Transcript: Nightly Business Report – May 15, 2019

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

BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Trade thaw.  Stocks rise for a second straight day on an easing of tensions not just with China, but with other partners, as well.  

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR:  Tariff trouble.  The CEO of Macy`s warns that an escalation in the trade spat could result in increased costs and it is unclear if consumers will pay the price.  

GRIFFETH:  Growth driver.  Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) has a plan for the future and it involves new drugs that hopes will one day be blockbusters.  

Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this Wednesday, May the 15th.  

HERERA:  Good evening, everyone, and welcome.  
Trade has been the focus of Wall Street, of course, and today was really no different, but what was different is that the twists and turns were not just related to our economic relationship with China, but also with Mexico, Canada and the European Union.  The positive tone helped offset disappointing economic data both here and abroad.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 115 points to 25,648, reversing a triple-digit decline.  The Nasdaq was up 87 and the S&P 500 added 16.  
Kayla Tausche starts us off tonight from Washington.  

KAYLA TAUSCHE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  In a series of meetings in Washington today to shore up the prospects for President Trump`s signature trade deal, the new NAFTA, or USMCA.  The top U.S. trade official, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, meeting here on Capitol Hill with House leadership after hosting Canada`s foreign minister where aluminum tariffs were on the top of the agenda.  They`ve been so far been the main roadblock to the deal.  

A senior administration official telling me the U.S. would float a proposal to Canada to remove those tariffs and chart a path forward.  
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said all three countries were close to a deal.  

STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY:  I think we are close to an understanding with Mexico and Canada.  I`ve spoken to the finance ministers.  Ambassador Lighthizer is leading the effort on this, but I can assure you it is a priority of ours.  

TAUSCHE:  Canada`s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said she wouldn`t estimate how long it would take.  

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER:  We don`t believe in negotiations, it`s ever wise to talk about timelines to predict the future.
TAUSCHE:  In the meantime, the White House faces a deadline on whether to put tariffs on autos coming into the United States.  Four sources say the White House will instead chose to delay that decision by up to six months as it keeps negotiations open with Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan, all of which exports cars to the United States.  

The escalation with allies comes as the White House ratchets up tensions with China ahead of the G-20 next month and the possible implementation of a major new round of tariffs.  
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Kayla Tausche in Washington.  

GRIFFETH:  And trade is just one of the many issues the market is trying to figure out right now, and Bob Pisani is watching all of the crosscurrents.  

BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Stocks rallied today after the Dow swung more than 350 points to register its first back-to-back gains for May, believe it or not.  It was an up and down day for the markets starting off on a weaker note after disappointing data was on retail sales and industrial production.  And oddly, it was weak both in the United States as well as China.

But then in the middle of the morning, we saw a pop into positive territory as President Trump said he would delay implementing auto tariffs in Europe for at least six months.  Well, the auto stocks rose on that, but tech also rose.  

Then we had another report out of Axios saying that the U.S. and China were negotiating specific dates for delegation to travel to Beijing to revive trade negotiations.  That trip perhaps could take place as early as next week.  

And most of the market turned around on those two points.  We saw about a modest bounce in key tech names, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), especially Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which is the weakest month, along with communications services names like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)`s parent company Alphabet.

But industrials and retailers, these are sectors that are very closely tied to trade were left out of the rally.  We really didn`t see much of a bounce at all in 3M (NYSE:MMM) or United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) or Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), and the retailers like Macy`s and Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN), they were down again, thanks partly to that weaker retail sales print that we saw this morning.  

So what does all of this tell us?  Well, it tells us that the market is not going to necessarily jump on every spin on trade.  Investors believe the trade deal was closed once before and they got burned.  So, it`s going to take a lot more to convince the market that a deal is really on the docket this time.  
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.  

HERERA:  The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond says he`s watching the trade conflict with China very closely.  Thomas Barkin said the trade wars have the power to damage business confidence, but he added that the overall impact on the economy could be muted if a resolution is reached soon.  

GRIFFETH:  The trade concerns that have been pressuring the market lately also pressured shares of Macy`s today after the CEO said that escalating tensions could hurt its business.  And that shifted the focus away from the company`s better-than-expected quarterly results this morning.  
Courtney Reagan has more on the retailers` quarter.  

COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  First, the good news.  Macy`s drew comparable sales for the sixth straight quarter and logged its 39th straight quarter of double digit online sales growth.  

