Transcript: Nightly Business Report — February 26, 2015

Tonight on Nightly Business Report.. The Federal Communications Commission approves sweeping changes to the way the internet is regulated. What do the new rules mean for you?
And, did IBM’s CEO win over Wall Street at the company’s investor day?

ANNOUNCER: This is NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT with Tyler Mathisen and
Sue Herera.

TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Home sweet home. The
overall phase of new home sales remains near a six-year high, despite a
slight drop in January. But it`s home improvement projects that are really
picking up.

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Target`s transformation.
Are consumers responding to the big changes made by the retailer`s new CEO?

MATHISEN: Playing politics. That`s what some House lawmakers accused
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen of doing. And her testimony today
turned contentious.

All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Wednesday,
February 25th.

HERERA: Good evening, everyone. And welcome.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out another record close, but it
was housing and how hope may spring eternal for the housing market that got
everybody`s attention.

Today, there were some positive signs for the sector, which has lagged
the overall economy since hitting a speed bump more than a year ago. Sales
of newly built single family home fell only slightly in January despite all
that snow in the Northeast. While supply, which has been tight, rose to
its highest level since 2010. The pace for sales for December was also
revised higher.

Tight inventories and a lack of wage growth had been holding housing
back, but now, the labor market seems to be gaining some steam and home
builders say that they are seeing more traffic.

MATHISEN: It was not just home builders seeing more traffic, but also
home improvement retailers. Today, Lowe`s reported better than expected
fourth quarter results driven by homeowners taking on big and not so big
renovation projects. Shares, however, did fall a fraction after the
company expressed concern about rising interest rates, potentially
impacting prospective home buyers.

Still, the company does expect existing homeowners to continue to
invest in projects and upgrades for their houses.

Diana Olick has more now on what`s behind the surge in remodeling.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
Rising home values are pricing buyers out of today`s housing market. But
they are also giving more confidence to invest again in their properties.

SCOTT MCGILLIVRAY, HGTV INCOME PROPERTY HOST: As soon as we see the
housing market recover, people get confident. Not only do they tackle the
renovations they want to, but they address the maintenance that it needs as
well.

OLICK: Project large and small.

MATT OSSOLINSKI, ARCHITECT: We have more projects, more proposals out
than ever before.

OLICK: Architect Matt Ossolinski is seeing a steady business on the
high end, but more growth in smaller projects and remodels in less
expensive homes.

OSSOLINSKI: I think the reason why we`re seeing the increase in the
lower end is because people are feeling more confident in the economy, more
confident in their spending ability, more confident in making investments
in their homes.

OLICK: While full recovery and residential construction is many years
away, the home improvement industry could post record level spending in
2015 according to Harvard`s Joint Center for Housing. Remodeling building
permits rose 6 percent in January month to month, according to Build Facts.

Why?

People who didn`t move because of the housing bust are now improving
their current homes, maybe even preparing them to sell. Some are doing
much needed maintenance that they had deferred during the penny-pinching
recession. And there are also new federal and state stimulus programs for
energy efficient upgrades.

(on camera): While kitchen remodels are the most popular and return
the best value, today`s trends are being driven by those who can`t afford
to move. Growing families, adding another bedroom upstairs, and baby
boomers doing the same thing on the main floor so they can age in place.

OSSOLINSKI: That`s a big change in what I see in our market in the
last two to three years.

OLICK (voice-over): And given an ever pricier market, one that is
likely to grow even more.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Diana Olick in Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HERERA: Today`s choppy trading session was just enough to help the
blue chip average finish at an all-time high. By the close, the Dow Jones
Industrial Average closed at a new record of 18,224, a gain of 15 points.
The NASDAQ fell less than 1 point thereby breaking its winning streak. The
S&P 500 also off by a point. And the yield on the 10-year, it stayed below
2 percent.

MATHISEN: Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was back on Capitol Hill
for her semi-annual report to Congress on the economy. But today`s hearing
in front of a House panel was much more contentious than yesterday`s Senate
appearance and much more political. Lawmakers accused Yellen of meeting
with the White House more often than with Congress, and with Democrats,
more often than with Republicans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. SCOTT GARRETT (R), NEW JERSEY: As far as meeting with outside
liberal organizations, I wonder whether you can agree today that you will
meet with folks from the other side on the specter and meet with some of
them who have a different view on this.

JANET YELLEN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: I`m sure — we meet with a wide
range of groups. I think it is a complete mischaracterization of our
meeting schedules and my meetings are entirely public. My schedule is
completely in the public domain.

GARRETT: Well, that`s where I`m actually taking this from. This was
just — this was handed to me.

