Monday, December 21, 2015

Why Paychex (PAYX) Stock Should Be in Every Investor’s Portfolio

Unheralded PAYX stock is poised for strong gains in 2016

Paychex, Inc. (PAYX) isn’t a company that’s typically on the tongues of stock analysts and investors, but it sure is this year. PAYX is beating the pants off the market — and competitor Automatic Data Processing (ADP) — with 14% gains, and is trading at decade-plus highs.

But better yet for new money: This payroll and human resources provider looks set to be among 2016’s most exciting stocks.

Investors can thank a strengthening job market, solid fundamentals and management’s innovative expansion efforts that include both acquisitions and new service offerings.

The November jobs report, which saw payrolls expand at a promising pace, implies general improvement in the state of the U.S. economy. That steady job growth — particularly for small- and medium-sized companies –has helped PAYX remain at the top of the payroll services industry. A strengthening job market means more employers will require payroll processing services, as well as human resources assistance.

Plus, confusion and complications involving Obamacare have been a boon for Paychex stock.

2015 marked the first year in which non-payroll services accounted for more than $1 billion in revenue, as an increasing number of PAYX clients require assistance navigating the new, often-complicated health insurance reforms.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Why GoPro Inc (GPRO) Stock Is a Rally Play for 2016

GoPro's Q3 earnings hiccup and Hero5 delay

Investors in action sports camera maker GoPro Inc (GPRO) have watched in horror as shares of GPRO stock have tumbled nearly 74% over the past year. Now, reports that the much-anticipated Hero5 camera won’t be available in time for this year’s holiday season make a swift GoPro stock recovery even less likely.

There’s no denying that GPRO makes a solid action sports video camera, but positive investor sentiment around GoPro stock has all but disappeared.

Among things holding down GoPro: GPRO shares were crushed following an abysmal third-quarter earnings report. The company failed to meet analyst expectations for both revenue and earnings, citing lower-than-expected sales of its Hero4 Session camera. Management took some responsibility, admitting the camera “was initially priced too high, leading to a price cut, and didn’t have a big enough marketing budget.”

Following the earnings release, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman told CNBC, “If Session had been stronger out of the gates, if we hadn’t mispriced it, and if we had backed it up with the marketing it deserved, I think we would have had a very different earnings call yesterday.”

Still, there at least was hope that GPRO stock might be able to turn things around with a strong 2015 holiday shopping season — but those hopes were in part based on the idea that a Hero5 would be popping up before the close of 2015.

And yet … GoPro might not be completely doomed, and in fact, might be worth picking up on the cheap right now.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Traditional IRA vs. Roth IRA – Which is Better for You?

Would you rather pay the taxes now or later?

The individual retirement account is the most common — and most often misunderstood — retirement savings arrangement. The confusion usually stems from the fact that there are two different types of IRAs: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA.

Both types of retirement investments share a number of characteristics. And both IRA types offer individuals a dedicated, tax-favored account into which retirement money can be deposited. Within the IRA account may be any number and type of investment vehicles such as stocks, bonds, CDs or mutual funds. The total value of the investments within in an IRA grows on a tax-deferred basis once funds are in the retirement account.

Annual contribution limits have been placed on IRAs by the Internal Revenue Service, as well as eligibility criteria and withdrawal restrictions. For the 2015 tax year, the aggregate total of all contributions to IRAs, regardless of whether those accounts are traditional, Roth, or a combination of both, cannot exceed the lesser of $5,500 or 100% of your earned income. Those 50 and older can save an extra $1,000.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Will This Company Beat AMZN to Drone Deliveries?

Starship Technologies' drones may be grounded, but their implementation is anything but

Source: Starship Technologies
In the race to create the ultimate package delivery system, several companies — most notably, Amazon (AMZN) — have been investigating and developing drones that could eliminate the need for humans in the last-mile leg of the shipping process.

Starship Technologies, a London-based tech startup founded last year by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, is the latest to hit the front page.

Starship Technologies has been all the buzz this week thanks to the company’s reveal of a new delivery drone prototype.

However, unlike the drones being developed by AMZN and Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG), this particular model doesn’t fly.