Now the bad.  While tariffs currently in place haven`t had a big impact on Macy`s, so far, that could change if the Trump administration puts tariffs on the remaining $300 billion worth of Chinese imports, including clothing and shoes.  On its conference call, CEO Jeff Gennette says Macy`s has been working with manufacturing and brand partners to minimize the impact to shoppers.  

JEFF GENNETTE, MACY`S CHAIRMAN & CEO:  Looking at all of those categories and those brands that are included, it is hard to do the math to find a path that gets you to a place where you don`t have a customer impact.  It`s too early to comment on what that`s going to mean on the potential price increases and what categories are going to be more affected than others.  

JAN KNIFFEN:  People will try to raise price, but we have an oversupply worldwide of product and so, there`s a downward pressure.  There`s a lot of ability to substitute.  They just won`t be able to get the consumer to pay it.  

REAGAN:  At this point, Macy`s isn`t factoring in how the possibility of higher prices from tariffs could curb spending or weigh on its profitability.  Instead, reaffirming its full-year earnings and sales guidance based on the current conditions.  

MATTHEW ROSS, JPMORGAN:  The unknown is if we really — if we really ramp up to this additional $300 billion, I don`t think that that would be priced into really any of my coverage in that it more or less would wipe out an entire year of earnings if that really were the case.  

REAGAN:  Beyond tariffs, Gennette says the U.S. consumer is still healthy with a rise in wages and confidence is still there.  While there are fewer economic tailwinds this year than last, Gennette told me he believes Macy`s can compete in this environment.  

But while Macy`s most loyal customers are shopping more frequently than ever, the retailer has work to do to get the occasional shopper, particularly the millennial female to spend more.  

LORRAINE HUTCHINSON, BANK OF AMERICA MERRILL LYNCH:  The consumers, as their wages aren`t going up quite as much anymore, they`re probably more discerning at what they`re buying.

REAGAN:  So, while Macy`s had a good start to the year, a more discerning consumer faced with the possibility of higher prices from tariffs, there`s a big challenge for the remainder of 2019.  
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Courtney Reagan.  

HERERA:  J&J`s prescription drug business accounts for half of its revenue and at the company`s analyst day today, the CEO put the focus on the company`s pharmaceutical pipeline.  
Meg Tirrell reports tonight from Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) headquarters in New Brunswick (NYSE:BC), New Jersey.  

MEG TIRRELL, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)`s pharmaceutical unit is a $40 billion business and the largest segment for the health conglomerate.  A key question from Wall Street, how will the health giant continue to grow?  J&J laid out a plan for the next five years.  

ALEX GORSKY, JOHNSON & JOHNSON CEO:  We have new compounds that we`re launching between now, or filing between now and 2023, each of which have over a billion worth of opportunity.  

TIRRELL:  CEO Alex Gorsky highlighted the company`s work on medicines for cancer, autoimmune diseases and neuroscience.  The growth in this business is expected to trail other large drugmakers this year as the company navigates generic competition to some of its medicines.  
Meanwhile, the stock is still recovering from pressure on another part of J&J`s business, a slew of lawsuits over the safety of its talc baby powder.  The company disputes claims and says research shows its talc is safe.  

GORSKY:  We are in a very litigious industry.  But what`s most important is that we stay focused on serving customers, that we stay focused on innovation and really bringing these new products to market. 

TIRRELL:  J&J`s stock has underperformed the broader market this year.  
But Jefferies healthcare strategist Jared Holt says that`s a symptom of broader pressures on drug stocks.  

JARED HOLZ, HEALTHCARE STRATEGIST, JEFFERIES & CO.:  I think it comes down to the elections and the political rhetoric and the fact that, you know, this space has both political parties sort of going against it in different ways and typically coming into these election years depending on who the candidates are, health care tends to underperform.  

TIRRELL:  With almost 18 months until the 2020 election, health stocks may be in for a bumpy ride.  

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Meg Tirrell in New Brunswick (NYSE:BC), New Jersey.  

GRIFFETH:  The White House is reportedly pushing for a greater transparency on health care prices.  According to “The Wall Street Journal,” the administration wants to require up-front disclosure on prices patients are paying for treatments.  It also wants insurers to publicize the negotiated rates that they pay for services.  Some say that such a price disclosure could alter the economic forces at play across that industry.  
HERERA:  The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration was on Capitol Hill, testifying about Boeing (NYSE:BA)`s grounded 737 MAX plane.  

Dan Elwell said he expects Boeing (NYSE:BA) to submit a software fix for approval soon.  But in an exchange with Congressman DeFazio, he also said that he was concerned about the company`s delay in disclosing a problem with the software.  

