TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Let’s make a deal. The Justice Department clears a cable mega-merger. One newspaper company takes public its bid for another. But is deal-making the answer to overcome media industry challenges?
SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Fast lane. Why the next big battle in the world’s largest auto market will be over the biggest vehicles on the road.
MATHISEN: The business of pain. The alarming numbers that describe prescription drug abuse in America, the first of a three-part series — tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Monday, April 25th.
HERERA: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.
The media industry undergoing tremendous change. Today is undergoing even more.
We begin with a cable deal. Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) won antitrust approval for its $55 billion takeover of Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) Cable. That combination would create the second-largest cable provider in the country. The head of the Federal Communications Commission also reportedly supports the merger but there are conditions attached, all of which aim to increase the number of homes with high-speed Internet and mitigate threats to online video competition.
Charter would have to build out broadband service to 2 million more homes. The combined company would have to move away from data caps and usage-based billing. And it cannot charge a fee to heavy traffic providers like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). Shares at both Charter and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) Cable rose more than 4 percent in today’s trading.
MATHISEN: And that, Sue, is not the only deal in the media industry to tell you about. Gannett (NYSE:GCI) wants to buy the rival newspaper owner Tribune Publishing. But when its private offers were rebuffed by Tribune, Gannett (NYSE:GCI) went public. And that sent shares of Tribune up nearly 53 percent in today’s trading alone. Gannet higher by about 6.5 percent.
And as Julia Boorstin reports, in the struggling newspaper business, Gannet’s offer may be one Tribune just can’t refuse.
JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: It’s a proposed merger of old media giants. “USA Today” parent Gannett (NYSE:GCI) offering $815 million, including the assumption of debt, to buy the Tribune Company, owner of the “L.A. Times,” “Chicago Tribune,” and “Baltimore Sun”, a total of 11 daily titles and more than 60 digital properties.
The offer more than 60 percent dream to Tribune’s closing price Friday, sending shares skyrocketing. Over the past year, it had been down 60 percent.
KEN DOCTOR, NEWSONOMICS MEDIA ANALYST: That scale and cost consolidation on every level is the only way to make it through what is a deep winter chill in the newspaper industry that’s just getting colder.
BOORSTIN: Industry analyst Ken Doctor is talking about the massive challenges facing all newspapers, declines in advertising and subscription revenue, plus more competition than ever from a host of digital alternatives.
Gannett’s already been consolidating. Less than a month ago, it completed its $280 million acquisition of Journal Media Group. Gannett (NYSE:GCI) has 127 local media organizations stateside and 160 brands in the U.K. But even more consolidation gives its papers a better chance at survival. Still, it may not be able to negotiate much better deals with the Internet giant who profits from the traffic that news articles drive.
DOCTOR: Content and news content changing all the time brings if audience. It’s a great thing. It brings in audience. Yet the people controlling the money-making, the monetization are the pipes companies. So, it’s Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) that are taking in most of the money.
BOORSTIN: And the trend for newspapers isn’t good. Mobile Internet advertising is poised to overtake newspaper advertising this year, making mobile Internet the third largest ad media worldwide, behind television and Internet ads, putting more pressure on Gannett (NYSE:GCI) to gain power from its scale.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Julia Boorstin in Los Angeles.
HERERA: On Wall Street, it was the quiet before the storm. That’s how some described today’s action as investors prepare for the busiest week of earnings this season and a meeting of the Federal Reserve policymakers.
By the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 26 points to 17,977. The NASDAQ dropped 10. The S&P 500 was off more than three.
Bob Pisani has more on why today’s quiet could fade quickly.
BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: This is the big week for earnings, almost a third of the S&P 500 reports — everything from drug companies like Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Merck (NYSE:MRK), to auto companies like Ford.
But two companies I most want to hear there are oil giants ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX). They report later in the week. Investors want to hear first reassurances that the dividends are safe, and second, what’s the outlook for oil prices and oil demand in the second half of the year. These stocks have staged impressive coverage recently on expectations that global demand is again growing.
There’s also a Fed meeting on Wednesday and while no one is expecting them to raise rates, traders will be watching to see if the statement leans towards highlighting the strengths in the economy rather than the weaknesses, which might indicate whether they will raise rates at the next meeting in June.
Meantime, tech stocks have had a tough time on disappointing earnings but other sectors have stepped in to fill the gap. So energy and health care, materials and financials, they’re up 4 percent to 6 percent this month, while big technology names like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) are down.
