BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Deal approved. A judge
decides that AT&T (NYSE:T) can go ahead with its $85 billion acquisition of
Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), potentially setting the stage for even more
Holding steady. Investigators take the historic summit in stride. Now,
they turn their attention to the Federal Reserve and the possibility of an
interest rate hike tomorrow.
Safety issues. Why a new round of crash tests are raising questions about
two popular SUVs.
Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this
Tuesday, June the 12th.
And we do bid you good evening, everybody. Sue is off tonight.
We begin with a big victory for AT&T (NYSE:T). A judge late today
approving the company`s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)
without conditions. The judge said the government failed to provide
sufficient proof that the deal would harm competition or consumers. This
was one of the most widely watched antitrust trials in decades.
Hampton Pearson is outside the courthouse in Washington when that decision
was released. He joins us now — Hampton.
HAMPTON PEARSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Bill. Yes,
a stunning decision. As you were just talking about, a federal judge has
cleared the way for the AT&T (NYSE:T) takeover of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX),
some 20 months after the deal was originally announced, the $85 billion
takeover that is.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon told a packed Washington courtroom that
the Justice Department in his view simply failed to prove its case, that
the combination would lead to higher prices for pay TV subscribers and more
leverage for the merged firm with its competitors, saying at one point, I
conclude the government has fail to meet its burden of proof.
And now after that ruling, government antitrust chief Makan Delrahim left
the courthouse, avoiding cameras and microphones, but the DOJ did issue the
following statement, quote: We are disappointed with the court`s decision.
We continue to believe that the pay TV market will be less competitive and
less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T (NYSE:T)
and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX).
In contrast, the AT&T (NYSE:T) legal team basically pleads with its
stunning legal victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL PETROCELLI, AT&T (NYSE:T)/TWX LEAD TRIAL ATTORNEY: We`re up to 600
days since the merger was announced back in October of 2016. And that it`s
unfair to the defendants, to the hundreds of thousands of employees and
their companies whose lives have been hanging in the balance and to all of
the shareholders and all of the other constituencies of these two great
companies. It`s time to complete this transaction and move on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEARSON: Now, the judge put no conditions on that merger going forward.
He also urged the government to think twice about any possible further
delays like maybe seeking a stay. At this point, the deal is now set to
close before June 21st.
Bill, back over to you.
GRIFFETH: Hampton Pearson in Washington — thanks very much, Hampton.
So, what does this decision mean for future mergers?
Joining us tonight to talk about that, Erik Gordon is professor at the
University of Michigan`s Ross School of Business.
Erik, good to see you again. Welcome back.
PROFESSOR ERIK GORDON, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN`S ROSS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS:
GRIFFETH: It is widely believed this kind of a decision could bring on
other mergers, make it easier to get it past regulators. Do you buy that
notion or not?
GORDON: You know, I think it will make it somewhat easier but I think it
is easy to overstate the effect of this case. The judge didn`t say
something like, well, we should have more media mergers or we should have
more vertical mergers. He said that in this case, the government failed to
prove what it had to prove.
Interestingly, the judge didn`t even say because he didn`t need to say,
well, this is a case which the government could have won or couldn`t have –
– or could not have won. All he said was the government failed to convince
him. So, you know, you don`t want to overstate it.
But clearly, I think we will see more merger attempts, because if the case
had gone the other way, it might have slapped the door on mergers.
GRIFFETH: And, of course, a vertical merger for those who don`t know is
one where a company buys one of its suppliers, and that`s what happened
here with AT&T (NYSE:T) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX). And tomorrow, we are
hearing that Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) is going to make its bid
formal for various assets of Fox, a $60 billion deal. They said they would
only do that if this deal went through.
Does that become an easier deal to get through, do you think? That was not
a done deal by any means.
GORDON: Yes, I think it makes it a lot easier, because if the judge held
against AT&T (NYSE:T), I think Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) would have
walked away and said it`s not worth going through the same ringer AT&T
(NYSE:T) went through. We`ll just let Disney (NYSE:DIS) buy Fox.
GRIFFETH: In his decision today, Judge Leon pointed out the tremendous
changes that are going on in the media business. I know you agree with
that and maybe this deal, this Time Warner (NYSE:TWX)/AT&T (NYSE:T) deal is
one that leads to that transformation, right?
