Nightly Business Report – March 25, 2019

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

BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Momentous shift.  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is moving beyond its flagship smart phone and pushing further into entertainment, marking the biggest strategy change for the company in decades.  

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Trade dynamics.  Why the end of the Mueller investigation could put pressure on China to do a deal with the U.S. sooner rather than later.

GRIFFETH:  Charitable giving.  Small donations are down since the tax law went into effect and that`s making some nonprofits nervous.  Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Monday, March the 25th.  

HERERA:  Good evening, everyone, and welcome.  

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) today put on a show.  One of the world`s most valuable 

companies held an event that was glitzy and enlisted A-list celebrities to 

help sell its new offerings, that include things like streaming video and a 

digital newsstand.  But beyond the dazzle, Apple`s big investment is in new 

services and it`s a major shift in strategy.  It sees the future different 

from its past, which for years, has relied heavily on devices and its 

flagship iPhone.  

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is hoping its big bet will generate billions in new 

revenue now that smartphone sales are slowing. But investors appeared 

cautious, sending the stock down more than 1 percent.  

Josh Lipton is in Cupertino, California, for us tonight.  


TIM COOK, APPLE CEO:  As you can tell, today`s going to be a very different 

kind of event.  


wasn`t focused today on the company`s bread and butter iPhone business or 

hardware at all.  Instead, it was all about the company`s faster growing, 

higher margin services segment.  

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) introduced a range of new digital services, but the 

star of the show was a new video streaming service called Apple 

(NASDAQ:AAPL) TV plus.  Featuring original shows, movies and documentaries 

from Hollywood a list celebrities that were here today talking about their 

new shows.  

Like Steven Spielberg, Reece Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, Jason Momoa 

and Oprah.  With this product, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is directly moving into 

the highly competitive video streaming market.  

WALTER PIECYK, BTIG:  So I think this is more an advertisement for a longer 

process to get into the services space.  I mean, look, a lot of people are 

talking about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) versus Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX).  The bigger 

issue is in the U.S. alone, you have 85 million households spending more 

than $100 a month on their pay TV services.  So, it shouldn`t necessarily 

be an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) versus Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) battle.  

LIPTON:  Additionally, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) debuted a new Apple 

(NASDAQ:AAPL) TV app, where users can subscribe to channels like HBO, 

Showtime and Starz.  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) also launched Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) 

News Plus, a new subscription service bringing together over 300 magazines 

and leading newspapers.  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) card which it bills as a new 

kind of credit card, built into the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) wallet app on the 

iPhone as well as an actual physical credit card designed to work where 

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Pay is not accepted.  

Finally, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) teased a new service for gamers, too, called 

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Arcade, a subscription service that will feature over 

100 new and exclusive games in the fall.

All of these new products arrived as the company`s core iPhone franchise 

has come under pressure.  IPhone revenue dropped 15 percent in Apple`s 

holiday quarter.  In response, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been touting its 

services division as a bright spot, which include the App Store, Apple 

(NASDAQ:AAPL) Music and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Pay.  Services revenue reached 

nearly $11 billion in a holiday quarter, up almost 20 percent from a year 


Analysts believe these new services are important for a broader strategic 

reason, too.  There`s now a based of some 1.4 billion Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) 

devices in people`s hands.  Tim Cook has to keep offering all these new 

fans new, exciting products and services that keeps them loyal to his 

platform and discourages them from moving to rivals.

And if these services really are compelling, it could also give consumers 

another reason to buy an iPhone in the future.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Josh Lipton, Cupertino, California.  


GRIFFETH:  Daniel Flax joins us now to talk about this shift in strategy.  

He`s senior research analyst at Neuberger Berman.

Dan, thanks for joining us tonight.  


GRIFFETH:  So, you think it will be a few years before we really decide how 

successful this strategy shift is.  Why?  

FLAX:  I think it will take a little bit of time, Bill, and the reason is 

they`re investing in unique content, but clearly we need to see this 

content roll out.  We need to see how customers respond to it.  And this is 

really in some sense just a continuation of what the company has been doing 

for a long time, which is to invest in ways that enable it to build a 

differentiated user experience.  

So we think there`s a potentially very attractive growth — from a revenue 

perspective as they move further into the video market.  But it`s going to 

take some time.  

