ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Bill Griffeth and Sue Herera.
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Sales streak. Walmart is taking market share from competitors as it pushes further into the one thing that everybody needs — food.
BILL GRIFFETH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Layoff stocks. Fidelity says baby boomers are too exposed to equities. But where else do they go to find returns.
HERERA: Ranking reliability. Everyone wants to know how the car or truck will hold up after they buy it. And a new report has the answer.
Those stories and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Thursday, November 14th.
GRIFFETH: And we do bid you good evening, everybody, and welcome.
The S&P 500 was the lone index to close at a record today. And it did it despite declines in the shares of two influential stocks, Cisco
(NASDAQ:CSCO) and Walmart. In fact, Walmart is where we begin tonight.
Shares of the world`s largest retailer started the day at a new high after the company reported better than expected earnings and said the future looks bright. But that`s not where the stock ended the day. Shares drifted lower after the open this morning and down fractionally by the close. But the low-cost retailer sales are on a five-year win streak. A good sign when it comes to the health of the consumer and the economy and the drivers of Walmart`s business.
Here is Courtney Reagan.
COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Walmart continues to grow sales in the U.S., thanks largely to its grocery business. U.S. comparable sales grew for the 21st straight quarter with both strong traffic in stores and growth online. Digital sales increased more than 40 percent.
Chief financial officer Brett Biggs told me many categories were strong, the retailer`s food business and its expanding delivery and pickup options is what`s driving shoppers to spend.
JHARONNE MARTIS, REFINITIV: Grocery delivery, the grocery pickup, they`re all building customer loyalty that continues to drive the positive growth that we`re seeing at Walmart.
GARRETT NELSON, CFRA: E-commerce was only about 5 percent of Walmart U.S.`s total revenue last year. But here it`s growing, you know, upwards of 40 percent. And if you look, Walmart versus Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) e- commerce, that`s triple the growth rate of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). And so, that`s what`s really driving the overall same store sales growth. And it`s really driven by the grocery pickup and less so grocery delivery.
REAGAN: While analysts are largely positive about Walmart`s grocery programs, there is some concern about where growth will come from next.
MICHAEL LASSER, UBS: A lot of the growth right now is coming from the rollout of online grocery pickup. That`s accounting for a quarter to a third of gross in the U.S. business. As they fully penetrate that, the rollout of that it may be a little harder to sustain the 3 percent plus comp growth.
REAGAN: Grocery is more than half of Walmart`s totals sales. It`s been the most important category for some time. While new online grocery options are driving business to Walmart, grocery has low margins, making it less profitable business than a category like clothing. And the retailer online business is still expected to lose more money this year than last year.
And in a prepared remarks, CEO Doug McMillon addressed the issue, saying, quote: Our strength is being driven by food, which is good, but we need even more progress on Walmart.com with general merchandise, and, quote: We need to translate this repetitive food and consumable volume into a stronger Walmart.com business that`s profitable overtime, so that`s what we`re working on.
In the meantime, the bigger near term test is the holiday season, wth Black Friday just over two weeks ago.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Courtney Reagan.
HERERA: Let`s turn to Charlie O`Shea to talk more about Walmart`s better than expected earnings. He is the retail analyst for Moody`s (NYSE:MCO).
Welcome back, Charlie. Good to see.
CHARLES O`SHEA, MOODY`S RETAIL ANALYST: Hey, Sue. Good to see you.
HERERA: You say that the business model that Walmart has put in place speaks to its execution and sensibility of strategic investments. I would assume that means that they are well positioned for the holidays.
O`SHEA: Oh, yes, I don`t think there is any question Walmart will set the tone this holiday, along with, you know, the usual suspects that we talk about a lot when I see you guys — Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), Target (NYSE:TGT), Costco (NASDAQ:COST) is in the mix. The off price stores as well. But Walmart is in as good a shape as I`ve seen in the 17 years I`ve been covering it at Moody`s (NYSE:MCO).
GRIFFETH: Good e-commerce numbers, yes. But I sense from those comments from Doug McMillon he is a little — I don`t know. He`s not upset but he`s impatient with the growth a rate he`s seeing with the e-commerce division overall. What do you think?
O`SHEA: I think Doug McMillon is always impatient and always thinks the company can do better.
