Javers, Jackie DeAngelis, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Simon Hobbs>

Transportation; World Affairs; Iran; Economy; Middle East; Policies>

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

SUE HERERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: Warren`s wisdom. What the world`s most respected investor has to say about the economy, his biggest investments, and the race for the White House.

TYLER MATHISEN, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT ANCHOR: History at sea, and even more so in port. An American cruise ship does something that hasn`t happened in decades.

HERERA: Obstacles and opportunities. Why doing business in Iran will be anything but simple.

All that and more tonight on NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT for Monday, May 2nd.

MATHISEN: Good evening, everyone, and welcome.

A triple-digit gain to start the week and the new month of May.

But we begin tonight with Warren Buffett. Thousands of investors made the annual pilgrimage to Omaha this weekend for Berkshire`s annual meeting known as Woodstock for capitalists. It`s the place where the world`s most influential and well-known investor turns business into a party. At one point, teaming up with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) founder Bill Gates in a doubles ping-pong match.

But he also gets down to business and answers questions from shareholders about his portfolio, about the markets, and he offers advice for investors. This morning, he sat down with Becky Quick for a wide-ranging interview on CNBC and she began by asking him about the economy`s sluggish growth.


WARREN BUFFETT, BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY CEO: We`re not living in a world, though, where I think you expect the U.S. economy to grow at average percent. The GDP figures are inherently a little more suspect in terms of being precise than year over year figures. But that doesn`t -- that doesn`t negate the fact that the business is slow. It`s not negative, but it`s slow.

BECKY QUICK, CNBC: We also got the chance to talk to Buffett about some of his long-term holdings, some of the biggest positions that Berkshire owns and other stocks. Some of the stocks have underperformed pretty sharply versus the market and against their peers.

American Express (NYSE:EXPR) (NYSE:AXP), for example, a long-term holding, is a stock that`s down about 15 percent over the last 52 weeks. And IBM is another stock that he`s come under pressure for his relentless commitment to this stock. IBM, he now owns about an 8.5 percent stake in the company. He did that at an average cost basis at just under $170 a share. Right now, the stock is trading at $145 a share, but Buffett is standing by IBM.

BUFFETT: Well, we feel fine or we wouldn`t own it. We`ve never sold a share of IBM. Periodically, we buy a little more, we`re up fairly close to 10 percent. So, we have not been an aggressive buyer, but we have been a buyer, we`ve never sold a share.

I think I can safely say we would be much more likely to buy more in the next 12 or 24 months than we would be to sell shares. But we will make that call as time goes along.

QUICK: I just I wonder what you think about American Express (NYSE:EXPR) (NYSE:AXP), if you still have the same level of confidence in it.

BUFFETT: I do, but there`s no question that the whole area of payments is subject to attack by all kinds of people. And they`re very smart people. They`re high-tech people. And they`re trying to figure out faster, cheaper, better ways of handling payments and losing the Costco (NASDAQ:COST) account was a significant item. But Ken Chenault made the decision that under the economics that were being proposed, it just didn`t make sense.

QUICK: The commitment of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A), though, doesn`t extend beyond Warren Buffett. We talked to him a little bit about what he thinks, if he`s spoken with the investment managers, Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, who are now big investors or managing a big part of the Berkshire portfolio. They each manage about $9 billion.

And Buffett has tapped them to eventually take over from his duties of investing Berkshire`s funds. He pointed out that Todd and Ted may not have the same views he does, about any of these legacy stocks. They don`t talk about it often, but he wouldn`t be surprised if they didn`t feel the same way that he did or didn`t have other places that they would rather redeploy that money.

One other issue we got a chance to talk about is what`s happening in politics. As you know, it`s been an interesting race to watch. It`s certainly being one he`s been paying attention to. Buffett has been pretty outspoken about his view on politics, but when it comes right down to it, he doesn`t think who`s elected president next has a huge impact on the future of America or the future of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A).

BUFFETT: You ask me whether electing the wrong president can permanently damage the U.S. economy, the answer is no. This country will move forward regardless. And there`s no need to make America great again. America is greater than it`s ever been at this point. But it`s going to become ever greater. It`s just -- this country works and it works in a way that blows the mind.

QUICK: For NBR, I`m Betty Quick in Omaha.


HERERA: Susie Gharib, a familiar face to all of us here, and senior special correspondent at "Fortune", has also been attending Berkshire Hathaway`s annual meeting. For many years she`s been doing that. And she joins us now.