According to a press release by Starship Technologies, these drones will be environmentally friendly and have the capacity to deliver packages as large as two grocery bags. Their operating radius is expected to be 5 to 30 minutes from a retail outlet or local hub.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Retirement Savings: Fixed Annuities vs. Dividend Stocks

Fixed annuities and dividend stocks offer unique opportunities to create retirement income

For conservative investors, particularly those approaching (or having already entered) retirement, protecting the money they’ve worked so hard to earn and save over the years is of the utmost importance.

However, eventually that nest egg will likely be needed to supplement — or create — other retirement income streams to maintain a standard of living. The use of fixed annuities and dividend stocks is often considered, as both present a viable solution.

The choice to use either fixed annuities or dividend stocks is entirely a personal decision, one that requires consideration of a number of factors including the investor’s goals, time horizon and risk tolerance.

While both annuities and stocks are capable of producing a satisfactory retirement income, the fundamental differences between these two investment types may have a dramatic and profound effect on the total value of a portfolio. The pros and cons of saving for retirement via fixed annuities or dividend stocks must be carefully examined, as each method carries unique risks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Apple TV Could Be the Key to AAPL Stock’s Future

The Apple TV will become an all-in-one device for the Internet of Things

Today, Apple (AAPL) officially opened the door for preorders of the much-touted fourth-generation Apple TV.

After the early-September reveal of the upgraded device, many AAPL fans have waited anxiously for the opportunity to jump in and place their order.

Who can blame them? The Apple TV is more than just a streaming television device — much more. AAPL has seemingly created a device that combines the best aspects of a number of other products on the market.

In true Apple fashion, the company has taken what competitors have developed and added its own AAPL flair, releasing a device that is more capable and, frankly, slicker than the rest.

So far, in the war for your living room, the undisputed leader has been Roku. Since 2002, Roku has released several iterations of its streaming set-top box, allowing users to cut the cord and free themselves from a unanimously hated evil — the cable company.

Over the past 13 years, Roku has perfected those little purple boxes, offering free access to thousands of channels, as well as access to a number of paid content providers such as Netflix (NFLX) and Amazon (AMZN).

Friday, October 23, 2015

Variable Annuities vs. Mutual Funds

Breaking down the similarities and differences between two common investments

Variable annuities and mutual funds are some of the most common investment vehicles for retirement savings. While both products contain a number of identical features that often make it challenging for inexperienced investors to distinguish between the two, they are actually quite different.

Understanding these differences is essential to ensuring that your future financial situation is given the best possible opportunity to thrive.

Both types of investments involve participation in existing portfolios of stocks, bonds, or other securities.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tesla Is the Newest Competitor in the Driverless Car Arena

Welcome Autopilot, Tesla's self-driving upgrade!

Last week, Tesla (TSLA) announced the release of Autopilot, the company’s first official autonomous driving software update. In the high-tech fashion that Tesla has become know for, the Autopilot feature -- which costs $2,500 -- can be downloaded via an over-the-air update to properly-equipped Model S and Model X vehicles (“Tesla’s Autopilot only works on vehicles equipped with radar and camera systems that have been applied since 2014”).

Tesla CEO Elon Musk specifically described Autopilot as in beta status, stating “It works almost to the point where you can take your hands off, but we won’t say that. Almost.” Musk went on, alluding to the notion that the only thing preventing fully autonomous highway operation of Tesla vehicles is a slew of regulatory hurdles. He explained, “Regulators need to see clear evidence that the reliability is there.”

Monday, October 12, 2015

TWTR Video Ads Won’t Save Twitter Stock

Twitter’s six-second pre-roll video ads won’t do much good

Earlier this week, Twitter (TWTR) announced a new feature to help marketers better monetize videos posted on the social media site: six-second pre-roll advertisements. This means that Twitter users will begin seeing brief marketing messages before chosen videos actually play, much the same as what’s seen on Google’s (GOOGL, GOOG) iconic video property, YouTube.

Considering that YouTube is the Internet’s most popular video-sharing website, and has been displaying pre-roll ads for years, Twitter’s implementation isn’t likely to shock or surprise the social media site’s members.

With video being the new golden goose of Internet marketing — until now — Twitter’s massive 300 million active subscriber base represents a treasure trove of marketing potential.

There’s no doubt that the company’s newly-expanded Amplify partnership program, which began in mid-2013, will attract more partners and advertisers, and generate significant revenue.

Pandora Stock: Is Ticketfly Really a Perfect Pick-Up?

Will Pandora’s Ticketfly be able to sell concert tickets to listeners?

