BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: On cloud nine. Microsoft
(NASDAQ:MSFT) crushes estimates as the company shows strength where Wall
Street wants to see it most.
Challenging tradition. Disruptive companies like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and
now the resurgence of video games are making things tougher for traditional
television. We’ll look at the changing landscape.
And under pressure. The White House is considering several ways to get
drug prices under control. What it means for investors and your medicine
All that and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this
Thursday, July the 19th.
And we bid you good evening, everybody. Sue is off again this evening.
For the longest time now, Dow component Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was called
a dinosaur because it relied almost solely on its Windows operating system
for growth. The stock barely budged for years, but not anymore. The
company’s Office software is no longer the central earnings driver. It’s
the cloud business that is fueling the growth and the stock certainly
After the bell tonight, the company said it earned $1.13 a share. A nickel
better than estimates and revenue came in just above $30 billion for the
quarter and that’s nearly a billion dollars more than estimates and the
stock initially rose in after-hours trading.
Josh Lipton has the key now for investors.
JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: For Microsoft
(NASDAQ:MSFT) investors, the focus is on the company’s fast-growing cloud
computing business. The software giant just reported commercial cloud
revenue of $6.9 billion, up 53 percent, with gross margins ticking up to 58
Evercore’s Kirk Materne says when you see that strong growth off of a much
bigger base with stronger leverage, it reiterates the positive thesis
around the cloud story. Materne also notes, though, that a lot of good
news was priced in with the stock priced up 20 percent year to date heading
into this report.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Josh Lipton, San Francisco.
GRIFFETH: And those Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) numbers could set the tone
tomorrow because on Wall Street today, investors focused on a batch of
mostly disappointing quarterly results. As a result, the Dow fell by 134
points, still above 25,000 though. The Nasdaq dropped another 29 points,
the S&P gave back 11.
And despite today’s pullback, stocks are still sitting not too far from
Bob Pisani takes a look at this market’s recent slow motion melt-up.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Stocks have been on a
slow motion melt-up for the past couple of weeks. That’s got some
investors asking what would it take for the market to hit record highs?
You know, the S&P 500 is just about 2 percent away from its historic high
in January. Trader believe three main factors have been helping markets go
higher and that these trends will have to continue if the S&P is really
going to hit historic highs.
The first thing is earnings, most important. The companies have not only
been beating earnings estimates, but guidance for the rest of the year has
generally been very strong. Second, interest rate and inflation have been
relatively under control. Fed Chairman Jay Powell painted an upbeat
picture of the U.S. economy and said for now, he’s intent on raising rates
at a gradual rate. Traders took that to mean that Powell had no intention
of being overly aggressive and that if economic conditions worsened, the
Fed would simply stop raising rates.
Finally, trade concerns have not been a dominant issue in the past few
weeks, that’s good news. The market’s come to believe that tax cuts and
other fiscal stimulus would far outweigh any negative impact from tariffs.
So, what could go wrong? Well, the key is going to be tech earnings. Tech
is 26 percent of the waiting in the S&P 500 and tech earnings alone are
expected to jump about 25 percent. So, keep an eye on tech bellwethers,
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), PayPal, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)
and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) parental Alphabet in the coming weeks.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
GRIFFETH: Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) is bowing out of the fight for
21st Century Fox entertainment assets, meaning that Disney (NYSE:DIS) has
now won the high-stakes bidding war with its offer of more than $70
billion. For its part, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) says it will
focus on expanding its international reach by acquiring a controlling stake
in European broadcaster Sky. The remainder of which is owned by Fox, as a
matter of fact.
Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS), as you may know, is the parent company
of CNBC which produces this program.
Shares of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) and Disney (NYSE:DIS) were up
on the day. Fox was down ever so slightly.
As traditional television and movie studios do scramble for content and
viewers, an old competitor has been growing exponentially. That would be
the video game industry, in fact, the hottest game around right now is
“Fortnite” and it recently became a billion dollar business.
Julia Boorstin tells us why.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Independent game
developer Epic Games has an epic hit on its hands since launching
“Fortnite” last September. The company topping that landmark $1 billion
level in large part from in-game purchases around its popular battle royale
mode, which allows as many as 100 people to play in one game at a time.
In-game purchases growing from $269 million in April to $318 million in
May, according to super data research.
MIKE OLSON, PIPER JAFFRAY ANALYST: It is unusual to see this level of
success that “Fortnite’s” had given that it’s come from an independent
developer. We typically do see the majority of major titles coming from,
really, the big three publishers, Activision, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS)
and Ubisoft, as well as Take Two, I should say.
