• Bloomberg

    Ex-Wells Fargo Bosses Face Record Fines as Stumpf Gets Ban

    (Bloomberg) -- Eight ex-Wells Fargo & Co. executives are facing a record $59 million in fines and the bank’s former chief executive officer received a ban from the industry as regulators took unprecedented steps in holding individuals to account for corporate scandals.Former CEO John Stumpf agreed to a $17.5 million penalty and an industry ban that no major bank chief has faced, even in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Carrie Tolstedt, who led Wells Fargo’s community bank for a decade, faces a $25 million penalty that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said could climb higher.The OCC laid out the penalties in more than 100 pages of documents Thursday that detailed “massive illegal activity and catastrophic reputational damage” from the bank’s retail banking scandals.Wells Fargo tapped into public ire in 2016 with the revelation that bank employees opened millions of potentially fake accounts to meet sales goals, garnering criticism across the political spectrum, from Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren to Republican President Donald Trump. The phony accounts were just the first in a slew of retail-banking issues that subsequently came to light, prompting regulatory fallout that’s in many cases unheard of for a major bank, including a growth cap from the Federal Reserve.This is the first public step the OCC has taken against former executives related to Wells Fargo’s problems. Regulators received criticism from some corners over the fact that few individuals and no top executives were held accountable for crisis-era missteps like faulty mortgage-bond sales and unwarranted home foreclosures that cost the banks billions in fines and penalties.Five FightingStumpf was one of three to agree to consent orders and pay penalties, along with former chief administrative officer Hope Hardison and onetime risk chief Michael Loughlin.Tolstedt and four other former executives -- general counsel Jim Strother, chief auditor David Julian, audit director Paul McLinko and community banking risk officer Claudia Russ Anderson -- will face a public hearing before an administrative law judge. The regulator said it could decide to increase the civil penalties based on the evidence presented.During the OCC’s investigation, Stumpf and others admitted that the bank had systemic sales practice misconduct dating from the early 2000s. Tolstedt and Russ Anderson “asserted their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer all substantive questions about sales practice misconduct,” the regulator wrote in a notice of charges.“We are reviewing today’s filings and will determine what, if any, further action by the company is appropriate with respect to any of the named individuals,” Charlie Scharf, who took over as Wells Fargo’s CEO in October, wrote to employees on Thursday, noting the bank won’t make any remaining compensation payments to the individuals during the review. “This was inexcusable. Our customers and you all deserved more from the leadership of this company.”Attorneys for the former executives responded to the OCC’s claims:“Throughout her career, Ms. Tolstedt acted with the utmost integrity and concern for doing the right thing,” said Enu Mainigi, her lawyer at Williams & Connolly. “A full and fair examination of the facts will vindicate Carrie.”“At all times, Mr. Strother acted with the utmost integrity and transparency, including with the bank’s board, senior management, and its regulators,” Walt Brown, Strother’s attorney at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, said in an emailed statement. “The OCC’s charges against Mr. Strother are false and unfounded, and he intends to vigorously defend against them.”“The OCC’s charges have no factual nor legal support and instead are based on hindsight and second-guessing that ignore what Mr. McLinko actually knew and did,” said Timothy Crudo at Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass. “We look forward to a trial based on all of the facts, and we are confident that Mr. McLinko will be vindicated.”Stumpf was CEO of Wells Fargo from 2007 until he retired in October 2016 amid the crisis. A report the next year conducted by law firm Shearman & Sterling on behalf of Wells Fargo’s board alleged that he reacted too slowly to warnings of sales abuses across the bank’s branch network. He forfeited $41 million in equity awards when he stepped down, and the board clawed back an additional $28 million following the Shearman & Sterling report.Stumpf “failed to respond to numerous warning signs, including many team member complaints submitted directly to his office regarding pervasive sales pressure, fear of termination for not meeting unreasonable sales goals, and illegal and unethical sales activity across the Community Bank,” according to the OCC order he signed this week.Regulatory actions against Wells Fargo have also included billions of dollars in fines and legal costs, and an order giving the OCC the right to remove some of the bank’s leaders. The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission also have been investigating the lender’s issues.The OCC and the Fed have both cited a wide-ranging pattern of abuses and lapses at Wells Fargo. The OCC drew scrutiny of its own as the firm’s main regulator throughout the scandals, prompting an internal review at the agency.(Adds CEO statement in ninth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Jesse Hamilton, David Scheer, Daniel Taub and Gregory Mott.To contact the reporter on this story: Hannah Levitt in New York at hlevitt@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net, ;Jesse Westbrook at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net, Dan ReichlFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Xerox Escalates HP Takeover Fight With Push to Replace Board

