Transcript: Friday, August 23, 2013

ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Tyler Mathisen and
Susie Gharib, brought to you by —


bounce. The CEO of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) gives notice and stock surges
on his surprising retirement announcement. Will the end of the Ballmer era
usher in big changes at the company?

Sales of new homes plunged, the steepest drop in three years. Are rising
mortgage rates scaring away homebuyers and starting to pinch a key engine
of the recovery, housing?

GRIFFETH: And the day after the NASDAQ CEO responds to yesterday`s
shut down, but individual investors are still confused and infuriated. How
shaken is their trust in the system?

All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for this Friday,
August the 23rd.

GHARIB: Good evening, everyone. I`m Susie Gharib, along with Bill
Griffeth. Tyler is off tonight.

Nice to have you here, Bill.

GRIFFETH: Good to be here.

GHARIB: Topping our news: a shocker today from Microsoft
(NASDAQ:MSFT). Steve Ballmer is stepping down as CEO over the next year,
sooner than expected, and there`s no obvious successor to take over the top

On Wall Street, where Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) shares have languished
for years, that was welcome news for investors. Shares of the software
giant soaring right from the opening bell, before ending the session up
about 8 percent.

Since its start back in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) just had only
two CEOs, Bill Gates built the company from scratch, and then he handed it
over to Ballmer in 2007.

So, who will be Microsoft`s new leader? And what`s next for the
stock? Those are the key questions for this iconic technology titan.

Jon Fortt has some answers.


STEVE BALLMER, MICROSOFT CEO: How much do you think this advanced
operating —

Microsoft`s biggest salesman and cheerleader; now, he`s on his way out.

The company announced today that within 12 months, it will name
Ballmer`s successor. Ballmer built up the enterprise side of Microsoft
(NASDAQ:MSFT), fortified Xbox and defended Office. Since he took over the
CEO seat in 2000, the stock is down almost 40 percent, but revenue and
profit are significantly higher. Along the way, though, Microsoft
(NASDAQ:MSFT) fell behind in huge categories like music players,
smartphones and tablets.

BALLMER: All CEOs have the same job. I don`t have a different
economic situation to deal with than the guys who run our competitors. So,
in a sense you could say, whatever happens to the economy happens, we got
to win with a great product, great brand, great innovation.

FORTT: Ballmer didn`t win in all those categories and clearly
underestimated how big they would become. That`s especially true of the

WALT MOSSBERG, WALL STREET JOURNAL: He essentially treated it like a
toy, a flash in the pan and did not do anything, even though Microsoft
(NASDAQ:MSFT) was already in the phone software business, did not do
anything to really change their trajectory until much, much later and in a
way I think too late.

FORTT: Ballmer told people internally at Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), he
planned to stay until around the time his youngest son finishes high
school. That`s about three years from now. In a statement today, he said
the company needs a new leader who can be there for the duration of its
current transition from a software company to devices and services company.

So, who will get the job? Anyone`s guess.

Internal candidates could include engineering head Satya Nadella,
Terry Myerson or Qi Lu. External choices, well, maybe someone like ex-
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) exec Scott Forstall, or former Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)
execs Ray Ozzie and Stephen Elop.

Whoever the board picks will face high expectations.



GRIFFETH: Well, on Wall Street, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) was the
biggest gainer in the blue chip average today while the NASDAQ got a lift
from shares, of all companies, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which closed above $40
a share for the first time ever. That helped stocks end the day higher
after shaking off early losses on disappointing new home sales data, but
still closed lower for the third week in a row overall. The Dow today did
close 46 points higher and settled back above the 15,000 mark. The NASDAQ
added 19. The S&P was up 6 points.

GHARIB: Well, as Bill just mentioned, the drop in home sales was much
bigger than analyst and economist had expected. They plunged 13.5 percent
in July, the biggest decline in more than three years. In the markets,
that meant homebuilder stocks suffered some big losses with names like
Ryland, KB Home (NYSE:KBH), Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) and others tumbling.