Pandora Media Inc (P) last week announced intentions to acquire Ticketfly — which provides software to sell tickets to roughly 1,200 concert venues throughout the U.S. — for $450 million in cash and stock.

The news sent Pandora stock down a few percent, and for good reason.

Management believes Pandora is well-positioned to take advantage of Ticketfly’s capabilities and generate additional revenue by selling concert tickets to listeners.

Pandora’s previous experience with ticket-selling experiments gave management the confidence to proceed with the Ticketfly acquisition. Considering the plethora of information Pandora has amassed about its listeners and subscribers, a well-designed campaign could easily put concert ticket advertisements in front of the right crowd.

In a press release, Pandora CEO Brian McAndrews said:
“This is a game-changer for Pandora — and much more importantly — a game-changer for music. Over the past 10 years, we have amassed the largest, most engaged audience in streaming music history. With Ticketfly, we will thrill music lovers and lift ticket sales for artists as the most effective marketplace for connecting music makers and fans.”
As the current leader in the music streaming arena, Pandora stock certainly looks set to hit the ground running with the company’s new ticket sales feature. But there’s one caveat that can’t be ignored.

Most people listen to the radio.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Porsche Doesn’t Trust Google, Opts for Apple CarPlay

Google's Android Auto wants too much info for Porsche's liking

Earlier this week, news broke that the 2017 Porsche 911 Carrera would carry Apple (AAPL) CarPlay, rather than Google’s (GOOGL, GOOG) Android Auto. MotorTrend’s Senior Features Editor, Jonny Lieberman, first reported the news after a visit with Porsche in Germany last month.

At first, you might think that Porsche’s decision to install Apple CarPlay rather than Android Auto was probably motivated more by money than anything else. However, money apparently had nothing to do with it.

According to Lieberman, at the “deep background seminar” he’d attended, Porsche explained that the reason for choosing CarPlay over Android Auto was simply because Apple’s product required only one piece of data: whether the car was moving or stationary.

Conversely, Google’s Android Auto arrangement would require Porsche to hand over quite a bit of data about the vehicle. Details such as speed, temperature, throttle position, and RPMs would be collected and delivered to Google HQ. “Basically Google wants a complete OBD2 dump whenever someone activates Android Auto,” Lieberman said.

Elon Musk Makes Driving Fun Again With the Model X

TSLA stock's CEO is today's greatest automotive industry innovator

Elon Musk, self-made billionaire and CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla (TSLA), has — once again — raised the bar and set a new paradigm in the automotive world with this week’s reveal of Tesla’s first SUV, the Model X.

Its falcon wing doors and “ludacris” engine performance mode (an upgrade to prior years’ Model S “insane” mode) are enough to make even the mildest car lovers giddy.

For the audio enthusiasts among us, the Model X radio volume controls go up to 11, not 10 as in Tesla’s other models.

But the most talked-about feature by far is the Model X’s bioweapon defense mode. According to Musk, “If there was a bio weapon attack, all you would need is to get inside your car.”

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Can Anything Save Zynga Stock From Its Deathbed?

It's time to put this former social giant out to pasture

Do you remember Zynga (ZNGA), the company responsible for all of those annoying Facebook (FB) games, such as Farmville, Mafia Wars and Bubble Safari? Zynga games were all the rage for a long time, and at one point there were as many as 61 million people playing Farmville every month.

Management chose to take the company public; and in December 2011, Zynga stock became the largest Internet-related IPO since Google (GOOGL, GOOG) debuted in 2004.

But, eventually the novelty of the games wore off, and FB users became tired of the unending barrage of incessant requests for bricks, seeds, plants and animals. After countless complaints about Zynga game notifications, Facebook institued policy changes that eliminated those notices — and stifled ZNGA traffic. In March 2012, Zynga purchased OMGPOP, a competing social game maker responsible for Draw Something, for $200 million.

At the time, Zynga stock was popular — shares had reached an all-time high of nearly $15. But ZNGA began plummeting, and by the end of August it was trading below $3.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The App Store Hack Won’t Affect Apple Stock (AAPL)

AAPL stock investors have nothing to worry about

Last week, Wired revealed that a number of Apple (AAPL) apps containing malicious code had been downloaded from the App Store by Chinese users. At the time of the Wired article, it was believed that the number of infected apps was less than two dozen.

