The daily business briefing: August 8, 2018

Harold Maass
Elon Musk speaks in California


Tesla shares jump as Musk considers taking company private

Tesla shares soared on Tuesday after the electric-car maker's CEO and founder, Elon Musk, tweeted that he was considering taking the company private. "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured," Musk said. Tesla's shares jumped to as high as $371.15 before settling at $367 before trading was halted, marking a 7 percent gain for the day. Musk has been under intense pressure to deliver on a promise to ramp up production of the company's first mass-market car, the Model 3, and make the money-losing company profitable. Going private would let Musk, who owns 20 percent of the company, avoid the intense scrutiny of public markets. "Musk does not want to run a public company," said Gene Munster of Loup Ventures, noting that Tesla's big ambitions make it "difficult to accommodate investors' quarterly expectations." [Reuters]


China's exports rise despite Trump's tariffs

China reported Wednesday that its exports rose by more than expected in July, despite President Trump's new tariffs. Chinese exports rose by 12.2 percent year-over-year, up from 11.2 percent in June and exceeding the 10 percent growth analysts predicted in a Reuters poll. Imports jumped by even more, 27.3 percent, but China's trade surplus with the U.S. remained close to a record high after months of escalating trade tensions between the world's two biggest economies. The U.S. is set to begin collecting 25 percent tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese goods on Aug. 23 as part of Trump's ongoing effort to pressure Beijing into making trade concessions. New U.S. duties on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports took effect on July 6. [Bloomberg, Reuters]


Gates describes disguising Manafort income as loans

Paul Manafort's longtime deputy, Rick Gates, told jurors Tuesday in a second day of testimony at Manafort's tax and bank fraud trial that he disguised millions of dollars in foreign income as loans for years in an effort to reduce Manafort's tax bill. Gates was Manafort's close aid on overseas consulting clients, including a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine, and later when Manafort served as President Trump's campaign chairman. Gates also testified that Manafort recommended that Trump nominate Stephen Calk, a banker who allegedly loaned him money under false pretenses, as secretary of the Army. Manafort and Gates were the first people indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates, although the charges against Manafort are not linked to Moscow's alleged interference. [The Associated Press]


Disney shares drop, then recover, after disappointing earnings

Walt Disney Co. shares fell by 2 percent in after-hours trading on Tuesday after the entertainment giant reported quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street's expectations. The stock quickly bounced back to break-even levels after CEO Robert Iger outlined plans for Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets and its coming Disney-branded streaming service. Disney reported second-quarter net income of $2.92 billion, up 23 percent from the same period last year. Adjusted earnings came to $1.87 per share, missing the consensus estimate of $1.95 per share. Revenue was $15.23 billion, held down by soft growth in Disney's cable networks business and short of the $15.34 billion analysts expected. Despite the top and bottom line miss, Disney saw strong growth in its studio, parks, and broadcast businesses. [CNBC, MarketWatch]


LeBron James adds another series to his TV plans

LeBron James is set to executive produce a new competition TV series for CBS, the network announced Tuesday. Million Dollar Mile challenges everyday athletes to run a mile-long obstacle course while elite athletes try to block their path. CBS has ordered 10 episodes of the series, which James will executive produce alongside Big Brother producers Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan. James is also busy with the Showtime documentary series Shut Up and Dribble, which was announced Monday and will explore how NBA athletes tackle politics. The basketball star, who recently signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, also opened a public school in his Ohio hometown last week. [Variety, Deadline]