Until now, the booming housing sector was held up as a strong sign
that the U.S. economy was on the mend.

Hampton Pearson has more on what maybe behind the sudden decline.


July new home sales may turn out to be a litmus test for what higher
interest rates can do to the housing recovery. Sales were down double
digits to 394,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, the slowest pace in nine

June also saw a downward division to 455,000 from 497,000. That`s
according to the Commerce Department.

DAN GREENHAUS, BTIG: We`ve had a strong run in housing like we have
in the stock market, and some correction was inevitable in the face of the
spike in mortgage rates.

PEARSON: Potential homebuyers deciding not to pull the trigger and
sign a contract now that the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 4.58
percent, according to Freddie Mac, up a full percent since May.

saying, we`ve seen some rate increases, we`re seeing some more. We want to
wait and see if maybe they go down before we sign that contract.

PEARSON (on camera): Those higher mortgage rates had the exact
opposite effect on existing home sales. In July, they spiked upward by 6
1/2 percent, to a four-year high.

(voice-over): But that`s because home buyers locked in lower mortgage
rates ahead of the current upward spiral. Economists say rising rates are
a long-term negative for both new and existing home sales.

initial phase of rising interest rate brings additional home sales activity
but further increases an interest rate, which we anticipate will begin to
diminish the full of eligible home buyers.

PEARSON: Even with the July setback, new home sales are up 7 percent
over the last 12 months, but builders tells us housing starts on single
family homes in July were the lowest in eight months.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Hampton Pearson in Washington.


GRIFFETH: Megan McGrath says this housing slowdown is for real.
She`s senior housing analyst of MKM Partners and joins us tonight.

Megan, thanks for joining us.


GRIFFETH: One report usually does not make a trend but this 13
percent decline has gotten your attention, hasn`t it?

MCGRATH: It certainly has and it`s something we`ve been hearing about
for a couple of months, and we`re finally starting to see it in numbers a
little bit today. And there will be numbers next week, pending home sales,
which is the apples-to-apples equivalent in the existing market that we saw
today. That will be a good litmus test as well.

So, yes, I think that things are starting to slowdown in the housing
market, and that`s natural. I don`t think that the housing market is
broken. It`s still growing. It`s just not growing at the breakneck speed
it was earlier in the year.

GHARIB: So, if you`re in the market, whether you`re buying or selling
a home, what should you do? If you`re a buyer, should you lock in a deal
right now and not to, you know, wait for prices to go down any more and
vice versa if you`re a seller?

MCGRATH: Well, I don`t think you`re going to see the big jump in
mortgage rates that we saw earlier in the year. So, not another 100 basis
increase that we saw. But I wouldn`t expect anything to go down from these
levels significantly. So, don`t wait around and think — well, mortgage
rates will go down back to where they were or home prices are going to go
down back to where they were.

I think they`re all going to continue to go up just a little bit more
gradually than we`ve seen, so maybe it gives you time to look at your
budget and see what you can actually afford and price in a little bit of
appreciation over the next six months.

GRIFFETH: Why don`t you think rates go higher? We`re at 4.85 percent
on the 30-fixed year mortgage right now, and that is, as you pointed out,
up sharply from where we were a couple months ago, and it was a full 100
basis points below that. The Fed is getting ready to pull back on its
quantitative easing. Interest rates have been going up in the treasury

So, how much higher do you think rates do go?

MCGRATH: Well, as we all know, it`s hard to predict what the Fed is
going to do. And I do think rates are going to go higher over the next
couple of years. I think that`s a given.

All I meant is that you`re not going to see the big jump in a short
period of time. So, there is no reason to really panic here and jump in
and buy something you don`t want, or that you can`t afford. You have time
to think about it, price in a little bit of an increase over the next six
months and think about what is really in your budget.