So, when we look at this title, it’s unique. You know, there’s not going
to be a lot of title like that that come from independent developers.
BOORSTIN: The battle royale game mode that “Fortnite” helped popularized
has become the most popular genre by hours watched across all platforms,
with nearly 700 million hours of game play watched in May alone, with
“Fortnite” accounting for 83 percent of those hours, according to Super
“Fortnite’s” success hasn’t hurt the results of the big public game-makers
such Activision and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS), as many had feared, but
it is prompting the whole industry to embrace the battle royale mode after
the social element of the big group play has proven so successful for
“Fortnite” and Epic Games.
Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) announced its own battle royale mode
called “Black Out”, which is part of “Call of Duty Black Ops 4” which is
slated to launch October 12th. And EA is also entering the space with
“Battlefield 5” when it launches on October 19th.
OLSON: “Fortnite” has definitely opened up a broader audience for video
games. It’s not necessarily taking market share away from Activision, EA
Take Two or some of the other publishers, but it does seem to be expanding
the audience, and we think a lot of that has to do with a younger
demographic, as well as introducing more female gamers to the space.
BOORSTIN: And “Fortnite” is not just having a ripple effect across game
sales. NPD Group says it’s lifted hardware sales, pushing the market to
record highs in headset spending. The video research game group does say
sales in an all-important holiday season, though, is more unpredictable
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.
GRIFFETH: Let’s turn now to Frank Louthan to talk more about this changing
media landscape. He is media and telecom analyst at Raymond James.
Frank, thanks for joining us tonight.
FRANK LOUTHAN, RAYMOND JAMES MEDIA ANALYST: Great. Thanks for having me.
GRIFFETH: I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by this growth in the
video game business, and this phenomenon and this battle royale that’s
played on many multiple platforms at this point. Many video games will
make more money than movies when they’re released around the same time.
Are the video game-makers attracted to you as an investment these days?
LOUTHAN: Well, I cover some slightly different areas particularly cable
and telecom, and for me, I think this is great. It’s driving more data
traffic. It’s having people use more data.
LOUTHAN: So, despite what the changing viewing habits of consumers are,
especially a younger demographic, they need data to be able to do that, as
they’re shifting away from traditional, linear TV and broadcast to more
over-the-top and streaming services or features like “Fortnite”, they’re
using more data. And that’s where the companies that I cover really make
the most money in and where the best investment opportunity is.
GRIFFETH: And the companies that you follow the most part, they’re trying
to get together. They’re scrambling to find a combination that will get
the best content and the highest number of viewers. I think of AT&T
(NYSE:T)/Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), I think the Disney (NYSE:DIS)/Fox now,
Discovery/Scripps earlier this year, Sinclair/Tribune still being
considered by the FCC.
Has this strengthened the industry or is this a defensive scramble that’s
going on right now?
LOUTHAN: Well, it’s a scale issue. When you look at the older model from
the broadcast industry, and some of the cable networks, where they sell a
large package of channels to consumers who have to buy a large package from
their cable company or satellite company, that model is broken down.
Consumers are demanding smaller packages and they have a very specific
content that they want and they’re willing to pay for and they want those
in smaller packages.
That’s putting pressure on some of these larger media conglomerates who
have been able to sell a very wide range of products to consumers. They
have to get more discriminating. They’re going to have to narrow that
focus. So, that’s why I think we’re seeing the media companies they’re
trying to get more scale. Meanwhile, the companies that I cover are trying
to look at ways to reduce churn.
So, if, for example, if AT&T (NYSE:T) can take their — can take additional
content and they can bundle that over their wireless customers or over
their Internet customers and video customers and that can lower churn,
that’s — those are big dollars.
Comcast’s doing the same thing —
LOUTHAN: — with what they’ve done with their content.
GRIFFETH: Who are the winners then? Who do you like?
LOUTHAN: I think the winners here are really the cable and the companies
that have the broadband Internet because that’s effectively how you’re
seeing everyone continuing to consume media. So, as you move away from
broadcast in a linear model towards watching it over broadband, you’ve got
to have a broadband pipe. So the companies that we think are the best
positioned are really the cable companies that have those broadband pipes
into the home that are carrying the data people demand.
GRIFFETH: Are there many more deals to come do you think? Are we nearing
the end of this tremendous amount of mergers and acquisitions going on
LOUTHAN: This is a decade-long shift. So when you look at consumers and
they shift their preferences. We think it’s going to take another ten
years, so I do think you will continue to see a lot of this shift as
consumers change. And I think it’s going to be felt more heavily in the
media industry. But there’s still probably some deals in the cable and
telecom space to come.
