NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for December 17, 2015, PBS - Part 1



Reagan, Jane Wells, Morgan Brennan, Julia Boorstin>

Shkreli; Crime; Justice; Avon; Cerberus; Business; Mergers and


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

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Stocks plunge. The Dow falls more than 250 points, and there`s one very big reason why.

TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Taken into custody. The poster boy for hiking drug prices, Martin Shkreli, arrested today for securities fraud.

HERERA: Ding dong. Server is calling. The private equity firm takes a big stake in one of the most recognizable cosmetics companies in the world.

All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Thursday, December 17th.

MATHISEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.

And like that, the gains of yesterday are gone. Stocks sank today snapping a three-day win streak and the reason why is a familiar one: falling oil prices. That dragged down energy shares like Exxon and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) two Dow components, and the rest of the market went along for the downhill ride.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 253 points to 17,495, NASDAQ dropped 68, and the S&P 500 fell 31. As for domestic crude, it crossed -- closed, excuse me, just below $35 a barrel, $34.95. Brent crude trading not far from 11-year lows.

Bob Pisani takes a look now at the pressure from crude that`s building over stocks.


BOB PISANI, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: It`s about the dollar and oil again. For the second time in as many days the market started on a positive note but then headed south when the dollar rallies and oil dropped and we closed at our lows. It`s a lower for longer issue.

Many believe that oil will stay lower for longer, well into 2016. So, if oil`s at $35 six months from now, a lot of exploration and production companies might go out of business because they won`t be able to get the financing to keep exploring.

Now, in part, this is a supply problem. Saudi Arabia has refused to cut production and it`s trying to drive U.S. shale producers out of business. Now, they`re all down but they`re not out yet. Who`s going to blink first? We don`t know.

This lower for longer argument applies to several other industries. Deutsche Bank downgraded a bunch of steel stocks today, saying they expect lower steel prices to continue into next year.

As for the markets, if oil would stabilize there`s a good chance we will rally going into the end of the year. And if oil goes up even a bit, we could have a significant rally like 4 percent or 5 percent. That would be enough to turn a lot of accounts from positive to negative for the year. But if oil keeps dropping like today it could spoil any hopes for a year- end rally.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Bob Pisani at the New York Stock Exchange.


HERERA: Martin Shkreli indicted. The man better known for raising the price of a life-saving drug was indicted on criminal and civil securities fraud charges. His arrest had nothing to do with the 5,000 percent increase in the price of the 62-year-old drug Daraprim. But instead, this case revolves around his time as a hedge fund manager and CEO another biotech company called Retrophin. And according to prosecutors he engaged in a web of lies and deceit and ran his companies like a Ponzi scheme.


ROBERT CAPERS, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NY: These charges in today`s indictment highlight the brazenness and the breadth of Shkreli`s schemes and the outrageous web of lies and deceit weaved by both defendants.


HERERA: Attorney Evan Gabel was also indicted. And late today, Shkreli was released on $5 million bond.

Meg Tirrell has been following the story and she joins us now.

Meg, he`s infamous for raising the price of Daraprim. But these charges aren`t related to that. So, exactly what are they?

MEG TIRRELL, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: That`s right. People think all this attention from raising the price might have put a target on his back. But really, what he`s being investigated and he`s been charged with today relates to his activities before he founded Turing. When he was a hedge fund manager at a hedge fund known as MSNB Capital and then at a company he founded called Retrophin.

Essentially, he`s being accused of seven counts of securities fraud, securities fraud conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy. The Department of Justice saying he defrauded his hedge fund investors and misappropriated more than $11 million from Retrophin which has since distanced itself from him, quote, "he`s using it as his personal piggy bank." That`s from the Department of Justice.

He now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and the FBI investigation is continuing, Sue.

MATHISEN: It was a big amount of bail, $5 million bond there. What does this mean if anything, Meg, for the drug Turing makes, the one the price was raised on so precipitously?

TIRRELL: It`s an interesting question, Tyler. So, he is out on $5 million bail now. His travel is restricted to this area in New York, but he`s not allowed to talk to any current or former employees of Retrophin or MSNB unless they happen to work at Turing. So, it does appear at least that he will continue to run Turing and everything he said so far is they`re not going to go back on that price increase.

