TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Defining case? The European Union just gave Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) a headache, a big one. And some say it could force the tech giant to change the way it does business.
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Monetary man, interrupted. Something happened today that likely never happened before at the staid and serious meeting of European Central Bankers.
MATHISEN: Orange is the new green. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) reports a big earnings miss. Investors don`t care and send shares soaring after the results.
All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Wednesday, Tax Day, April 15th.
HERERA: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.
It is become called the defining case for the Internet Age. Today, the European Union formally accused Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) for abusing its dominance in web searches, filing antitrust charges against the company. The agency said Google`s methods cheat both consumers and competitors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARGRETHE VESTAGER, EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Our preliminary view in the segment of objection is that in its general Internet search result, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) artificially favors its own comparison shopping service and that this constitutes an abuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: That case could cost the tech firm billions in fines, maybe even force Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to make changes to its business model, and it is drawing comparisons to the antitrust case against Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) that dragged on for years.
Despite that news, though, shares of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Class A shares rose slightly today.
Josh Lipton has more on what the charges means for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), a stock wildly held in mutual funds.
JOSH LIPTON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The European Commission delivered a blow to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) this morning, not only filing antitrust charges against the tech giant but also announcing a formal investigation into Android, Google`s mobile operating system.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) quickly shot back.
ADAM COHEN, GOOGLE: But look at the tremendous innovations and evolution that we`ve seen in the search industry over the past few years. We can`t standstill. We face enormous competitive pressure and we`re going to respond to that in the marketplace. Separately, we`re going to have a discussion with the regulators about how we do that.
LIPTON: This news comes at a tough time for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Its stock has gone nowhere over the last 12 months as investors worry that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has missed the boat in social media and ad dollars are moving to companies like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Worst case scenario, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) could face a potential $6 billion fine. The company does boast a cash pile of some $60 billion so that fine though serious wouldn`t be a huge setback.
More broadly regulators could force Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to make changes to its search business. That could have a chilling effect on Google`s ability to remain innovative.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) became the dominant search engine around the world by writing algorithms than were better than anybody else`s. Will the company still be able to innovate?
And then there`s the potential stock impact. When Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) faced antitrust charges in Europe several years ago, its stock underperformed the market. For Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), the stock impact may be more muted.
MARK MAHANEY, RBC ANALYST: The irony is this overhang comes in when the stock has already become relatively mature. So, this doesn`t have a dramatic impact on the valuation. If this happened five years ago, it would have.
LIPTON: A final E.U. decision could come by the end of the year. However, corporate governance experts say Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) should resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Otherwise, they say such charges can have an impact on recruitment, employee morale and brand reputation.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Josh Lipton in San Francisco.
MATHISEN: Victor Anthony now joins us to tell us what he thinks of what he thinks all this will mean for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) stock and the investors who own it. He`s senior Internet analyst with Axiom Capital Management.
Victor, welcome. Good to have you with us.
VICTOR ANTHONY, AXIOM: Thank you.
MATHISEN: You hear some of the thing that Josh Lipton just said. What is the risk here? What is the potential cost here for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in terms of fines? Josh had one number. In terms of business model risk and in terms of risk to profitability.
ANTHONY: Listen, I think Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is one of the world`s (INAUDIBLE) organization and the stock trades in a reasonable multiple to earnings growth, as well as to the S&P500. But as to the E.U. investigation, it`s one of multiple different overhangs that the stock faces this year, I will keep range bound.
But specifically on the E.U., you know, I`ve heard $6 billion number, maybe goes to $10 billion, you know, the company has about — they should end the quarter, the first quarter, with about $67 billion, $68 billion in cash on the balance sheet to generate anywhere between $12 billion and $15 billion in free cash at least this year.
So, it would be somewhat of a small hit to the balance sheet, I think, roughly, $9 per share. So, which I think is probably impacted (ph) to the value of the stock. But I think —
ANTHONY: I`m sorry, go ahead.
HERERA: Finish your thought.
ANTHONY: The real issue, my real concern is really the business practice changes. If that occurs, I think you could see some meaningful risk to Google`s earnings trajectory over the next several years.
HERERA: So, are comparisons to the Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) scenario that occurred a few years ago with the E.U., are those fair comparisons or not?