YELLEN: Yes, but I —

(CROSSTALK)

GARRETT: It`s good that this much of it is in public domains.

Would you make available the transcripts or summary of the meetings
that you have? You didn`t answer that question to the chair. Would you
make those summaries available?

YELLEN: These were private one-on-one meetings, and I don`t think
it`s appropriate. I — if I had breakfast with you, I would not make a
transcript of what we discussed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATHISEN: Lawmakers also questioned the timing of her speech on
income inequality, which was given in the midst of last fall`s
congressional campaigns.

HERERA: And tensions were also high at another Capitol Hill hearing.
This one on the Internet and how it should be regulated.

Tomorrow, the Federal Communication Commission will vote on new and
very controversial rules that propose to regulate broadband pretty much
like a utility. And today, some of those who oppose it got one more chance
to make their opinions heard.

Julia Boorstin has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The Federal
Communications Commission is expected to approve three to two net
neutrality rules to ensure that Internet provides treat all content equally
and can`t charge for prioritization. And in a key change, this new rules
would regulate the Internet as a public utility.

While Internet companies from Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) to Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) and Internet providers including Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA)
(NYSE:CCS) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) largely agree on the principles of net
neutrality, they disagree on regulating the Internet under what`s called
Title 2 regulations, the same way phone companies are regulated. Internet
companies say the rules protect consumers. Internet providers say it
raises the risk of government overreach.

CRAIG MOFFETT, MOFFETT NATHANSON: You have the companies like Verizon
(NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) who were
saying that they don`t oppose any of the net neutrality rules, but the
legal framework in order to get there imposes all of these burdensome
regulations.

BOORSTIN: Thursday`s FCC`s vote comes on the heels of a House
subcommittee hearing in which Republicans oppose net neutrality rules.

REP. JOE BARTON (R), TEXAS: What the FCC is probably going to vote on
tomorrow is net nonsense.

BOORSTIN: Saying it will lead to years of uncertainty for companies
and consumers.

Congressional Republicans who appeal to the FCC to delay the vote say
legislation is the best solution. If the vote goes as expected, this
battle is far from over.

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban is an outspoken opponent of the proposed
regulation.

MARK CUBAN, ENTREPRENEUR & INVESTOR: Oh, I think net neutrality is
the dumbest stuff ever. Really, the base of net neutrality is not a
technical argument. It`s not a business argument. It`s purely and simply
a demonization of a couple of big companies.

BOORSTIN: Cuban and industry watchers say plenty of lawsuits are on
the horizon.

CUBAN: I think the key question is really part of this collateral
damage conversation, is this really a foot in the door towards price
regulation of the broadband market?

BOORSTIN: The FCC says it has no plans to regulate pricing.

For NIGHTY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATHISEN: New development to tell you in that Homeland Security
standoff. Senate Democrats have agreed now to a proposal by Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell to vote on two bills, one that will fund the agency
and another on the president`s executive order on immigration. But at this
time, it is still unclear how the House will respond.

HERERA: To earnings now and Target (NYSE:TGT), which reported its
best sales growth in about three years today. Sales excluding newly opened
and close stores rose nearly 4 percent for the fourth quarter, that`s ahead
of projections, and profits beat Target`s own forecast. Shares rose
modestly to $77.15, sitting just shy of a 52-week high.

Courtney Reagan takes a look at the big changes made under the new CEO
and what`s ahead for Target`s transformation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
So far, so good. In his second full quarter as Target`s CEO, Ryan Cornell,
led the retailer to earnings and sales above even the company`s updated
forecast. Comparable sales turning in the strongest result in 11 quarters,
thanks in part to the redemption of gift cards purchased over the Black
Friday weekend.

BRIAN CORNELL, TARGET CEO: When we think about this connection of
stores and digital, the important point is it`s not either/or. It`s an
“and”.

REAGAN: Two of Cornell`s bold move included exiting Target (NYSE:TGT)
Canada after opening stores less than two years ago and this week, cutting
the free shipping threshold in half to $25.

In a CNBC exclusive, Target`s chief financial officer, John Mulligan,
said the cost of lowering the free shipping threshold is more of an
investment, because Target (NYSE:TGT) shoppers that buy both online and in
store are more valuable than consumers using only one shopping channel.

JOHN MULLIGAN, TARGET CFO: Automatically, we get more sales because
they`re shopping online but actually increase engagement in the store as
well. So, we see a significant increase in both sales and gross margin
dollars or profitability from that.

REAGAN: There are also more subtle initiatives Cornell was working on
to bring in shoppers and enhance their loyalty to the retailer —
particularly, moms.