REP. PETER DEFAZIO (D), OREGON:  The point is, a year lapsed before Boeing (NYSE:BA) told the FAA what actions did the FAA take at that point in time?  Did you consider that inappropriate behavior by Boeing (NYSE:BA)?  
DANIEL ELWELL, FAA ACTING ADMINISTRATOR:  Sir, I`m concerned that it took a year and we`re looking into that and we`re going to fix that.  Once we learned that the light was not operable, then we made the decision that it is not a safety-critical display.  It`s not a safety-critical display.  It is advisory.  There are no actions that the pilot takes to an AOA disagree light.  

HERERA:  Shares of Boeing (NYSE:BA) rose in today`s session.  

GRIFFETH: Time to take a look now at some of today`s “Upgrades and Downgrades”.  
We begin with shares of Chevron (NYSE:CVX) tonight.  They were added to the conviction buy list at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS).  The analyst cited the company`s cash flow right now, price target: $144.  That stock rose a fraction to $122.14 in today`s trade.  

Zillow was upgraded to buy from neutral at Guggenheim.  The analyst cited the growth of Zillow`s buying and selling program.  Price target: $45.  That stock gained more than 4.5 percent to $38.28.  

And Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT) was upgraded to positive from neutral at Susquehanna.  The analysts cited recent checks that suggested it could regain lost market share.  The price target now $60, and that stock rose nearly 4 percent to $41.50.  

HERERA:  Still ahead, the buzz around the alternative meat market is sizzling right now, but can it last?  

HERERA:  Dow component Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) reported better than expected earnings.  The networking equipment company also issued a strong revenue forecast thanks to investment in the cloud, security and data centers, and that helped lift the stock in initial after-hours trading.  
Jon Fortt has more on Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO)`s results.  

JON FORTT, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  A surprisingly strong quarter from Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).  Investors were braced for something mediocre given the reports out of other large technology companies that supply enterprise and government, but Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) turned in not only a beat on the past quarters` numbers, but also a strong guide for the current quarter, saying that revenues would be considerably higher and gross margins profits would really hang in there, showing that there`s still strength in the global technology market.  

GRIFFETH:  The FCC is proposing a new measure to fight back against robocalls and as the chairman of the agency said today on Capitol Hill, it would give phone carriers more latitude to block those calls.  

HON. AJIT PAI, FCC CHAIRMAN:  We`ve authorized carriers to block robocalls from certain spoofed numbers.  We`ve authorized the creation of the re-assigned numbers database.  We`ve taken action on those who unleashed robocalls on consumers and we demanded that phone carriers established a robust call dedication framework by the end of this year.  

GRIFFETH:  You`ll love this.  Americans received more than 26 billion robocalls this year.  That`s a 46 percent increase from the prior year and a recent report from Senator Chuck Schumer`s office says New Yorkers received 293 million in April alone.  That amounts to 112 calls per second and 11 calls per New Yorker.  

HERERA:  The parent company of Burger King outlined its global growth plans.  Restaurant Brands International which also owns Popeye`s and Tim Horton`s said it aims to have 40,000 restaurants in operation globally over the next eight to ten years.  The CEO also announced a push into plant-based meats with Tim Horton`s testing three breakfast options made with Beyond Meat`s meatless patty.  

JOSE CIL, RESTAURANT BRANS CEO:  We`re excited to be the first to announce a national rollout of — of impossible — or plant-based protein here in the U.S. and the same in Canada for breakfast.  And so, we`re just going to keep focused on making sure that the product does well in tests, and it`s profitable for our franchisees and that it`s operationally feasibility so that we can deliver it consistently to our guests day in and day out.  

HERERA:  And that sent shares of both Restaurant Brands and Beyond Meat higher in trading today.  

GRIFFETH:  In fact, Beyond Meat has been on a tear since it came public just roughly two weeks ago.  It priced its initial public offering at $25 and it closed up more than 150 percent on that first day of trading.  Since then, the stock has more than tripled.  Clearly, investors liked this meatless alternative so far, but is it a passing fad or something that could be longer lasting?  

Joining us tonight is Stephen Anderson, a senior restaurant and consumer analyst at Maxim Group. Stephen, thanks for joining us tonight.


GRIFFETH:  This is a 10-year-old company.  It`s never been profitable.  It`s meatless — plant-based meat is not necessarily a healthy alternative with red meat.  It`s pretty heavy in fat and salt content, and it`s a very, very crowded industry right now.  

So why has this stock up gone up as much as it has in the last two weeks?