GRIFFETH: Fascinating. Frank Louthan with Raymond James, thanks for
joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
LOUTHAN: Thank you very much.
GRIFFETH: Time to take a look at some of today’s upgrades and downgrades.
We begin with Needham, which has downgraded shares of Tesla to underperform
which is essentially the equivalent of a sell rating. The firm says that
Tesla is still overvalued despite pulling back more than 15 percent from
his June of 2017 high, and it seems a possible rise in model 3
cancellations, as well. Tesla shares fell 1 percent today in trade.
UBS downgraded Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) to neutral from buy. The analyst
there says that inflation and pricing pressure will hurt P&G’s profits.
Price target now $83, and today, P&G shares closed at $78.73. That was
down a fraction.
Lionsgate was upgraded to buy from hold at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. The
analyst sees potential for the Starz Network to pick up more subscribers
and that shares could outperform over the next several years as a result.
The price target, however, was lower to $27 from $31 and shares today
finished at $24.98, up nearly 5 percent.
Now to the economy where the number of Americans filing for unemployment
benefits last week fell to the lowest level we’ve seen in more than 48
years. Jobless claims fell by 8,000 to a level not seen since December of
Meanwhile, the White House is taking aim at lowering drug prices. We’ll
tell you how and what it means for you.
GRIFFETH: Earlier today, President Trump sat down for a one-on-one with
CNBC’s Joe Kiernan. During the interview, Mr. Trump broke with the
tradition of a sitting president not commenting on monetary policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’ve put a very good man in
the Fed. I don’t necessarily agree with it because he’s raising interest
rates. I’m not saying that I agree with it and I don’t necessarily agree
with it. I must tell you, I don’t.
I’m not thrilled because, you know, we go up and every time you go up, they
want to raise rates again and I don’t really — I am not happy about it.
But at the same time, I’m letting them do what they feel is best, but I
don’t like all of this work that’s going into what we’re doing. You look
at the euro. You look at what’s going on with the E.U. and they’re not
doing what we’re doing and we already have somewhat of a disadvantage,
although I’m turning that into an advantage.
You know, last year and for years, we’ve been losing $150 billion with the
E.U. nations, with the European Union, and they’re making money easy and
their currency is falling. And China, their currency is dropping like a
rock and our currency is going up.
And I have to tell you, it puts us at a disadvantage. Now I’m just saying
the same thing that I would have said as a private citizen, so somebody
would say, oh, maybe you shouldn’t say that as a president, and I couldn’t
care less what they say because my views haven’t changed. I don’t like all
of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going
up. I see China where — I mean, look at what’s happening with their
currency. It’s dropping like a rock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: The president also held an event at the White House today with
CEOs, workers and students aimed at helping employers fill the persistent
skills gap. He signed an executive order on job training and created the
National Council for the American Worker which will train about 4 million
workers and students.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Their task will be to develop a national workforce and strategy to
equip Americans of all ages and at all stages of their career with the
skills they need to thrive in the modern economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the Commerce Department started two
days of hearings on the possibility of raising tariffs imposed on vehicles
built in Europe and sold here in the U.S.
Phil LeBeau has more.
PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: With auto sales
running close to a record high and an assembly plant building new vehicles
at a healthy clip, the industry is worried President Trump may follow
through on threats to slap a 20 or 25 percent tariff on auto imports and
especially on models and parts coming from Europe.
At a hearing in Washington, industry leaders warned the administration not
to do it. Their concern, tariffs could drive up the cost of new vehicles
by almost $6,900 according to a new study. That could cause sales to drop
by as much as 2 million vehicles and lead to 750,000 jobs being cut. Right
now, just 56 percent of the models sold in the U.S. are built in the U.S.,
but the Trump administration says that number should be higher and
instituting tariffs could be one way to make that happen.
WILBUR ROSS, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: So, as the president has repeatedly
said, the trade war idea is nothing new. What’s different is now our
troops are coming to the ramparts.
LEBEAU: The big concern among automaker, dealers and suppliers, higher
tariffs will kill the best four-year run of auto sales the U.S. has ever
And this year, the U.S. is once again on pace to have auto sales top 17
million vehicles, a lofty level that could be in jeopardy, depending on
what happens with tariffs on imported vehicles.
Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Chicago.
GRIFFETH: Earnings fall at property insurer Travelers as catastrophe
losses climb, and that’s where we begin tonight’s “Market Focus”.