GHARIB: We saw today home builder stocks, Megan, tumble across the
bored and yet, you still like some of them. You have on your buy list Toll
Brothers (NYSE:TOL) and KB Home (NYSE:KBH). Why do you like them?

MCGRATH: Yes. So, these are the only two home builders we`re
recommending at a buy right now. And we would say these are a buy if you
have a 12-month — if you have a 12-month timeframe. And these are two
companies that we think over the next 12 months are going to appreciate.
They have good stories.

Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) is a luxury builder. Their buyers should not
be mortgage rate sensitive and they`re a niche player. So, as competition
increases in the lower end of the market, which it absolutely will, Toll
Brothers (NYSE:TOL) will be in a good position. We think their price
appreciation and their pricing gains are absolutely sustainable over the
next 12 months.

GRIFFETH: Is — I`m sorry, go ahead.

MCGRATH: I was going to say, KB Home (NYSE:KBH) on the other hand is
a different story. They are a turnaround story. They`re just getting back
to profitability. They`re going to have to show us they can continue to do
it, but the stock is relatively inexpensive compared to its peers.

So we think the risk-reward there is pretty compelling.

GRIFFETH: Very quickly, I was going to ask, this slowdown — is this
prolonged? Is this brief? Do we see higher prices down the road? What do
you think?

MCGRATH: I think that — I wouldn`t be surprised to see a little
acceleration next quarter. But what I think is we`re probably going from
what we saw earlier in the year, which was 25 percent, 35 percent growth on
the year over year basis. We`re probably slowing down. We`re probably
going to end up sort of 15 percent through the end of the year.

GRIFFETH: Megan McGrath, homebuilder analyst at MKM Partners, again,
thanks for joining us tonight.

MCGRATH: Thank you.

GHARIB: That housing news and what it means for the U.S. economic
recovery was one of the hot top picks today at the Jackson Hole conference
in Wyoming. That`s where central bankers from around the world are meeting
to talk about economic policy.

Steve Liesman spent the day speaking with them and reports there is
still much disagreement on when the Federal Reserve will make a change in
its massive stimulus program.


A lot of differing opinions here in Jackson Hole, the Fed`s annual
economics symposium over the direction for the central bank and the next
moves for the Federal Reserve. Some of those differing opinions came in
interviews I conducted today with three Federal Reserve presidents.

Now, two of them, Dennis Lockhart from Atlanta and John Williams from
San Francisco had pretty much the same opinion, suggesting that it`s full
steam ahead for the Fed to reduce the amount of stimulus in the economy,
perhaps at the meeting as soon as next month.

at the moment is I`m actually looking at the data and asking if they deny
or in someway undermine the basic outlook that I have in place. And on
that basis, then I can get comfortable with the move in September of some

the data continues to progress as we`ve seen, then I do agree that we
should edge down or taper or purchase later this year.

LIESMAN: However, St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard, he had a
different opinion. He`s a little more worried about the strength of the
economic recovery, not quite so confident and he says the Federal Reserve
should take its time.

have to be in a hurry in this situation. I mean, the place is running low,
we`ve got kind of mixed data on the economy. So, you know, I`d be
cautious. I wouldn`t want to prejudge the meeting, but I think we want to
take our time, assess what`s going on and before we make a move here.

LIESMAN: Among the research papers presented here today was one from
noted Stanford economist Robert Hall, and he says the biggest danger for
the Federal Reserve is to exit too quickly from the stimulus policy. He
says there could be political forces for the Feds to raise interest rates
sooner than it should or to reduce the size of its balance sheet.

Also, Christine Lagarde, the IMF managing director, addressed the
group at a luncheon and she said the exit from these unconventional
monetary policies, it could get messy and she urged central banks to work
together and she even suggested that some countries that are affected by
tighter monetary policy, they could use some currency intervention. That`s
a strange thing to come from. The IMF managing director, she urged
countries to wait until the recovery was firmly in place and to use the
time period created by the quantitative easing to reform the financial and
economic systems.