So, it`s a question we`d like more answers on. What is going to happen to Turing as this unfolds.

HERERA: And, Meg, is there any timetable now for the next court appearance?

TIRRELL: The next time that he will appear in court is expected to be January 20th. And there are a lot of restrictions, again, on his travel. And he is subject to surprise visits from folks check up on him until then.

HERERA: All right, Meg. Thank you so much. Meg Tirrell in New York.

MATHISEN: To the economy now and more evidence of a strengthening job market. According to the Labor Department, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week by 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000. Federal Reserve officials cited the job market as among the reasons for hiking interest rates yesterday.

HERERA: A different story for manufacturing.

Today, a measure of economic activity in the Philadelphia region fell back into negative territory. This is the third reading in the last four with a negative reading. The latest report is more evidence that the manufacturing sector is being hurt by falling commodity prices and weak overseas demand.

MATHISEN: Consumer spending a key pillar of the economy, of course because it makes up a large portion of overall economic activity. And this time of year retailers are doing everything they can to get last-minute shoppers into their stores and get them spending.

Courtney Reagan has our story.


COURTNEY REAGAN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: The final weekend for holiday shopping is upon us. And retailers are hoping for a strong finish.

Shoppertrak says this Saturday, often called "Super Saturday", typically ranks second in terms of retailers` in-store revenue. Black Friday still number one, but Monday and the day after Christmas are also expected to rank in the top ten.

According to the National Retail Federation, the final week of December can account for as much as 15 percent of retailers` holiday sales.

And retailers are doing what they can to win shoppers` final holiday dollars, online and in store. Kohl`s (NYSE:KSS) is staying open for 170 straight hours through Christmas Eve. Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) also has extended hours leading up to Christmas and automatic free two-day shipping for online orders made by Tuesday morning. Target (NYSE:TGT) is offering 10 percent off gift cards on December 20th and delivery in time for Christmas for online orders placed by the 21st.

GIAN FULGONI, COMSCORE CO-FOUNDER & CHAIRMAN EMERITUS: Certainly, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) again is having a spectacular season. But if you look at the list of the top four retailers online, you do notice that Walmart and Target (NYSE:TGT) are having a very successful season.

Clearly, the multichannel retailers are getting the importance of online, and I think they`re doing pretty well at it.

REAGAN: But unseasonably warm weather in much of the country is hitting retail hard this year, taking a big bite out of winter-related goods, pushing retailers to discount deeper.

The pressure comes from more than weather. Lack of innovation in electronics has further depressed prices in that category.

NRF Economist Jack Kleinhenz warns retailers` continually deep discounts coupled with higher consumer expenses like health care and rent is creating a very deflationary atmosphere for retailers.

The Bureau of Economic analysis shows retail prices were almost 3 percent lower in October this year than last. Good for deal-seeking consumers, not so good for company profits. Looking at more than 150,000 shopper receipts.

Consumer market research company InfoScout says as a result consumers are buying more this holiday season and it`s costing them less.

JARED SCHRIEBER, INFOSCOUT CO-FOUNDER & CEO: In order to make up the difference, retailers are having to sell more units at a lower price. You saw Walmart do this with Wrangler jeans for $10 a pair. You see many retailers offering promotions where they`re making up for the lower prices on volume just by selling more product.

REAGAN: But as the clock ticks toward Christmas, retailers will also settle for just winning the sale, almost regardless of what it costs.



HERERA: So how critical is this last weekend of shopping for retailers and the economy?

John Canally is the chief economic strategist with LPL Financial and he joins us now.

John, welcome.

Ty was just telling me that he shops right down to the last minute. So, we`ll count him --

MATHISEN: You had to tell everybody, Sue.

HERERA: Yes, I did. But in general, how critical is this weekend coming up?

JOHN CANALLY, LPL FINANCIAL CHIEF ECONOMIC STRATEGIST: Well, for me it`s critical because it`s my wedding anniversary. So, very critical for me.

For the rest of the economy, it`s critical but not as critical as it once was. We`ve seen a big shift just in the last five years towards more mobile, people buying things online. We heard earlier of that shift. Black Friday kind of matters less. And then sort of the gift card phenomenon is still there.