The Dow component grew revenues, thanks to rising premiums, but payouts due
to an increase in tornado activity and fires at commercial properties, they
cut into profits. Shares of Travelers fell nearly 4 percent to $125.18.
Domino’s reported weaker than expected sales growth in the U.S. and abroad
even though customer spending grew. Profits came in ahead of estimates
thanks to a rise in royalty revenues, but investors took a bite out of
shares of Domino’s, sending them lower by more than 2 percent to $276.75.
A rise in deliveries and higher prices helped railroad operator Union
Pacific (NYSE:UNP) top expectations, and the company’s operating ratio
disappointed as Union Pacific (NYSE:UNP) raised higher fuel costs and also
had to pay its workers overtime to repair a collapsed tunnel that was
causing shipment delays. Shares were fractionally lower today to $140.41.
And Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) has reportedly been refunding millions of
dollars to customers who received add-on products such as legal services or
insurance that they didn’t fully understand or know how to use. “The Wall
Street Journal” reports that the consumer financial protection bureau looks
into whether customers were deceived and whether it was made clear to them
how to cancel its service. The report added that the bank stop selling
those types of products last year. Shares fell a fraction to $56.33 today.
And after the bell, boy, Skechers reported an earnings miss and
disappointing guidance for the current quarter and the full year. The shoe
company said that it believes it has the right products and marketing to
grow and gain market share, but investors were just not having it today.
They sent shares sharply lower in the after-hour session tonight. The
stock finished up nearly 2 percent to $33.25.
Meanwhile, cancer drugmaker Constellation Pharmaceuticals began trading on
the Nasdaq today after pricing its initial public offering at $15. That
was around the midpoint of its range, but the company did reduce the size
of the offering to 4 million shares, down from 5 million. And the shares
had a tough first day of trade, falling 23 percent to $11.50.
Mersana Therapeutic said today that the FDA has halted one of its
experimental cancer experimental studies after a patient enrolled in that
trial died. It is unclear what caused the death but under the FDA’s
partial hold, no other participants will be added to that study at this
point. Those who are currently enrolled will continue to receive the
treatment. Shares plunged though 31 percent to $11.26 today.
And sticking with health care news, the White House is reviewing a proposal
by the Health and Human Services Department that could reshape how drug
prices are determined. The proposal seeks to curb the kickback exemptions
that give drugmakers the ability to provide rebates to health insurers and
to pharmacy benefit managers. And those PBMs certainly got hit on that
news today as you can see here.
And Brian Tanquilut joins us now to talk more about the proposed changes
and what it could mean for you.
Brian, thanks for joining us tonight.
BRIAN TANQUILUT, JEFFERIES HEALTH SERVICES ANALYST: Hey. Thanks, Bill.
GRIFFETH: These proposals would mainly pertain to the Medicare Part D
program, the optional prescription benefit program. How would this impact
people in that program, do you think?
TANQUILUT: Yes. So, you know, my thinking here is that if the Trump
proposal which is to eliminate rebating for prescription drugs actually
goes through, what it will do, it will actually increase the net cost of
drugs for the insurance companies and then the insurance companies will
then translate that into an increase in the premiums that both the
government and the end user, the seniors who are part of this Medicare Part
D program, the premiums will increase and effectively eliminating the
increase will eliminate drug pricing.
GRIFFETH: You know, through all of this, the PBMs, the pharmacy benefit
managers have been portrayed as the bad guys, he’s the middlemen that
caused the increases that we see in drug prices. Are they?
TANQUILUT: You know, I actually think that the PBMs have had a purpose.
They have been able to bring overall drug price or drug costs down over the
years. They’ve improved drug safety and, you know, they’ve looked at ways
to increase generic penetration and the use of generic drugs and other
lower cost alternatives. Now, the margins that the PBMs have been making is
what’s been under scrutiny, as well. You know, why do we need a middle
But I also think that there is a need for the scale and the consolidation
of lies that these guys bring to the table. It’s just that there is a
perception that they’re over-earning and that they’re the ones responsible
for very high drug prices when I really think at the end of the day,
everyone down the supply chain from the drug manufacturer to the
distributors and to the PBMs, they have to give their own pound of flesh,
So, it’s not just the middle man that’s causing high drug prices in the
GRIFFETH: Meanwhile, there’s another proposal that talks about allowing
drug companies and hospitals to import drugs from overseas where they’re
often very much cheaper. What do you think that will do to the industry?