CORNELL: Every time I talk to Target (NYSE:TGT) moms, they have
stories about coming to our stores when they had their first child,
memories they have about shopping. We want to make sure we reinforce that.
It`s something we`ve got to be famous for.

REAGAN: If Target (NYSE:TGT) can make shopping the brand a habit for
the growing millennial mom generation, Wolfe Research suggests Target`s
earnings will be a positive beneficiary.

(on camera): In a Wolfe Research survey, Target (NYSE:TGT) is the
strongest brand among mothers with young children, a group who shops stores
frequently and is less likely to substitute shopping at Target (NYSE:TGT)
with online options.

(voice-over): But the initiatives aren`t free. There`s a cost
associated with keeping digital strategies, compelling merchandise and in-
store presentation moving forward, but investors don`t know what the cost
will be. Analysts are hoping to know more when Cornell speaks to the
financial community next week at its investor day in New York City.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Courtney Reagan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATHISEN: The owner of T.J.Maxx is following Walmart`s lead, raising
wages for a half million of its employees. In its fourth quarter earnings
report, the parent of Marshall`s and Home Goods said full-time and part-
time hourly employees will earn at least $9 an hour starting in June.
Workers who have been with the company for six months or more will earn $10
an hour. As for its earnings, the company`s overall results topped
estimates and it will hike its dividend to 21 cents a share.

HERERA: Still ahead, the big problems plaguing our nation`s pensions,
both private as well as.

(MUSIC)

HERERA: The three largest tobacco companies have agreed to resolve
pending tobacco lawsuits in Florida. The cases are related to a 1994 class
action suit. Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) and Altria will pay $42.5
million, while Lorillard (NYSE:LO) will pay $15 million. Shares of
Reynolds and Lorillard (NYSE:LO) rose a fraction. Altria fell just
slightly.

MATHISEN: Big American technology companies may be feeling the
fallout from revelations of Western cyber surveillance, this according to a
“Reuters” report. Now, the government of China has now dropped some big
name tech brands like Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Intel
(NASDAQ:INTC) from its approved list of state purchasers.

Eamon Javers has been covering this story since we first learned of
the surveillance program and the global reaction.

So, Eamon, did Edward Snowden, if anything, give China an excuse stop
using American companies?

EAMON JAVERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sure,
absolutely, Tyler. I mean, there are a lot of reasons why China might want
to stop using some of these American companies and push some of that
business to its own domestic industry. But, of course, the Snowden
disclosures give them a good reason to do that from China`s perspective.

From Beijing`s perspective, why import all the gear that might be
contaminated with NSA software or hardware or cooperation agreements
between those corporations and NSA? If you can build it at home and buy it
at home, it makes a lot more sense for the Chinese. And, of course,
American companies have a lot to lose in all of this.

HERERA: Absolutely. I mean, it`s going to have a big impact on the
bottom line. But it seems that a lot of it does go to what you were just
mentioning, Eamon, and that is over the past few years, China has really
ramped up its focus on creating its own technology companies.

JAVERS: Yes, that`s right. And don`t forget, Sue, that this concern
goes both ways. American government agencies have had concerns about
Huawei and Lenovo software and hardware. They`ve been reluctant to use
some of those machines in the U.S. government and high-tech and high
security industries for the same reasons the Chinese may be resisting
American equipment. So you have this sort of standoff, but more American
companies are selling equipment in China than Chinese companies are selling
equipment here at the high end.

So, that means that those American companies have a lot to lose here
and a lot of that plays into this tension that you`re now seeing between
the Silicon Valley companies and the U.S. government in the wake of those
Snowden disclosures. A bit of a frosty relationship here now as business
is definitely being lost.

HERERA: Eamon, thank you, as always.

JAVERS: You bet.

HERERA: Eamon Javers in Washington.

MATHISEN: Well, Chesapeake is the latest energy company to cut back
because of slumping crude prices. And that is where we begin tonight`s
“Market Focus”.

The company reported lower than forecast earnings and said it would
cut its rig count and spending this year. The stock today, one of the
worst performers in the S&P 500, down 9.5 percent to $17.98.

SodaStream — let`s go there — quarterly profit topped estimates, as
lower expenses offset a drop in revenue. But investors couldn`t overlook
that sales drop, which was mainly due to lower demand for its at-home soda
machines in the U.S. Also, a weakening euro to dollar exchange rate also
hurt revenue. Shares fizzled out, down almost 9 percent to $17.25.

Shares of Lumber Liquidators got hammered after the company revealed
it may face criminal charges from the Department of Justice for allegedly
importing illegally harvested wood. The chain also said that it will be
the subject of a negative profile on an upcoming episode of CBS`s “60
Minutes”. Adding to the bad news, the hardwood flooring maker`s results
missed on both the top and bottom lines.

