Good Tuesday. Here’s what we’re watching:
• What will Apple do with all that cash?
• What happens after the imported metal tariff delay?
• Why C.E.O.s might need to be more outspoken on social issues.
• How the T-Mobile C.E.O.’s success might be a mixed blessing.
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What will Apple do with all that cash?
Investors expected Apple to announce a large share repurchase program heading into this quarter’s earnings, and the iPhone maker didn’t disappoint. Apple announced a new $100 billion buyback program.
The coffers of corporate America are straining under the weight of spare cash. And none more than Apple. Apple was forced to pay taxes on more than $250 billion held overseas as part of the tax overhaul President Trump signed into law late last year.
And investors are reaping some of the rewards from the windfall. Apple bought back $32.9 billion in stock during the first six months of its fiscal year, according to just announced results. Last quarter alone, Apple repurchased $22.8 billion in shares, a record for any company in any quarter, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices data.
Shares of Apple are up 4 percent after the iPhone maker’s results beat expectations and it announced a $100 billion buyback program.
Here’s a look at the numbers:
• Apple reported a net income of $13.82 billion for its fiscal second quarter, up 25 percent from a year ago.
• Earnings per share came in at $2.73, above analysts expectations of $2.67 per share.
• Revenue increased 16 percent to $61.1 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected sales of 60.82 billion.
• Revenue from its services business hit a record of $9.2 billion.
• Apple sold 52.2 million iPhones in the quarter, up 2.9 percent from a year ago.
• Revenue from iPhone sales increased 14 percent from a year ago to $38.03 billion.
• The average selling price of an iPhone was $728, up from $655 a year ago but down from $796 last quarter.
The Trump administration is discovering the difficulty of fighting a multi-front war.
President Trump’s decision on Monday to hold off on imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on a number of countries came as the United States is engaged in a separate trade battle with China and is negotiating changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
From the time the tariffs on steel and aluminum were announced in late February, they seemed the least promising part of Mr. Trump’s combative trade policy. Not only were the measures directed in part at allies, the European Union and Canada among them, the administration convinced few with their argument that imports of the two metals were threatening national security.
And when announcing the tariffs, the Trump administration immediately granted temporary exemptions to certain countries. The move suggested loopholes and concessions might be available, an impression that will likely persist after Mr. Trump on Monday extended negotiations with Mexico, Canada and the European Union for 30 days.
The new deadline may help push along Nafta negotiations with Mexico and Canada, but the European Union is becoming a big problem for Mr. Trump’s trade agenda. The bloc has gained another reprieve from the steel and aluminum tariffs and apparently has given up nothing.
That has likely put the European Union in a stronger position, which it may now use in negotiations with the United States to end the tariffs threat. The bloc could use an opening to try forge a narrower version of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. But such an outcome would take many months to finalize and probably would not look like a win for Mr. Trump’s “America First” agenda.
And the European Union’s stance has hurt Mr. Trump’s tariffs strategy in another crucial way. The tariffs were said to be a cudgel to persuade allies to back the United States in its trade actions against China. The European Union, which shares some of the United States’ frustrations with China’s trade practices, may eventually back Mr. Trump against China. But the longer the tensions between the European Union and the United States persist, the less likely it is that they align.
Indeed, the divide the tariffs created between the United States and its allies, and Mr. Trump’s willingness to delay them, may be strengthening China’s resolve. The country’s trade negotiators are preparing to reject two major demands of the United States, for instance.
Mr. Trump famously said trade wars are easy to win. But, as he is finding out, this is not the case when they are fought on three fronts at once.
— Peter Eavis
The E.U., Mexico and Canada got a reprieve. Now what?
With his administration delaying tariffs on steel and aluminum from those partners by another 30 days, President Trump has so far avoided starting a multinational trade war with key allies. But is there any progress toward a permanent accord with them?
And the delay poses a risk, per Ana Swanson of the NYT:
It could fuel criticism that Mr. Trump is more bark than bite and increase the pressure on the White House to squeeze concessions from other nations.
The E.U. is still demanding a permanent exemption, and said the extension “prolongs market uncertainty.”
Meanwhile, Beijing said it wouldn’t discuss two key trade demands — a $100 billion cut in the U.S.’s trade deficit with China and curbs on a $300 billion Chinese plan to invest in advanced tech like A.I. and electric cars — when a U.S. delegation arrives this week. Why: It now thinks it’s big enough to stand up to Washington.
And Alibaba’s vice chairman, Joe Tsai, told CNBC that he viewed the spat between the U.S. and China as just “a temporary blip.”
Facebook Cares About Your Privacy. Really.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, introduced a new privacy tool, Clear History, ahead of social media company’s annual developer conference, F8. The new privacy control that allows people to essentially erasing what they have browsed on the site.
“This is an example of the kind of control we think you should have,” Mr. Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook. “It’s something privacy advocates have been asking for — and we will work with them to make sure we get it right.”
Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said in a post that the tool was part of the company’s effort to “supercharge” its work related to privacy concerns. She signaled that the announcement was one of many connected to the issue that Facebook planned to make at the conference.
‘We’re in the money’
When Sainsbury’s and Asda announced their deal to join forces, potentially creating the Britain’s biggest supermarket operator, the companies did the usual dance: Groceries would be cheaper, stores would stay open, employees would keep their jobs.
Then Mike Coupe, the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, began to sing, The NYT’s Mark A. Walsh reports.
Waiting to be interviewed for the British channel ITV News, Mr. Coupe, presumably unaware that the cameras were rolling, undercut the official line with an impromptu performance.
“We’re in the money. The sky is sunny. Let’s lend it, spend it, send it rolling along.”
Intoning lines from a piece called “The Gold Diggers’ Song (We’re in the Money)” was probably not the best way to assuage concerns that shareholders might be making hay on the back of higher prices and job cuts. The song was first written for a 1933 film, but is perhaps most famously used in the musical “42nd Street.”