The daily business briefing: February 27, 2019

Harold Maass
The AT&T logo
Etienne FRANCHI/AFP/Getty Images

1.

DOJ says it won't challenge court's AT&T-Time Warner merger approval

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it would not fight an appeals court ruling approving AT&T's attempt to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion. President Trump opposed the massive acquisition. Trump saw the deal as a potential boost to Time Warner's CNN unit, which he frequently derides as "fake news." A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia handed AT&T a major victory, ruling unanimously in favor of the deal and calling the Trump administration claim that the merger would drive up consumer prices "unpersuasive." [Reuters]

2.

Weight Watchers stock plummets after earnings miss expectations

Weight Watchers shares plunged by 30 percent Tuesday after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that fell significantly short of expectations. Earnings came in at 46 cents per share, adjusted, compared to analyst predictions of 60 cents per share. Revenue for the quarter was $330 million, under the $347 million Wall Street expected. WW, as the company is now known, has "moved to course correct" by adjusting its advertising and media campaigns after a period of slow weight-loss customer recruitment, CEO Mindy Grossman said. Grossman added that Oprah Winfrey, the company's top individual shareholder, "will play a central role in our upcoming TV and digital marketing campaign for spring, bringing to life a clear message on how WW is the program that works." [CNBC, CNN]

3.

U.S. stock futures edge down after conflicting data and Fed remarks

U.S. stock index futures edged down early Wednesday as investors continued to digest conflicting economic data and remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterating the central bank's plan to assume a more "patient" approach to raising interest rates. Powell told Congress that the U.S. economy was on track to keep growing at a solid but slower pace through 2019. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq-100 were all down by about 0.2 percent at 7 a.m. Wednesday. Stocks fluctuated on Tuesday, losing earlier gains by the end of the day. [CNBC, The Associated Press]

4.

Lowe's posts mixed quarterly results

Lowe's shares edged higher early Wednesday even though the home-improvement retailer posted mixed fourth-quarter financial results. Lowe's reported a net loss of $1.03 a share, down from a 67-cent-per-share profit a year earlier and expectations of a 35-cent-per-share profit among analysts polled by Refinitiv. Excluding one-time items, the company earned 80 cents per share, one cent more than analysts had forecast. Lowe's said Canada's weak housing market hurt its results, but CEO Marvin Ellison said "U.S. macroeconomic fundamentals remain sound for 2019." A day earlier, rival Home Depot said wet weather had hurt its quarterly sales. [MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal]

5.

Nevada gambling regulators fine Wynn Resorts over sexual misconduct allegations

The Nevada Gaming Commission on Tuesday hit casino mogul Steve Wynn's former company with a record $20 million fine for failing to investigate sexual misconduct claims against hin. Wynn resigned a year ago after a Wall Street Journal report triggered an investigation into allegations by several women that Wynn had harassed or assaulted them. The company will keep its gambling license under a settlement approved by the commission. "It's not about one man," said Commissioner Philip Pro, a former federal court judge. "It's about a failure of a corporate culture to effectively govern itself as it should." [The Associated Press]