Not a good day for Lumber Liquidators. Look there down $18 a share,
Sue, 26 percent to $50.63.

HERERA: Yikes!

American Express (NYSE:EXPR) (NYSE:AXP) said it will hike interest
rates on some of its cards by an average of 2.5 percentage points. It`s
not yet clear how many customers might be affected by that move, but some
reports say more than a million cardholders will see rates rise. Shares
rose more than 1.5 percent to $82.17.

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) reached an agreement with federal
officials early this morning, that allows the airliner to keep flying its
jets even after missing a mandatory inspection deadline. “The Wall Street
Journal” reports that the FAA is allowing the planes to fly for five days
while those checks are completed. There are 128 jets in question, roughly
one fifth of that airline`s fleet. Shares of Southwest were off almost 3
percent to $44.12.

MATHISEN: Well, as the NASDAQ inches closer to 5,000, it has been 15
years since the index hit the lofty round number. And while many firms
that fueled its rise in 2000 are long gone, others survived, a few with the
same chief executives in place.

Mary Thompson looks now at those CEO survivors.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARY THOMPSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):
NASDAQ 5,000, a target a few long-serving CEOs have seen the index hit
before. Amazon`s Jeff Bezos, Starbucks` Howard Schultz, Cisco`s John
Chambers, and Oracle`s Larry Ellison, all at the controls in 2000, still at
the controls today.

WILLIAM KLEPPER, COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL: The reason they`ve lasted
is because they`ve learned to adapt.

THOMPSON: They aren`t afraid to hire talents to steer the change as
Chambers has done, and there are innovators like Bezos, who`s changed and
challenged retail, and Schultz who`s changed the way we think about coffee.
Ellison changed how corporations buy software, bundling it rather than
selling it piecemeal.

LARRY ELLISON, ORACLE EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN: Is leadership important? I
think it`s really important.

THOMPSON (on camera): These CEOs rare not only because of long-term
success but long terms they`ve served their companies. The conference
board pegs the average tenure of an S&P 500 CEO at 9.7 years. These four
have run their companies for 20 years or more. In part because they
understand something very important according to Professor Bill Klepper.

KLEPPER: Smart CEOs are constantly looking to not only maintain the
current portfolio of offerings but at the same time, look to reinvent what
it is they`re doing because of what the future holds for them, but their
customers need.

THOMPSON (voice-over): A serial entrepreneur, Bezos is not afraid of
new ventures, even as he maintains a relentless focus on making customers
happy.

JEFF BEZOS, AMAZON CEO: We have created a lot of shareholder value.
We`ve done it by being consistent, by thinking about the future, trying to
put the customer first, trying to invent and being patient.

THOMPSON: That patience paying off for investors, who have seen the
stock rise over 450 percent since 2000.

Like Bezos, Schultz focuses on the customer and competition. During
Schultz`s 8-year break as CEO, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) faltered. Returning
in `08, he closed stores, hired from outside and retrained baristas to make
the perfect espresso. The small detail contributing to an over 900 percent
gain in the stock since the crash.

HOWARD SCHULTZ, STARBUCKS CEO: I have tried to build the kind of
company that my father never got the chance to work for.

THOMPSON: Ellison is chairman now, having stepped aside as CEO last
year. Through acquisitions, he transferred Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) from a
database firm into a software giant and remains its key strategic thinker.
So, Oracle`s gain since the crash has been muted by the rapidly changing
world of tech, which has made for choppy waters for Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) in
Chambers, too.

Cisco`s stock is down and some call for Chambers to go. Still, the
networking firm survived the crash and remains a leader in a space where
past rivals are now gone.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Mary Thompson in New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HERERA: To pensions now. Public and private pensions plans have not
gone away, of course, but with many people living longer, both are
experiencing funding shortfalls.

Joshua Gotbaum is here now to discuss the issue and how it might
impact you. He is the former director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty
Corporation and is now a guest scholar of economic studies at the Brookings
Institute.

Welcome. Nice to have you here, Joshua.

JOSHUA GOTBAUM, FORMER DIR., PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORP: Nice to
be here.

HERERA: It`s kind of a good news/bad news story as we said. We`re
all living longer but we might outlive those funds. If we do indeed are
lucky enough to have a pension.

GOTBAUM: That`s right. But I think the most important thing to
remember is we are living longer. We are having healthier lives. The
challenge here is that our retirement programs just haven`t kept up. So
that where companies or government sponsored pensions, they didn`t set
aside enough to take this into account.

