ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth.
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: In the clouds. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) trounced earnings expectations but growth has slowed in one of its key businesses.
Billions and counting. Profits fall and costs rise at Boeing (NYSE:BA) as the CEO stands firm, sticking to his timeline of getting the 737 MAX back in the air.
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) crunch. Sales slump and its outlook is ugly. But investors may be starting to believe that the worst is over.
Those stories and much more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this Wednesday, October 23rd.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome. Bill has the evening off.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is reeling in the profits. The most valuable public company in the U.S. easily beat Wall Street estimates, reporting earnings of more than $10 billion in sales of more than $30 billion both double digit increases from a year ago. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) may have made its name in its Windows operating system but its future is in the cloud. Its cloud business called Azure has been growing quickly, but its growth in the most recent quarter was below 60 percent, a big number but one that gave investors pause. The stock was volatile in initial after- hours trading.
Josh Lipton has more now on Microsoft`s quarter.
JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Expectations ran high into Microsoft`s latest earnings with the stock up nearly 35 percent so far this year as investors bet that it`s a smart way to capitalize on the shift to cloud computing. One big number that investors watch: commercial cloud revenue. Now, that includes Azure, Microsoft`s answer to rival AWS, as well as other cloud properties.
Commercial cloud revenue clocked in at $11.6 billion with gross margin spanning to 66 percent.
Evercore`s Kirk Materne says the growth in the cloud is now translating into real earnings power. And that he argues should drive the stock higher over the long-term.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Josh Lipton, San Francisco.
HERERA: Let`s turn now to Dan Ives to talk more about Microsoft`s better than expected earnings. He is the managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities.
Welcome, Dan. Nice to have you here.
DAN IVES, WEDBUSH SECURITIES MANAGING DIRECTOR OF EQUITY RESEARCH: Great to be here. Thanks.
HERERA: What do you think of the report? Specifically, I know you were going to be focused on the cloud business. And that seems to be what has investors a little bit worried about tonight.
Are you at all concerned?
IVES: Yes, I view it as a knee-jerk reaction. I mean, this continues in my opinion to be a strong report and really one that puts gasoline in the engine in terms of cloud. You look at a 59 percent growth number. I think what`s happening here is Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) stealing share from AWS. And for the stock, we continue to view this as something that`s still in the early innings and moving higher.
HERERA: Now, the stock as Josh mentioned in his report is up about 35 percent. You`re still bullish on the stock. What kind of target do you have? And does this percentage increase so far this year give you any pause?
IVES: Yes, we have $160 price target. I think this is only halfway through the move to cloud. And Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) continues to be our bet. But if I look at this quarter ultimately gives us more bullishness to owning this. Stocks up and I still view this as a start of what`s going to be a massive secular change when the Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) owning the cloud.
HERERA: What about Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and the competition with their cloud business? They really still own the space even though Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is gaining.
IVES: It`s a great point. I mean, I think the first part of this, Bezos and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) won the first part of the cloud battle. But I think the next part is where Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) win there. And I think when you look at these earnings, forest for the trees, I think this really shows that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is starting to steal share and in our opinion makes us more positive on shares, and just on the cloud story going forward, in terms of the two-horse race between Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).
HERERA: Now, if you are a long-term investor as many of our viewers are, would you own both stocks on a kind of hedge your bet as to who`s really going to win the cloud war?
IVES: Yes, I mean, right here, I view Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) as my 10- year play on cloud. And that`s continuing to be our top pick. I do view Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) when you look at the AWS piece, that`s another name to own in the portfolio. You`re going to have $700 billion to $800 billion spent in the cloud over the next eight to nine years. These are the two ways to play it in my opinion.
HERERA: On that note, Dan Ives with Wedbush Securities — thanks, Dan.
IVES: Thank you.
HERERA: Boeing`s earnings were cut in half as the company struggles to recover from the grounding of its top selling 737 MAX jetliner. Revenue slid 20 percent from a year ago. But that wasn`t as bad as feared.
The company also said it`s sticking with its plan to get the 737 MAX back in the air. And that helped lift the stock in today`s session.
Phil LeBeau has the details.
PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Fixing the 737 MAX continues to cost Boeing (NYSE:BA) hundreds of millions of dollars. But CEO Dennis Muilenburg says the company is moving closer to fixing the beleaguered plane.
DENNIS MUILENBURG, BOEING CHAIRMAN & CEO: There are tangible milestones being achieved but we still have more work to do. Last week, we did complete an initial dry run of the certification test flight.