On Sunday, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (PANW) discovered more than three dozen infected apps, and on Monday morning Reuters reported that Chinese security firm Qihoo360 (QIHU) announced thediscovery of more than 300 compromised apps.

For now, it would seem that the actual number of apps infected in the App Store hack remains a mystery, as AAPL officials have refused to reveal how many were discovered during an internal examination.

Researchers at Alibaba (BABA) revealed, however, that several popular apps from reputable developers were among those that contained the malicious code, including Tencent Holdings’ (TCEHY) WeChat and the Cloud Music app from NetEase (NTES).

What is known, though, is the manner in which the App Store hack occurred: The malicious code was embedded into a counterfeit version of Xcode, the software used by developers to create apps for iOS. The existence of malware in the App Store is notable, and “prior to this attack, only five malicious apps had ever been found in the App Store.”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mapsense: Apple Maps STILL Playing Catch-Up to Google Maps

Apple Maps is too slow, too far behind to challenge Google Maps right now

On Wednesday, it was reported that Apple (AAPL) recently purchased San Francisco-based mapping data analytics and visualization company Mapsense. The purchase price was stated to be somewhere between $25 million and $30 million, but AAPL management (as usual) remained tight-lipped about the acquisition.

Comprised of only a dozen employees, Mapsense is “able to sort through massive geotagged datasets to create quick geographical visualizations of location-based data points that can be embedded into apps.”

Put more simply, Mapsense can collect and analyze location data from billions of devices and present that information in a simple, readable way.

The original intent behind Mapsense was to provide businesses with highly accurate location information to better plan and refine marketing strategies. And with Apple’s boilerplate response to questions about the acquisition — “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans” — plans for how AAPL will be using Mapsense’s technology and resources remain a mystery.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Google: Android Pay Rollout Could Give GOOGL Stock a Boost

Android Pay is a secure, contactless payment solution - for Android 4.4 and up

Last week, Google (GOOGL, GOOG) announced that Android Pay is finally being rolled out to users across the United States.

Only devices running Android 4.4 or above will receive the update, which will come in the form of an upgrade to the existing Google Wallet app, which was first launched in 2011.

Android Pay is Google’s response to Apple Pay, the iPhone mobile payment solution from Apple (AAPL) that skyrocketed to instant popularity when it was released in October 2014.

Google’s Android devices have long since had the ability to make payments via near field recognition, or NFC, using the Google Wallet app, but too few device owners were familiar with the process, and even fewer merchants possessed checkout register hardware capable of reading it.

GOOGL failed to sufficiently promote NFC payments and the full capabilities of Google Wallet.

However, AAPL put its own NFC solution front and center, creating tremendous buzz that stimulated the mobile payments arena and motivated competitors such as Google, PayPal (PYPL), and Samsung (SSNLF) to revisit the market.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

MSFT Stock: Adallom Buy Is Another Smart Play in Microsoft M&A

Microsoft showing a dogged commitment to future in cloud, mobile services

Over roughly the past four years, Microsoft (MSFT) has acquired more than 30 companies. While the purchase price of many of those companies isn’t disclosed on Microsoft’s website, those that are add up to a whopping $20 billion.

The question, then, is whether that has been money well spent or squandered.

Given that the past year has been a bit rough for Microsoft stock, with shares down more than 7% and quarterly revenue down more than 5% year over year, the company’s most recent acquisition of cloud security firm Adallom for $250 million has some MSFT investors questioning its necessity.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Does Early Success of Apple Music Spell Doom for Pandora Stock?

AAPL is repeating its pattern of entering new markets and rising to the top

Apple (AAPL) recently revealed some powerful statistics about the Apple Music service, which debuted at the end of June. After just two months, Apple Music boasts a user base of more than 11 million, and comScore ranked it as the 14th most popular smartphone app in July.

Considering the newness of Apple Music and the fact that there are already a number of other popular music apps for both Android and iOS, the meteoric rise of Apple Music is impressive — and also potentially threatening to the current king of the streaming music industry, Pandora (P).

Over the course of its four-year history, Pandora stock rose to an all-time high near $38, but has since experienced a steady decline. Pandora is down 30% for the past 52 weeks, and with Apple Music already making headlines, the future for P stock isn’t looking too healthy.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

GoPro Stock Slips on AMBA Guidance, But GPRO Should Be Fine

GoPro has opportunities beyond just wearable sports cameras

GoPro (GPRO) stock slid Wednesday after HD video chipmaker Ambarella (AMBA) revealed weak guidance during its 2016 fiscal second-quarter earnings report.