That rotation out of tech and into energy materials and financials is considered healthy by investors. The issue is whether earnings and the Fed commentary will allow us to push to new highs. You know, we’re only 2 percent away.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.
MATHISEN: Saudi Arabia wants to break its economic reliance on oil. Yes, you heard me right. The world’s top oil exporter outlined an ambitious plan to remake and diversify its economy.
Hadley Gamble reports tonight from Riyadh.
HADLEY GAMBLE, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: While total survival without oil, that is the goal. That’s according to the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, the son of the king. Earlier today, we heard further details of the national transformation strategy planned to diversify this country away from oil revenues and he’s basing this plan on about $30 per barrel. He says he doesn’t expect the price will go much lower than that.
He’s also announced plans for the Sovereign Wealth Fund that he says will be larger than any other in the world, between $2 trillion and $3 trillion. He’s also said that Saudi Aramco, that IPO, will be between 4 percent and 5 percent of the company, and he’s valuing that between $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion or even more.
Now, we also understand that there are further plans in terms of trying to diversify away from oil revenues one of which is the defense sectors. Right now, this is a country that is the third largest importer of defense sector equipment in the world and what they want to do is make sure that at least half of that going forward is locally purchased.
Also, we heard a little bit more about the taxation plans. We talked about the value added tax that they’re planning. We talked about taxes on land as well.
But one thing we didn’t hear, lots of speculation over the last several days about whether or not women in this country are going to be allowed to drive. We know that the Saudi workforce is going to have to include more women coming in the future.
But, unfortunately, no word on whether or not they’ll be allowed to take the wheel in the kingdom any time soon.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT in Riyadh, I’m Hadley Gamble.
HERERA: Oil exporting countries in the Middle East lost nearly $400 billion in revenue last year because of the low price of oil. According to the International Monetary Fund, those countries should brace for even deeper losses this year, possibly reaching $500 billion. The fund also said it’s encouraged by the changes that Saudi Arabia is making to its economy.
MATHISEN: China, already the world’s largest auto market, has now become the number one country for SUV sales. That demand has helped the bottom line of General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford and other automakers in that country. But now, that success is being challenged.
Phil LeBeau has more from the Beijing Auto Show.
PHIL LEBEAU, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Walk around the Beijing Auto Show, and it’s clear China has fallen in love with SUVs. Last year, Chinese consumers bought more than 6 million of them. And sales remain red hot.
MARK REUSS, GENERAL MOTORS GLOBAL PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT: You’re only going to see it accelerate. And frankly, around the world, you’re seeing a lot of the D and E car stuff, you know, suffer a little bit and either flatten out or decline. It’s true here too. The SUV market seems to be insatiable.
So, you know, we’re going to be prepared to do that. And we don’t see things slowing down on the SUV side of it.
LEBEAU: But for all the success GM and Ford have had selling SUVs here in China, they’re struggling to compete with Chinese brand SUVs like this one. It’s the Changan CS35. Starts at about $10,000, well below the price point for SUVs made by international competitors.
JAMES CHAO, IHS (NYSE:IHS) AUTOMOTIVE MANAGING DIRECTOR: When you look at what’s driving SUV sales, it’s the low end of the market — SUVs around $10,000 made by local automakers. That’s the heart of the market right now.
LEBEAU: Chinese automakers now sell more SUVs in this country than foreign brands. Their success with entry-level SUVs is why Jeep has started building its smallest model, the Renegade, here in China. Meanwhile, GM is rolling out the new Cadillac XT-5 as it continues to flex its strength in luxury SUVs.
REUSS: We’re going to differentiate ourselves on quality, connectivity, reliability, durability. We’ll be competitive in the price part of it too.
LEBEAU: China’s auto market, where the next big battle is over the biggest vehicles on the road.
Phil LeBeau, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Beijing.
HERERA: Still ahead, your home is likely your biggest asset. But is a shift under way in the housing market? What the latest data may be signaling.
HERERA: Americans did not buy as many new homes in March. According to the Commerce Department, sales fell 1.5 percent, making this the third straight month of declines. Much of that drop came from the West, one of the nation’s priciest housing markets, which saw sales plummet nearly 24 percent.
Diana Olick joins us now.
Diana, good to have you here as always.
Sales of new homes are falling. The supply of existing homes for sale is falling to new lows. Why the weakness?
DIANA OLICK, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it’s as you said. We’re talking about price. You saw it in the West, which is the priciest markets.