GORDON: Yes, I think that the judge was pretty well-informed about how the
changes in technology have enabled changes in consumer taste. Changes in
how we like to consume our media. And I think if there`s a flood gate
that`s going to be opened, it`s going to be a rearrangement of assets in
the media industry because the assets are probably not arranged in the best
possible way. They are arranged they happen to be arranged over the last
But the media industry and some other industries probably should rearrange
the assets to be more efficient and help consumers.
GRIFFETH: Very quickly, there is the deal between CVS (NYSE:CVS) and Aetna
(NYSE:AET) Health, for example. That`s outside of the purview of media,
but we`re still waiting for regulation — regulators to approve that one if
they`re going to. Does this make it easier for one like that, do you
GORDON: Yes, I think so, because that`s another one of the vertical
mergers that you explained and health care is another industry where the
assets are probably arranged improperly. So, I think that one and the
Express (NYSE:EXPR) Scripts, Cigna merger, I think those companies are
feeling a lot better tonight than they felt yesterday.
GRIFFETH: Erik Gordon with the University of Michigan`s Ross School of
Business — always good to see you, Erik. Thanks for joining us tonight.
GORDON: My pleasure, Bill.
GRIFFETH: To the economy now. Consumer prices posted their largest annual
gain in more than six years last month. The report out this morning is
just the latest sign of brewing price pressure in the economy. The
consumer price index which measures what consumers pay for just about
everything rose 2.8 percent in May compared to a year ago. It was up 0.2
percent compared to the prior month.
That report was released just as the Federal Reserve started its two-day
meeting this week. Central bankers are widely expected to announce an
interest rate increase tomorrow.
And while investors watch Fed policymakers, the world was transfixed on
that historic summit thousands of miles away. President Trump became the
first sitting president to meet with a leader of North Korea, trying to
convince Kim Jong-un to end his nuclear weapons program.
Michelle Caruso-Cabrera is in Singapore where that meeting took place.
MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: A historic
handshake watched around the world as the leaders of two countries, long
bitter enemies, met for five years, culminating in an agreement to forge a
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The letter that we`re
signing is very comprehensive and I think both sides are going to be very
impressed with the result.
CARUSO-CABRERA: In the agreement signed here in Singapore, the North
Koreans committed to the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,
and both sides agree to work to recover the remains of soldiers from the
Korean War, including the immediate repatriation of those already
In a wide-ranging news conference afterward, President Trump announced that
he is suspending the annual military exercises the U.S. conducts with South
Korea. Long despised by North Korea.
The president described them as provocative and very expensive. And he was
asked repeatedly about how the U.S. will verify that North Korea is truly
dismantling its nuclear arsenal.
TRUMP: We`re going to have a lot of people there. And we`re going to be
working with them on a lot of other things but this is complete
denuclearization of North Korea. And it will be verified.
REPORTER: Will those people be Americans or international —
TRUMP: Combinations of both. Combinations of both. And we have talked
about it, yes.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Reactions from the diplomatic community were decidedly
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: I am extremely unimpressed.
Let`s be clear what they did — they reaffirmed an agreement that the North
Koreans had already signed up to in April. So, you know, that`s not
progress, folks. That`s not moving the ball forward.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Others call it a significant first step.
JOSEPH DETRANI, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY TO NORTH KOREA: I think Kim Jong-un
has made that strategic decision to focus on the economy and to realize
that the part of achieving that goal is to normalize relations with the
United States, bring the Korean War to an end and the peace on the Korean
peninsula and move in that direction. And I think the summit is moving
exactly in that direction.
CARUSO-CABRERA: As night fell, both leaders departed Singapore. At this
early stage, it`s hard to estimate what the historical significance might
be of what happened here today.
North Korean leaders have been trying to get a meeting with the president
of the United States for more than six decades. The lingering question,
will this meeting actually change their behavior?
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Singapore.
GRIFFETH: And if North Korea does change its behavior, it could alter the
politics and economics of that region. And China is paying very close
Eunice Yoon has reaction tonight from Beijing.
EUNICE YOON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: China says the summit
is creating new history, even before the joint statement was released, the
foreign minister said that China would want to see dialogue,
denuclearization and a stable peace mechanism out of the summit. Well,
Beijing got all three.