Ambarella had solid earnings that beat analyst expectations, reporting revenue of $84.2 million — a year-over-year increase of 79% — but also stated that revenue for the next quarter is expected to be lower due to decreased wearable camera sales.

This news sent shares of both Ambarella and GoPro stock tumbling more than 12% and 9%, respectively, by lunchtime on Wednesday.

Clearly, Wall Street is scared of the prospect of a weakening wearables market, and considering that a sizable portion of Ambarella’s revenue stems from GPRO camera sales, both stocks have been feeling the effects.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Twitter Photo Upgrade – Another Sign That TWTR Is Behind the 8-Ball

TWTR celebrates the addition of basic photo-editing tools while still facing CEO, user growth woes

Earlier this week, TechCrunch reported that Twitter (TWTR) is now beta testing some enhancements to its photo and video capabilities. While the exact scope of the upgrades hasn’t been revealed, judging from recent images posted by a few high-profile celebrities, it looks like TWTR’s enhancements will be a range of photo and video editing options such as digital stickers and GIF creation.

Currently, editing Twitter photos within the Twitter app is essentially useless, with only the most basic capabilities present.

If you’re looking to do more than just add a filter or crop a picture, TWTR has never been your friend.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Why GOOGL Scrapped a Google Maps Marketing Plan

Google Maps ads were eliminated before they even had a chance

Monday morning, Fortune reported that it had obtained a document describing a secret Google (GOOGL, GOOG) initiative that had originally been slated for release in early 2015, but was instead scrapped. That initiative was called Google Here, and according toFortune, “was potentially too invasive, and the company wasn’t sure if many retailers would want it.”

Google Here was designed to work within Google Maps, and the app would have served up various display ads and other marketing messages, including coupon offers and loyalty card access, all based on the smartphone’s location in reference to participating retailers.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Nvidia Stock Is a Solid Long-Term Buy (NVDA)

NVDA is poised to continue leading the GPU market

Over the past month, shares of Nvidia (NVDA) are up nearly 14%, primarily thanks to the company’s upbeat second-quarter fiscal 2016 earnings report on Aug. 6, which sent shares soaring nearly 10% in the days that followed.

Meanwhile, fellow chipmakers Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Intel (INTC) have been in a slump over the same period, with AMD down over 4% and INTC down nearly 13%.

However, Nvidia stock has slowly declined from that 52-week high of $23.95.

But, unlike Intel and AMD — whose performance has been plagued by the worldwide decrease in PC sales— Nvidia has increased its market share in the GPU market by more than 5%, and now has a 4-to-1 lead over AMD.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Adobe Stock Still Soaring Despite Monday’s Crash

ADBE investors have much to look forward to in the near future

On Monday, Adobe (ADBE) stock dropped like a rock, eventually closing the day down nearly 6%. Monday’s decline wasn’t limited to just ADBE, as all three major U.S. indices saw declines approaching 4%. However, for ADBE, Monday’s losses were a continuation of a bearish trend that has weighed heavily on Adobe stock for the past week.

Some analysts and investors have questioned the long-term viability of Adobe stock, noting that shares have been essentially flat over the past six months. Plus, from a technical standpoint, ADBE’s Relative Strength Index is below 30, which indicates that Adobe stock is oversold, and ADBE’s short interest is more than 4.3 million shares.

However, despite Monday’s market-wide panic-selling frenzy and last week’s roughly 3% decrease in Adobe stock, shares are up almost 5% over the past year, not to mention an impressive 170% over the past five years.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Is Uber Eats a Sign That UberX Is Failing?

UberX could eventually become nothing more than a courier service

Uber, the controversial and disruptive ride-sharing firm, could be preparing to go public. If it does, Uber’s initial public offering could be the hottest IPO of 2015. But despite the rumors, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick claims to have no plans to take Uber public.

That doesn’t seem to bother Howard Lindzon, co-founder and chairman of StockTwits (and also one of Uber’s early investors), who told Bloomberg Surveillance, “They’re going public. There’s no doubt that they’re going public.”

The New York Times has called Uber a unicorn, and “an illustration that Silicon Valley is in the middle of another bubble.”

