The daily business briefing: April 17, 2019

Harold Maass
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Apple and Qualcomm settle royalty dispute

Apple and Qualcomm said Tuesday that they had agreed to dismiss their dueling lawsuits around the world. As a trial had started in a San Diego federal courtroom in an Apple complaint against Qualcomm, the companies said they had reached a six-year agreement under which Apple will pay unspecified royalties on Qualcomm patents. Apple, maker of the iPhone, and Qualcomm, the biggest provider of mobile chips, had been battling over how Qualcomm charges royalties on its patents on mobile chips. Qualcomm in the 1990s pioneered technology now critical in mobile devices, allowing it to charge royalties on smartphones even if they don't have Qualcomm chips. The settlement suggests Apple will drop its objection to the arrangement, assuming Qualcomm's royalties aren't set too high. Qualcomm shares jumped by more than 20 percent after the news. [The New York Times, CNBC]


Netflix forecasts weaker subscriber growth in 2nd quarter

Netflix shares fell by 4 percent after the bell on Tuesday after the video streaming powerhouse forecast a decline in global subscriber growth in the second quarter. Netflix said it expected to add 5 million subscribers globally, down from 5.45 million a year earlier. The company reported first quarter revenue that beat analysts' estimates, and it added 7.86 million subscribers around the world, exceeding expectations of 7.14 million. U.S. new subscribers hit 1.74 million, over the average analyst estimate of 1.57 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. [Reuters, CNBC]


FDA orders companies to stop selling pelvic surgical mesh

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday ordered a halt to the sale of surgical mesh for the repair of pelvic organ prolapse. Deborah Kotz, a spokeswoman for the agency, said Boston Scientific and Coloplast, the two medical device companies still selling the mesh, had 10 days to submit a plan for withdrawing the product from the U.S. market. The mesh is a synthetic product used to strengthen weakened pelvic muscles that can let organs sag into the vaginal area. It has been implanted in millions of women, but patients and legal advocates have filed litigation arguing it can cause harmful complications. Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, and five other companies are paying nearly $8 billion to resolve 100,000 claims from women. [The New York Times]


Trump to allow lawsuits against companies over confiscated Cuba property

The Trump administration plans to let Cuban-Americans and other U.S. citizens sue foreign companies in U.S. courts for using properties Cuba's Communist government has confiscated since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing a senior U.S. official. The policy shift, which would increase pressure on Cuba over its support for embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, reportedly will be announced Wednesday. It could discourage foreign investment on the island by exposing U.S., European, and Canadian companies to legal battles. President Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, is expected to announce the decision in a Miami speech in which he also will announce new sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua, countries he calls a "troika of tyranny." [Reuters]


U.S. stock indexes get a boost from strong bank results

U.S. stock index futures edged higher early Wednesday, adding to Tuesday's modest gains ahead of another flurry of earnings reports. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were up by 0.1 percent, while those of the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq gained 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Shares of Morgan Stanley jumped by 3.3 percent in pre-market trading after the bank reported profit and revenue that beat analysts' expectations thanks to strong wealth management and fixed-income trading. PepsiCo shares rose by 2 percent after it reported first-quarter earnings that also beat Wall Street's expectations. The three main U.S. indexes posted gains on Tuesday, boosted by stronger-than-expected results from BlackRock and Bank of America. [CNBC]