And that`s one of the things that has made the company as successful as it`s been over the last four or five years since he took over. He put a strategy in place four years ago. It got beat up pretty well by the equity. But it`s paying off.
And Doug and Brett and the rest of the team at Walmart are very focused on success. And they want to win everywhere. And they`re well-positioned to win in most places right now.
HERERA: Speaking of everywhere what about the international business, Charlie. Domestic seems to be executing well.
HERERA: With the exception of — they want to improve the online experience. But they bought Flipkart and they have expanded pretty aggressively internationally. How are they doing?
O`SHEA: The international business has always been a focus. And it`s always been kind of transitory. They tried to get out much Asda, that didn`t work. The British government shot that down.
But they made a strong and large and successful push into China, excuse me, with the joint venture with JD. Flipkart is going to take time, I think. The company realized it. We certainly realized it. We didn`t feel Flipkart would show profits until at best very late in 2020. So, they`re not upsetting us from that perspective.
But the demographics in India are compelling. And if you want to be a true global retailer, I think you need to be there. Brazil — they punched out of Brazil. Brazil was challenged.
But really what Walmart has done historically, at least since I covered it is, they recognize one to cut losses, when to get out and when there`s better opportunities somewhere else. They`ve done that in Germany. They did it in South Korea. Now, they have done it in Brazil. They`re going to try to do it in the U.K.
O`SHEA: And the place to deploy your assets is India and China right now.
HERERA: On that note, Charlie O`Shea with Moody`s (NYSE:MCO), thanks, Charlie.
O`SHEA: Thanks, Sue.
GRIFFETH: Now, while Walmart says that the consumer remains strong, business investment is still showing signs of weakness. In fact, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) says it is seeing a slowdown in corporate technology spending. And it issued disappointing guidance which we told you about last night. And it`s something the CEO reiterated again today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK ROBBINS, CISCO CHAIRMAN & CEO: Those of us who rely on business investment and capital investments have been expressing concerns over things that we`re seeing in the marketplace. And we actually mentioned in our last call. So, this is — this is not something that has just newly emerged.
And what we talked about at the end of last quarter of Q4 when we said we began to see some weakness just manifested itself throughout the quarter. So, you heard Chairman Powell yesterday talking about his concern over business investment and I think that`s the issue that we`re facing.
The consumer in the U.S. as you see from Walmart and others has remained very strong. And it`s a bit of a dichotomy in the market right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFETH: Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) stock was down 7 percent today, making it the worst performer in the Dow today.
HERERA: In Washington, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was back on Capitol Hill for his second day of testimony on the economy. He said that even with stocks at or near new highs, there are no signs of bumbles brewing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Look at today`s economy. There is nothing that`s really booming that would want to bust in other words. It`s a pretty sustainable picture. I point out though that the risks — and those are in manufacturing — manufacturing is declining but not sharply. Manufacturing is more sensitive economically to cycles, so it does decline. So —
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: In the meantime, the president of the New York Fed said today that interest rates are at an appropriate level given the pace of economic growth. According to economists, that is of an indication that he thinks no further rate cuts are likely if current conditions remain.
GRIFFETH: Speaking of the economy, producer prices saw the biggest gain in six months in October. The report from the Labor Department showed an increase of 0.4 percent lifted by gains in health care costs and specifically outpatient care at hospitals which posted its largest rise in a decade.
A separate report showed the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits rose by 14,000 to 225,000 last week. That was the highest reading in five months.
HERERA: As we mentioned, the S&P 500 eked out a record close. There was little excitement, though given the pullback in Walmart and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) shares. And the major averages closed just about where they did yesterday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down one point to 27,781, the Nasdaq slid three, and the S&P 500 rose more than 2.
GRIFFETH: Small caps, though, today also pulled back slightly. The group has been underperforming the rest of the market the past two years. But some say the gains could start to pick up.
We`re joined tonight by Loreen Gilbert, president of Wealth Wise Financial Services.
Loreen, good to see you. Thanks for joining us tonight.
LOREEN GILBERT, WEALTH WISE FINANCIAL PRESIDENT: Thank you so much.
GRIFFETH: There`s been a lot of hope surrounding the small caps a few years now. Why are they still lagging this market, do you think?
GILBERT: You know, I think that this entire year has been marked by trade and the uncertainty around a trade deal. We`ve said that since the beginning of the year and we have seen that in the markets. Every time we think there is a trade deal the markets go up. And when there is trade uncertainty the markets go down again.