LEBEAU: That certification flight is expected to happen next month. If it goes as planned, the head of the FAA could decide by the end of the year, the MAX is safe to fly, clearing the way for scores of 737s to get back in the air. But some on Wall Street have a different time line for the MAX.
RON EPSTEIN, BANK OF AMERICA: We have it returning to service in March. Are we changing that because of what the company said? No. I mean, this is a company that has a history of overpromising and under-delivering, and eventually, they get it right.
LEBEAU: After cutting MAX production to 42 per month earlier this year, Boeing (NYSE:BA) plans to ramp up to 57 per month by the end of next year.
While investors are encouraged Boeing (NYSE:BA) is close to turning the corner with this crisis, some in Congress still have plenty of questions about what went wrong. And next week, they`ll grill CEO Dennis Muilenburg during hearings on the Hill.
MUILENBURG: I anticipate there will be tough questions, challenging questions, a lot of scrutiny. And frankly, we support the scrutiny on the work that we`re doing.
LEBEAU: That scrutiny is far from over. Regulators from around the world still must be convinced that the MAX is safe to fly. And in some countries like China, that may not happen for several months.
Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Chicago.
HERERA: Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) is considered a barometer for global growth. And today, it reported weaker than expected earnings, it lowered its full year profit outlook. It also said it would not be issuing sales guidance because the outlook is so uncertain. But the stock didn`t fall as much as you`d think. In fact, it rose.
Seema Mody explains.
SEEMA MODY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The softening global economy is pushing Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) customers to think twice about buying heavy machinery. The industrial bellwether said dealers were holding off on purchases of equipment not due to financial distress but because of the uncertainty about where the economy goes from here.
ANDREW R.J. BONFIELD, CATERPILLAR CFO: Obviously, primary is dealer expectations of inventory reductions. It depends where we end — you know, obviously, the big unknown factor is what is our dealer expectations of future growth going to be at the end of the year, because that will impact their order pattern in Q4.
MODY: Weaker demand resulted in Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) posting its first quarterly profit decline since 2016. Energy was also weak. The company makes things like pumps and drilling equipment. That softness some experts say is the result of the trade war and slowing global growth.
JIM UMPLEBY, CATERPILLAR CEO: Our mines customers are cautious and so, they are hesitant to pull the trigger on new equipment, although, again, we`re seeing increased sales. So, we`re seeing improvement in that business. One thing to also keep in mind is that, you know, when miners sometimes delay, that creates opportunities for us for rebuild in parts.
MODY: Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) continues to deal with ongoing weakness in Asia-Pacific where sales fell 13 percent. But the company is confident that overtime, it will be able to fend of competition in markets like China.
UMPLEBY: We are confident in our ability to compete in China long-term and demonstrated the ability to do that. But there will be fluctuations on a short-term basis up or down. That`s just part of the deal.
MODY: Despite the disappointing earnings report, some investors are hopeful the company can stage a turn around overtime.
ROB WERTHEIMER, MELIUS RESEARCH FOUNDING PARTNER: They`ve done a very good job, the short little up cycle we have. And keep in mind, these industrial up cycles has been great. Mining is not all that great. Oil and gas is not at all that great. And construction is OK.
It hasn`t been a powerful up cycle. The margins have been really exceptional. They`ve done a great job. We`ll see how they can manage the other side, the turn if we have one.
MODY: The biggest challenge for Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) will be navigating the uncertain global economy.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Seema Mody.
HERERA: Those earnings were not enough to firmly drive stocks in one direction or the other. The major average is kind of wobbled, trading at a narrow range throughout the session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 45 points to 26,833. The Nasdaq was up 15, and the S&P added 8.
And now comes the hard part, making sense of corporate America`s hits and misses this earnings season.
Bob Pisani is here to help lead the way.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: We are about a quarter of the way through earnings season and analysts are wondering whether several high profile misses are spelling broader trouble ahead for the overall stock market.
FedEx (NYSE:FDX), McDonald`s (NYSE:MCD), now Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) and Boeing (NYSE:BA) have all missed earnings expectations by a significant amount. We`re talking a miss of 30 percent by Boeing (NYSE:BA). That`s a real outlier. While the misses aren`t trivial, they may be outliers.
Only 14 percent of companies are missing earnings estimates this quarter. That`s roughly in line with the historical trends. And most of these large misses are either company or sector specific. So, Boeing`s 737 MAX jet issues are well-known.