We’d seen the most activity in newly built homes on the high end the last couple of years, but that part of the market is starting to soften and the demand is really on the low end, on that entry-level buyer. Unfortunately, the builders don’t tend to build for that buyer. But we did see a jump in March numbers in newly built homes priced between $200,000 and $300,000. They jumped to their highest level since 2007.
So, Tyler, that’s really where the demand is. The question is, will builders put in that supply?
MATHISEN: So, why don’t they want to build if the demand is there?
OLICK: Well, unfortunately, it’s all about the margins, right?
OLICK: We talk about that all the time. It costs a lot of money to put up a new home and, in fact, those costs are increasing, for the land, for the labor, for the materials. And for a home builder, they’re just not able to make the kind of profit they want on those lower-priced homes.
HERERA: Well, you’re always talking to us about supply and the supply of new homes bumped up a bit. Is that a good sign if you’re in the market to buy a home?
OLICK: It absolutely is a good sign that we did see supply jump to a 5.8 month supply, far higher than we have on existing homes. Right now, we have a very stark shortage of supply on the existing side.
To see that supply move up on new homes is better because it means the builders are going to have to soften up a little bit on the prices. But again, where is the price point of that house?
I mean, you look at what they’re building now, these are $2 million homes right here, that’s the vast majority of what we’re seeing. We need to see that entry level $100,000, $200,000 home. And only one of the big builders, D.R. Horton (NYSE:DHI), has a brand, its Express (NYSE:EXPR) Brand that really centers on that entry-level market. We need to see more of that.
HERERA: All right. On that note, Diana, thank you as always. Diana Olick in Washington.
MATHISEN: A new study on CEO pay shows that top executives at the nation’s largest companies got a raise last year, albeit a modest one. And this comes despite lower revenue.
Mary Thompson has more on the big bosses making the big bucks.
MARY THOMPSON, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: At the top of the corporate ladder a pay increase for CEOs despite a volatile year in the markets.
DAN MARCEC, EQUILAR: I was wondering if we would see some drop year over year and we didn’t. We saw it rise again 3 percent.
THOMPSON: Share price performance, one of the metrics considered in determining executive pay but a critical one as boards work to align CEO pay with shareholder interest.
For the 100 largest companies by revenue finally in their proxies by April 1st, the median total return was 2 percent in 2015. While median CEO pay rose 3 percent to $14.5 million.
As Dan Marcec of the compensation research firm Equilar tells us, this extends a trend in place since 2009.
MARCEC: Since then, we’ve seen CEO pay rise every year. You’d expect a rebound the following year when markets standard to turn around a little bit. But in each successive year, we’ve seen it rise again.
THOMPSON: The final list of the top 100 is still a work in progress, as other firms show filing proxies. But on the first pass, familiar names land at the top.
The highest-paid CEOs, Oracle’s co-CEOs Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, pulling down $53 million. They’re followed by Disney’s Bob Iger and Honeywell’s David Cote.
Missing from the list is Viacom (NYSE:VIA) CEO Philippe Dauman, who is paid over $54 million. He didn’t make the cut because Viacom’s revenue wasn’t enough to put it in the top 100.
CEOs who took home even more as their shareholders lost ground include those at Alcoa (NYSE:AA), Emerson, and Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR). While Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz took a 6 percent pay cut even as the coffee chain’s total return rose over 50 percent.
And as he usually does in these surveys, Berkshire’s Warren Buffett was last on the list. His pay under half a million, a small change for a billionaire.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Mary Thompson.
HERERA: Xerox (NYSE:XRX) saw its profits fall 85 percent this past quarter. And that’s where we begin tonight’s “Market Focus.”
The cost of breaking the company into two was a big drag on earnings, along with a decline in printer and copier sales. The company also cited foreign currency headwinds. Shares of the company fell sharply, down more than 13 percent to $9.68.
Valeant Pharmaceuticals has a new CEO, Joseph Papa, who until recently served as CEO of Perrigo (NASDAQ:PRGO), a company known mostly for selling over-the-counter drugs, is shifting over to Valeant after helming Perrigo (NASDAQ:PRGO) over a decade. Valeant shares were initially higher but slipped to close at $35.16. Shares of Perrigo (NASDAQ:PRGO) fell more than 18 percent to $99.40.
Private equity firm KKR (NYSE:KKR) reported a loss of more than $300 million last quarter. This as the firm’s biggest investment First Data Corps continues to struggle. KKR (NYSE:KKR) bought First Data back in 2007 and maintained a large stake in the company after bringing it public last year. Shares fell about 3 percent to $14.49.