    (Bloomberg) -- Xerox Holdings Corp. said it intends to nominate 11 directors to replace the board of HP Inc. after the personal-computer maker refused to engage in takeover talks, according to a statement Thursday.The iconic printer maker hasn’t increased its $22-a-share takeover offer after HP rejected its proposal, which it argues undervalues the company. Instead, Xerox will seek to replace HP’s entire board through a proxy fight to push the merger through.The nominees include former senior executives from dozens of companies including Aetna Inc., United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Novartis AG.“HP shareholders have told us they believe our acquisition proposal will bring tremendous value, which is why we lined up $24 billion in binding financing commitments and a slate of highly qualified director candidates,” said John Visentin, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Xerox.Xerox filed its slate ahead of a Friday deadline for board nominations. The move could potentially be a precursor to Xerox taking its offer directly to shareholders through a tender offer at the current offer price or a premium if HP continues to rebuff its efforts, according to people familiar with the matter. No decision has been made on whether to pursue a tender offer, the price it would be put forth at, or when it would do so, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.The push to replace the board marks an escalation of the simmering tensions between the two hardware giants that have withered in a world increasingly driven by software. Xerox has argued the tie-up would revive both companies and unlock about $2 billion in synergies.“These nominations are a self-serving tactic by Xerox to advance its proposal, which significantly undervalues HP and creates meaningful risk to the detriment of HP shareholders,” HP said in a statement.HP said that it would review Xerox’s nominees and respond in due course. It also said that it was committed to serving the best interests of all shareholders, and that it had many avenues that it could pursue to create value. Those efforts are not dependent on a combination with Xerox, it said.Activist shareholder Carl Icahn, who owns about 11% of Xerox and has a 4.3% stake in HP, has pushed for the tie-up.HP said Thursday it believed Xerox’s proposal to acquire HP was being driven by Icahn. The billionaire has considerable influence over Xerox because he is its largest shareholder, the role he played in appointing Xerox’s CEO, who was a former consultant to Icahn, and the ties he has to members of the board, including its chairman, who is also the chief executive officer of Icahn Enterprises, HP said.“Due to Mr. Icahn’s ownership position, he would disproportionately benefit from an acquisition of HP by Xerox at a price that undervalues HP,” the company said, adding that his interests were not aligned with those of other HP shareholders.A representative for Icahn wasn't immediately available for comment.HP’s board currently has 12 members. Dion Weisler, the former chief executive officer of the company, has said he would step down at the next annual general meeting, which the company said would reduce the board size to 11. Its last annual meeting was on April 23.HP in November rebuffed an unsolicited, cash-and-stock offer from Xerox, citing concerns about the financial health of its smaller rival, which has experienced declining annual revenue since 2012.HP’s board said it was open to exploring a merger, but believed the offer undervalued the company.Xerox announced Jan. 6 that it had arranged a $24 billion loan with a group of banks to finance the takeover. HP and its advisers had questioned Xerox’s ability to raise the money for the deal.Following the financing announcement, HP said it believed the offer still undervalued the company.Xerox’s director nominees are:Betsy Atkins, CEO of Baja Corp.George Bickerstaff, co-founder and managing director of M.M. Dillon & Co.Carolyn Byrd, CEO of GlobalTech Financial.Jeannie Diefenderfer, who spent 28 years at Verizon.Kim Fennebresque, who was CEO of Cowen Group for nine years.Carol Flaton, who has served as a managing director at AlixPartners.Matthew Hart, who most recently served as president and chief operating officer of Hilton Hotels until the buyout of Hilton by Blackstone in 2007.Fred Hochberg, who was most recently the chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States during the Obama administration.Jacob Katz, who was chairman of Grant Thornton.Nichelle Maynard-Elliott, who most recently served as executive director of mergers & acquisitions for Praxair Inc.Thomas Sabatino, Jr. who most recently served as executive vice president and general counsel of Aetna Inc.Citigroup Inc. is acting as Xerox’s financial advisor, and King & Spalding LLP is providing legal counsel to Xerox. Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP is providing legal counsel to Xerox’s independent directors.(Updates with additional company comments starting in paragraph eight)To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Deveau in New York at sdeveau2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Liana Baker at lbaker75@bloomberg.net, Matthew Monks, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Tech Daily: AAPL Bug, AMZN JEDI Motion, Music Subs, UK Digital Tax, More
    Zacks

    Tech Daily: AAPL Bug, AMZN JEDI Motion, Music Subs, UK Digital Tax, More

    The top stories here are Apple's ITP vulnerability, Amazon's motion to stop work under the JEDI contract, Amazon's soaring music subs and the UK digital tax.