So, I think it matters but it doesn`t matter as much as it once did. The warm weather I think is the wild card that we`re going through. Remember, last year, it was cold and snowy at this time in the Northeast. Now, it`s warm and 65 degrees. That`s going to have an impact certainly.

We won`t know actually what`s going to happen with this whole holiday shopping season probably until February, once we get the January retail sales with all the returns in them. So it might be a while until we actually find out what happened.

MATHISEN: But what`s your sense of how stores are doing?

CANALLY: You know, I think they`re doing OK. If you look at some of the macro metrics there, so for example, a really good predictor of what`s going to happen in holiday shopping is just to simply look at the stock market from kind of the middle of September until the middle of December. Well, on that basis, we`re up about 6 percent or 7 percent. And that suggests that you`re having a pretty decent holiday shopping season.

Other things that you can look at is household net worth. We just got that data for the end of the third quarter. Household net worth at $85 trillion. That`s up $30 trillion from the trough back in 2010. And it`s $20 or so trillion above where it was in the prior peak.

So, households feel more wealthy. That comes from gains in the stock market, gains in the bond market, housing prices up, and most importantly, paying down debt. And against all that people are saving more as well. So, there`s a lot of good things going on in the consumer.

Whether or not it translates into actual good sales in the fourth quarter is yet to be seen.

HERERA: Does it matter the fed raised interest rates if the consumer is healthy and they`re paying down debt, things like that? Does what the Fed did yesterday matter?

CANALLY: I think for a lot of people it was the -- it may have the opposite effect. It may -- I know there`s a lot of people out there who are saying I can`t do anything, whether that`s shop or make some new capital expenditures or buy a house or whatever it is until the Fed does what it does.

So, now, the Fed`s out of the way you could argue that that kind of clears the way for people to go out and shop and companies to go out and spend and shop as well. So I think maybe at the margins slightly, it gets people to do more than they would have otherwise and over the long term, I don`t think it has a big impact at all.

MATHISEN: One thing you didn`t mention there was incomes. They haven`t risen very much. But I guess more people feel secure about their job, which has a salutary effect on spending.

CANALLY: Yes, Fed Chair Yellen mentions this one all the time, that quit rate.

So, the number of people who voluntarily quit their job is the highest level it`s been since 2006, 2007. That was before the great recession. So, that`s a good sign.

You`re beginning to see wages accelerate, although they`re still relatively low. Wages recently have run in the 2 percent, 2 1/2 percent range. Before the Great Recession, they were running at the 4 percent to 5 percent range.

So, wage growth still low. The Fed wants to see that move higher before it raises rates more. But in general the consumer`s in the best shape it`s been in in almost 10 years.

HERERA: John, thanks so much.

CANALLY: Thank you.

HERERA: John Canally with LPL Financial.

MATHISEN: And still ahead, the changes being made to some of the nation`s most popular theme parks at a very busy time of the year.


MATHISEN: Russian President Vladimir Putin says the economic crisis in his country has peaked. Or maybe it`s troughed. In an annual question and answer session that lasted more than three hours, he predicted a return to economic growth next year. The Russian economy has been hard hit by falling oil prices, but Putin stopped short of committing to any major economic overhauls.

HERERA: In Washington, the House of Representatives passed a bill which provides more than $600 billion in tax breaks to businesses, families, and individual taxpayers. Those tax breaks include the permanent extension of the child tax credit, and it delays a tax hike that helps pay for the Affordable Care Act. Passage of this bill is the first step in approving the $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government.

MATHISEN: President Obama today reassured Americans on an issue of national security ahead of the holidays. Speaking from the National Counterterrorism Center, the president said the U.S. is fighting ISIS on three fronts -- going after leaders abroad with European allies, and increasing efforts to prevent attacks from individuals already in the U.S.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At this moment, our intelligence and counterterrorism professionals do not have any specific and credible information about an attack on the homeland. That said, we have to be vigilant.


MATHISEN: And he again urged Americans not to give in to fear.

HERERA: And though there is no specific threat, Disney (NYSE:DIS) and other theme parks are increasing their security measures, adding more metal detectors, random screenings and police officers to their parks. And the changes come at a very busy time of year.