And restaurant operator Bob Evans Farms (NASDAQ:BOBE) says it is planning to close 27 locations and lay off 1,100 workers in a move designed to increase profitability. The company does say it hopes to relocate as many of its employees as possible and said it expects to take a charge of up to $8 million related to the restaurant closings. Shares of the company down a fraction for the day to $46.95.
MATHISEN: Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) will delay the release of first quarter earnings until May 3rd as it nears its April 30th deadline to get approvals to complete its merger with Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI). Separately, the company Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) said it did lay off 6,000 workers in the past quarter. Shares of the oil services company dropped nearly 2 percent to $40.04.
A big buy-back to tell you about at Honeywell. The company intends to buy back up to $5 billion worth of shares. That’s on top of $1 billion previously announced. Shares of Honeywell off slightly at $113.25.
Shares of the Container Store rallied initially in after-hours trading on a solid full-year earnings outlook. The small cap stock also reported a surprise increase in same-store sales. Retailer now focusing on cost-cutting, announcing a company-wide salary freeze and a 401(k) match freeze. The stock however did pop initially in after-hours trading. It closed the regular session at $5.83.
HERERA: A number of strategists are citing the presidential election as a wild card for the stock market. In part because markets don’t like uncertainty, and as you know, this election cycle has been anything but predictable.
Over the weekend, GOP candidates Ted Cruz and rival John Kasich decided to form an alliance to take on Donald Trump, something Trump calls collusion. And that’s not all. One of the biggest financial donors in the Republican Party had somewhat kind words for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
John Harwood is in the center of it all. He’s here to discuss the twists and turns on the campaign trail.
John, good to see you as always.
This alliance between Cruz and Kasich of late, what do you realistically think they will be able to achieve?
JOHN HARWOOD, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Not much, sue. Voters tend not to take instruction on how they’re going to cast ballots. So the idea that Ted Cruz and John Kasich are going to tell their supporters in these states, you go vote for this guy rather than me, I’m not sure that works.
It’s a practical move on their part, though, because they’re running out of time to try to stop Donald Trump. He’s on a path where he can get to 1,237. It’s not going to be easy. That’s the number of delegates he needs to be nominated. But they are looking to do anything they can to take a couple delegates here or there, try to recent prevent that, get to an open convention.
MATHISEN: Does this in any way — I’m going to get a little out of order here, John — does this in any way confirm Trump’s charges that the system is rigged against him? Number one. And number two, mightn’t that energize his backers who say, see? He was right.
HARWOOD: Well, I would say no, and yes. It will energize his backers. Does it prove the system is rigged? No.
It’s a strategic choice made by these other candidates playing by the rules that all candidates can follow. It’s like these other allegations that Trump has made about delegate fights, you know, when he is losing on some grounds in a scrap for delegates. He’ll say, well, it’s rigged against me. When he’s winning he doesn’t say that.
No, this is a tactic by Cruz and Kasich that is perfectly fine as a strategic choice, I just don’t think it’s likely to produce very much. And like you say, it is going to produce a counter mobilization on the Trump side.
HERERA: It is odd, is it not, to hear one of the deep-pocket Koch brothers say that a possible Clinton presidency might not be that bad?
HARWOOD: Yes. Although I have to say, sue, I think that is more an expression of discontent with the Republican field than anything positive about Hillary Clinton. In both cases, he said their rhetoric is going to have to be a lot different from their actions or their actions will have to be a lot different from their rhetoric. I don’t think anybody should hold their breath waiting for Charles Koch to embrace Hillary Clinton or put money behind her campaign.
HERERA: All right, John. We’ll leave it there. Thank you very much. John Harwood in Washington.
MATHISEN: And coming up, highly effective, hugely addictive, the business of pain medications. Tonight, we begin the first of a three-part series.
HERERA: Here’s a look at what to watch tomorrow. Dow components Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), 3M (NYSE:MMM), and Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) report earnings. The Federal Reserve begins its two-day policy meeting. Consumer confidence, durable goods and the S&P Case Shiller home price index are out. And that’s what to watch for tomorrow.
MATHISEN: As hospitals move to digitize records, they face a new threat, hackers. Attacks have forced some medical centers to pay ransom to regain access to their systems. While ransom ware isn’t new, these attacks highlight hospital vulnerabilities.
As Bertha Coombs reports from Boston, changes however are being made to prevent the next breach.
BERTHA COOMBS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Doctors and nurses at Cambridge Health Alliance have a tough balancing act when it comes to technology.