The statement reads like a letter of intent, suggesting that the time frame
for denuclearization will be longer than the Trump administration`s
original demands of up front concessions and more in line with China`s
preferred phased approach which Beijing believes will promote stability and
ensure Beijing maintains a dominant role with North Korea.
Interesting comments also came out of the foreign ministry, which suggested
that international sanctions could be lifted on Pyongyang. The ministry
said: Adjustment to the sanctions have to be made in accordance with the
situation and how North Korea has implemented the agreement, including
suspending or removing relevant sanction measures.
That contradicts what President Trump said at his press conference where
Trump said the sanctions would stay in place.
TRUMP: The sanctions right now remain. But at a certain point I look
forward to taking them off.
YOON: At the briefing, President Trump acknowledged China`s role in the
summit and thanked President Xi Jinping for his support. However, that
raises questions as to how China`s economic leverage with North Korea will
factor into other negotiations with the United States.
On Friday the U.S. will release its list of products, potentially $50
billion worth, that could be hit with tariffs.
Now, that the summit is over, people here are asking, whether President
Trump get tough on trade with China or will he choose a softer stance
because he needs China in order to carry out the agreement with North
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Beijing on Thursday to discuss
these issues with officials here.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon, in Beijing.
GRIFFETH: And on Wall Street, stocks were subdued after the conclusion of
that summit. The Dow fell just over a point today to 25,320, the Nasdaq
added 43, the S&P was up four.
Bob Pisani has more now on why the markets reacted the way they did.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The markets shrugged
off President Donald Trump`s historic summit with North Korean Leader Kim
Jong-un in Singapore last night, just like it shrugged off the Twitter
fireworks that came out of the G-7 meeting.
Why the indifference? Well, many people say the markets are becoming
desensitized to the endless barrage of tweets. Others believe one of this
is dramatically affecting market fundamentals, particularly in the United
Now, the corporate earnings remain really strong and earnings, quote, isn`t
peaking just yet. First quarter earnings surged 26 percent and third
quarter earnings already estimated to jump 23 percent to likely surpass the
first quarter. It`s the same story with the small stocks, the midcap
stocks, and the S&P 600 and 400. No signs of peaking in earnings yet.
That`s what`s moving the markets.
Investors now turn their attention to the Federal Reserve`s two-day meeting
on interest rates. The markets are anticipating a rate hike this month.
But right now, the Fed doesn`t appear to want to raise rates too quickly.
Job gains are strong. Wage growth is still on the same side. The core
consumer prices did rise to a six-year-high in May.
All this could spell more upside ahead for the stock market.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
GRIFFETH: And more market upside is what billionaire hedge fund manager
sees as well.
Paul Tudor Jones said today he believes the second half of this year is
going to be in his word, phenomenal. Even with higher interest rates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL TUDOR JONES, TUDOR INVESTMENT FOUNDER: I think we`ll see rates move
significantly higher, beginning sometime in the late third quarter, early
fourth quarter, and I think it will be interesting because I think the
stock market also has the ability to go a lot higher at the end of the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: But he added that that move higher will not be sustainable and
he did say that higher interest rates could lead to an eventual recession.
Tudor Jones famously called the stock market crash back in October of 1987.
Time to take a look now at some of today`s upgrades an downgrades.
Dumont Mine was upgraded to overnight from equal weight at Morgan Stanley
(NYSE:MS). The analysts cites the potential approval of new projects this
year. Price target now $40. That stock was up slightly to $38.79.
That same analyst at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) downgraded shares of Barrett
Gold to underweight from equal weight. The firm says that the stocks
underperformance looks set to continue through the rest of this year.
Price target now $12 and that stock fell a fraction to $13.16.
Twitter`s price target was raised to $50 at Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS).
That`s one of the highest in Wall Street now. The analyst cites the
potential for higher advertising revenues, and the firm maintains its
overweight rating on that stock as well. Shares rose 5 percent to $43.49.
Still ahead, the biggest problem facing small business owners right now.
GRIFFETH: General Motors (NYSE:GM) is watching development on trade very
closely. GM CEO said today that the automaker has not delayed or altered
its investment plans but she did add that the uncertainty will have some
sort of impact eventually.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY BARRA, GENERAL MOTORS CHAIRMAN & CEO: We are seeing cost increases
but again I think there is still — depending on how decisions were made,
we`ll have an impact on that. So, you know, we`re working hard to
understand those impacts to working to offset to the extent that we can,
but I really think it`s early days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: As we have been reporting, GM makes more than 1 million vehicles
in Canada and in Mexico annually, most of which are imported for sale here
in the United States.