HERERA:  Now, overall, did you like what you heard from Apple 

(NASDAQ:AAPL)?  Do you think this will be an effective strategy to boost up 

revenues as iPhone sales have been leveling out and in some cases, 


FLAX:  I think this can contribute to faster growth over the next few 

years, but I think it`s just a piece of it.  First, just to address the 

point on iPhone, the iPhone was weak and the market for smart phones, 

certainly in China, is weak at the moment.  Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is 

suffering from having a difficult compare on a year over year basis.

But I think just to address the iPhone issue, the users are satisfied, the 

install base is growing.  I think when you take the services business video 

gaming with the arcade offering, news, payments, these are things that are 

really reaching into different parts of users lives and they`re doing it in 

a way that is secure, transparent and really private and that is I think 

what Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) users appreciate and ultimately will value from 

the company over the next few years.  

GRIFFETH:  As we`ve learned from an Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), producing 

original content can be very expensive.  They`ve already said, Apple 

(NASDAQ:AAPL) is planning to spend about a billion dollars right away on 

new content, but do you think that Tim Cook and/or shareholders have the 

stomach to spend a lot more money in case they have to?  

FLAX:  I think they do and I think part of what will determine the level of 

patience, if you will, is just how successful some of the initial offerings 

are.  The fact that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been able to partner with 

really visionaries and accomplished artists like Oprah, like Steven 

Spielberg, speaks to the potential of what they can do.  And so if they, if 

we see shareholders signs of early success, then I think the company will 

have a little bit more latitude to spend aggressively, assuming, of course, 

that they`re continuing to execute in other key parts of the business.  

GRIFFETH:  Indeed.  Daniel Flax with Neuberger Berman, again, thanks for 

joining us tonight.  

FLAX:  Thank you.

HERERA:  On Wall Street, stocks struggled to find direction today.  The 

major averages flip-flopped between gains and losses.  As investors remain 

concerned about the health of the global economy and the yield on the ten-

year treasury hit its lowest level since 2017.  When all was said and done, 

the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14 points to 25,516.  The Nasdaq fell 

five and S&P 500 was down two.  

GRIFFETH:  And as you saw there, there was little reaction in the markets 

today to the completion of the special counsel Robert Mueller`s 

investigation.  In his summary of the Mueller report given to congressional 

leaders on Sunday, Attorney General William Barr revealed that Mueller`s 

investigation did not find enough evidence that President Trump`s 2016 

presidential campaign colluded with Russia.  

So, now, that presumably means that Wall Street`s attention turns to trade 

because the conclusion of the Mueller investigation could change the 

dynamics between the U.S. and China as negotiators work on that new deal.  

Kayla Tausche explains.  



satisfied with the findings of Robert Mueller and Attorney General William 

Barr — 


TAUSCHE:  — enters the home stretch of trade talks with China emboldened.  

His top two officials head to Beijing for one day of negotiations Thursday.  

Vice Premier Liu He returns to Washington April 3rd.  A senior 

administration official says the hope to clinch a day in the days to 

follow, with a signing summit at Mar-a-Lago later in the month, two years 

after the leaders met to discuss the reemerging North Korea threat and an 

early trade deal that got shelved as tensions escalated.  In the time since 

and with the positive Mueller report, the U.S. may have the upper hand says 

Strategas Research.  

DAN CLIFTON, STRATEGAS:  Now that it`s clear the president`s going to be in 

office for the next two years, or until the 2020 campaign, does China now 

say, oh, we got to make a deal?  

TAUSCHE:  So far, both sides have found the concessions lacking.  China has 

offered to buy $1.2 trillion in U.S. goods.  Trump has told his team he 

wants more.  

China passed a law changing foreign investment rules.  The U.S. wants to be 

able to retaliate if those laws don`t actually change anything.  The U.S. 

has suggested it would remove most of its tariffs as part of a deal.  China 

wants them all gone.  

Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said China has disappointed him in past 

negotiations, but that de-escalation between the two largest economies 

would be a good thing.

JACK LEW, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY:  The sensitivity of market decision 

makers to be up and down news from the trade discussions is not good for 

the economy.  

TAUSCHE:  There are still questions about how the deal will address 

criminal charges against Chinese telecom Huawei or cybersecurity.  The 

Russia investigation may be close for now, but U.S. intelligence chief say 

China could join in interfering in the 2020 election.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kayla Tausche in Washington.


HERERA:  New market trends are also emerging.  The major indexes are 

recovering from that rocky end to 2018, but individual sector performance 

has been uneven.

Mike Santoli explains.  



Street stumbled from a five-month high in recent days, the performance of 

the market have been quite uneven, with select groups of stocks leading and 

many others wallowing.  