Good to see you as always, Susie.

SUSIE GHARIB, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CONTRIBUTOR: Nice to see you two. It`s was an amazing weekend.

HERERA: That`s right. Always is, isn`t it? It`s an amazing show, amazing material that comes out of it.

Let`s pick up from where Becky left off. He did address some of the issues of politics. How did shareholders react to what he said?

GHARIB: First of all, when the question came up, it was complete silence. Everybody was waiting to see what is Warren Buffett going to say about Trump and Clinton?

And it was classic Warren Buffett. Think long-term. Don`t get distracted by all the noise out there.

You know, look at history and put it in perspective. Hundreds of years, we`ve been through wars, we`ve been through depressions, we`ve been through financial crises, and still, the stock market and the economy continue to grow and prosper. So, he doesn`t think any presidential candidate or president could end that.

And one more thing: we know that he is a Hillary Clinton big supporter. He said to me that he thinks that Hillary`s going to win by a big margin, his words.

MATHISEN: Let`s talk about these two stocks Becky Quick just mentioned, American Express (NYSE:EXPR) (NYSE:AXP) and IBM. He has loved them as he has loved other stocks for a long, long time. The market doesn`t agree with him. What does he see that the market doesn`t?

GHARIB: It`s really puzzling, Tyler and Sue, of why he`s standing by IBM in particular. Its performance, 16 straight quarters of revenue losses. The stock as Becky was saying, his cost is $170, it`s $145.

So, you know, he likes it and he`s still buying it. It is -- it is a puzzle to many even analysts who are technology experts.

I thought it was fascinating what Warren Buffett had to say about Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) as another technology company. He went on and on with effusive praise for Jeff Bezos, the founder and the CEO, saying he`s a business genius, he`s changed the world, and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A) does not own any Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock. Had he put money into Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) five years ago, instead of IBM, he would have made a lot of money, the stock has tripled.

But you don`t second-guess the Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) of Omaha.

HERERA: No, we don`t. He also has Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) in the portfolio, has been for a long time.

GHARIB: He owns 9 percent of it.

HERERA: Yes. But consumers are moving away from sodas, into healthier drinks. He`s not.


HERERA: He loves Cherry Coke.

GHARIB: And not the diet version, Sue.


GHARIB: All sugar.

So, there was a question by Andrew Ross Sorkin who was saying that, you know, a lot of shareholders are concerned, it`s very controversial because of the health risks. At first, Buffett treated it lighthearted and saying, "I haven`t seen any evidence that if I switch to broccoli and water that I would live to 100."

But then, you know, he turned a little more serious. But he still sidestepped the whole controversy. And he said people should consume what they want to consume. I like 700 calories of Coke and I`m very, very happy.

HERERA: All right.

MATHISEN: Anyone who is an 85-year-old long-term investor is by definition an optimist and he is an optimist.

GHARIB: Definitely an optimist.

MATHISEN: An optimist on America.

Susie, thanks.

GHARIB: Thanks. Great seeing both of you.

MATHISEN: All righty. On Wall Street today, investors were in a buying mood. Stocks rose on this first day of trading for the month. Gains in consumer discretionary stocks offset a decline in Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), its eighth straight loss. And the longest losing streak for that company in almost 18 years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 117 points to 17,891. NASDAQ added 42. The S&P 500 was up 16.

And to deal news now, the world`s largest paper company, International Paper (NYSE:IP), will acquire the pulp business of Weyerhaeuser (NYSE:WY) for nearly $2 billion. The deal will double its global position in the raw material used in things like diapers. Shares of both companies rose today.

HERERA: Well, one deal gets done, another falls apart. Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) and Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) have called off their proposed $35 billion merger which would have created North America`s largest oil field services company. The termination sent shares of Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) higher and Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) lower.

Eamon Javers tells us why the Justice Department considers this a win.


EAMON JAVERS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Officials at Department of Justice held a conference call to explain they are very pleased about the breakup of the Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI)/Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) merger today. They said a couple of things about why they thought it was important that this deal not go forward.

First of all, they said fundamentally it was an anti-competitive deal. They said that they thought there were some deals that just simply can`t be fixed and this is one of them.

They also said that a lot of companies make a mistake when they approach the Department of Justice in terms of antitrust enforcement. They said that some companies think they can simply sell off some assets, even a high-priced amount, and that`s going to convince the Department of Justice that the deal is OK. Officials today said that`s not the case and these two companies weren`t able to clear that bar.