ANDERSON:  Well, one key reason.  Unlike any other meatless alternatives have offered in the last two decades, this is actually an alternative that tastes very close to beef and that`s why it`s been very popular, allowed the restaurant chains both in quick service and casual dining have added either a Beyond Beef or an Impossible Burger alternative.  And that`s something that is in the early returns suggest that it`s resulted in increased traffic and sales.  

HERERA:  So does that put pressure on those companies that have not adopted a meatless alternative to do so, at the risk of losing sales if they don`t?  

ANDERSON:  We believe it does, and the reason why is it really goes after a segment of the population that has really passed by fast food, either because they`re vegetarian or seeking more healthy alternatives.  Increasingly, you`re seeing the trend of flexitarians, those who will have a beef burger one day and the next day might have an Impossible Burger or Beyond Beef burger, and it`s really catering to that part of the population.  

GRIFFETH:  What about the profit question, though?  I mean, clearly, they`re going to have to ramp up their spending to gain this kind of market share or to get into some of these fast food chains, but can they make it profitably?  

ANDERSON:  Well, I mean, we don`t cover Beyond Beef specifically, but what the restaurant chains have done is they have priced their meatless alternative burgers at a premium to the traditional beef burger price.  And right now, it appears that consumers are willing to pay for that.  That wasn`t the case 20 years ago when a lot of these chains came out with their initial foray into vegetarian burgers that really tasted vegetarian.  

HERERA:  Do you have plans to cover Beyond Beef?  How would you rate it if you did?  

ANDERSON:  Well, I can`t comment on that at this time, but something we`ll be watching closely.  

GRIFFETH:  That is for sure and Wall Street is right now.  Stephen Anderson with the Maxim Group, again, thanks for joining us tonight.  

ANDERSON:  Thank you.  

HERERA:  Southwest hikes its dividend and that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.  
The airline is raising its quarterly dividend by 12-1/2 percent to 18 cents per share.  Southwest is also buying back another $2 billion worth of its shares.  The stock today was up a fraction to $52.01.  

Alibaba posted sales and earnings that beat analyst expectations.  The Chinese e-commerce giant saw growth in user engagement especially in the country`s less-developed cities as well as an increased in its cloud business.  Alibaba rose 1.5 percent to $177.60.  

Agilent Technologies (NYSE:A) missed both earnings and revenue targets as the company saw weakness in its pharmaceutical and food markets.  Agilent also gave its quarterly guidance which fell below Wall Street forecasts.  Shares fell 11 percent to $67.64.  

GRIFFETH:  Changes could be on the way at Legg Mason (NYSE:LM).  “The Wall Street Journal” says an activist investor Trian recently held discussions with Legg about cutting costs and improving profit margins at that investment firm.  Legg Mason (NYSE:LM) rose more than 4-1/2 percent to $36.29.  

The Children`s Place posted stronger than expected results, but the retailer saw same-store sales dropped and it sees them staying flat for the rest of the year.  As a result, shares dropped about 7 percent today to $104.37.  
Wall Street now knows how much Warren Buffett`s firm bought of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)`s stock.  Late today, Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) revealed its stake in Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is worth over $900 million according to SEC filings.  Berkshire`s stake in the e-commerce giant was more than 44,000 shares at the end of the quarter on March 31st.  Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock was up more than 1.5 percent in today`s trading.  

And officials in California late today said that 2018`s Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned by PG&E.  The Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive in the state`s history.  PG&E is California`s largest electric utility.  It filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.  And that stock was volatile in after-hours trading this evening.  
HERERA:  President Trump and Democratic leaders have floated the idea of a $2 trillion infrastructure spending bill.  But some agencies aren`t waiting for the federal government to take action, especially when it comes to water systems.  

Contessa Brewer is in Bridgewater, New Jersey, with tonight`s look at the state of our nation`s infrastructure.  

CONTESSA BREWER, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Thousands of dams and levies are on the brink of failure and the drinking water for millions of Americans is at risk.  The nation`s water infrastructure system gets a grade of “D” by the American Society of Civil Engineers, which blames failures in investment, leadership and planning.  
PAUL RUSH, NYC D.E.P. DEPUTY COMMISSIONER:  What`s required is really good planning.

BREWER:  But New York City is tackling the problem of aging infrastructure.  Much of the system is at least a century old, but it`s spending nearly $20 billion over 10 years on projects to repair, maintain and improve the water and waste water infrastructure.  
The Delaware aqueduct that brings water from the Catskill Mountains to the city.  It`s the world`s longest tunnel, but it`s old.

