TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Sudden exit?
UnitedHealthcare, the nation`s largest health insurer, says it may leave
the public health insurance exchanges, surprising investors and consumers
and potentially dealing Obamacare a serious blow.
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Just do it. What Nike
(NYSE:NKE) just did late today that could impact the market tomorrow.
MATHISEN: And fantasy world. DraftKings and FanDuel, the daily
sports gaming sites, have spent millions on advertising. But will the
money continue to flow to the media companies as legal challenges mount?
All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Thursday,
HERERA: Good evening, everyone. And welcome.
A warning from UnitedHealthcare and a possible blow to the Affordable
Care Act. The nation`s largest insurer said it may stop offering coverage
to individuals on the public exchanges as losses from those plans mount.
The company also cut its earnings forecast for the year, which sent shares
5 percent lower, making it the worst-performing Dow stock in today`s
But today`s announcement comes in sharp contrast to more optimistic
projections made about its exchange business just last month.
So, Bertha Coombs takes a look at the reasons behind UnitedHealth`s
announcement and what it could mean for the insurance exchanges.
BERTHA COOMBS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: This is
UnitedHealthcare`s first year offering plans on the public ACA exchanges
that`s seen costs and losses mount. The insurance giant says it will still
offer plans for 2016, but may get out of the exchange business altogether
STEPHEN HEMSLEY, UNITEDHEALTH GROUP CEO: The overall exchange market
profile is more negative than we had planned. With new market enrollment
growth that will be more slowly. These indicators point to an environment
that is declining and likely to continue in that direction into next year.
COOMBS: Exchange plans make up just 1 1/2 percent of United`s
business. So, analysts say pulling the plug won`t hurt its profit and it
won`t sink the ACA markets short term, says Robert Laszewski.
ROBERT LASZEWSKI, HEALTH POLICY AND STRATEGY ASSOCIATES PRES.: If
UnitedHealthcare pulls out, the remaining insurance companies are enough.
That`s not the whole point here.
COOMBS: Longer term, he says, ACA regulations make it too hard for
insurers to price plans that attract healthy consumers who can offset high-
cost members, and it`s a big problem, he says, for non-profit insurers who
offer some of the most affordable plans on exchanges.
LASZEWSKI: This is the first time that blue cross plans in aggregate
have lost money since the 1980s. There`s a fundamental problem here with
the business model in the Affordable Care Act in these insurance exchanges.
And that business model has got to change.
COOMBS: United is the only insurer publicly threatening to leave,
but others are making their own quiet assessments, says analyst Sarah
SARAH JAMES, WEDBUSH: We`ve already started to hear some other
companies talk about pulling back their marketing efforts, broker
commissions, as well as rethinking how they`re going to approach 2017. So
I think this is a broader market issue. The fact that there`s too high of
a sick mix in the exchanges is really something impacting everybody.
COOMBS: In response to United`s warning, one Health Department
official says today`s statement by one carrier is not indicative of the
marketplace`s strength and viability.
Still, the clock is ticking. UnitedHealth says it will decide
whether it will pull out of the exchanges for 2017 over the next six
Bertha Coombs, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, New York.
MATHISEN: And let`s turn now to Ana Gupte who talked more about what
this will mean overall for the public health exchanges, for Obamacare, and
for health insurance stocks. She`s senior health care services analyst at
Welcome, Ana. Good to have you with us.
You heard in that piece, one of the sources say that this unearthed –
– this UnitedHealthcare threat to pull out — unearthed a, quote,
“fundamental problem with the business model of the health care exchanges.”
Do you agree with that? If so, what is the problem and how could you fix
ANA GUPTE, LEERINK PARTNERS SR. HEALTHCARE SERVICES ANALYST: Yes, I
do agree with this. I don`t think United is alone in this issue. The
other four big insurers, Anthem, Aetna (NYSE:AET), and Humana (NYSE:HUM) in
particular are also facing a lot of issues on exchange. The exchanges look
broken to me.
The two biggest issues are we have the sickest comers. They always
come in first. We have not been able to get a balanced risk pool with the
younger and healthier enrollees that would have balanced out some of the
sick insurance premium spirals with the healthier people.
MATHISEN: Why haven`t the younger people come in? Why haven`t they,
GUPTE: Partly the problem is we only have partial subsidies for
people that make a household income of $50,000 or more. And so, between
$50,000 and, say, $85,000 to $90,000, the product is not very affordable.
The premium subsidies are not adequate. And then they in fact, the veil of
hospital services and procedures they experience huge sticker shock because
the deductibles on the co-insurance can be very high.