The other thing they said they were concerned about was simply the amount of research and development spending that both of those companies are engaged in. They said if this merger were to go through it would be bad for innovation in the industry. They said that was one of the things that they considered in this deal.

Now, how aggressive has the Department of Justice been over the past several years? A whole bunch of deals have not gone through in recent years. Take a look at this list. And what you see are very high-priced deals, including this Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) deal.

At the top of the list, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) (NYSE:CCS) and Time Warner (NYSE:TWX), at $45 billion. Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI)/Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), at $35 million. Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS), Office Depot (NYSE:ODP), but you`ve also got GE, Electrolux, Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), U.S. Foods, on and on.

Quite a few deals that haven`t gone through, but officials at Department of Justice did not say that indicate that they`re going to be more aggressive going forward. They simply said they`re going to follow the law. But if you`re one of those companies that has a deal pending pay attention to what happened today.



MATHISEN: So, will the collapse of some of the deals like the ones Eamon just mentioned impact the M&A landscape?

David Molnar is a partner at Hightower Advisers and he joins us to discuss.

So, David, my first question is, do the tailwinds that are driving companies to do deals, everything from low interest rates to the need to buy rather than manufacture growth, do those tailwinds offset, are they stronger than, the headwinds of regulatory disapproval?

DAVID MOLNAR, HIGHTOWER PARTNER: Look, thank you, Tyler. Yes, I think they are, absolutely.

I think you look at -- yes, we`ve had a lot of deals that the Department of Justice has been investigating a few that were just noted in a prior segment, that they`ve stopped. We also had $30.8 trillion last year, 2015, a record year since 2007, the biggest year in M&A. And we think the trend, those tailwinds that you referenced, will continue this year.

HERERA: What about the upcoming election cycle? A lot of people would point to Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) and Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), maybe they should have delayed until after November to see who ends up in the White House, whether the Department of Justice changes in a decided way under a new president.

MOLNAR: Well, you know, I think that there`s enough uncertainty around the election this cycle, who`s going to emerge in both parties and what their policies might be I think that that is probably a little far out for companies to be able to triangulate around and say, you know, we think this is going to happen so we should wait or not.

I think that the prevailing tailwinds, the fundamentals of do we need to drive top-line growth, yes, top line`s slowing. Do we need to enhance profitability? Yes. And are there companies to buy, do we have a lot of cash, is cost of capital cheap? Yes and yes.

So, those are the tailwinds I think that are going to continue to stimulate. The election will cause some to I think delay, a few months from now, potentially, we might look at that. I think it`s still too early to say.

MATHISEN: You know, there are a couple of deals that Du Pont/Dow is still in progress or process. But there was -- there were talks that Honeywell and United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) might get together. I wonder if they didn`t in part because they were afraid that the government wouldn`t let them.

MOLNAR: Well, that`s what the CEO of United Tech said exactly on CNBC in the morning of that transaction having been announced publicly, the unsolicited bid, was that the regulatory environment was not going to be conducive to closing that merger. So, I agree, you`re right, Tyler, there`s going to be some of these mega mergers that are really large, maybe the $100 billion plus.

I think companies are going to have to take pause and say, maybe we need to re-evaluate whether this deal can get done, maybe do something creative like Dow/Du Pont you referenced. They`re going to merge then split into three. So, somehow or another I think that one will get done because it`s fairly complex. I think it`s going to require a little extra effort on the part of these mega deals to happen.

MATHISEN: All right. David, thank you very much for your insight. We appreciate it. David Molnar with Hightower Advisers.

HERERA: And still ahead, the one country that could change the dynamic in the oil market.


HERERA: Low oil prices have taken two more victims. Oil and gas producers Midstates Petroleum and Ultra Petroleum (NYSE:UPL) have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to court documents, the two companies have nearly $6 billion in debt combined.

MATHISEN: Despite settling lower today, crude prices are up about 20 percent so far this year. Part of the reason for the climb is the assumption that global demand will increase. But as Jackie DeAngelis reports, that demand may not be coming from the places you`d think.


JACKIE DEANGELIS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Crude royal prices continue to be lower for longer due to an ongoing global supply glut. Two ways to balance things out, produce less, or consume more. The demand side of the equation has been a little bleak. Europe and Asia are where analysts look for an uptick. There hasn`t been sufficient evidence that either market will move the needle that much.

But there is a bright spot, possibly discounted, India. India uses roughly 4 million barrels of crude oil per day, less than half of what China uses. But with growth projected at 8 percent, analysts think Indian demand will pick up significantly.