  • Earnings from Comcast, Airlines & More, Plus a Cheap Tech Stock to Buy - Free Lunch
    Zacks

    Earnings from Comcast, Airlines & More, Plus a Cheap Tech Stock to Buy - Free Lunch

    Quarterly earnings results from Comcast, Southwest, American Airlines, and more. And a look at why Pure Storage, Inc. (PSTG) is a Zacks Rank 1 (Strong Buy) stock right now, as it trades under $20 a share...

  • Bill Miller’s Hedge Fund Rose 120% in 2019 After Fast Finish
    Bloomberg

    Bill Miller’s Hedge Fund Rose 120% in 2019 After Fast Finish

    (Bloomberg) -- Legendary investor Bill Miller’s hedge fund jumped 120% last year -- and he says it’s because he didn’t stray from his top names.“In the fourth quarter, we did our favorite thing to do in markets: nothing,” Miller wrote in an investor letter dated Jan. 15. “No new names and no elimination of holdings from the portfolio. This doesn’t happen as often as it probably should.”The performance stands in contrast to the industry. Hedge funds on average rose 9.2% last year, according to Bloomberg Hedge Fund Indices, while the S&P Index 500 jumped 29% in that period. Miller’s gain marks a turnaround for 2018 when the fund slid about 34% as markets plunged.The veteran stock-picker’s Miller Value Partners 1 surged 60% in the fourth quarter alone, according to the letter seen by Bloomberg. The fund, which has about $220 million in assets, uses one-to-three times leverage on its investments.Among the fund’s top contributors to the gains were security system company ADT Inc., Flexion Therapeutics Inc. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Other holdings included furniture retailer RH and Amazon.com Inc.Miller, who focuses on beaten-down securities that trade at a large discount to their intrinsic value, predicts the bull market will continue, though “stocks will not move in a straight line higher.” He declined to comment beyond the letter.Miller gained fame beating the S&P 500 for 15 straight years when he ran the Legg Mason Value Trust. He stumbled during the financial crisis, losing 55% in 2008 and triggering redemptions.His Miller Opportunity Trust, a mutual fund with $1.7 billion in assets, was up about 34% last year and rose about 19% in the fourth quarter​​.(Updates with Miller declining to comment in sixth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Melissa Karsh in New York at mkarsh@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sam Mamudi at smamudi@bloomberg.net, Alan MirabellaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Coca-Cola (KO) Reports Next Week: What to Expect
    Zacks

    Coca-Cola (KO) Reports Next Week: What to Expect

    Coke (KO) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.

  • Visa (V) Earnings Expected to Grow: What to Know Ahead of Next Week's Release
    Zacks

    Visa (V) Earnings Expected to Grow: What to Know Ahead of Next Week's Release

    Visa (V) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.

  • Amazon (AMZN) Expected to Beat Earnings Estimates: Should You Buy?
    Zacks

    Amazon (AMZN) Expected to Beat Earnings Estimates: Should You Buy?

    Amazon (AMZN) possesses the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.

  • American Airlines (AAL) Q4 Earnings In Line, Increase Y/Y
    Zacks

    American Airlines (AAL) Q4 Earnings In Line, Increase Y/Y

    Low fuel costs boost American Airlines' (AAL) bottom line in fourth-quarter 2019. The decline in cargo revenues is, however, concerning.

  • Will Occidental (OXY) Gain on Rising Earnings Estimates?
    Zacks

    Will Occidental (OXY) Gain on Rising Earnings Estimates?

    Occidental (OXY) shares have started gaining and might continue moving higher in the near term, as indicated by solid earnings estimate revisions.

  • Procter & Gamble (PG) Beats on Q2 Earnings, Down on Sales Miss
    Zacks

    Procter & Gamble (PG) Beats on Q2 Earnings, Down on Sales Miss

    Procter & Gamble's (PG) bottom line beats estimates in second-quarter fiscal 2020, while sales miss. Adjusted free cash flow productivity increases to 100%.

  • TRIP or AMZN: Which Is the Better Value Stock Right Now?
    Zacks

    TRIP or AMZN: Which Is the Better Value Stock Right Now?

    TRIP vs. AMZN: Which Stock Is the Better Value Option?

  • Can You Really Time the Stock Market?
    Zacks

    Can You Really Time the Stock Market?

    Think you can pick the stock market top? The father of value investing, Benjamin Graham, puts that challenge to the test.