And that would be characteristic of the small caps. When people feel uncertainty and want to become more defensive they go upward in capitalization, they go up towards your larger cap companies that they feel more comfortable with.
HERERA: If you were to invest in small cap stocks at this point, where would you go?
GILBERT: If we look at what`s less expensive than other parts of the market, I would look at your small cap value. Relative to let`s say small cap growth. So I would say the small cap growth is more expensive and the small cap value is less expensive, and so, that kind of value would lean towards making investments in that area.
GRIFFETH: But what you`re saying here is that as long as this market is defensive — for the most part we are seeing the defensive issues outperform this market, small caps will also underperform. When we get the trade deal, does that change, do you think?
GILBERT: It does. I think we could see a pop and that`s what I think people are waiting to see, waiting for in hopes of a trade deal that we would see a pop in the small cap arena that would encourage investment.
HERERA: Where would you go specifically, what areas if you decided to go into small cap value? What areas do you like?
GILBERT: So, technology overall has been the winner year to date as far as a sector is concerned. And certainly there are areas of technology that could be invested in. That tends to be more of a growth story than a value story.
But another area would be the way that technology is impacting other sectors of the market, for instance health care innovation. And there are opportunities there. And that would be more of a value story.
The other area that I would encourage people to look at as a possible investment in small capitalization would be international small cap.
That`s not just the U.S. because our U.S. investors tend to invest more in the United States. And they tend to forget about other areas of the market.
GILBERT: And small cap international companies are an opportunity.
GRIFFETH: Loreen Gilbert with Wealth Wise Financial Services — again, thanks for joining us tonight.
GILBERT: Thank you very much.
HERERA: It is time to look at some of today`s “Upgrades and Downgrades”.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was downgraded to sell from hold at Maxim. The analyst cites the potential for lower than expected iPhone sales next year. The price target is $190. The stock fell a fraction to $262.64.
Kraft (NYSE:KFT) Heinz was downgraded to sell from neutral at Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS). The analyst says he believes profit at the company will continue to shrink. The price target $29. The stock fell about 6 percent to $30.96.
GRIFFETH: Verizon (NYSE:VZ) was downgraded to hold from buy at HSBC with the analyst citing increased competition and the changing business model for content these days. Price target now $65. That stock was down slightly to $59.34.
And Uber was upgraded to buy from hold at Argus Research. The analyst cited improving competitive landscape for the core businesses. Price target now $35. But that stock did fall more than 2.5 percent today to $25.99.
HERERA: Still ahead, how IBM is using big data to make even bigger improvements to weather forecasting.
GRIFFETH: There are reports tonight that the state`s massive Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) antitrust probe is going to expand into search and into the company`s android businesses. So far, the investigation is only focused on its advertising business. The attorneys general representing 48 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico are all part of this investigation.
HERERA: In Washington, the speaker of house said a breakthrough in the new NAFTA trade deal otherwise known as USMCA could come soon. Nancy Pelosi suggested that Democrats and the White House are making progress on a final agreement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA (NASDAQ:CA)), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We are moving positively in terms of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. I do believe that if we can get this to the place it needs to be, which is imminent, that this can be a template for future trade agreements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: The White House hopes to ratify the trade agreement by the end of the year.
GRIFFETH: Charles Schwab saw a 30 percent increase in the number of its new accounts added in September. That happens to be the same month that the broker stopped charging commissions for trading stocks, ETFs and options. And rivals have been taking the same steps and dropping their commissions. Schwab is hoping that the free trades will attract more clients, thereby offsetting the decline in revenue.
HERERA: The number of Fidelity 401(k) and IRA millionaires hit a record in the third quarter. One third of savers increased their contribution rates during the last year, making the average 8.8 percent, not including the employer match. That`s the highest percentage ever.
In its third quarter retirement report, Fidelity also said that baby boomers have too much exposure to stocks and run the risk of big losses in a market meltdown.
Bob Pisani has more.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Are baby boomers overinvested in the stock market? A new report from Fidelity found that many 401(k) account holders had stock allocations higher than those recommended for their age group. Thirty-three percent of a higher percentage of equities recommended among baby boomers 37 percent.
What does that mean?