Whether either of those claims are true is yet to be seen, but the fact still stands that Uber has expanded operations at an exponential rate and now offers services in more than 300 cities around the world.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

CurrentC Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against Apple Pay

Don't expect CurrentC to gain much currency with consumers

Apparently, the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX for short, is planning a test run of its own mobile wallet, CurrentC.

MCX is a consortium of more than 60 big-name retailers from across the country, including industry giants such as Walmart (WMT), Best Buy (BBY), CVS (CVS), and Target (TGT). The CEO of MCX, Brian Mooney, described his vision for the future of smartphone payments, and he believes CurrentC will rise to become “one of the great competitors” in the mobile wallet arena.

Through its agreement with participating businesses, MCX was able toforce some of the country’s largest and most popular retailers to stop accepting competing mobile wallets and smartphone payment systems such as Google (GOOGL, GOOG) Wallet and Apple Pay, Apple’s (AAPL) virtual payment system that took the country by storm when it was released late last year.

However, in a bold move last April, Best Buy announced that Apple Pay would be accepted in both the Best Buy smartphone app and the retailer’s physical stores.

Further, MCX’s mobile wallet exclusivity clause expires later this month, and without a fully functioning version of CurrentC available, many participating retailers have already announced intentions to begin accepting Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and other digital payment systems such as PayPal (PYPL).

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

GOOG: Alphabet Could Be the Berkshire of Tech

Alphabet gives Google's projects the room to roam that they need

Late Monday, Google (GOOGL, GOOG) CEO Larry Page released a blog post explaining that, effective immediately, he is abdicating his position to become CEO of a new company, Alphabet. Longtime friend and Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, will accompany Page as Alphabet’s president.

Google, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Alphabet, has been “slimmed down” to separate its “moneymaking businesses from the moonshot ones.”

For all intents and purposes, GOOG stock will remain unchanged: All outstanding shares of Google will immediately convert into Alphabet shares, but the new parent company will continue trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the existing GOOGL and GOOG tickers.

Sundar Pichai, whose meteoric rise from low-key manager to product chief put him in the co-pilot’s seat of the world’s most powerful technology company, has been promoted once again to the position of Google CEO.

Pichai will continue to develop and grow Google’s key products — Search, Maps, Android, YouTube and its advertising network — while “the companies that are pretty far afield of our main Internet products [will be] contained in Alphabet instead.”

Simply put, Google is still the same dominating Internet search behemoth, only now with more focus. Aspects of Google that aren’t directly related to advancing the company’s Internet presence and influence in the technology industry (such as the glucose-sensing contact lens from Life Sciences) can now continue R&D efforts without impacting the rest of the company.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Alibaba Partners With Suning in Effort to Dominate Retail Sales

For $4.63 billion, BABA gets a 20% stake and access to its logistics units

It was announced early Monday morning that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA) plans to invest as much as $4.63 billion into Suning Commerce Group, a brick-and-mortar consumer electronics retail sales chain.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the move is part of an ongoing push by China’s e-commerce companies to pull in smartphone users across the country.

The $4.63 billion investment will give Alibaba a 20% stake in Suning, and in exchange, Suning has agreed to invest $2.3 billion in BABA stock, which equates to a 1.1% stake.

Suning will begin selling Alibaba products in its brick-and-mortar shops and will open its first online store using the BABA Tmall platform. Additionally, Suning’s rather impressive distribution system will become part of Cainiao, Alibaba’s existing logistics network.

Soon, Suning’s system will participate in transport and delivery of Alibaba-based orders for products from multiple vendors and merchants. According to CNBC, Suning’s existing network covers more than 90% of the country, and with the inclusion of BABA’s logistics units, all 2,800 Chinese districts will be accounted for.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Apple Is Making a Mistake Passing up Wireless

An Apple MVNO could give Apple a stranglehold on the smartphone industry

Earlier this week, Business Insider reported that Apple (AAPL) was testing a mobile virtual network operator service, but the news apparently wasn’t exciting enough for Apple stock investors, as share prices dipped more than 2% that day.

The very next day, however, Reuters reported that BI’s claim was incorrect, and according to an Apple spokeswoman Apple isn’t planning a MVNO service.

It was a lose-lose situation for Apple: News that Apple was investigating becoming a MVNO may have elicited a mildly negative reaction from Wall Street, yet confirmation that AAPL was not considering the opportunity also had a negative impact, with shares closing down more than 3% following the Reuters story.