As in the broader society, this divide between haves and have-nots has 

triggered a debate about what it means for the long-term health of the 

market.  The tape has shown a strong preference for very big stocks over 

smaller ones, organic growth companies over economically cyclically plays, 

and groups offering a reliable stream of cash flow and income over almost 

all others.  This has made for an unusual mix of leaders from a market up 

some 12 percent so far this year.  

The giants of tech are back in favor with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Microsoft 

(NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) powering the 

Nasdaq higher, just as having durable businesses and reliable profits for 

many years to come no matter the economic pace.  But humble utilities and 

real estate stocks are also near record highs as steady dividend income 

regains appeal in a world of collapsing bond yields.  On the losing end, 

bank shares reeling from those same skimpy bond yields and retail and 

transportation stocks hindered by nagging fears over how much life remains 

in the economic expansion cycle.  

Some strategists are raising concern that the rally has been insufficiently 

broad, with fewer than a half of all issues trading above their 200-day 

average, which is a shorthand definition of an uptrend.  In an alternative 

view, this is simply the market`s way of rotating toward relative safety 

and certainty during a global economic soft patch as investors await more 

clarity on the economy and profit growth in the year`s second half.  

Something like this played out in 2016, after another scale on the world 

economy.  Stock market inequality isn`t always comfortable to see, but Wall 

Street goals are betting that it`s just a pace and not the new normal.  



GRIFFETH:  Elsewhere, the president of the Chicago Fed said today that 

while the U.S. economy has slowed, he does not see the real risk of a 

recession.  Charles Evans expects 2 percent growth this year and he 

describes the world`s largest economy as being robust primarily because of 

the strong consumer and labor markets.  And, of course, as we`ve been 

reporting, the Fed held interest rates steady last week and indicated that 

no more rate increases will be coming this year.  

HERERA:  So, with the Fed on hold for the rest of the year and the Mueller 

investigation behind us, what will the market turn its attention to at this 


Joining us to talk about is Joe Zidle.  He`s chief investment strategist at 


Joe, welcome.  Nice to have you with us.  


having me on the program tonight.  

HERERA:  Even though we have those two kind of headline risks out of the 

way now, you still see some volatility for market ahead?  Why?  

ZIDLE:  That`s right.  I think we will see some volatility in the months 

ahead because we have this tug of war.  On one side, we had the Fed and the 

possibility of a trade deal with China and I think most of that has been 

priced in.  Stocks have had one of their best starts to the year since 1991 

and I think that reflects the bullish sentiment on the Fed and China.  

But on the other side of this tug of war is a realization that corporate 

profits are really slowing, and corporate profit growth had been a really 

strong story over the last two years.  In 2017, corporate profits were up 

over 10 percent for the year.  In 2018, corporate profit growth accelerated 

to about 20 percent for the full year, but as we start to look at first 

quarter earnings, which will begin to be reported in the next few weeks, 

there`s the realization that profits growth could actually turn negative in 

the first quarter.  And for full year, it`s going to be relatively flat.  I 

think that will drive volatility over the next couple of months.  

GRIFFETH:  You know, as Mike Santoli just pointed out, for market 

leadership right now, we sort of have strange bedfellows in the resurgence 

of technology stocks, but you also have the utilities among others that are 

doing well of course because of the low interest rate environment.  

Where do you see some leadership coming from here?  

ZIDLE:  I think the leadership over the course of the next six to 12 months 

is going to be in the tech sector.  But in addition to that, in energy, 

consumer discretionary, industrials and material, materials companies.  And 

what all those have in common is they tend to be pretty cyclical.  Meaning, 

they`re exposed to global growth, and what we noticed in the fourth quarter 

full back when the markets fell about 20 percent between September and 

December is that those sectors led the market down.

But even after this 12 percent recovery year to date, a lot of those 

sectors are still cheaper than they were back in that September high.  So 

in other words, I think there`s still some value in those sectors, so if we 

get weakness or volatility over the course of the next couple of months, 

those are the sectors that I`d be looking to add positions to.  

HERERA:  Very quickly, does the activity in the bond market and the push 

lower in yields, does it worry you at all?  It has some saying we`re headed 

towards a recession.  Others disagree with that.  

ZIDLE:  I think you bring up a really important point.  The bond market 

sent a really powerful and important message on Friday.  And that`s when 

short-term interest rates rose above long-term interest rates.  That is not 

a normal phenomenon whatsoever and that`s something that typically only 

occurs before a recession.  