TANQUILUT: You know, it is a tricky move, right? Because at the end of
the day, part of the reason that we are paying high drug prices is that,
you know, we do not have a nationalized health care system. So, if you
look at Canada, you look at the U.K., right? They’re able to bring drug
pricing down because the government negotiates directly with the drug
manufacturers and they’re building very tight formularies, meaning, let’s
just say for drugs that go after cholesterol, right, they’ll say we’ll only
pay for one type of drug and that’s how they bring drug pricing down,
And here in the U.S., we have a different system and we have different
insurance companies, right? So, it’s not as easy to bring drug prices
down. So, importing drugs, sure, it’s a band-aid solution, right, but I
think longer term, we really need to address the actual pricing from the
drug manufacturer instead of just putting in the band-aid solution such as
GRIFFETH: We will see what these proposals do and how far they get.
Brian, thanks again for joining us tonight.
TANQUILUT: Thanks, Bill.
GRIFFETH: Brian Tanquilut with Jefferies.
Up next, hackers are turning their attention to law firms and their secrets
and that could be a big problem for some businesses and in some cases
GRIFFETH: Finally tonight, how tough do you think it would be to walk into
a major business and steal all of its documents? No need to break in
through the front door. Many companies are leaving computer networks wide
open, giving criminals easy access to their crown jewels, if you will.
Andrea Day has our investigation.
ANDREA DAY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: This is a message board
on the Dark Web, the post is in Russian. The writer says he has the
records of a major law firm up for sale in New York City, and get this,
it’s just 3,500 bucks.
ELI DOMINITZ, Q6 CYBER FOUNDER & CEO: All of the documents, all of their
servers, basically everything, every document owned and processed by this
law firm is going to be available.
DAY: And that’s not all. According to the cybersecurity firm Q6 Cyber,
there are law firms for sale in Beverly Hills and across the country.
What’s your message to law firms right now?
DOMINITZ: My message to law firms is take this very, very seriously.
DAY: We flew to Hollywood, Florida, to meet Q6 at its headquarters. They
spend their day scouring the dark web, hunting for exposed information.
Q6 founder Eli Dominitz.
DOMINITZ: If you’re a law firm that’s involved in major transactions, M&A
of publicly traded companies, you’re going to have a lot of sensitive
information, inside information before it becomes publicly available.
DAY: And that wealth of information could be very dangerous in the wrong
DOMINITZ: If I’m able to access that, I can trade around them and
manipulate stocks and make a lot of money. We’ve seen that kind of
activity by very sophisticated cyber criminals.
DAY: Q6 didn’t want to reveal the names of the firms, but according to
Dominitz, they may have no clue their network has been even breached, let
alone up for sale.
DOMINITZ: Most law firms are not actively monitoring this kinds of forms
and underground communities.
DAY: But for the SEC, trading based on hacked information is a huge focus.
In fact, the agency has two units now dedicated to tracking it down. They
declined to go on camera for this story, but in 2016, it charged a group of
Chinese traders with trading on hacked information, that data stolen from
two New York City law firms. And according to the SEC, the group raked in
nearly $3 million in profits.
Q6’s Robert Villanueva founded the Secret Service’s cyber intelligence
section and spent nearly two decades working for the agency.
ROBERT VILLANUEVA, Q6 CYBER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: We actually look for
these different types of malicious actors worldwide who are targeting the
financial infrastructure of the United States of America.
DAY: A growing number, he says, are now connecting online and working in
teams from all parts of the globe.
VILLANUEVA: They’re learning from each other. There are tutorials many
times on how to use the malware.
DOMINITZ: You can be a criminal in Nigeria, in Brazil, in Miami, in
London, all you have to do is find the right tools and services and you can
be up and running very quickly. It’s almost plug and play.
MATT O’NEILL, U.S. SECRET SERVICES SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: If major
corporations have their entire crown jewel stolen, a law firm wouldn’t be
anyone that I would be surprised at.
DAY: Matt O’Neal is a supervisory special agent with the Secret Service.
O’NEILL: If you were a business operating in the United States, you have
to have a defensive posture and assume that somebody is trying to get
access into your systems.
DAY: For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Andrea Day.
GRIFFETH: All right. Before we go, let’s take a final look at the day on
Wall Street. A down day as we said, a handful of earnings reports pushed
the Dow down 134 points, the Nasdaq lost 29, and the S&P gave back 11, but
we’ll see what those Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) earnings tonight do to the
That’s NBR for tonight. I’m Bill Griffeth. Thanks for watching. Have a
great evening. We’ll see you tomorrow.
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