Jane Wells reports from Disneyland in Anaheim.


JANE WELLS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: One of the last holdouts in using metal detectors is now changing its ways, and starting today, people coming to the happiest place on earth will see changes to try and ensure it`s also one of the safest places on earth.

I snapped these photos today outside the park entrance at Disneyland. People coming in will see new rules posted. I`ll get to those in a minute.

More importantly, they will notice pop-up metal detectors. Those are the gray poles back there beyond the usual bag check area. They`re also going to see more security dogs.

The same thing is happening at Disneyworld in Orlando. Now, there is no specific threat leading to these changes, but the company is people up security given what`s been happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely, you had to wait in longer lines to get in and they`re more -- looking through your bags more compared to yesterday or the day before.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Just because it`s just metal detectors, it`s not really going to change.

WELLS: Among the new rules, the park will no longer sell nor allow inside toy guns, including "Star Wars" blasters or squirt guns. And by the way, selfie sticks are also not allowed. And perhaps the biggest change: anyone 14 years or older cannot wear a costume for visual security reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s sad, we need our backpacks check, but if this is going to keep everybody safe and have a magical time I think it`s great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just hope and pray that everything is safe in this country and if this is what they have to do they should put those in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually feel quite secure about it. I think it`s a good idea.

WELLS: Disney (NYSE:DIS) says in a statement, "We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing security measures as appropriate."

Other theme parks like Universal (NYSE:UVV) Studios Hollywood have also started testing metal detectors. That theme park telling us in a statement that, "We`ve long used metal detection for special events such as Halloween horror nights. This is a natural progression for us as we study best practices for security in today`s world."

Back here at Disneyland, once again there has been no specific threat, just a general beefing up of security given the situation, and outside park gates, I did see uniforms Anaheim police officers. That is not new, but expect to see more of them.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Jane Wells in Anaheim, California.


MATHISEN: We begin tonight`s "Market Focus" with Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) posting earnings that topped estimates.

The software firm saw its revenue rise in its latest quarter. Full- year outlook also beat consensus. Shares rose in initial after-hours trading. During regular trading session, the stock was up slightly to $78.86.

Investors getting a chance to react to a favorable ruling for Pandora. The copyright royalty board imposed a music royalty hike of 20 percent for online music broadcasters, but that`s a lot less than what had been expected. Shares soared nearly 14 percent to $15.26.

Pier 1 cut its earnings guidance for the year. This as the retailer reported a decline in sales in its third quarter because of weak foot traffic there. The shares fell 20 percent today, struggling at $4.75.

Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) reporting a double-digit increase in revenue and strong same-store sales. The results came even as the pharmacy chains were impacted by the introduction of new generic drugs. Shares off a fraction to $7.88.

HERERA: AIG`s board has approved a $3 billion stock buyback program. The insurance giant says the new addition bring the company`s total amount available for repurchasing to $4.3 billion. Shares fell more than 1 percent to $60.13.

Cost-cutting helped General Mills (NYSE:GIS) post an increase in earnings. Despite the rise, the Cheerios maker saw sales decline because of weak demand for cereal and for yogurt. Shares tumbled more than 3 percent to $57.24.

LifeLock agreeing to pay $100 million to settle charges that it failed to properly protect its customers` data. As part of the settlement with regulators, LifeLock has to stop misrepresenting how much they can do to protect their users` information. That`s according to a court filing. Shares fell 2 percent to $13.99.

MATHISEN: Cerberus Capital, Sue, taking a big stake in Avon. The private equity firm has struck a deal to buy 80 percent of Avon`s north American business. It`s also going to assume a 17 percent stake in the entire company. Shares of Avon did move higher after the news, only to end the day with a fractional move.

Morgan Brennan has more on the deal that involves one of the best- known cosmetics companies globally.



Today`s $600 million deal with Cerberus capital management is a far cry from the nearly $11 billion offer Avon rejected from Coty three years ago. It speaks to just how much the cosmetics company has been struggling, particularly in North America. Avon started nearly 130 years ago, recruiting women to sell perfume door to door. The company expanded and flourished for generations as women welcomed Avon ladies into their homes, making the catchphrase "ding dong, Avon calling" famous.