For most of us who don`t have pensions, we`ve got 401(k)s or IRAs or
bank accounts, that responsibility is ours. And most of us have not set
aside that. That`s the bad news.

The good news is that this is not a problem which you have to solve in
a day. It wasn`t caused in a day, and it can`t be solved in a day. This
is something which if we are serious and smart, and consistent, and don`t
panic, and start setting aside more now for the future, then retirees will
have a future.

What is ultimately going to happen, Joshua, if companies or states
like New Jersey fail over time to put the required amounts of money in?
Governor Christie widely criticized for not living up to a pledge he
apparently made some years ago to put the state`s pension plan on firmer
footing and now, he`s back in front of the legislature saying, this time, I
really, really mean it.

GOTBAUM: One of the most important things to understand is that cases
like Governor Christie and New Jersey are the exception. The vast majority
of pension plans put the money aside that they were supposed to. Now, it
is the case they set aside the amount that assume the stock market would
continue to rise. And so, as a result, they are underfunded.

A couple of states or municipalities, like New Jersey, did more than
that. They compounded it by not even making those required contributions.
So, they`re kind of behind two 8 balls.

But what`s important to remember is two things: one is, they are the
exception. And two is, if they are serious, if they are consistent, if
they start correcting it now, things will end up just fine.

HERERA: But how much of this depends on the market continuing to
perform well? I mean, as you mention so aptly, nobody expected 2008 to be
as bad as it was or to last as long it did.

GOTBAUM: I`ve had a couple of colleagues who are trying to estimate
that. And there`s no one who can tell you the answer where the stock
market is going to be. If they were, they wouldn`t be spending time on the
NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT. They`d be investing on their account.

But if using relatively conservative estimates of what markets will
make over the course of a generation, using relatively conservative
estimates, it looks like the shortfall can be made up over time. I have a
colleague at the Brookings Institution who looked at retiree health, not
retiree pensions, but retiree health, on which there was a shortfall and
it`s a very large amount of money in present value.

She then went and said, now, how much change overtime would it take in
order to solve the retiree health problem? And what she found is that a
less than a 1 percent increase in revenues, that`s taxes, or a less than 1
percent increase in costs would be enough to solve the retiree health
problem.

HERERA: Wow, OK. Joshua on that note, we have to leave it there.
Thank you so much. Fascinating.

GOTBAUM: Glad to be here.

HERERA: Joshua Gotbaum with the Brookings Institute.

Ty?

MATHISEN: Going with the train. Cashing in on America`s hunger for
more protein, which is coming from the most unusual of places.

(MUSIC)

HERERA: Americans are on a protein adding craze. They`re throwing
powder into smoothies and using it on toppings for food.

And as Jane Wells tells us, there`s one grain in high demand that`s
packing in that protein.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE WELLS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Darin Goka
personifies everything in modern fitness. He does cross-fit, eats paleo,
but without the meat. Instead, for muscle recovery and protein, he`s
turned to alternatives like rice. Rice is the new meat?

DARIN GOKA, CROSSFIT ATHLETE: I feel better. My body feels better.
My recovery is exactly the same.

WELLS (on camera): This is rice and peas?

DAVID JANOW, AXIOM FOODS CEO: Rice and pea protein.

WELLS (voice-over): David is CEO of Axiom, the largest producer of
plant-based proteins in the U.S., cashing in on America`s hunger for more
protein in our diet. The BBC estimates animal-based whey protein will be a
$12 billion global market in two years, and Axiom wants to carve out a
niche, having figure out how to extract the 8 percent protein from a grain
of rice. .

JANOW: If you take a scoop of this and take a scoop away protein,
you`re going to get the same results.

WELLS (on camera): Is this more expensive?

JANOW: No, it`s actually less expensive and it`s also hypoallergenic,
it`s gluten-free, it`s vegan.

WELLS (voice-over): Axiom`s Oryzatein rice protein product sold
everywhere from Whole Foods to small stores like the Vitamin Barn in
Malibu. NutriBiotic has been using it for the last few years, and rice
protein products are now its fastest growing line.

KENNY RIDGEWAY: The organic sales since 2011 have increased 204
percent and actually last year, the sales increased 72 percent.

WELLS: Rice protein doesn`t cost that much because Axiom uses
unsellable bits of rice source material. Annual sales are estimated at
$100 million, but with the study in the “Nutrition Journal” showing no
difference in muscle recovery between using whey and rice protein, the
market is expanding from the health food crowd to the health club crowd.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Jane Wells, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HERERA: That`s it for NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Sue Herera.

MATHISEN: And I`m Tyler Mathisen. Thanks for joining us. We`ll see
you back here tomorrow.

END

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