HELIMA CROFT, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS: They`re so committed to growing manufacturing jobs. We`ve seen very strong key mantes for diesel on the back of that. With Indian demand growth, it`s not just diesel, it`s gasoline. They`re building a petroleum reserve. The question is, is India going to replace China as a source for emerging market demand for oil?

DEANGELIS: Genscape highlighted Iran`s push to sell crude to India. India took in 6 million barrels of Iranian crude in January this year. The number went up to 17 million barrels in March.

As Iranian imports increase, imports from Iraq and Nigeria have gone down. In an environment where market share is king, this is an important sign.

CROFT: Everybody wants to be at the best party in town. And India really is for oil demand growth the best party in town. There`s no surprise what we`re seeing with Iranians is a clear strategy to undercut the other producers to gain market access.

DEANGELIS: So far this year, demand`s been flat to slightly higher. Recent estimates indicate that OPEC is still pumping at record levels.

JOHN KILDUFF, AGAIN CAPITAL FOUNDING PARTNER: The growth trend for India is spectacular, really, as is their economic growth. But again, the question about their energy intensity is a different matter. The growing demand in India is more of a glimmer of a bright spot than an actual bright spot at this point.

DEANGELIS: When it comes to oil, something`s got to give. And demand from India just might be it.



HERERA: A spinoff of Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) denies allegations it sold defective medical equipment. That`s where we begin tonight`s "Market Focus."

Halyard Health was the subject of a report last night on CBS` "60 Minutes", which said the company deliberately sold defective protective equipment to health care workers following the Ebola outbreak. Halyard Health has since responded to that claim, saying it hasn`t received one complaint of personal injury from its gowns. In response, Halyard Health fell more than 4 percent. Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) was up a fraction.

Brocade Communications lowered its quarterly earnings and revenue guidance. The maker of networking equipment said weak demand for information technology services weighed on its results. Brocade is expected to report its financial report on May 19th. Shares of Brocade fell more than 11 percent to $8.51.

And cost-cutting efforts and the early Easter holiday helped drive profits higher at food distributor Sysco (NYSE:SYY). The company also reported a gain in revenue with results topping analyst expectations. Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) finished the day up 5.5 percent to 48.61.

MATHISEN: GNC holdings may be considering a sale. The health and wellness retailer has initiated a review of strategic and financial alternatives of a reporting disappointing financial results. Shares of GNC rose more than 6 percent on the day in the news to $26.02.

Insurance provider AIG issued quarterly profit that fell below analyst estimates. The company said volatility and weak performance in hedge funds dragged down results. Shares of AIG initially fell in after-hours trading. But they did finish the regular session up more than 1 percent to 56.59. Look out tomorrow.

HERERA: Now that nuclear sanctions have been lifted against Iran, there are numerous investors from all over the world traveling to that country to see what business opportunities are there.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera has more on the opportunities but also the huge hurdles to investing in Iran.


MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Nearly every sector of the Iranian economy is in need of investment and, of course, energy at the top of the list. The government hopes to attract $150 billion in investment in the next year. The retailing sector remains nearly untouched by international brands.

The pervasiveness of the big box retailer that we have in the United States or Western Europe, that hasn`t arrived here, at least not yet. There are indications, though, that that could be starting to change.

There are few modern malls popping up but there`s clearly room for more. The largest auto plant in the Middle East is in Tehran with a capacity of 1.6 million cars per year, though they haven`t reached that number in a long time. The vice president in charge of strategy says he`s been meeting with dozens of foreign auto executives.

However, when it comes to U.S. investors, for the most part, they still can`t invest in Iran due to an embargo dating back to the 1980s, in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis. But even companies and countries that can face a big issue: financing any deals.

And Iran is one of two countries on the international black list. A list maintained by the Financial Action Task Force, a global governing body.

Mohammad Hashemi, the CEO of Stratus Holdings and founder of a private bank, said it`s unfair that Iran`s banks have been targeted.

MOHAMMAD SADR HASHEMI, STRATUS HOLDING GROUP CHAIRMAN (through translator): I`d like to tell all American businessmen to tell the U.S. Congress that Iran is a normal country, just like everywhere else in the world. These weird, strange terrorism, money laundering accusations are not true. There`s no such thing in Iran.

CARUSO-CABRERA: The U.S. State Department begs to differ. While the country has a stock market, going public is tough.