RUSH:  We have a leak, so we`re going through fixing that right now.  It provides a capacity of about 900 million gallons a day, and the project altogether is going to cost about $1.5 million to get this fix done.  

BREWER:  New York City has the money to pay for these kind of repairs because it`s operated by an independent water agency, but sets the rates customers pay and finance authority that sales bonds to raise capital money.  New York`s rates are 15 percent lower than the national average, in part because there`s almost no cost associated with pumping and filtration.

RUSH:  It`s definitely a world leader in sulfur (ph) protection.  
BREWER:  New York is not alone if trying to stay ahead of the infrastructure curve.  American Water is the nation`s largest publicly traded water company operating in 46 states.  It`s spending $8.5 billion over the next five years, upgrading treatment plants, replacing thousands of miles of water mains.  

CHERYL NORTON, NJ AMERICAN WATER PRESIDENT:  Many of those projects are tied to resiliency.  With the climate variability that we`re starting to see across the nation and the world, frankly, it`s very challenging to make sure that we can get through those climate issues, through those natural disasters, and make sure that we can still sustain in service to our customers.  

BREWER:  That means investment in flood control barriers and levies.  In new reservoirs like this one in Bel Air, Maryland, to collect storm water when it`s available and distribute it during dry times.  It means grappling with chemical contaminants showing up coast to coast.  

NORTON:  We routinely test for compounds that are not regulated and we actually install treatment for compounds before they`re regulated if we know that they`re there.  

BREWER:  The complicated tack of repairing, improving and maintaining the nation`s water system requires big money.  And, in fact, an advocacy group, the American Waterworks Association, estimates it will take a trillion dollars for drinking alone.  

And the American Society of Civil Engineers says Americans need to pay rates and fees that accurately reflect the true cost of infrastructure.  
In Bridgewater, New Jersey, Contessa Brewer, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.  

GRIFFETH:  And coming up, a caffeine rush in China is making its way to the Nasdaq.

GRIFFETH:  A flaw in Ford vehicles is prompting a recall of more than a quarter of a million cars in North America.  The automaker says that the cars could roll unexpectedly.  Vehicles involved include the Ford Fusion and the Ford Ranger trucks.  And today, there have been three reports of property damage and one potential injury.  

HERERA:  As Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) expands in China, its biggest rival in that country is planning to go public.  Luckin Coffee is expected to begin trading Friday on the Nasdaq.  The company is growing fast, opening nearly 2,400 stores in just about 18 months.
And Eunice Yoon took our cameras inside.  

EUNICE YOON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:  Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) dominates the coffee industry in China, but a Chinese startup hopes to change that.  It`s called Luckin.  Let`s go inside and see how it plans to take on its U.S. rival.  

One of the first things that you notice when you walk in to a Luckin store is that there aren`t many seats.  Luckin, whose Chinese name means luck and fortune, believes that it knows the young Chinese consumer really, really well.  So, it`s investing more in stores like this.  This is called a pick-up store, as opposed it a relax store.  And it`s essentially a coffee counter as opposed to a cafe, because the company believes that more and more, young Chinese will want to pick up their coffee and go or have it delivered as opposed to chilling out in a cafe.  

Notice anything?  There is no cashier here.  Luckin says that young Chinese prefer to pay for everything on their mobile phone, so you cannot use cash in any of the stores.  Instead, you use your mobile phone to scan the QR code and then place your order on this app.  

The other way Luckin plans to compete is with aggressive subsidies.  At a Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) for a medium size latte, you pay almost $5.  With the discounts and coupons at Luckin, the same size latte will cost you as little as 60 cents.  

And Luckin believes that it understands Chinese states.  So, it offers Americano with orange soda, fruit tea with great tea, which is a really popular trend in China these days, and then there`s the coffee which is not bad considering the price.  
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon in Beijing.  

GRIFFETH:  And finally tonight, a milestone in the art world.  Monet`s “Haystacks” set a record, selling last night for more than $110 million.  According to Sotheby`s, that is the most expensive impressionist art work ever to be sold at auction.  
The painting`s previous owner paid about $2.5 million for that piece back in 1986.  Not a bad investment.  

HERERA:  Not at all, and a beautiful one, too. Before we go here`s a look at the final day`s numbers on Wall Street.  The Dow rose 115 points to 25,648, reversing a triple-digit decline.  The Nasdaq was up 87, and the S&P 500 added 16.  

And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight.  I`m Sue Herera.  Thanks for joining us.  

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


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