Finally, a lot of debate over how effective quantitative easing is and
how it works, but no consensus has emerged and maybe that will happen in
sessions tomorrow.



GRIFFETH: Steve Liesman in lovely Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Still ahead, one day after the NASDAQ halted all trading for more than
three hours, the CEO speaks out finally. But did he say anything to
restore investor faith in the system?

First, a look at how the international markets closed today.


GHARBI: No problems today at the NASDAQ exchange following Thursday`s
massive computer glitch that knocked out all trading for three hours. But
a lot of questions remain about what really went wrong and why officials
were so slow to inform investors and traders about the outage.

As Mary Thompson reports, the NASDAQ`s challenge now is to restore
investor confidence in electronic trading.


When technical troubles halted trading in NASDAQ stocks Thursday, CEO Bob
Greifeld focused on fixing the problem, coordinating to reopen with other
exchanges and talking with regulators and head traders, not to the press.

BOB GREIFELD, NASDAQ OMX CEO: We took the proper amount of time,
right, to make sure that the testing was done, that the communication
yesterday was so strong and we got that communication done and we came back
and came back successfully.

So, it`s not our job nor will it be for us to go on the press, you
know, to the press, to the public, while we focus on the issue.

THOMPSON: The lack of communication perplexing to retail investor
Scott Himelstein.

SCOTT HIMELSTEIN, RETAIL INVESTOR: It troubles me a lot more than the
glitch itself.

THOMPSON: And infuriating to trader David Seaburg.

absolutely irresponsible for them not to make the Middle American investor
aware of what was happening, the professionals were aware. They`re getting
feeds. We are getting newsfeeds coming in. They were making sure that we
were aware from the standpoint of how stocks may or may not open.

But, I can tell you, if you`re sitting in Middle America, you have no

THOMPSON (on camera): For five hours Thursday, the NASDAQ kept the
press and investing public in the dark about the source of the glitch, the
latest to hit the U.S. market and shake investor confidence.

HONOR WELLS, RETAIL INVESTOR: I think it actually hurts the people
that are trying to get ahead, trying to put back money and invest in stocks
to save, you know, for their kids` college funds and, you know, save for
their retirement.

THOMPSON: Crisis management consultant Eric Dezenhall notes it also
hurts the NASDAQ`s brand. In an e-mail, he wrote, “We sleep at night
because of the assumption that they know what they`re doing. This incident
tells us that they don`t. Assurances will need to be given and they`ll
have to be based on something other than trust us.”

For Greifeld, Thursday`s troubles, the NASDAQ`s second high profile
problem in a year and a half. A new computer system botching Facebook`s
IPO last May resulting in a $10 million fine for the NASDAQ. And while
some may criticize how Greifeld handled the halt, investor Masroor Fatany
says slow downs, shut downs and halt are all part of living in the digital

MASROOR FATANY, RETAIL INVESTOR: I think we`re in such a fast,
technologically based, you know, world. I think if we have a tech — you
know, a glitch like that, that wouldn`t make me lose confidence in the
whole system.



GRIFFETH: Meantime, two other stock exchanges are now in talks to
merge. This is a deal that would create the nation`s second largest market
operator. The electronic BATS Global Markets is in advanced discussions
with rival stock exchange Direct Edge Holdings. A merger would unite two
companies that were created by trading firms and banks to challenge the
more dominant New York Stock Exchange, as well as the NASDAQ.

GHARIB: Both of those exchanges currently looking to merge were set
up to accommodate high-speed computer trading, something government
regulators are looking to rein in. The Commodity Futures Trading
Commission is close to developing a set of rules aimed at taming high-speed
trades like the ones that led to the so-called “flash crash” at the New
York Stock Exchange in 2010 and may have contributed to yesterday`s shut
down at the NASDAQ.