MAJID ZAMANI, KARDAN INVESTMENT BANK CEO: A lot of companies also do not have good reporting and transparent accounting systems. So that securities and stock organizations, they really difficult for them to allow them to be public.

CARUSO-CABRERA: Yet another major issue, too much government intervention.

SAEED LAYLAZ, ECONOMIST: The main, main problem of our economy has been and will be mismanagement of the government.

CARUSO-CABRERA: One sector that is flourishing? The contemporary art market. This gallery is packed with potential buyers every weekend. The founder says that`s because Iran is changing.

AMIR ETEMAD, ETEMAD GALLERY FOUNDER: Things have to change. We all need so go on with the world. We need freedom, we need more freedom, we need more visitors, we need tourists most of all. An old country like us, like Iran, needs to have open doors.

CARUSO-CABRERA: It`s unclear if international investors will see it that way.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, Tehran.


MATHISEN: Coming up, celebration and controversy on the Caribbean seas.


MATHISEN: Cash-strapped Atlantic City, New Jersey, avoided default on its debt. Mayor Dan Guardian said the city made a nearly $2 million payment but that financially it`s running on fumes. He added that he will make payroll and school payments this month, but has stopped making a lot of other purchases.

HERERA: Meanwhile, Puerto Rico will miss its largest debt payment to date. The governor there declared a moratorium on $422 million payment due today. The governor says the decision was painful and even larger and potentially more consequential payment is due on July 1st -- unless Congress passes rescue legislation before that date.

MATHISEN: History was made at sea today as Carnival (NYSE:CCL) Cruise Lines sailed into Cuba, the first U.S. cruise ship to do so in decades.

Simon Hobbs was on board and has more on the new port in the cruise industry`s biggest market.


SIMON HOBBS, NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT CORRESPONDENT: Historic but controversial. Carnival`s Adonia starting her voyage being escorted out of the port of Miami by a large police and Coast Guard presence to protect from protests on her way to the open seas.

On board, celebration for a new chapter in Cuba relations, the first ship in over 50 years to sail directly from the U.S. mainland to Cuba.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love my Cubans and I`m happy to go and visit their country and their beautiful island.

HOBBS: A further softening of cold war rules, this also the first opportunity in decades for those born in Cuba to return by sea.

Carnival (NYSE:CCL) negotiators defusing initial accusations of discrimination from by persuading Cuba`s military government to change its rules.

ANNA GARCIA, CUBAN AMERICAN: I think it`s an opportunity for the people of Cuba to see the opportunities that should be afforded to them and that could be afforded to them. I`m a product of the opportunities that I`ve had here in the United States of America. It makes me very proud and happy.

HOBBS: By daybreak, the Carnival (NYSE:CCL) Adonia racing the last 250 miles to Cuba, seas that during the Cuban missile crisis witnessed the U.S. navy block Russian submarines from delivering nuclear weapons to Fidel Castro.

But now, 54 years on, with diplomatic relations restored, a historic arrival in Havana for an American cruise ship.

ARNOLD DONALD, CARNIVAL CEO: You know, the reality is there was some controversy but we had confidence all along. It proved out. We`re here, taking everyone with us.

HOBBS: Of course, the Europeans and the Canadians, well, they have been vacationing here for decades, many of them on cruises. President Obama was here six weeks ago trying to warm up relations between United States and Cuba.

But Congress still prohibits Americans from traveling here in a strict sense of the word as tourists. The reason this ship is first in is because it`s part of a new brand from Carnival (NYSE:CCL) called Fathom. Basically they make the passengers do social excursions but fall within exemptions of the travel ban.

Now that Carnival`s arrived here in Cuba, it`s offering voyages every other week to three ports over seven days. Applications to sail from rival U.S. operators Norwegian and Royal Caribbean are also pending with the Cuban military.

But the Castro regime is expected to confirm extra slots very slowly. After years of underinvestment, Cuban ports simply don`t have the capacity to cope with many big passenger ships. So, very few of the 160 vessels circling the Caribbean at any one time will eventually end up docking here.

For NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Simon Hobbs, Havana, Cuba.


HERERA: And before we go, here`s another look at the gains made on the first day of the trading of this month. The Dow gained 117 points to 17,891. The NASDAQ added 42. The S&P 500 was up 16.

That does it for NIGHTLY BUSINESS REPORT, I`m Sue Herera. Thanks for joining us.

MATHISEN: And I`m Tyler Mathisen. Have a great evening, everybody, and we will see you back here tomorrow night.


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