A storm's coming

MARKETS

  • U.S. markets: Energy stocks gave U.S. indexes a boost. The VIX (Wall Street's fear gauge) fell below its five-year average.
  • Commodities: You know the drill, oil prices rose to three-year highs after the president's decision to back out of the Iran deal.
  • Earnings today: Duke Energy, NVIDIA, Yelp.

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BIZ IN D.C.

Someone Please Explain What's Going on in Washington

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If you're like us, you've been banging your head against the wall trying to make sense of the news coming out of D.C...

...that a few mega-corporations sent payments to a shell company set up by President Trump's lawyer and plaid blazer aficionado, Michael Cohen (who's currently being investigated for various business dealings).

What we know

  • AT&T paid $200,000 to Cohen's company, called Essential Consultants. AT&T said it was hoping to get some essential "insights" on the administration (aka what Trump thought of its pending Time Warner acquisition).
  • Novartis, the Swiss pharma giant, paid $1.2 million to the firm for a window into the admin's healthcare policy. Korea Aerospace Industries also wrote a $150,000 check.
  • What gives it that scandalous flavor: An investment firm with ties to a Russian oligarch also paid $500,000 to Essential Consultants. And keep in mind, Essential is the same LLC that Cohen set up to shuffle $130,000 of hush-money to Stormy Daniels over an alleged affair with Trump.
  • One thing's certain: Some film studio is going to make a boatload of money on a movie about all of this.

What we don't know

Well, pretty much everything else...specifically 1) where the $4.4 million that hit Essential Consultants ended up and 2) whether there's anything illegal about these transactions.

But if you send us a check to our shell company, Nonessential Consultants, we'll spill the beans.

ENTERTAINMENT

MoviePass Is in Serious Troub-Well, Just Read

The scene opens at MoviePass's board meeting:

Exec 1: "I mean it's just not adding up!" *pacing briskly* We give people free movies for just $9.95 a month and somehow we're losing money?"

Junior Associate Johnson: "Well...yes, sir. We spend $21.7 million a month and have only $15.5 million on hand...well, $43 million if you count those backlogged accounts receivables and..."

Exec 1: "Shut it, Johnson!"

Johnson:"Yes sir. Of course, sir."

It was tough getting those sound bites, but as you can see...things aren't looking so bright at MoviePass these days. Here's another aha moment from one analyst-"It's impossible to run a business where the cost of sales is 2x the revenues."

Is the picture clearing up now? Those were all real numbers from an SEC filing by MoviePass's parent company (whose stock dropped 46%), indicating the company has two more months of runway.

Moving forward: The parent company's CEO is staying glass-half-full, forecasting 5 million subscribers and profitability by the end of the year for MoviePass. He conveniently skipped over the part where he says how.

E-COMMERCE

Walmart Seals the Deal on Flipkart

Well...it's officially official.

Walmart snatched Flipkart right out from under Amazon's prying eyes. For $16 billion, Walmart will walk away with 77% of India's hottest e-commerce company and access to the country's 1.3 billion people.

Adding insult to injury: Meet the Bansal bros, Flipkart's founders. They're not actual brothers, but Sachin and Binny are the Mario and Luigi when it comes to bothering Bezos.

  • Strike 1: After working at Amazon for a short time, they left to start Flipkart in 2007.
  • Strike 2: It began as an online bookstore (sound familiar?).
  • Strike 3: The Bansal bros ignored Amazon's offer and handed India's e-commerce market over to its rival, Walmart.

And, for the icing on the cake, they taunt Jeff with billboards when he flies into India.

SPORTS

Does This Look Like a Baseball Stadium to You?

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Well, it will be soon. In America's most significant European investment since the Marshall Plan, the Red Sox and Yankees will play two regular season baseball games at London's Olympic Stadium next summer.

MLB Commish Rob Manfred wants to follow the NFL and NBA's lead in planting an American flag in the U.K.:

  • "In our ongoing efforts to grow baseball, there is nothing as impactful as bringing live games and our talented players to fans."

MANAGEMENT

Guess Who's Makin' the Big Bucks These Days

It pays to be a CEO. Don't ask us, ask the WSJ, which released its salary analysis of the S&P's top dogs for 2017.

Coming in hot at the highest salary? Broadcom's Hock Tan, who made $103 million-a 318% boost from 2016. Compare that to LeBron James, who rakes in $31 million a year (not including bonuses & endorsements). Hock Tan shoots, he scores.

A few of the lowest salaries? Bezos, Buffett, and Page. Warren dropped his salary from $488,000 to $100,000 this year, while Jeff cashes his checks to the tune of $1.7 million. Modest salaries, but Larry Page says 'take notes,' with his salary of...wait for it...$1. But don't worry, these billionaires are doing just fine with equity and stock options.

Howard Robin of Nektar Therapeutics gave investors a reason to cheer (best shareholder return: 387%), while Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank brought shame to Charm City (worst return: -50.3%).

+ The full break down: Who's hot, who's not.

MEDIA

The New York Times Goes Big with the Small Screen

Pop quiz: What do Donald Glover and the New York Times have in common?

Answer: They both have a show on FX, after the Times awarded it the rights to its first TV series ever, The Weekly (yes, it's based off the NYT's The Daily podcast). Hulu also licensed the program.

And with the new venture, the NYT completes the typical media company trajectory of print newspaper → podcast → television show.

The details:

  • The Weekly is a "narrative documentary news program" that does a deep-dive into one or two of the "biggest and most important visual stories each week."
  • FX, which is taking the leap into news for the first time, committed to at least 30 episodes.

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • NBC released its report into Matt Lauer's alleged sexual misconduct, finding that no execs were aware of the incidents.
  • Sears (+15.94%) is still alive, striking a deal to install and service tires sold on Amazon
  • ICYMI, Glassdoor sold to a Japanese HR firm for $1.2 billion, all cash.
  • 21st Century Fox (-0.76%) saw its cable revenue grow 10% last quarter. The Murdochs didn't squeal about a potential sale of assets to Disney or Comcast.
  • Lyft's monthly subscription plan is going nationwide...and it's got a waitlist.

BREAKROOM

TALK LIKE THE CREW
Brent Crude Oil vs. WTI Crude Oil-Time to freshen up there, slick. Crude oil is the global benchmark for oil prices. WTI, or West Texas Intermediate, is the oil benchmark for North America. Over the last few years Brent has been charging a premium over WTI due to its more ubiquitous appeal in the global marketplace. Among other reasons.

BRAIN TEASER
The last three digits of Allison's license plate have a product of 360. The sum of the digits is 22 and the digits are in order from the least to greatest. What are the last three digits of her license plate?

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Breakroom Answers


Brain Teaser
5, 8, and 9

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