  • Has Occidental Petroleum (OXY) Outpaced Other Oils-Energy Stocks This Year?
    Zacks

    Has Occidental Petroleum (OXY) Outpaced Other Oils-Energy Stocks This Year?

    Is (OXY) Outperforming Other Oils-Energy Stocks This Year?

  • Comcast (CMCSA) Q4 Earnings Beat Estimates, Revenues Up Y/Y
    Zacks

    Comcast (CMCSA) Q4 Earnings Beat Estimates, Revenues Up Y/Y

    Comcast's (CMCSA) fourth-quarter 2019 results reflect an expanded high-speed Internet subscriber base.

  • Does This Valuation Of VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSN) Imply Investors Are Overpaying?
    Simply Wall St.

    Does This Valuation Of VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSN) Imply Investors Are Overpaying?

    Does the January share price for VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSN) reflect what it's really worth? Today, we will estimate...

  • Stock Market News for Jan 23, 2020
    Zacks

    Stock Market News for Jan 23, 2020

    IBM's upbeat quarterly earnings results helped the tech-laden Nasdaq as well as the broader S&P 500 end in the green.

  • Apple Takes on European Union, This Time Over IPhone Chargers
    Bloomberg

    Apple Takes on European Union, This Time Over IPhone Chargers

    (Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Apple Inc. is pushing back against a European Union initiative that would standardize chargers for all types of smartphones and devices.The European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, is currently considering legislation to cut back on electronic waste, after a previous voluntary approach didn’t meet its expectations, according to an EU official.European lawmakers have been complaining that users are often required to carry different chargers for similar devices. The iPhone maker’s so-called lightning charging cables for Apple products don’t plug into devices made by Samsung Electronics Co. or other electronics companies. Being forced to use a common standard could turn a bespoke product that Apple sells at high prices into a commodity, cutting into its profit.“We believe regulation that forces conformity across the type of connector built into all smartphones stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, and would harm consumers in Europe and the economy as a whole,” Apple said in a statement published Thursday.Apple has butted heads with the EU before. The iPhone maker is appealing an order by the European Commission that the company to pay Ireland 13 billion euros ($14.4 billion) in unpaid taxes -- a decision Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook once called “political crap.” The commission also is looking into an antitrust complaint by Spotify Technology SA alleging Apple favors its own music service, and is asking questions about its Apple Pay product.The initiative comes as the EU is pursuing a sweeping economic transformation, dubbed the “Green Deal,” across the 28-nation bloc. It plans to impose stricter emissions standards on industries, energy taxes and tougher air quality standards.Electronic waste is expected to grow to more than 12 million tons by 2020, according to the EU, making it one of the fastest growing so-called waste streams.“The amount of cables and chargers produced and thrown away each year is simply unacceptable,” Roza Thun und Hohenstein, vice chair of the European Parliament’s internal market committee, said in a parliamentary debate earlier in January. She urged the commission to unveil a legislative proposal within the next six months.The commission is set to release the results of a study it launched assessing the impact of a common charger on consumers by the end of January.Cupertino, California-based Apple said forcing through regulatory changes would disrupt hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories in Europe alone and would create “an unprecedented volume of electronic waste.”The EU in 2009 settled on a voluntary, industry standards-based approach to try to harmonize chargers after considering regulation. Had the EU mandated that all smartphones use only USB-Micro B connectors, that would have restricted advances leading to today’s chargers, which allow for sleeker and smaller gadgets and faster charging times, Apple said.Apple said the industry is also standardizing on its own as companies move toward using USB Type-C through a connector or cable assembly.To contact the reporter on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at ndrozdiak1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at gturner35@bloomberg.net, Amy ThomsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Travel demand cushions 737 MAX toll
    Reuters Videos

    Travel demand cushions 737 MAX toll

    American Airlines and Southwest said strong demand for travel HELPED cushion QUARTERLY results even though the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX WEIGHS on costs and profits. The Boeing jets have been out of action since a safety ban took effect in March following two deadly crashes. That forced American and Southwest to cancel thousands of flights. Although the grounding bit into earnings, healthy demand helped American grow its quarterly profit 27%, surpassing analysts estimates, and revenue also rose. BUT IT WAS ANOTHER STORY FOR Southwest since it is the world's largest operator of 737 MAX planes. Profit fell 21%, and the carrier warned the grounding will continue to weigh on profits in the first quarter. But STILL, it managed to slightly boost its revenue. Southwest said it'll likely extend MAX flight cancellations beyond June. American anticipates resuming service in late summer or early fall. Boeing says it does not expect to get regulatory approval for the MAX to fly again until mid-year.