ANTHONY: It`s somewhat fair. It`s somewhat fair, I think.
But in combination of all the different risks that the company faces, you know, competition from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter, there`s concerns about slowing search growth, there`s investments that are pressuring the margins. You look at the — they may potentially lose Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a search partner in the next two months.
So, you know, those are things I think all put together is probably going to keep the shares range bound this year. If you own it, you hold it. If you don`t own it, I don`t see any reason to really get into the stock right now. If you own it, you can take some profits. Reallocate your — some of those profits into some —
MATHISEN: You have a hold rating on the stock. Your price target is what?
MATHISEN: $608. So, basically, you think it`s not going to move very much.
Very quickly, what would Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) need to do to get to you switch from a hold to a buy?
ANTHONY: Well, I think they need to, you know, kind of work their way through the E.U. antitrust investigation. They need to convince us that, you know, search business is still holding up. And maybe an acquisition of a social media platform, maybe Twitter.
MATHISEN: Very interesting. Victor, thank you very much. You left on a high note there, Victor. Thank you very much.
Victor Anthony with Axiom Capital Management.
HERERA: Well, it`s not every day you see one of the most powerful men in the world get glitter bombed while speaking about economic stimulus policies but that`s exactly what happened today in Frankfurt when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi took to the podium.
Annette Weisbach was there.
ANNETTE WEISBACH, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: That was most likely the most eventful press conference of Mario Draghi. Just minutes into him reading the introductory statement, an activist from a feminist group allegedly came in, just got up and started to throw paper and confetti over him. Of course, she had to be escorted outside of the building.
But the question mark, of course, is around the fact, how could she actually enter the building? And the answer most likely lies in the fact that it`s very easy to get a press card in Eurozone, in Germany. With a press card, you can have access to the ECB.
But switching to monetary policy now, Mario Draghi has not said anything very new. He`s quite optimistic about the outlook for the economy, but saying that is depending on the ECB implementing quantitative easing and to at least September 2016. Only if inflation were to pick up a lot faster than expected, then ECB could stop the program earlier than September 2016.
Also, he rebuffed criticism that perhaps there`s not enough bonds out there for them to buy because a lot of bonds here in the eurozone trading with negative yields and the ECB has said earlier they are not going to buy anything with negative yields, lower than the deposit rate, which currently is at minus 20 basis points.
But for now, things look pretty much relaxed. Next time, we get the new stock projections from the ECB. That would be interesting, because then we also get an understanding how really optimistic they are of the future here. And the Eurozone looking baffled at the lower euro rate exchange which is, of course, helping the eurozone.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Annette Weisbach in Frankfurt.
MATHISEN: And now to China where the world`s second largest economy grew at the slowest pace in six years.
And as Eunice Yoon reports from Beijing, investors are now looking to see whether the government will take any additional steps to pump up growth.
EUNICE YOON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: China`s GDP came in at 7 percent for the first quarter. This is largely in line with expectations, but it`s also the slowest level of growth this country has seen since the depths of the financial crisis.
Now, the focus was on the March data. Instead of the pick up that everybody was expecting, we saw a tapering and that suggested to many people here that the economy is decelerating and headed for even slower growth.
Now, the data also raised expectations among economists here that policymakers are going to have to step in and take some action. Some combination of interest rate cuts or cuts to the Triple-R which is the amount of cash that banks have to have on hand in reserve.
The authorities, though, don`t seem to be hitting the panic button just yet. In the run up to the release of the data, the Chinese premier actually came on state radio and spoke to the public directly to say that there`s a downward pressure on the economy, but that everyone needs to adjust to this and that the country needs to prepare for even further economic challenges.
The employment number came out at 5.1 percent. And the interesting thing was a commentary around it, because officials said that the jobs market here is stable. But time and again, the government has said that the employment is really going to determine just how aggressive the government is in trying to prop up growth.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Eunice Yoon in Beijing.
HERERA: To Wall Street now where stocks rose on speculation first quarter earnings may not be as weak as previously thought. The small cap Russell 2000 index closed within a record. At the major averages within 1 percent of their all-time highs. At the close, the Dow Jones Industrials Average rose nearly 76 points to 18,112. The NASDAQ gained almost 34, and the S&P 500 11.