FedEx (NYSE:FDX) had many company specific issues. Look at rival UPS, they boasting strong numbers in the next day air delivery service. They didn`t have the same problems FedEx (NYSE:FDX) had.
McDonald`s (NYSE:MCD) likely saw significant traffic diversion around that whole chicken sandwich wars earlier in the last few months, competitors like Popeyes. But if the miss is reflecting trends in the broader economy, you`d be seeing far more companies missing and overall guidance would be much worse than it is.
So, this leaves Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), this is poster child for the trade wars and for Canada. Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) reduced dealer inventory due uncertainty in the global economy resulting from trade tensions. That`s their words. And they said end user demand was flat. But Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) earnings trends have been very poor more than a year, not just this quarter.
And the fact that the stock is up today seems to indicate that the street believes that Caterpillar`s earnings could be bottoming. The question now is, is the global slowdown getting priced in? Alec Young from FTSE Russell calls this the muddle-through market, where investors are expecting one to two percent GDP growth and maybe 5 percent earnings growth or less in 2020.
That`s a lot better than recession fears that we had six months ago.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
HERERA: It is time to look at some of today`s “Upgrades and Downgrades”.
Coke was upgraded to buy from neutral at UBS. The analyst cites price increase, its acquisition of a global coffee brand and innovation. The price target is $63. The stock rose more than 1.5 percent to $56.64.
Travelers was upgraded to hold from sell at Deutsche Bank. The analyst says underwriting margin may be bottoming. The price target is $140. Shares of the Dow component gained 1.5 percent to $132.16.
Walgreen`s Boots Alliance was downgraded to neutral from overweight at JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM). The analyst there cites growth challenges in the near term. The price target is $63. The stock fell 1 percent to $54.56.
And ServiceNow was downgraded to neutral from buy at Mizuho Securities. The analyst cites the departure of the company`s CEO and the broader concern over employee attrition. Last night you may remember we told that you ServiceNow CEO is going to go over and head Nike (NYSE:NKE). The price target is $230. The stock is down more than 3.5 percent to 220.01.
Still ahead, Facebook`s CEO did not find many friends among lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
HERERA: In the news tonight, President Trump today lifted all sanctions on Turkey, saying there will be a permanent cease fire in the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds in northern Syria. The ceasefire required Kurdish forces to move out of a roughly 20-mile zone on the Turkish border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By the moves that we have made, we are achieving a much more peaceful and stable area between Turkey and Syria, including a 20-mile-wide safe zone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: The administration says it reserves the right to re-impose the sanctions if Ankara falls short of its obligations, adding that it`s not the job of the U.S. military to police the world.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg went to Capitol Hill today to answer questions about his company`s cryptocurrency project called Libra. And he found himself defending just about every part of his social media network.
Ylan Mui has more on the heated hearing.
YLAN MUI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Mark Zuckerberg`s hearing on Capitol Hill lasted all day. Facebook`s founder and CEO fielded questions on everything from election security and political speech, to privacy and competition. Democrats were angry and at times exasperated.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA (NASDAQ:CA)), FINANCIAL SERVICES CHAIR: Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) changes the rules when it can benefit itself.
REP. NYDIA VELAZQUEZ (D), NEW YORK: Have you learned that you should not lie?
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) has been systemically found at the scene of the crime.
REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA (NASDAQ:CA)): For the richest man in the world to come here and hide behind the poorest people in the world and say that`s who you`re really trying to help. You`re trying to help those for whom the dollar is not a good currency — drug dealers, terrorists, tax evaders.
MUI: Republicans were also tough on Zuckerberg but some cautioned against the broader big tech backlash.
REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): That`s why I believe American innovation is on trial this day in this hearing.
MUI: The focus of the hearing was supposed to be Facebook`s ambitious plan to launch a cryptocurrency called Libra. Zuckerberg says he understands why Washington is kept skeptical.
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: I get that I`m not the ideal messenger for this right now. We faced a lot of issues over the past few years and I`m sure there are a lot of people who wish it were anyone but Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) who are helping to propose this.
MUI: He promised lawmakers that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) would not move forward with Libra unless they get approval from U.S. regulators. And if it doesn`t, Zuckerberg said he would be willing to leave the association backing the cryptocurrency. However, there will be costs to stepping away.