Meanwhile, Tesla is cutting its work force. The electric carmaker said
today it is laying off 9 percent of its 46,000 employees primarily salaried
workers. The move is part of a larger restructuring and the company says
it should not affect production. That help lift shares by 3 percent in
A new round of crash tests are raising questions about the protection that
certain vehicles offer in common crashes. The SUVs in focus are two of the
most popular ones right now built by Jeep and Ford.
Phil LeBeau has our story.
PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The impact at 40 miles
per hour is jarring. And in some cases, the results are troubling. Crash
tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, known as IIHS, show
the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee (NASDAQ:CHKE) and 2018 Ford Explorer
struggling to protect parts of the dummy. In one case, it starts to slide
outside of the door after an airbag failed to deploy.
DAVID ZUBY, INSURANCE INSTITUTE FOR HIGHWAY SAFETY: For both the Jeep
Grand Cherokee (NASDAQ:CHKE) and the Ford Explore, the problem is the
structural one and the right front smaller left crash test, we see the
safety cage collapsing in toward the right front passenger dummy.
LEBEAU: Fiat Chrysler and Ford say the crash test paint an incomplete
picture. Both point out the Grand Cherokee (NASDAQ:CHKE) and Explorers
have received top marks in other crash tests by the IIHS. Fiat Chrysler
adding its vehicles are engineered to address real world driving
situations. No single test measures overall vehicle safety.
Ford says: We continually to make improvements to our vehicles to help
customers stay safe on the road. Nearly 4,000 front seat passengers were
killed in auto accidents in 2016, the most recent data available.
These tests measure how well midsize SUVs protect people in the front seat
during certain collisions, with the Kia Sorento, Volkswagen Atlas and GMC
Acadia getting top marks.
ZUBY: I think one of the things we observed is that the three — the good-
rated vehicles are newer designs than the poor rated Grand Cherokee
(NASDAQ:CHKE) and Ford Explorer.
LEBEAU: The Jeep and Ford midsize SUVs have been popular for years. And
that`s unlikely to change. Even though these crash tests could give buyers
something to think about the next time they go in the showroom.
Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Chicago.
GRIFFETH: H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) hikes the dividend and that is where we
begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The tax company raised its quarterly dividend by percent to a dollar a
share after the bell tonight. The increase came after H&R Block (NYSE:HRB)
also announced it grew revenue and profits with both measures topping
expectations, but investors apparently wanted more. They sent shares
sharply lower in afterhours trading tonight. Shares finish the regular
session up a fraction at $29.60.
Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) and AstraZeneca are cancelling two studied trials of
an experimental Alzheimer`s drug after an independent panel said that the
treatment was unlikely to be effective at treating that disease. But
AstraZeneca still said that it plans to work with Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) on
another Alzheimer`s medication. Shares of Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) were off a
fraction today to $85.49. AstraZeneca shares also fell marginally to
Sage Therapeutics said that its experimental depression treatment has been
granted what`s called breakthrough designation status by the FDA. That
designation now allows Sage to expedite development of the drug. Sage has
said the medication is unlike any other on the market.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF JONAS, SAGE THERAPEUTICS CEO: Depression is a life-threatening
disorder and we believe we need to treat it like a medical disorder of
great urgency. Current therapies require chronic pharmacotherapy but
longstanding treatment. Our molecules Sage 217, which is a once daily
pill, seems to have benefit within days and only requires two weeks of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: Shares of Sage Therapeutics surged 19 percent today to $175.76.
And Lands End reported a smaller loss as what was a rise in sales to top
estimates. The apparel retailer said results were helped by a deal with
Delta Airlines (NYSE:DAL) to create uniforms for that company`s flight
attendants. Lands End shares soared by 27 percent today to $29.90.
Small business owners are feeling up beat right now. A new survey shows
that optimism is at a 34-year high, reaching the second highest level ever.
Many expect sales and profits to increase. But despite the positive
outlook, the National Federation of Independent Business also points to one
big headache: many small businesses still continue to have trouble finding
qualified workers to hire, and it`s creating a major challenge on Main
Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG) has more for us tonight.
KATE ROGERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Mike Fredrich is
desperate for workers.