But it was the price of oil that really jumped, up nearly 6 percent, closing at $56.39. It`s high for the year.
Jackie DeAngelis has more now on the recent rise in prices and where they may be heading.
JACKIE DEANGELIS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Two reasons crude oil prices went higher, the first would be the EIA inventory report from last week, a build of 1.3 billion barrels, much smaller than traders were expecting, much smaller that we`ve seen in the last few weeks and also months.
But also, geopolitical tensions still on the radar, making traders nervous. They are watching the situation in Yemen very closely.
Now, these fundamentals right now still say that supply/demand situation is working itself out, but it`s going to take more time to rebalance. That would imply that we should see a lower crude price for the market, the technical obviously thinking otherwise. I do want to point out it was near a 6 percent move today but we`ve seen some very volatile swings this year. Move (NASDAQ:MOVE) of 4 percent to the upside or the downside 22 times this year.
So, traders are saying we could see more volatility ahead. This doesn`t necessarily indicate the next direction for the market.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Jackie DeAngelis.
MATHISEN: Though oil prices are rising now, they were low for quite a while and that has hurt parts of the U.S. economy. According to the Federal Reserve`s Beige Book, the drop in prices forced energy companies and some manufacturers to increase their layoffs. The survey also says the rising dollar is having an adverse effect on some industries. But that the U.S. economy overall continues to grow albeit at a moderate pace.
HERERA : And today in an interview on CNBC, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that despite some of the recent weakness in economic data, the U.S. is in good shape, especially when compared to other economies around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: I talk to business people around the world and my colleagues, my counterparts around the world. I don`t hear a lot of questions about whether or not the United States is strong and continuing to be headed in the right direct. There are a lot of concern about the global economy, and the disparate performance between the U.S. economy and other parts of the global economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: The secretary also said confidence is up, consumers have more cash in their pockets, and that he`s not concerned about the strengthening dollar.
MATHISEN: Well, another challenge that does face the U.S. economy is income disparity and today, on Tax Day, fast food workers across the country and across the world took to the streets to demand higher wages.
MATHISEN (voice-over): In Brooklyn, New York, demonstrators blocked traffic this morning, and on Manhattan`s Upper West Side, they staged a die in.
KARL KUMOZEI, DEMONSTRATOR: I would say if you`re keeping your workers on poverty wages, you`re literally tearing people.
BETH SCHAFFER, DEMONSTRATOR: If it wasn`t for me you wouldn`t have your subsidy.
MATHISEN: Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles were among the 200-plus cities where workers made their presence felt today. But consumers could see higher prices if the going wage hits $15 an hour.
ROBERT DERRINGTON, WUNDERLICH: These companies have to figure out how can they ultimately both cover that cost, either through higher menu prices or through their menu mix and at the same time try to manage the workforce so that they don`t lose workers to someone else and they keep them staffed. It`s a very tough proposition for restaurant companies.
MATHISEN: Twenty-three states in all will raise their minimum wages this year but none of the state minimums are scheduled to rise above $10 an hour.
HERERA: Meantime, one Seattle company is really redefining the term minimum wage.
Dan Price, the CEO of the credit card payments firm Gravity (NASDAQ:GRVY) has decided to close the pay gap in a big way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN PRICE, CEO, GRAVITY: We have a really exciting situation here. We`re going to have a minimum $70,000 pay rate for everyone that works here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: All of his 120 employees will now make at least $70,000 a year.
The changes will be made over the next three years and Price will take a pay cut. His salary of $1 million will be $70,000 a year. The changes will reportedly use 80 percent of anticipated profits for the year. But Price believes the move isn`t just the right thing to do. It`s good business.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRICE: With leadership includes doing what`s right, even when there`s not a direct kind of one for one carrot or stick. In the end, when you run your business that way for the future, you`re going to create more value in the long term for everybody not just those folks that got the bump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: Before the increase, the company`s average salary was about $50,000 a year.
MATHISEN: Still ahead, another company that made social responsibility its mission is about to go public but will investors embrace the strategy?
MATHISEN: The streaming video company Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) out with its quarterly results late today it earned 38 cents a share and that was a big miss — 31 cents below estimates, revenue of $1.5 billion was in line with estimates, but a big increase from a year ago. That sent shares up as much as 12 percent in after-hours trading.
