. They`re turning their backs on this once popular
And Mike Santoli has more for us on that tonight.
MIKE SANTOLI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Shares of the biggest
food and household product makers once considered safe and stable blue
chips are among the worst performers this year. Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB
(NYSE:CPF)), General Mills (NYSE:GIS) and Kraft (NYSE:KFT) Heinz are down
more than 20 percent in 2018, compared to slight gains for the broad
market. Only a small minority of analysts are recommending most of these
stocks, worried that recent declines in sales will only worsen as their
commodity costs rise and younger shoppers shun traditional supermarket
brands in favor of trendier, more natural offerings.
Just two years ago, these consumer staple stocks were favorites of
investors, coveted for their generous dividends compared to a low bond
yields, and cherished for their resilience in a slow growing economy.
Today, the focus is on a humming U.S. economy and companies managing to
grow profits rapidly.
This leaves a value minded investor with the question of whether these
stocks have become cheap and neglected enough to represent bargains. Based
on projected earnings for the coming year, Campbell`s, General Mills
(NYSE:GIS), and Kellogg (NYSE:K)`s have not be this inexpensive relative to
the broad market for more than 15 years. Procter and Gamble and Clorox
(NYSE:CLX) are cheaper than they`ve been in more than seven years on the
Looking cheap is no guarantee that the pain is over for investors in these
stocks, of course. Buying them now is a bet that companies can freshen
their brands to win over younger customers or improve results to mergers
and acquisitions. And correct or not, that`s a bet the Wall Street crowd
is increasingly unwilling to make.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Mike Santoli.
HERERA: Coming up, executive search takes on a whole new meaning now that
private investigators are involved.
GRIFFETH: Sir Martin Sorrell is starting a new venture, the founder and
former CEO of WPP (NASDAQ:WPPGY), has taken control of a shell company in
London with the hopes now of transforming it into a new marketing services
business. Now, that`s the same strategy that he used years ago to build
WPP (NASDAQ:WPPGY), the company from which he resigned abruptly just six
weeks ago. That departure occurred during an internal company
investigation. The results have yet to be disclosed.
HERERA: And there is a new player in corporate board rooms, the private
investigator. They`re being used to look into executives` past and by
doing so, they are altering the future of some companies.
Leslie Picker explains.
LESLIE PICKER, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: In the Me Too era,
allegations of predatory behavior bankrupted Harvey Weinstein`s company and
forced out Wynn founder Steve Wynn, sending the stock on a rollercoaster
ride. The stakes are high for corporations failing to root out sexual
harassment. So, they`ve turned in droves to private investigators.
DAN NARDELLO, NARDELLO & CO. CEO: An ounce of prevention really is worth a
pound of cure here, because the cost both in terms of potential drop in
stock price, legal and pr costs, possibility of the regulators getting
involved, they`re enormous compared with the relatively modest expenditure
in hiring folks like us to — in order to rule out this behavior.
PICKER: Nardello, a private investigator for 25 years, he says he`s seen
about 35 percent more client calls related to sexual misconduct over the
last six months.
NARDELLO: I have never seen a societal phenomenon that has had the impact
on our business as the Me Too movement and the post-Weinstein world.
PICKER: He says corporations and private equity firms are looking for help
in due diligence ahead of acquisitions. He`s also looking into the
background of potential board members and C-suite hires. And some clients
are seeking possibly predatory behavior in competitors, a move that one of
his clients calls weaponizing feminism.
Nardello often gets work through lawyers like Ed Little who recently sought
help clearing the name of a client who had been accused of sexual
ED LITTLE, HUGHES HUBBARD PARTNER: The Me Too movement is a very valid
movement, but there`s been overreaction, we believe. And so, in
representing somebody who`s been accused, it`s important to find out
whether or not there`s any credibility to the accusations.
PICKER: Nardello`s number two, Sabina Menschel, walked me through their
client offerings, starting with online searches.
SABINA MENSCHEL, NARDELLO & CO. COO: Databases like these that we have
access to, some of which because we`re pretty investigators and they allow
us to search for publicly available information. But we always complement
that as well with what we call on-site searches.
PICKER: Menschel says on-site searches include sending investigators to
where the subject has lived or worked, searching local databases like
county court records and knocking on doors to interview neighbors and
And the work is making a difference. Nardello says he`s seen private
equity firms walk away from deals and companies decide against hiring
individuals after discovering sexual misconduct.
Despite the wave of allegations of predatory behavior during the Me Too
movement, Nardello says we may have only seen the tip of the iceberg.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Leslie Picker.
GRIFFETH: Before we go, one more look at today`s rally on Wall Street.
The Dow was up 306 points, Nasdaq up 65, the S&P up 34.
HERERA: And that does it for us tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for
GRIFFETH: I`m Bill Griffeth. Have a great evening. See you tomorrow.
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