Well, it means that a small subset of investors might want to pay more attention and rebalance portfolios a little bit. But it may also mean that Fidelity and other fund companies need to re-examine the way these funds allocate between stocks and bonds.
For example, Fidelity recommends a maximum allocation of 70 percent of stocks for those 10 years from retirement. Wait a minute, though, if you retire at 65, and you live another 20 years, having a higher allocation to stocks may make perfect sense. Longer life spans means investors can hold riskier assets longer. It`s that simple.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
GRIFFETH: So, what is the right mix of stocks and bonds for those of us of a certain age?
There`s been a lot of talk about this recently. Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) Merrill Lynch put a note to clients that the 60/40 portfolio allocation is dead.
Burns McKinney joins us now to talk about that. He is with Allianz Global Investors.
So, you know, where are we going for growth, especially for income of a certain age as long as we`re living longer these days and interest rates are as low as they are right now? What do we do here, Burns?
BURNS MCKINNEY, ALLIANZ GLOBAL INVESTORS PORTFOLIO MANAGER: Well, being cognizant of the fact that there`s no one-size-fits-all rule for all retirees and for all baby boomers. I think that, you know, when you do see they`re more and more holding a greater portion are holding more equities than suggested by this Fidelity model, it`s really just a symptom of this world of ultralow interest rates.
You have — you have a supply-demand issue whereby the supply of yielding alternatives is very low. You have low bond yields that — the lowest they`ve been really in history.
MCKINNEY: And the demand for yield is very high. You have again the baby boom generation really at not so much the capital gains but at the harvesting, the cash income stage of their investment cycles. And so, you have an entire generation of investors who are just searching for yields anywhere they can get it.
And so, some of the old metrics may be — need to be updated.
MCKINNEY: But at the same time, you know, I think these are just people looking for income wherever they can find it.
HERERA: And you say that that makes diversification key.
MCKINNEY: Absolutely. I think diversification is always crucial. And, you know, with people living longer as was previously noted, I think there is a case to be made for perhaps having a little bit higher allocation to equities.
But within that, if you`re looking at retirees and people within the ages of 55 to 75, they should probably look at equities that are more than anything paying attractive dividends, companies that are a little bit higher quality. And in many cases to reduce risk and reduce volatility looking at larger cap names that might be a bit more domestically focused.
GRIFFETH: Where do I go when I`m not in equities and I want income of some kind? I mean, you know, the only master limited partnerships and some of those things that were so popular a generation ago, do I look at those still these days?
MCKINNEY: Yes, I think that there is a case to be made for those. Yes, I think that there should at least be some allocation to I think one that would be contrarian would be inflation adjusted treasuries.
You know, right now, you have inflation expectations the lowest they`ve almost ever been. And so — that you can`t imagine them going too much lower from here, which would make a case for these securities.
But really, I think that, you know, I think investors should have a dynamic diversification of their portfolio whereby they reduce the exposure as they age.
MCKINNEY: Set targets, which suggest that if you have a year like this when stocks are up 20-plus percent, you know, when you reallocate at the end of the year, maybe take a little bit of your winnings off the table. That`s something that really forces investors to by definition, you know, to buy low and sell high.
GRIFFETH: Indeed, the old — that doesn`t die. That adage right there.
Burns McKinney with Allianz Global Investors — thanks again for joining us.
MCKINNEY: Thanks for having me.
HERERA: Ad growth helped sales at Viacom (NYSE:VIA). That`s where with begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The media company which includes VH1 and MTV beat expectations, thanks to an increase in its domestic television ads. Viacom`s Paramount division posted a full-year profit for the first time in four years. Viacom (NYSE:VIA) shares rose nearly 2 percent to $22.47.
Canopy Growth reported a wider than expected loss for its latest quarter, hit by restructuring charges but revenue with the Canadian cannabis producer did come in higher than analyst had been expecting. The company also says it will not make any large investments in Canada due to only moderate demand for cannabis products there. Canopy shares were down more than 14 percent to $15.84.
GRIFFETH: After the bell, an SEC filing for the third quarter revealed that Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) has taken a position of more than 1 million shares in home furnishing retailer RH, used to be called Restoration Hardware. RH initially rose on the afterhours trading of that news. They closed the regular session today up more than 1 percent to $175.22.