Julia Boorstin has one the key takeaway from that report and the reason why investors are blowing off that big earnings miss.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Investors shrugged off a earnings miss, thanks to a strong dollar, and focus on Netflix`s far better than expected subscriber edition. The company added 4.9 million new streaming subscribers, more than half of those from overseas, as the company continues its global rollout.
Domestic subscribers also grew faster than expected, as original contents like “House of Cards” helped to add and retain customers. The company also forecasting the addition of more new subscribers in the second quarter than Wall Street analysts projected.
Reed Hastings writing his letter to shareholders, quote, “Our original content strategy is playing out as we hoped, driving loss of viewing an economic way for Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), while bolstering the positive perception of our brand. With the stock shooting up to a new all time high on the upside surprise, it seems to be boosting positive perception of the stock as well.
Back over to you.
MATHISEN: That was Julia Boorstin. And Julia will be back shortly with just — with a story on Etsy, the online marketplace for craft, that`s getting ready to go public.
HERERA: Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), the country`s second biggest bank, swings to a profit and that`s where we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The results show BofA is starting to recover from its large legal losses of prior years. Still, its earnings and revenue missed analyst estimates and the bank`s trading performance fell short of its rival JP Morgan. Shares fell 1 percent to $15.64.
US Bancorp saw its profit edge up by more than 2 percent, as its revenue and loans increased. But overall revenue trailed consensus and its net interest margin, which is an important measure of lending profitability fell. Shares were off a few cents to $43.42.
Charles Schwab`s quarterlies missed on both the top and bottom lines. Profit fell because the company was hurt by higher one-time costs and a slowdown in trading. Still, shares were up slightly to $30.53.
MATHISEN: Well, Sue, Delta`s earnings beat the street, while revenue came in right at the expectation point. The company said this March quarter was its best in history. But, the carrier is cutting some international flights because of the strong dollar and falling oil prices. Shares were 2.5 percent higher to $44.20.
HCA Holdings upped its full-year guidance on better-than-expected preliminary earnings. The hospital operator said higher admissions and emergency room visits will help revenue results for the quarter and the full year. Shares popped 2.5 percent to $79.24, the close there.
Target (NYSE:TGT) is close to a settlement with MasterCard (NYSE:MA) over its 2013 data breach, this according to “The Wall Street Journal”. The settlement would see the retailer reimburse financial institutions about $20 million in costs related to having to reissue credit cards. Target (NYSE:TGT) is in the middle of a separate negotiation with Visa (NYSE:V).
Shares of Target (NYSE:TGT) fell more than 1 percent to $81.96. MasterCard (NYSE:MA) up a bit, it closed at $89.25.
HERERA: You might have noticed the IPO market has cooled down this year as the number of companies going public slowed dramatically. But this week, that`s changing.
Bob Pisani has more.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: It`s been a lousy year for IPOs but that may be about to change. The collapse of the energy business was a big problem but there were also very few big tech deals as well.
First, biotech firm Aduro Biotech priced at $17 and more than doubled its value on its first day of trading. They specialize in cancer immuno therapy that leverages the patient`s immune system to slow the growth and the spread of tumor sales.
Three big names are pricing tonight, and while they`re all in different spaces, they have all similar characteristics — strong cash flow and a leadership position in the markets.
First is Etsy. That`s an online marketplace for handmade goods. It`s still losing money but it has a very loyal following, largely but not exclusively among women.
Then, there`s Virtu Financial. It`s a global market maker, in 10,000 securities in 30 countries. They make money primarily by capturing small spread between the prices of stocks.
Finally, there`s my favorite, Party City. Who-ho! It`s pretty serious business. They are the leading party goods retailer in North America. They have 880 stores.
Now, they just sell in their stores. They make something like 70 percent of the products in their stores, they are also a big distributor of party goods to independent stores and to mass merchants. So, either way you`re likely buying your party goods from them.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
MATHISEN: As Bob just mentioned, Etsy, the online marketplace for handmade goods, one of the big IPOs this week, is scheduled to start trading tomorrow after pricing its IPO tonight at the high end of the range. But this company is different. Etsy is a certificated socially responsible corporation.
So, will investors embrace a firm that cares more than just the bottom line?