MIKE FREDRICH, MCM COMPOSITES OWNER: Had we had the people for the first
shift, we could have been running this all day. But we don`t. So here
they sit, ready to go, no action.
ROGERS: The owner of MCM Composite, a 55-person business in Manitowoc
(NYSE:MTW), Wisconsin, said he`s short 15 people and which manufactures
custom thermostat moldings.
FREDRICH: There are no workers and there is a huge demand. Economy picked
up and everybody is looking for additional workers, but the market is so
thin that we just can`t find them and we`ve gone to extraordinary means to
find people that will actually work, including going to the local mandatory
county jail, the Manitowoc (NYSE:MTW) jail, and recruiting people to work
from inside of the jail.
ROGERS: You`re looking for low skilled workers who he is willing to train
and pay above minimum wage but like many small businesses, Fredrich is
being crunched by a tight labor market and he`s not alone. The National
Federation of Independent Business has found labor quality is the number
one issue for small businesses for the past five months, outpacing taxes
and government regulations.
RAYMOND KEATING, SBE COUNCIL CHIEF ECONOMIST: Finding the right person for
the job is always a challenge. But obviously, in a tighter market like
this, it becomes far more difficult.
ROGERS: Bob Treiber is also feeling the shortage at his Boston-based
consulting firm Boston Engineering which has 65 employees. He needs 12
more engineers and says the strong economy doesn`t make competing with
large business for hires any easier. If you can`t find the right people,
his bottom line will suffer.
BOB TREIBER, BOSTON ENGINEERING PRESIDENT: If we can`t satisfy the demand
of our clients because we can`t staff the jobs, and there`s only so much we
can do with temporary resources. You really have to have the core people
here in order to deliver the quality that our clients demand.
ROGERS: Another factor at play, the labor participation rate trending
downward for the past few years. Treiber says he plans to up recruiting
efforts among colleges and universities to get younger workers in earlier
in their careers.
TREIBER: We have to constantly be looking for good people and so, you have
to make that a long-term strategy and constantly do it and frankly it`s
easy to stop doing it.
ROGERS: While a strong economy may benefit Main Street`s bottom line, it
also has its challenges.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kate Rogers (NYSE:ROG).
GRIFFETH: But just as some businesses can`t find workers, there`s a
different message coming from one of the world`s biggest banks. Citigroup
(NYSE:C) has suggested it could cut up to half of its technology and
operations staff in the next five years because of automation.
According to the “Financial Times”, an executive at the bank said
operational positions were the most fertile for machine processing. Those
positions make up about two-fifths of Citi`s investment bank employees.
Coming up, why charitable giving in America is hitting record levels right
GRIFFETH: Seattle City Council has blinked. The council has now voted to
repeal a controversial tax hike on large corporations. As we reported,
that tax was passed less than a month ago. It would have raised about $48
million annually to combat the city`s homeless and affordable housing
crisis. Two of the Seattle biggest companies, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), were involved in the campaign to repeal that tax.
Finally tonight, Americans are certainly feeling generous these days. A
new report shows that charitable giving rose to a record level last year.
Robert Frank tells us where all that money is going.
ROBERT FRANK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Charitable giving
jumped 5 percent last year to more than $400 billion. That`s according to
the Giving USA Annual Report. Giving by individuals accounted for the bulk
of that as rising stock market, a charged political environment and tax
changes drove Americans to write bigger checks.
Now, religion remains the top charitable cause in the U.S. receiving more
than a third of all giving. Education ranks second, followed by human
services. The only cause that saw a downturn was international affairs.
Now, the biggest growth in gifts was to foundations, thanks in part to mega
gifts from billionaires like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and
his wife giving nearly $2 billion to the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation and
Michael and Susan Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) giving $1 billion to their foundation.
Now, it`s unclear whether Americans will be quite as giving this year. The
new tax law raises the standard deduction, so there will be millions of
Americans, most of them middle class, who will no longer itemized or deduct
Now, without that incentive, some estimate charitable giving could fall by
as much as $14 billion this year. But so far, charitable groups say they
have seen little pullback.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Robert Frank.
GRIFFETH: And to read more about the record level of charitable giving,
you can head to our Website at NBR.com.
That is the NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. I`m Bill Griffeth.
Thanks so much for watching. Have a wonderful evening. Sue and I will see
you again here tomorrow.
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