And Nike (NYSE:NKE) is hiking its dividend by 11 percent to 24.5 cents a share. The yield will be a little over 1 percent. I don`t know if boomers want to look at that for income. Nike (NYSE:NKE) shares were initially higher in after-hours, offsetting their loss during the regular session where they closed at $91.27.
HERERA: Well, if you`re like most of us, you complaint about the weather and the incorrect forecast. IBM is trying to fix that. It is combining the power of supercomputing with big data to provide far more accurate forecasts which is which businesses can use to make operations more efficient.
Steve Liesman got a firsthand look.
STEVE LIESMAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: In developed countries like the United States, our smartphones warn us of looming storms, bitter cold, or searing heat. But billions of people around the globe lack even basic weather forecasts, making the world a much more chaotic and dangerous place.
But in a historic marriage of big data and supercomputing, IBM is launching GRAF today, the global high resolution atmospheric forecasting model. IBM says GRAF will provide accurate weather forecasts not for a few places around the world but for the entire world.
What you`re hearing is the sound of DYEUS, the IBM supercomputer that runs this new global weather model. It`s named after the ancient god who ruled the daytime sky. It consists of nine cabinets and that has 84 nodes in it. The output is 12 trillion pieces of weather data every day for 26 million locations around the world.
The supercomputer is so fast, this massive model provides new forecasts every hour instead of every six hours.
KEVIN PETTY, THE WEATHER COMPANY: We`re actually getting down to kind of the cellular level of the thunderstorms now where we weren`t able to do that before. And with that information, we can now provide better support through critical decision makers.
LIESMAN: It`s big potential business because big companies increasingly need accurate weather data.
CAMERON CLAYTON, IBM WATSON MEDIA AND WEATHER: Any business that doesn`t have a weather strategy is missing out on returns. All is tied to your environment and the weather, to be able to predict that in advance for retailers, energy companies, travel and transportation businesses. It`s all we do.
LIESMAN: Better international weather forecasts can be mean more comfortable flights for passengers who are routed around turbulence and even shorter flights.
STEVE ABELMAN, AMERICAN AIRLINES: If we can do a more fuel efficient flight, we can certainly save money on fuel. There`s just a variety of ways that operating on time and efficient manner improves the American bottom line.
LIESMAN: No matter how good the tech, a new weather model has to prove itself over time. Americans will wait several months before relying on it and then only along with all of the other weather data. IBM has plans to continuously upgrade the model, adding real time weather data from airplanes in the sky and even from smartphones.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Steve Liesman.
GRIFETH: And coming up, the new list of the most reliable vehicles on the road. Do you drive one?
HERERA: The Postal Service lost nearly $9 billion for the full year. And while that may seem steep, a closer look shows not everything is bad. Free cash flow was positive. And postal sales grew slightly even as first class mail volume shrank. Next year, the Postal Service plans to raise prices in its parcel shipping business by about 3 percent.
GRIFFETH: Finally tonight, one year after dropping Tesla from its list of recommended vehicles, “Consumer Reports” has changed its mind. The good news comes from the latest “Consumer Reports` annual auto reliability survey which also has some troubling news for Cadillac.
Here is Phil LeBeau.
PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: It is the question everybody asks themselves in the showroom. Will this car or truck hold up after I own it? “Consumer Reports” which tests hundreds of models once again asked its members to review their vehicles. The result, our cars are better but the technology still has glitches.
JON LINKOV, CONSUMER REPORTS: The biggest thing is that you no longer see engines fall out, you know, major problems with the powertrain and the drivetrain, but you do see is a number of electrical issues, such as the infotainment system, but also the computers that work for all the different systems tend to be more problematic.
LEBEAU: “Consumer Reports” rates Lexus as the most reliable brand, followed by Mazda and Toyota (NYSE:TM).
But some other results also stand out. For example, every Korean model has average or better reliability. Meanwhile, “Consumer Reports” is returning Tesla to its recommended list, thanks to improving reliability with the Model 3 and the Model S.
LINKOV: What we have seen is that much like the industry, as the Tesla builds more vehicles and they have another model year and another after that, they go and they fix the problems.
LEBEAU: This year, Cadillac was rated dead last, right behind Alfa Romeo and Acura.
Does it hurt sales if a brand is rated near the bottom of reliability list? Maybe not. Jeep has historically struggled with its reliability ratings in this country. And yet, it is one of the hottest brands when it comes to sales.
Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Chicago.
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. See you tomorrow.
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