Now, when you do see those short term rates going above long-term rates, 

the trick is you don`t know the timing.  On average, that inversion has led 

recession anywhere from, you know, 12, to 24 months or even longer, and we 

can`t rule out the possibility that there is a false positive in that 

portion of the yield curve.  We still need to see some additional 


HERERA:  On that note, Joe, thank you.  Joe Zidle with Blackstone.

ZIDLE:  Thank you.

GRIFFETH:  Time to take a look now at some of today`s “Upgrades and 


Valero was added to the top picks list to Credit Suisse, with an outperform 

rating.  The analyst there cited higher distillate margins among other 

things.  Price target now $105.  The stock rose 1 percent today to $85.48.  

Regions Financial was upgraded to buy from hold at Sandler O`Neill.  The 

analyst cited the recent selloff in the stock and says that the bank can 

continue to grow its loan portfolio.  Price target now is $17.  That stock 

finished the day unchanged at $13.53.

And Tree House Foods was upgraded to buy from hold at SunTrust Robinson 

Humphrey.  The analyst cited the company`s focus on private label products 

and a favorable environment for packaged Foods right now.  Price target now 

at $70.  That`s the highest price target on Wall Street right now for that 

stock, which rose more than 4 percent today to $63.94.  

HERERA:  Still ahead, Boeing (NYSE:BA) moves ahead with software fixes for 

its now graded 737 MAX.


GRIFFETH:  American Airlines have been canceling about 90 flights a day 

because of the grounding of Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX aircraft, and the 

airline says that the cancellations will continue through most of April as 

well.  But today, Boeing (NYSE:BA) shares traded higher, something that 

hasn`t happened often over the past few weeks.  In fact, it was the best 

performance stock among Dow components today.  Boeing (NYSE:BA) has begun 

showing pilots how it plans to fix the issues that have grounded the 737 

MAX airplanes.  

Phil LeBeau has the latest developments for us.



MAX is still a long ways from being cleared once again take off.  But at 

the company`s facilities outside Seattle, pilots tested software designed 

to fix issues suspected of contributing to two 737 MAX crashes, including 

one in the Java Sea last October.  

The software upgrade will still need to be certified by the FAA, and that 

could take more than a week.  Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation 

is moving forward with its review of how the FAA certifies planes.  At 

issue is whether the FAA has been stringent enough, reviewing the self-

certification work of Boeing (NYSE:BA) engineers during the development of 

the 737 MAX.

All of this comes as Airbus announces a mammoth order for its competitor to 

the MAX.  A Chinese airline is buying 290 A320s in a deal with a book value 

topping $30 billion.  

The Airbus order has long been expected.  Still, given concerns about 

Boeing`s backlog suffering now that the MAX is grounded, Wall Street is 

taking a closer at all airplane orders.



HERERA:  Winnebago`s profits were driven higher.  That`s where we begin 

tonight`s “Market Focus”.

The maker of recreational vehicles reported better than expected earnings, 

but revenue fell short on a decline in RV sales.  The CEO acknowledged 

challenges in the industry over the past six month, but also said he hopes 

the market will stabilize during the third quarter.  Shares were off a dime 

at $29.01.  

Thermo Fisher plans to buy privately held Brammer Bio for $1.7 billion.  

The move would push the lab equipment company further into the field of 

gene therapy, which aims to replace defective genes with healthy ones.  The 

CEO of Thermo Fisher calls Brammer a leader in the industry.  The shares 

rose 2 percent to $268.80.

Eli Lily disclosed for the first time what it charges wholesalers versus 

what many patients typically pay for one of its blockbuster drugs.  The net 

price patients pay for its insulin injection Humalog fell by about 8 

percent last year.  That is the price paid after factoring in rebates and 

discounts.  The CEO says that disclosure will provide greater transparency 

into the pricing of medicines.  Lilly was up more than 1 percent to 


GRIFFETH:  Biogen is buying back $5 billion worth of its own stock just 

days after halting those two late stage trials of its experimental 

Alzheimer`s drug.  The buyback is in addition to its current program that 

was authorized last year.  Shares were up more than 1.5 percent in today`s 

trade to $220.26.  They did bounce back after hitting a one-year low 

earlier in the session.  

AT&T (NYSE:T) has renewed a contract to continue carrying Viacom`s 

channels, thereby avoiding a programming blackout that would have left more 

than 24 million customers without channels like MTV and Comedy Central.  