But that`s changed. Analysts say increased competition from e- commerce, currency headwinds and poor managerial decisions have all contributed to Avon`s troubles in recent years. Since 2012, sales have plunged almost 80 percent and so too has the stock.

Reports regarding the country`s future and specifically its North American business have circulated since last year, with the company attracting the attention of activist investors, including a group led by Barrington Capital, which recently disclosed a 3 percent stake. In response to today`s deal, Barrington CEO James Mitarotonda claimed, quote, "fire sale prices." And after recently calling for cost cutting and replacement of Avon CEO Sheri McCoy, said he was, quote, "astonished", she will stay at the helm.

Analysts remained cautious as well. Nick Mody, a managing director at RBC Capital Markets, expects earnings to come down further as Avon makes much-needed investments to turn itself around. Meaning today`s deal is a step in the right direction, but that it could be some time before this stock truly becomes a thing of beauty.



HERERA: Coming up, now that the Fed has raised rates, will the red hot media merger activity begin to cool off?


MATHISEN: Here`s a look at what to watch tomorrow. The House of Representatives will vote on the spending bill. Disney`s "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" hits theaters. And it could be the biggest movie debut of all time. And on Wall Street, it is quadruple witching. So there may be some extra volatility in the markets. And that is what to watch Friday.

HERERA: Volkswagen is tapping attorney Kenneth Feinberg to run its emissions scandal claims program. Feinberg most recently ran the compensation fund for victims of general motors` defective ignition switches. Volkswagen says Feinberg`s experience would help the automaker make things right with its customers and move the company forward.

MATHISEN: J.D. Power predicts a strong month for auto sales in December, so strong that the firm says Americans will buy more cars, more trucks this month than during any other month in more than a decade. December traditionally a strong month for vehicle sales, with consumers taking advantage of those widely advertised year-end discounts.

HERERA: Mortgage rates rose last week ahead of the Federal Reserve`s meeting on interest rates. Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year fixed rose to 3.97 percent and says it expects interest rates on home loans to move higher throughout the coming year.

MATHISEN: One day after the Federal Reserve lifted interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade, former Central Bank Chairman Alan Greenspan spoke at the Council of Foreign relations in New York City, where Steve Liesman presided over the discussion.

While Greenspan didn`t say much about yesterday`s decision, he did say current Chair Janet Yellen did a good job preparing the market for it.


ALAN GREENSPAN, FORMER FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: As it became apparent that the fed was going to just raise the rates and then not do a whole series of rates, then basically the markets just said the uncertainty is gone. Therefore, you remove uncertainty, income-moving assets go straight up. And this is just a classic case of this.


MATHISEN: Mr. Greenspan also said that Congress has to do more to support the economy.

HERERA: Well, now that the Fed has started the process of hike rates, some are wondering what the impact will be on all of the sectors that have benefited all these years from low rates, including the media industry.

Julia Boorstin takes a look.


JULIA BOORSTIN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: With Charter planning to buy Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) Cable for $80 million, media M&A has been on a hot streak. But now, there are questions of whether the Fed`s rate hike will cool deal-making, as the end of cheap money raises the bar for megadeals going forward.

JANET YELLIN, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: This action marks the end of an extraordinary seven-year period during which the federal funds rate was held near zero to support the recovery of the economy from the worst financial crisis and recession since the Great Depression.

BOORSTIN: Fifty-five percent of dealmakers say they`re concerned that higher rates will impact M&A activity according to a survey by Interlinks.

But PricewaterhouseCoopers` media and communications partner Bart Spiegel says he doesn`t expect higher rates to impact the big players because their primary currency is cash and stock.

Spiegel says, quote, "For those entertainment and media companies operating in the middle market space, this may make deal financing more challenging as rates increase. As a result, these increased debt costs could reduce valuations on acquisitions." That could impact digital startups that produce video for YouTube as well as publishing and ad tech companies.

With media undergoing a massive transformation, viewers increasingly cutting the cord with traditional TV bundles, there`s pressure for companies big and small to team up.

John Malone on a buying spree himself, telling CNBC last month more deals are inevitable.