ZUCKERBERG: While we debate these issues, the rest of the world isn`t waiting. China is moving quickly to launch the similar idea in the coming months. Libra is going to be backed mostly by dollars and I believe that it will extend America`s financial leadership around the world, as well as our Democrat values and oversight.
But if America doesn`t innovate, our financial leadership is not guaranteed.
MUI: This is Zuckerberg`s first public testimony on Capitol Hill in 18 months. He leaned forward in seat while listening to questions and answering them.
This hearing may be over, but the spotlight isn`t going away.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Ylan Mui in Washington.
HERERA: Sales of one of the Eli Lilly`s top selling drugs misses the mark. And that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
Rebates and discounts on a Lily`s diabetes drug Trulicity curved revenue and came in shy of targets but the drug maker did top expectations and it raised its full year earnings forecast. Shares fell more than 2 percent to $107.40.
Profit and health insurer Anthem rose more than 20 percent, thanks to enrollment gains from people enrolled in Medicare Advantage and Medicaid. Anthem`s 2020 guidance was also better than feared, easing concerns that rising medical costs would cut into profits. That helped sent shares up more than 1 percent to $263.51.
Norfolk Southern (NYSE:SO) profit fell as the railroad carried less freight in the quarter. The company also sees industry headwinds, with tariff uncertainty and global weakness that could impact the coal and steel transport markets. Norfolk Southern (NYSE:SO) shares slipped more than 2 percent to $184.87.
And shares of Resideo Technologies fell following the company lowering its revenue guidance. The smart home and security products company also said its CFO will be leaving and it has begun a comprehensive operational and financial review. Shares lost nearly 40 percent of their value today to finish at $9.50.
And after the bell, Ford posted a lower than expected profit as higher warranty and incentive costs and slower demand in China hit its bottom line. The automaker also cut its full-year guidance. Shares initially fell following the news, but they closed the regular session up about 1.5 percent to $9.21.
Also after the bell, Tesla shares initially spiked after the electric carmaker posted a surprise profit for the quarter. But revenue did fall slightly from a year ago. And you can see the after-hours move after closing the regular session down a fraction to $254.68.
While price target hikes are pretty common on Wall Street, but today, there were a couple that caught our attention. Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) increased their target on the paint company Sherwin- Williams (NYSE:SHW) to $650 a share. Now, there were only a handful of companies trading at that high of a dollar amount, which got us thinking, why did companies choose to keep their stock prices so high?
We decided to examine the phenomenon in a segment we call surprising stocks.
And joining to us talk about all this is Art Hogan. He is the chief market strategist at National Securities.
Good to see you, Art.
ART HOGAN, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, NATIONAL SECURITIES: Nice to see you, Sue. Thanks so much for having me.
HERERA: Sherwin-Williams (NYSE:SHW) was a surprise for me with the price that it`s trades at. But if you broaden it out, why would a company choose to keep its price that high instead of splitting it?
HOGAN: Yes, it`s such a great question.
So, on the company side, there`s three kind of fundamental reasons why they like to keep that. There`s a prestige thing and, all of a sudden, sort of post to the 1999, 2000 time frame when everything fell apart, the higher the price, is it just seemed like you are a fancier and better company. That`s persistent. So, we have seen that.
And the second thing, large institutional investors pay by share. So they put pressure on companies not to actually split their share price, so they don`t have to pay as much in transacting, investing in companies.
And then the third thing is, remember both in 1999, 2000 and 2008 when prices came down precipitously, if you start at lower level and you slipped between $10, it became a very slippery slope for your stock to get down to a level where you might be delisted or you might get — the stock price might be too low that you couldn`t trade on exchanging or couldn`t be in funds.
So, I think that`s probably the three main drivers for corporations.
HERERA: So, for that last one that you mentioned, it could be a defensive strategy. In case.
HOGAN: Yes, very much so.
HERERA: If the CFO or the CEO thinks that perhaps the economy is slowing or we`re headed for a recession or something along those lines.
HOGAN: Yes, that`s generally the thought process. There`s the sort of prestige thing I`ve got a $1,000 stock or the $500 stock. There`s the pressure you get from large institutional investors who say, hey, listen, we are paying by the share, so we don`t care how expensive your stock is. And the third thing is, hey, remember in 2008 when we got down to 5 bucks and half the funds of the world could invest in us because our stock price was too low.
So, those are types of things, and really, those are the fundamentals. But I don`t think there`s great reasons.
HERERA: But on the other side, one of the reasons that you might want to split your stock I would think that you broaden out shareholder base.