So, these enrollment members are not staying on exchange. They`re
coming in and out. And as a consequence, the product is not becoming
affordable for the rest of the market as well.
HERERA: Which leads to kind of a financial instability for the
organizations like a UnitedHealthcare or a Humana (NYSE:HUM) or whichever
one you`re talking about, right?
So, do you need to underpin those organizations with some sort of
financial stability specific to the exchanges?
GUPTE: Well, there are a couple of things that CMS can do. The
first big one I think is that they could reduce or at least dial down the
special enrollment periods with very big hardship exemptions that`s
allowing some of this instability to persist in the marketplace, and I
think that would cut some of the losses that players like Humana (NYSE:HUM)
in particular and now United are facing.
The second is that there were supposed to be these backstops called
the three R`s in risk corridors that were expected to give some cushion to
the insurers in the early years when the exchange marketplaces were not
However, the end of September, CMS has now said they will not be
paying out the entire risk corridor payments to the insurers, and as a
consequence the pricing by the insurers on exchange has not been adequate
for the losses that they`re facing. That`s another change that could be
made as well.
MATHISEN: A very thorny set of problems. Ana Gupte, thank you very
much. Ana is with Leerink Partners.
HERERA: A big move late today by another Dow component. Nike
(NYSE:NKE) will split its stock two for one. The board of the world`s
largest sporting goods company approved a new $12 billion share buyback
program, and it raised its quarterly cash dividend by 14 percent to 32
cents per share presplit. That sent shares higher in after-hours trading.
MATHISEN: And that late-day move in Nike (NYSE:NKE) could help the
market tomorrow. But today it was healthcare that weighed on the index and
capped any gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average off four points to
17,732, NASDAQ down a point, and the S&P 500 dipped two.
HERERA: To the economy now and some positive news in manufacturing.
A survey by the Philadelphia Fed shows activity in that sector improved in
November. It follows two negative readings. New orders and shipments
showed some improvement as well. A separate report indicated continued
strength on the job market. The number of Americans filing for
unemployment benefits fell last week by 5,000 to 271,000.
MATHISEN: Household debt has climbed to its highest level since
2010, now totals more than $12 trillion. A report by the New York Federal
Reserve Bank shows borrowing in the third quarter was driven by increases
in mortgage lending, credit cards, auto, student loans, and that, folks, is
pretty much everything.
HERERA: Indeed it is.
Federal Reserve official Loretta Mester said economic conditions are
right for an interest rate hike, the first one in nearly a decade, but
added the market`s focus should not solely be on the timing of the first
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LORETTA MESTER, CLEVELAND FEDERAL RESERVE PRESIDENT: I think the
path after lift-off is more important than lift-off per se. There`s a lot
of reasons to think that that`s going to be a gradual path, and the FLC has
said that in a statement and I agree with that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: Mester characterized the labor market as near full
employment, and that inflation is slowly moving towards the Central Bank`s
MATHISEN: In Washington, the House of Representatives passed a bill
that would make it harder for Syrian refugees to enter the United States.
The legislation would suspend the president`s program to admit 10,000
refugees next year, 47 Democrats backed the bill that broke with the
president, who has threatened to veto the measure and the bill now goes
over to the Senate.
HERERA: There were major developments in the Paris terror attack
investigation. A French prosecutor announced today that the man they
believed organized Friday`s attack is dead, killed in a SWAT team raid
Michelle Caruso-Cabrera reports tonight from Paris.
MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT:
Twenty-four hours after that violent police raid in northern Paris,
prosecutors announced today that they found Abdelhamid Abaaoud dead in the
rubble, his body riddled with bullets, and that they identified him by his
We`re also learning a lot more about the female suicide bomber in
that raid. The woman who detonated a vest loaded with explosives was 27-
year-old Hasna Aitboulahcen. Belgian media reports she posted this photo
of herself on social media.
According to “The Associated Press”, three police officials have told
them she was Abaaoud`s cousin. Her voice can be heard on this videotape
obtained by French TV station TF-1. It was recorded by a neighbor at the
height of the raid.
POLICE: Where is your boyfriend?
WOMAN: He`s not my boyfriend.
POLICE: Where is he?
WOMAN: He`s not my boyfriend.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Also today in the lower house of parliament, MPs
voted overwhelmingly to extend the current state of emergency to three
months and also to give increased power to the police, including allowing
them to put people under house arrest for dangerous attitudes. That vote
will be taken up by the Senate later this week. It is widely expected to
But many in Paris are determined to live their lives before, as in
their words, to not let terrorism win. For example, today was the annual
launch of the Beaujolais nouveau. That`s the young wine that`s introduced
every year at this time. It`s a huge cultural event in France.