AT&T (NYSE:T) fell 1 percent today to $30.77, while Viacom (NYSE:VIA) rose 

4 percent to $26.32.  

HERERA:  A bizarre turn of events for Nike (NYSE:NKE) today.  It started 

with a tweet from Attorney Michael Avenatti who said he planned to disclose 

what he called a, quote, major high school college basketball scandal 

involving the company.  As you can see, Nike (NYSE:NKE) shares dropped and 

then rose soon after when the Justice Department announced charges against 

Avenatti for trying to extort $20 million from the athletic retailer.  

But the story doesn`t end there.  Avenatti was also charged in Los Angeles 

with bank and wire fraud for allegedly embezzling a client`s money to pay 

off debts.  He was taken into custody in Manhattan this afternoon.  

GRIFFETH:  Coming up, a shift in charitable giving is making some 

grassroots non-profits nervous.  


GRIFFETH:  The Federal Housing Administration is making it harder to get a 

mortgage.  The agency that ensures mortgages for a first time homebuyers is 

going to begin flagging more loans as high risk.  That means that those 

mortgage applications will now go through a more rigorous underwriting 

process.  The decision could lead to fewer first time home buyers getting 

approved for a mortgage.  

HERERA:  The state of New Jersey has postponed a vote to legalize 

recreational marijuana.  The measure was put on hold presumably because it 

did not have enough support to pass.  The legislation calls for taxing the 

product at $42 an ounce.  Ten other states and the District of Columbia 

have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.  It is possible the 

vote will be held at a later date.  

GRIFFETH:  And the state of Illinois is thinking about ditching its flat 

tax income tax.  The governor there, J.B. Pritzker, wants to replace the 

current system with a graduated rate in order to increase revenue.  

Illinois, as you may know, has the worst credit rating of any state, and it 

faces a $3.2 billion budget deficit next fiscal year.  Changes to the 

state`s tax code, though, require a constitutional amendment and voter 

approval and if it happens, it would likely affect the wealthiest residents 

in that state the most.  

HERERA:  Fidelity wants to make it easier for employers to help their 

employees give back.  The company is launching a program that streamlines 

the charitable donation process and allows workers to automatically deduct 

money from their paychecks.  That money in increments of $25 or more would 

be sent directly to the charity of choice.  This comes as charities are 

reporting a decline in smaller donations in light of the recent tax law.  

And that is causing concern among nonprofits who rely on those smaller, 

more frequent gifts.  

Sharon Epperson takes a look at the shift in giving.  



Community Partnership School are settling into their new home.  A former 

factory is being transformed into a brand-new private school, located in 

one of Philadelphia`s poorest neighborhoods.  


EPPERSON:  The school is funded almost entirely by charitable donations, 

which make of 95 percent of its annual revenue.  

JONES:  Without active philanthropy, this school doesn`t exist.  So, we are 

concerned and very attentive to, you know, the shift in laws.  

EPPERSON:  That shift is the result of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.  Under the 

new tax law, the standard deduction nearly doubled to $12,000 for 

individuals and $24,000 for couples.  Yet only taxpayers who itemize their 

returns can write off charitable donations and lower their tax bill.  

Fundraising experts wonder if many taxpayers stop itemizing, how many will 

also stop giving.  


I think they`re probably going to be just giving from the heart and we`re 

hoping that there`s a lot of heart and the American public because 

charities really can`t afford to be losing these small donors.  

EPPERSON:  Large gifts of $1,000 or more increased by nearly 3 percent in 

2018, but revenue from smaller gifts decreased.  Donations between $250 and 

$999 fell by 4 percent, while gifts under $250 dropped by nearly 4.5 


It`s unknown how much of the drop off is being fueled by the new tax law.  

The stock market slide last December, often the busiest month of the year 

for giving, could be partly to blame.  The answer should become more clear 

as people filed their taxes.

HEISMAN:  We`re really worried that overtime, people see that pattern and 

they`ll say, wow, I don`t really have to make a gift to get a deduction.  

I`m going to get one any way, so why do it?  

EPPERSON:  A troubling sign for grassroots charities like Community 

Partnership School.  They greatly value all donations.  

JONES:  Whether it`s $1 million or $10, all in between, it all matters.  

That`s how we fund the school and make it work.  



HERERA:  And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT tonight.  I`m Sue Herera.  

Thanks for joining us.  

GRIFFETH:  I`m Bill Griffeth.  Have a great evening.  We will see you 

tomorrow, hopefully.


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