Turning now to our “Market Focus”, we begin with a look at Pandora and
its dramatic sell-off. The Internet radio service company said late
yesterday that the rising cost of acquiring music and expanding its sales
force would pull down fiscal 2014 earnings below expectations. It`s also
facing rising competition from firms like Spotify. Still, none of that
worried Pandora`s chief financial officer.


MIKE HERRING, PANDORA CFO: We are the undisputed leader in Internet
radio. We have competitors large and small over the nine years we`ve been
establishing this category and we believe that we`ll be able to maintain
market leadership for sometime.


GHARIB: Investors didn`t share that confidence. The stock tumbled
almost 13 percent to $18.91 after more than doubling this year.

Two rivals are teaming up: Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) and Travelocity are
entering a long term agreement into which Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) will handle
most of Travelocity`s operations, including processing bookings and
handling customer service. In turn, Travelocity will focus on marketing
and promotions. Shares of Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) soared 5 percent to
$48.84. No trades on velocity, it`s a private company.

GRIFFETH: Elsewhere, Hibbett Sports (NASDAQ:HIBB) is joining a
growing number of retailers who are complaining about weak consumer
spending. Now, the sporting goods company slashed its full year earnings
as a result. Forecast citing economic uncertainty and it operates
predominantly in the South, the Southwest and Midwest regions. Shares
declined by more than 8 percent today, to close at $53.40.

And despite reporting a jump in second quarter profit, Foot Locker is
also calling the sales environment challenging right now. The athletic
apparel retailer says full year same store sales could come in at the low
end of current forecasts. That stock dropped almost 3 percent. It closed
at $33.01.

And Taylor seems to be the retail stand out right now. It`s one of
the few stores to post an increase in the same store sales figures and
report a higher than expected rise in second quarter profit. The company`s
CEO describes business in August as strong, that along with a buyback put
shares up 5 percent today to close at $34.31.

GHARIB: And coming up on the program, don`t be afraid of investing in
bonds. Not all of them are so bad. That`s what our market monitor guest
says and he has one fund to recommend.

But before all that, here is a check on how commodities, treasuries
and currencies performed today.


GHARIB: If you own a 2012 model of Jeep Grand Cherokee (NASDAQ:CHKE)
— listen up, federal regulators are investigating complaints that sun
visors in those models can catch fire. Three owners reported smelling a
burning odor, then seeing smoke and finally flames coming from visors while
the vehicles were being driven. It`s now up to the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration to decide whether or not to issue a formal

GRIFFETH: Well, two billionaire brothers have recalled their pursuit
of The Tribune Company`s newspaper unit after assessing the value of the
eight daily papers up for sale, including “The Los Angeles Times” and “The
Baltimore Sun”, Charles and David Koch decided the deal was not worth it.
Tribune emerged from bankruptcy protection last year.

GHARIB: Our market monitor is a long-term bull on stock but he
expects a 5 percent pull back between now and the end of the year.

He`s Chris Orndorff, senior portfolio manager at Western Assets

Chris, welcome back to NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT.

Let me talk first about your market outlook before we get back to
specific stocks. We`re hearing from a number of money managers that
there`s going to be a correction, a pull back of different sizes over the
next couple months. Is this time for investors to load up a little bit
more on cash and pull back from stocks?

think so. And the primary reason is evaluation. The P/E ratio for the S&P
500 is above 15, which is among the highest — among global stock markets
in the world and clearly typically when you see these kinds of P/E
expansions, P/Es were lower a few years ago, it`s typical environment of
falling bond yields. But what you`ve been seeing is indeed rising bond
yields over the last year and the increasing attractiveness of bonds is
putting some pressure on stocks.

GRIFFETH: That is for sure right now.

Chris, we have some viewer questions for you on individual securities.
Linda H. would like to get your thoughts on British Petroleum. What do you
think of BP right now?

ORNDORFF: BP pays a nice 5.3 percent dividend yield. But earnings,
growth and cash flow has been a little bit below expectations and we got
the second phase of the Macondo oil well trial beginning at the end of
September. So, I think if you can deal with the share price volatility,
income is attractive, I like the stock.