All told, between the (seemingly misinformed) Business Insider story and the (apparently confirmed) Reuters piece, AAPL stock dropped around 5%. Seems like Apple investors are divided on the issue.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Monetizing Facebook Messenger Could Supercharge FB Stock

Organic interaction with businesses gives Messenger a much more personal touch than competing chat apps

During last week’s quarterly-earnings conference call, Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out his plans for monetizing the company’s chat program, Facebook Messenger. The plan is to slowly integrate businesses into the platform mirroring the methodology FB used to launch Pages, providing businesses with a way to establish a social media presence.

Getting businesses to sign up for Facebook Messenger probably won’t be all that difficult, especially considering the enormous amount of companies already using Facebook and the success of FB’s ad campaigns.

The real challenge, however, will be convincing users to voluntarily allow businesses to proactively contact them with marketing content, as one of the fundamental truths in life is people are always receptive to the whims of salesmen. Hey, I said it would be a challenge.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Intel & Micron Make History With 3D Xpoint

Intel and Micron have once again made computer chip history

Earlier this week, technology giants Intel (INTC) and Micron (MU) unveiled a new class of computer memory chip, dubbed 3D Xpoint, that is apparently up to 1,000 times faster than current NAND chips. 3D Xpoint marks “the first new memory category since the introduction of NAND flash in 1989.”

This exciting news has the tech industry buzzing, as INTC and MU shares have jumped 2% and 10%, respectively, since Tuesday morning’s announcement.

3D Xpoint chips are the culmination of more than a decade of R&D, and utilize never-before-seen methodology and “unique material compounds” invented by both INTC and MU specifically for this project.

According to Intel, “If storage devices were sprinters, in the time it takes a hard drive to sprint the length of a basketball court, NAND could finish a marathon, and 3D Xpoint Technology could circle the globe!”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sony Drones Are Coming, But SNE Isn't Delivering Packages

SNE and ZMP are capturing the Internet of Things market with drones

Innovation in aerial robotics is fueling massive growth in the commercial drone industry, which is pegged to reach $1.27 billion by the year 2020— that’s growth of more than double every year.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the epicenter of the commercial drone market is in Silicon Valley, and is steered by “geeks working in garages,” rather than grizzled weapon manufacturers like Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC).

And like all high-growth industries dealing with revolutionary technological advancements, there’s likely a plethora of companies cropping up.

That insane growth is why Sony (SNE) announced its plans to co-venture a commercial drone company with Japanese startup ZMP, Inc, a Tokyo-based robotics company specializing in driverless-car technology.

Monday, July 27, 2015

SanDisk Stock Still Has a Long Path to Recovery

It will take more than a better memory chip to prevent SanDisk stock from slipping again.

In a markedly dramatic turn of events, shares of SanDisk (SNDK) jumped more than 13% during after-hours trading on Wednesday, with the rally continuing through Thursday. Prior to the announcement, SanDisk stock had been down nearly 45% year to date and 40% over the past year.

However, thanks to better-than-expected Q2 earnings and positive guidance for Q3 and FY2015, the Street seems to have taken a liking to SNDK again, at least for the time being.

Management reported EPS of 66 cents — doubling analyst estimates of 33 cents per share — and revenue of $1.24 billion, which was a decline of nearly 24% from the same quarter last year, but still ahead of estimates. Additionally, management announced a third-quarter dividend of 30 cents per share.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Adobe Flash Might Be Dying, But Adobe Stock Is Very Much Alive (ADBE)

Flash is dead. Long live Adobe anyways!

The witch hunt to kill off Flash — not the DC Comics superhero, but rather the antiquated browser plugin from Adobe (ADBE) — has grown beyond the realm of IT departments, to an angry mob of citizens wielding digital pitchforks.

In a plot twist eerily reminiscent of The Fifth Estate, a super-secret organization calling itself “Hacking Team” was itself the victim of a security breach last week leading to the leak of thousands of confidential documents.

Among them were detailed descriptions of Hacking Team’s successful efforts to exploit vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash, giving hackers free rein to “cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system.”