Julia Boorstin reports.
BOORSTIN (voice-over): Etsy isn`t another ecommerce Web site. The 10-year-old Brooklyn-based company says it wants to re-imagine commerce. Its marketplace gives 1.4 million sellers a platform and tools to connect with nearly 20 million buyers, selling products as eclectic as a tuxedo capped scarf, a handmade felt box and a Cinderella dress.
The company charges 20 cents to list a single item for four months. If it sells, the company takes a 3.5 percent cut. Etsy also charges for prominent placement and search results for payment processing and shipping labels.
BRIAN HAMILTON, SAGEWORKS: These guys are basically focused on a niche that is growing very nicely. It should be a little bit expandable. I think the reason their valuation is not quite as high is some of the other IPOs that have come out is because it is a smaller company. But I like the potential growth of the company.
BOORSTIN (on camera): Etsy is the biggest ever IPO of a B corporation. It`s a certification for companies that meet certain social and environmental standards, like lead certification for green buildings. Etsy says its social mission is to change the way the global economy works by empowering entrepreneurs.
(voice-over): The company also compost food waste at local community farms, offer employees used bikes and maintenance and uses reclaimed office furniture. And it`s expanding its community oriented approach to its public offering, setting aside of 5 percent pre-IPO shares for its vendors, plus another 10 percent to shares marketed to other small investors.
HAMILTON: I have no problem with a company that has sort of a social mission as long as while they are being social, they are generating cash flow which this company is.
BOORSTIN: The question is whether investors will think that being a good business is good for business. Last year, Etsy grew it`s revenue 56 percent to $196 million, but its net loss widened to more than $15 million from a loss of $800,000 the prior year, as the company invests in marketing.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.
HERERA: Why farmers are quickly becoming the symbol of California`s water crisis. The battle against the drought rages on when we come back.
MATHISEN: Here`s what to watch tomorrow: a fresh read on the labor market with initial jobless claims. We will find out tomorrow on the state of housing when housing starts are released and more earnings, Citigroup (NYSE:C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), American Express (NYSE:EXPR) (NYSE:AXP) and more. That`s what`s on the agenda for Thursday.
HERERA: The battle lines in California are being drawn. The historic water restrictions imposed by the state`s governor earlier this month are pitting farmers against just about everybody else. And the fight is heating up.
Jane Wells has more from Huron, California.
JANE WELLS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): California has the most people and it has the biggest farm economy. Now, the epic drought has pitted city versus country. It`s getting nutty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your numbers are a little off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, they`re not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re not going to pull that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nope, nope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nope!
WELLS: That`s a local talk radio host in Los Angeles arguing on air with a nut ranch manager.
Governor Jerry Brown has ordered residents and businesses to cutback 25 percent without demanding the same cuts from farmers, even though farms use at least four times as much water.
JOHN KOBYLT, RADIO HOST: They are growing almonds which takes about 10 percent of the water supply in a desert climate. How nuts is that?
MARK BORBA, FARMER: Everybody could live with fewer of every crop I`m sure. But almonds are in such demand not only in the U.S. but around the world.
WELLS: Mark Borba grows almonds in the Central Valley, and $6 billion almond industry has been particularly targeted with figures like one gallon of water needed for every nut. He and other farmers say they`ve already been cutting back on water for years.
BORBA: We`re getting zero surface water allocation from our contracts.
WELLS (on camera): Part of the problem is California`s regulations about water and water rights, which in some cases more back a century. And water is now so tight, some farmers are turning against other farmers as the “A.P.” reports some water has gone missing. And for all the water that goes to farms, even more goes to the environment.
CRAIG UNDERWOOD, FARMER: I don`t hear criticism of the water that`s being released to bring back fish which is a good goal but is it being effective.
WELLS (voice-over): It`s going be a long hot dry summer in California as the age old battle for water gushes anew.
KOBYLT: We can do without the almonds. I can`t do without a glass of water. So, we win, they lose.
WELLS: For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Jane Wells, in California Central Valley.
HERERA: That`s a big fight.
All right. That`s NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for watching.
MATHISEN: And I`m Tyler Mathisen. Thanks from me as well. Have a great evening, everybody. And we will see you back here tomorrow night.
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