GRIFFETH: Tell us about iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT). Jen L. is interested
in it. What do you think, buy, sell or hold?

ORNDORFF: Well, this company makes small robots that mop and vacuum,
among other things. It`s a nice product. I really like it. Earnings are
growing nicely. They`ve got a large patent portfolio which should be
valuable years down the road.

But the evaluation is really expensive and I would look for a better
entry point I think from the stock.

GRIFFETH: OK. We heard from Edward L. in Los Altos, California. He
owns several real estate investment trust, probably for income. He wants
to know if he should hang on to them or run for the hills, as he put it.

ORNDORFF: Well, I think REITs, it`s very broad category, but I think
REITs are a great part for — part of a portfolio for income-oriented
investors. My favorites are office REITs, which hold class A office space
in major U.S. cities, as well as mortgage REITs, which have private
residential mortgages. They pay very high dividend yields, particularly
the mortgage REITs, but the share prices are volatile. So, investors need
to have a long-term time horizon and be well-diversified.

GHARIB: Let`s turn to one of your own recommendations. Tell us about
Western Asset High Yield Defined Opportunity Fund (NYSE:HYI). That`s a
mouthful. Why are you recommending this one?

ORNDORFF: This is a closed end down fund that pays a 9 percent
dividend yield and it trades at a discount to its net asset value. And
with the increase in bond yields, bonds have sort of been thrown by the
wayside by a lot of investors and this now has low share price and is
particularly attractive entry point, I think, for patient income-oriented

GRIFFETH: Do you look overseas at all? You can get a pretty good
dividend yield elsewhere, some bonds overseas are paying a good income, as
well? Do you look there or do you just stay in the United States?

ORNDORFF: Oh, no, Western Assets is very much a global firm, and
there are some outstanding opportunities overseas, particularly an emerging
market corporate bond that trade in U.S. dollars so there`s no currency
exposure, but very high credit quality and very attractive yields.

GHARIB: All right. So just to wrap it up here, four investors who
are — this is really inflection point in the markets in terms of what they
should be doing with their portfolios, any changes, fundamental changes
that they should be making right now?

ORNDORFF: I think they should stick with the income focus. If they
need to load up on income, this is probably a pretty good time to do so.
And again, as long as they have a longer term time horizon and they keep a
well-diversified portfolio, they`re going to be fine.

The markets are always going to have ebbs and flows. We`ve seen it in
the past. We`re going to see it probably in the next six months with a lot
of events going on in the government, and the Fed change over and
everything, all the things you described in the program.

But income is a very important part to everyone`s portfolio.

GHARIB: All right. Lots of good advice. Thank you so much, Chris.
Have a great weekend.

ORNDORFF: Thanks, Bill. Thanks Susie. You, too.

GHARIB: Chris Orndorff, senior portfolio manager at Western Asset

GRIFFETH: All right. Finally tonight, something I`m familiar with.
The company that makes Jack Daniels Whisky is having a hard time keeping up
with customer demand. So, Brown Forman (NYSE:BF.A) is building a brand-new
$100-million distillery at its Lynchburg, Tennessee, factory, looking to
increase production of the best selling whisky by as much as 20 percent.

Get this — it`s the first time since prohibition that the liquor
giant has built a new distillery from scratch. That`s a long time.

GHARIB: And I wonder why — yes, I wonder why that is?

GRIFFETH: It goes in trends, but right now, distilled spirits are
very hot in the market.

GHARIB: We`re going to wrap up now and we can go and have a drink.

GRIFFETH: What a good idea.

GHARIB: That`s NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT tonight. I`m Susie Gharib.
Have a great weekend, everyone.

You, too, Bill.

GRIFFETH: Thank you, Susie. You, too.

I`m Bill Griffeth. Thanks for watching. We`ll see you on Monday.


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