JEAN BOURJADE, INTER BEAULOLAIS GENERAL MANAGER: We decided to
maintain the festivities because what happened on Friday in Paris in a way
was an attack on French culture, on the French way of life, and we felt
that the best way to respond to terrorist attack is to show that no, they
won`t change our way of life, they won`t change the values.
CARUSO-CABRERA: And it doesn`t appear that tourists are staying
away. We saw them all day here at the Eiffel Tower.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Paris.
MATHISEN: Attention today turned to Brussels, where Belgian police
conducted a series of raids and arrested two people in connection with the
Paris attacks. Seven others were questioned.
Julia Chatterley has been following the developments from Brussels.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The key
question here in Brussels tonight is, who are the nine suspects we believe
are being held in police custody? A product of nine raids that took place
earlier today across Brussels and in the surrounding regions.
What I can tell you is the vast majority of those raids were very
much focusing in on known associates of one of the suicide bombers from the
Paris attacks. It`s a man called Bilal Hafdi. And I can tell you his
relationship to Brussels and Belgium is that he lived here. In fact, his
family still do live here.
But he`s not the only connection. In fact, the man believed to be
the mastermind behind those Paris attacks and the man killed yesterday in
the raids in Paris also lived here in Brussels. In fact, he lived in a
region called Molenbeek, and that`s actually where I am now. I`m in a
central square. You can see the town hall here behind me.
And this region has been described to me as the jihadist capital of
Europe. It`s got an 80 percent Muslim population. It`s got an incredibly
high unemployment rate. And the authorities here have been very heavily
criticized for not doing more socially, but also not doing enough to clamp
down on the extremist radicalization activities that are believed to take
So, what the prime minister of Belgium told us earlier was that we`re
going to increase security. We`re going to increase surveillance. And I
think the raids that we saw this morning are all going to be part of that
So, we saw nine raids. We believe we`ve got nine suspects now in
police custody. The question is, who are they and what if any is their
connection to those attacks in Paris last Friday? We wait and see.
For the NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Chatterley in Brussels.
HERERA: Still ahead, tough new rules from the Treasury Department
that could throw a curveball at a potential $150 billion deal.
MATHISEN: The Treasury Department is cracking down on so-called
corporate tax inversions, a process in which companies reincorporate in
lower tax nations abroad but continue their domestic operations.
Eamon Javers is in Washington with more on these just-issued rules.
Eamon, this is a very timely story because earlier today, we hear
that the talks between Allergan (NYSE:AGN) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) are
heating up. That would be potentially I guess the biggest of the
inversions. What has the Treasury Department said?
EAMON JAVERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it could
be, and that`s a potential deal that`s waiting out there in the wings.
Treasury officials briefed reporters earlier this afternoon on this, and
they wouldn`t answer any specific questions about Pfizer (NYSE:PFE),
Allergan (NYSE:AGN), and what these new rules mean for that particular
deal. They say they do this without any company specifically in mind.
But let me bring you the highlights or sort of the meat on the bones
of what is in these new rules, the so-called treasury notice that was
Among them, they say the new rules will limit the ability of U.S.
companies to combine with foreign entities using a new foreign parent
located in a third country. They also say they`ll limit the ability of
U.S. companies to inflate the new foreign parent corporation size and
therefore avoid what`s known as the 80 percent ownership rule, and they`ll
also require the new foreign parent to be a tax resident of the country
where the foreign parent is created or organized.
All of this, Tyler, is all about making these deals less appetizing
for U.S. companies and protecting the U.S. tax base. Treasury officials
very concerned here that American companies are doing this too often and
they want to stem the pace of U.S. companies going overseas for tax
HERERA: If they wouldn`t talk about the potential Pfizer
(NYSE:PFE)/Allergan (NYSE:AGN) situation and how this might apply, did they
at least talk about when — what kind of a timetable this might go into
effect? Because that might affect any Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)/Allergan
JAVERS: They did. And that gives you your big clue. They said all
of these rules will be in place as of today. That is, the press conference
that they held over the phone was just before 5:00 p.m. this afternoon.
So, presumably any deal, any transaction that takes place after that
time including possibly Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)/Allergan (NYSE:AGN) would be
influenced by these new rules. That means they`d have to go through these
with a fine-toothed comb and make sure that deal still makes economic
sense. There are a lot of reasons why they might still want to go through
with it, but this is something the Treasury says they need to do in order
to stop these companies from moving overseas for purely tax reasons.