DR. BRIAN HERRICK, CAMBRIDGE HEALTH ALLIANCE: With the electronic medical record, it’s made things more difficult to interact with the patient.
COOMBS: On top of that, you have security.
HERRICK: Right, exactly. So, you have the patient interaction, you have the computer, you have security, and you’re trying to actually think clinically about what to do next.
COOMBS: By law, they have to protect patient information. Recent ransomware attacks that hobbled systems at Hollywood Presbyterian, MedStar Health, and other hospitals have made them more aware they can be targeted.
One way to keep the system safe is to get away from passwords says security firm Imprivata cofounder David Ting.
DAVID TING, IMPRIVATA CO-FOUNDER: Whether using your fingerprint, taking your card and swiping it, eliminating those additional things that you have to mentally think about like, gee, what password did I use for this application? And that habit of and that trend to say, let me use the same password across all applications.
COOMBS: At Cambridge Health, they also try to make thinking about safety a habit. Testing staff —
ART REAM, CAMBRIDGE HEALTH ALLIANCE: They get an e-mail that looks similar to this.
COOMBS: With phishing e-mails to teach them to be alert for malware. And now, they put management to the test with surprise breach drills.
REAM: We have an outside facilitator that comes in and says, here’s your scenario, now go down through, utilizing your policy, your procedures, and everything else. So, it’s a whole team that comes together that’s already organized and already has a set process that we practice and test each year.
COOMBS: According to an IBM study, in the U.S., health care became the most targeted industry for hackers in 2015. But cybersecurity analysts say hospitals aren’t the only ones who should be practicing and assessing their risk.
DAVID DAMATO, TANIUM CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER: We typically hear just about health care providers or hospitals because they have really strict regulatory requirements that require they report these incidents. Other industries and other organizations don’t have these same regulations.
COOMBS: Cambridge Health chief information security officer says surprise breach drills have been invaluable to help teach the staff how to respond quickly and effectively in the increasingly likely event of a breach of the hospital system.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Bertha Coombs in Boston.
HERERA: A Food and Drug Administration panel is meeting to discuss Sarepta muscular dystrophy drugs which we reported on late last year. Patients and advocates are trying to persuade advisers to support approval of an experimental drug for the disease. Last week, the FDA reiterated a negative earlier assessment of the drug which questioned the clinical trials.
MATHISEN: Today’s pain medications are highly effective. Many are also hugely addictive. Sales are high and rising, so are overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers now exceeding 20,000 a year.
Dina Gusovsky has the first part of our series “The Business of Pain.”
BOBBY LONG, RECOVERING DRUG ADDICT: It’s killing the country. It’s taking kids as young as 13. It’s taking people that are 65 and 70 years old. They’re getting addicted. They have no idea how to stop.
DINA GUSOVSKY, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Recovering addict Bobby long is one of the faces behind a shocking statistic. About 80 percent of all opiate medications, the most addictive of painkillers, is consumed by Americans.
VIVEK MURTHY, U.S. SURGEON GENERAL: Opiate prescriptions have skyrocketed and we have currently nearly 250 million prescriptions for opiates written every year. That’s enough for every adult in America to have a bottle of pills and then some.
GUSOVSKY: And those opioids are part of a $24 billion prescription painkiller market. The top five opiate products based on 2015 sales were made by Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Insys Therapeutics, Mylan (NASDAQ:MYL), and Depomed.
But new regulations in the pain market can impact sales. For instance, in 2014, when the DEA reclassified the painkiller Hydrocodone because of its potential high risk of abuse from Schedule 3 to Schedule 2 drug, there was a 27 percent decline in sales from 2013 to 2015.
So, drugs like Vicodin, for example, can’t be administered as easily as they were before. Patients now have to bring a physical prescription to a pharmacy in order to get it filled. It’s yet to be seen if stricter guidelines will reduce the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses, which hit a record 28,000 in 2014.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We’re just recognizing this as a huge problem. It affects all of us. When a problem is moving quickly, Congress is always going to be a little bit behind in catching up. But I think there’s a very, very clear awareness now of just how serious this is.
For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I’m Dina Gusovsky.
MATHISEN: Our series continues tomorrow with one man’s struggle with addiction and the overall economic cost of the epidemic nationwide.
HERERA: And that does it for NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for tonight. I’m Sue Herera. Thanks for joining us.
MATHISEN: And thanks from me as well. I’m Tyler Mathisen. Have a great evening, everybody, and we’ll see you right back here tomorrow night.
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