HOGAN: Oh, absolutely. So human psychology for with whatever reason, it`s just easier for me to contemplate that a $20 stock is going to $40, and I think I`m buying more if I buy it at $20, even though spending $10,000, than if I paid $20 a share and it goes to $400.
The contemplation of going from 20 to 40 easier for me to grasp as an investor than it is to think a stock can go from 20 to 400. And even though I invested $10,000 in that stock at either stock price and that percentage gain is exactly the same, I just believe it`s easier for it to happen from $20 to $40.
HOGAN: I believe I can buy more. It`s a human nature thing. And you get more investors that say, I can afford to buy this stock at $20. Can`t afraid it as $400.
HERERA: Right, what about liquidity overall in the stock.
HOGAN: Yes, the more shares you have outstanding, the more likely your shares are going to trade an awful lot. And I think that that helps in that liquidity. So, if you are a holder, you`re probably going to be able to get in and out without moving a stock around that much when there`s more liquidity, when there`s volume in your stock.
So, I think there are a whole lot of benefits, the largest of those —
HOGAN: — are psychological for the lower priced stocks.
HERERA: On that note, Art, thanks so much.
HOGAN: My pleasure.
HERERA: Art Hogan with National Securities.
And coming up, why a new harvest may be coming to Wall Street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK HOLLAND, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The most valuable hemp crop in U.S. history being harvested right now.
I`m Frank Holland. Coming up on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I take you inside the growing CBD industry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: Target (NYSE:TGT) plans to add $50 million to its holiday payroll. The retailer wants to ensure it has enough workers on hand during peak shopping times. It`s also focusing on things like free shipping and rewards program that will give members early access to doorbusters.
Separately, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) will start advertising holiday discounts online this week, in an effort to attract holiday shoppers early.
Well, as you probably know, the trade war has put a lot of pressure on our nation`s farmers. But there is a relatively new cash crop that has some seeing green and Wall Street eyeing a potential new wave of profits.
Frank Holland is in Murray, Kentucky, for us.
HOLLAND: U.S. hemp production has more than doubled since Congress legalized the crop last December. As much as $32 billion worth of cannabidiol or CBD could be sourced from the hemp of this farm in Murray, Kentucky, and others around the country.
SMOKE WALLIN, VERTICAL WELLNESS CEO: We are growing hemp. We`re harvesting it. We`re extracting the CBD, and then we`re putting into our brands.
HOLLAND: Smoke Wallin is the CEO of Vertical Wellness, a company focused on CBD products manufactured from industrial hemp. Vertical Wellness is a subsidiary of Vertical Companies, a U.S.-based cannabis producer expects to launch an IPO, the Hemp CBD business, on the Nasdaq next year. Other companies in the CBD space already trade in Canada.
However, analysts say the first company to trade in the U.S. will benefit from increased visibility, greater investment and more access to capital. Wallin says that`s the motivation but unlike higher profile IPOs, he says the company is already profitable.
Vertical Wellness expects to generate $28 million in revenue this year and see the number more than triple in 2020. By selling 75 percent of the hemp and using 25 percent in its own brands of CBD products.
WALLIN: Right away, we`re going to see a profitable company, scaling very quickly.
So, we — I don`t really focus on revenue so much. I know the market is really geared to that kind of stuff. I focus on driving EBITDA and cash flow so we can scale up business profitably.
HOLLAND: It`s the same goal for Nathan Musser, a tobacco and soybean farmer who started growing hemp in the spring of 2018 as part of the state pilot program. After hemp became legal, he decided to plant eight times more.
NATHAN MUSSER, FARMER: The profits on the hill is in line with the tobacco probably 15 to 20 percent higher than the tobacco. And with the corn and soybeans, it`s substantially higher
HOLLAND: Hemp is also a substantially cheaper source of CBD than cannabis. Farmers and Vertical Wellness both hoping to capitalize on this emerging cash crop.
WALLIN: It`s about how do you build something that`s really truly, scalable and sustainable.
HOLLAND: Regulation, though, remains the biggest headwind for the domestic hemp and CBD industry. Both the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration are drafting guidelines for how hemp can be grown , as well as how CBD can be used in food and drinks.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Frank Holland in Murray, Kentucky.
HERERA: And before we go, another look at the day`s final numbers on Wall Street. The Dow rose 45 points. The Nasdaq up 15 and S&P 500 added 8.
And that is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for joining us. And we`ll see you tomorrow.
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