MATHISEN: All right, Eamon, thanks very much. Eamon Javers
reporting with the latest from Washington.
HERERA: One of Silicon Valley`s hardest start-ups made its Wall
Street debut today, shares of payments from Square rose above its IPO price
of $9, which was below its projected range of $11 to $13 a share. Some
investors are concerned about Square`s increasing competition, which we
told you about last night.
But CEO Jack Dorsey is excited about Square`s future.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK DORSEY, SQUARE CO-FOUNDER & CEO: We really want to accelerate
our tools out to sellers all over the world. And a big part of our future
is really around this device that we announced — our new reader that
accepts Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Pay and EMB. We want to see that on the other
side of every transaction. We want to associate that Square shape where
you can pay with your phone. We think it`s a beautiful experience, sub
second transaction time. And just feels great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HERERA: Shares of Square surged 45 percent.
MATHISEN: And the online dating service Match also began trading
today after pricing at the lower end of its expected range. The company`s
a spinoff from the Internet holding company IAC interactive and it owns
names like Tinder and OK Cupid.
In an interview today, CEO Greg Blatt explained how the company is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG BLATT, MATCH GROUP CHAIRMAN: Traditionally, our business makes
most of its money from subscription revenue. Advertising hasn`t been a big
focus. But as our business model has evolved over time, while we`ve been
growing our paying users a lot, we`ve also grown our audience of non-paying
So, now, we`ve got 55 million people a month that don`t pay us, but
we have highly targeted demographic information — age, gender, geography,
education, et cetera. So it`s a really great audience for us. And you
know, we`ve done some tests this year in our ad side, and it`s really
exciting for people. And we think it`s going to be big business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATHISEN: Shares of Match were 22 percent higher today.
HERERA: Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) is forecasting a rather slow holiday
season, and it posted lower than expected quarterly results and comparable
same-store sales. The company expects revenue to decline at a low single-
digit percentage rate in the current quarter. And that, of course, raised
doubts about its turnaround. And as you can see there, it pressured the
shares, which fell 2 percent.
Courtney Reagan has more on the numbers and what the CEO told her.
COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Best
Buy`s latest results weren`t blockbuster. The consumer electronics
retailer did outperform the broader industry. Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) beat
earnings estimates, but its revenue was merely in line with expectations.
Comparable sales at U.S. stores increased only marginally and less than
analysts had forecast. But the electronics retailer highlighted faster
year-over-year growth online, saying free two-day shipping, searchability
of clearance inventory, and online-only flash sales were among the drivers.
I spoke to CEO Hubert Joly on the phone who is in high spirits,
summing up the results of this quarter and quarters prior by saying, quote,
“We as a company feel that we are crushing it.” Joly said that while
results across retailers have been uneven, he has a, quote, “very positive
view of the growing demand over time for technology products and services.”
Well, industry tracking group NPD predicts consumer electronics
demand will fall in the fourth quarter. Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) expects its
comparable sales to be flat.
When it comes to the view on the health of the U.S. consumer going
into the holiday season, Joly talked about the uneven reports from
retailers, strength in some places, weakness in others.
But ultimately, Joly told me, quote, “It`s less about the psyche of
the consumer and more about having the right products and the experience.”
Getting into product specifics, Joly again expects demand for 4K TVs
to be strong.
I asked him about the cost of broken 4K TVs before they reached
consumers` homes. And he said, quote, “4K TVs are very fragile, very thin,
very large. The risk of damaging them in the supply chain or from the
store to the shipping center, to the customer is very high. So, you should
have the geek squad install them for you. I wish a lot of look to our
competitors to, quote, `take a crack at this`.”
When I asked him about the demand for the new Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)
products from iPhones to iPad Pro to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Watch going into
the holiday season, Joly said, quote, “I can provide you Tim Cook`s e-mail
and phone number.”
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Courtney Reagan.
MATHISEN: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) hiking its dividend, and that`s where
we begin tonight`s “Market Focus”.
The Dow component`s new quarterly payout will be 26 cents a share.
The company also updating its guidance, saying it expects revenue to grow
again next year. Shares today up about 3 1/2 percent to $34.30.
The activist investor Starboard Value is putting pressure on Yahoo
(NASDAQ:YHOO)! The firm sent a letter to the company saying it should
abandon its planned spinoff of its stake in Alibaba and instead sell its
core Internet business, saying the risks of the spinoff are just too high.
Shares were off 1 percent to $32.62.
And JM Smucker — always like to talk about them — reported earnings
that easily beat estimates but revenue missed consensus. The food
company`s bottom line was helped by its purchase of big heart pet brand,
improved coffee sales. With a report like that, Smuckers` shares had to be
good. They jumped almost 7 percent to $121.28.
HERERA: I should have seen that one coming.
MATHISEN: You knew it.
HERERA: San Francisco is suing American Express (NYSE:EXPR)
(NYSE:AXP) for anti-competitive and alleged illegal merchant restraints.
That civil suit follows a court decision earlier this year where the
Justice Department ruled that some of the credit card`s practices
restrained trade. Shares were a fraction higher to $72.74.
Gap (NYSE:GPS) cut its earnings projections for the full year because
sales fell more than expected. The retailer`s same-store sales fell about
4 percent. Its Banana Republic unit has been its worst performing. Shares
slipped in initial after-hours trading, but during the regular session the
stock was still off about 1 percent.
And the grocer Fresh Market reported a big decline in profit.
Charges related to its store closures weighed on its results. It comes
after the firm said recently that it might weigh a potential sale of its
business. Shares were little changed in initial after-hours trading.
During the regular session, the stock was off more than 6 percent.
MATHISEN: Coming up, ripple effect. The fantasy sports industry is
facing big challenges, as you may well know. And other companies in other
sectors could feel the impact as well.
MATHISEN: Here is what to watch tomorrow.
Volkswagen faces a deadline to tell regulators here in the U.S. how
it plans to fix nearly a half million diesel cars that don`t meet emissions
standards. And we`ll hear from some prominent members of the Federal
Reserve. I thought they were all pretty prominent, Sue. That`s what to
HERERA: Massachusetts wants to ban people under the age of 21 from
playing daily fantasy sports. The state`s attorney general is also
proposing tighter regulations including a ban on advertising or promotion
of the contests at schools or college campuses. The Massachusetts attorney
general didn`t go as far as New York`s and stopped short of calling the
games illegal. DraftKings, one of the biggest daily fantasy sports sites,
is based in Boston.
Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) Ventures and NBC Sports Ventures
have stakes in rival FanDuel. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) is the
parent company of CNBC, which produces this program.
MATHISEN: DraftKings and FanDuel are spending more money on legal
fees as their challenges mount. And that could mean less money spent on
all those advertisements.
Our Julia Boorstin takes a look at the companies that may feel the
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Legal
challenges to DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO)! Sports could
force the fantasy sports giants to shift tens of millions of dollars from
advertising into legal fees, and they raise questions about the long-term
viability of daily fantasy.
AD ANNOUNCER: DraftKings.com.
BOORSTIN: These companies spent between $140 million and $175
million on ads in the third quarter, according to Nomura analyst Anthony de
Clemente. That means a range of companies could feel the impact from a
cutback in ad spending. And now, DraftKings is reportedly asking TV
partners to delay payment schedules.
BARTON CROCKETT, FBR: Clearly, you`ve seen of lot of these ads on
ESPN but you`ve seen them all over the football games on FOX, on CBS
(NYSE:CBS), and sports has been, you know, a really healthy part of the
market. So, you know, the impact`s going to be noticeable at these
networks if these guys go away.
BOORSTIN: Fantasy sports represented about 2 percent of the big four
broadcasters` revenue in the third quarter. But they represented more than
half of their advertising growth in the quarter, according to Bernstein
CROCKETT: If you look at something like ESPN — I mean, they were
growing advertising normalized at a 9 percent clip in the September-ending
quarter. And probably a couple of percentage points of them was tied to
the services. So, it`s still good growth but not quite as good if you
strip these guys out.
BOORSTIN: In September alone, 7 percent of ESPN ad dollars came from
fantasy sports, followed by FOX with 6 percent, ESPN 2 with 5 percent, and
CBS (NYSE:CBS) with 4 percent, according to MoffettNathanson. Yahoo
(NASDAQ:YHOO), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Twitter are
also exposed with an estimated 40 percent of fantasy sports ad spending
going to digital.
FanDuel tells us, quote, “Our advertising spend is seasonal. It
peaks at the beginning of the NFL season and declines as the season goes
FanDuel says it shifted spending toward fantasy sports for all, a
group petitioning to keep the business legal. DraftKings tells us it`s
been scaling back ads since the first week of the NFL season and they`re
discontinuing ad channels that are not performing well.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.
HERERA: And that`s it for us. I`m Sue Herera.
MATHISEN: And thanks for watching. We`ll see you back here tomorrow
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