Monday, July 13, 2015

We’re Getting Closer to Legitimate Drone Stocks

The FAA has granted 700 approvals for commercial drone use

You’ve probably seen countless videos of outdoor concerts and breathtaking landscapes shot from cameras attached to quadcopters — remote controlled drones. The budding drone market is possibly the most interesting segment of the technology sector, and it’s projected to grow into a $91 billion market within the next 10 years.

This news is exciting for investors interested in drone stocks.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many publicly traded drone companies right now. A number of larger tech companies have experimented with drones, though, and dedicated impressive resources for R&D.

Here’s a look at how close we are to full-fledged drone stocks.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Standalone Facebook Messenger Won’t Make Money

Facebook Messenger may one day become the most popular chat app in the world, but Facebook won't profit from it

Last week, Facebook (FB) announced a policy change that, while seemingly counter-productive, could have far-reaching benefits for the social media giant.

Effective immediately, a Facebook account is no longer required to use the company’s Messenger app.

At the FB annual shareholder meeting, CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that the number of current Messenger users has topped 700 million and is still growing strong. Allowing use of Messenger by people who don’t already have a Facebook account might initially seem irrelevant, or even questionable. Isn’t the goal to get as many people as possible to create FB accounts and use the company’s services?

Indeed, more people using Facebook means more people to whom ads can be served. However, Zuckerberg has repeatedly demonstrated an uncanny intuition with regard to future tech developments, and an ability to recognize opportunities for expansion and advancement, and this is no exception.

MSFT and AOL to Take On GOOGL With New Microsoft Bing Deal

Microsoft is handing over ad sales responsibilities to AOL

On Monday, Microsoft (MSFT) announced in a blog post that, beginning in January 2016, it will transfer the majority of its ad sales business to AOL. Microsoft’s entire advertising division workforce — approximately 1,200 employees — will be offered positions at AOL. Additionally, AOL has agreed to replace Google with Microsoft Bing as its default search engine for the next 10 years.

The ramifications of the MSFT-AOL partnership will be far-reaching and impact both Microsoft and the current king of search, Google (GOOGL, GOOG). The question, though, is whether Microsoft’s partnership with AOL will help or hurt these companies.

Handing over the reigns to AOL will give MSFT some much-needed breathing space and allow management to focus on products and services that actually turn a profit.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Netflix Stock Will Continue to Soar (NFLX)

NFLX is the type of stock every tech investor dreams about

For the past few years, Netflix (NFLX), the undisputed king of streaming television, has been on an impressive tear. NFLX is up more than 90% year-to-date, and up almost 580% since the beginning of 2013. NFLX is the epitome of a tech investor’s perfect pick.

With nearly $3 billion in cash and investments, projected earnings growth of 23% per year, and shares trading just below their recent all-time high, Netflix continues to dominate the Internet TV arena, much to the dismay of traditional cable and satellite providers such as Comcast (CMCSA) and DirecTV (DTV).

At the company’s shareholder meeting on June 9, management received approval to increase the number of NFLX shares by way of a 7-for-1 stock split effective in July, which is intended to make Netflix stock more accessible to a wider range of investors.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Amazon Echo: One Step Closer to Friendly Home AI

Echo merges different AMZN services to make life at home even easier

Earlier this week, Amazon (AMZN) made the Echo — your personal digital assistant in cylinder form — available for public purchase. Prior to this week, only Amazon Prime members who had received special invitations were able to buy Echo. However, after seven months of tweaking and market testing, AMZN management has released Echo into the wild.

Simply put, Echo is Amazon’s version of Siri, Cortana, and Google Now — the only difference being that the Echo device isn’t designed to fit in your pocket. Echo can perform many of the same tasks as the premier smartphone digital assitants from Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Google (GOOGL, GOOG).

For example, a simple spoken request can get news and weather forecasts, remind you of upcoming appointments, play your favorite music from Pandora (P), or tell jokes that would make third-graders roll their eyes.

The Wall Street Journal said that Echo is “simultaneously a rival to a Sonos speaker and Apple’s Siri digital assistant.” One big difference between smartphone assistants and Echo is the link to Amazon’s shopping service. By telling Echo you need to buy common products, your purchase history is instantly examined for previous orders. If no orders are found, Echo will offer suggestions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Could Bing Search Ever Surpass Google?

Bing Search has made a wide array of improvements recently

Bing, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Internet search engine, is the second largest in the U.S., accounting for slightly more than 20% of all organic searches.

Bing Search surpassed the 20% mark in March, consistently inching up from 10.7% at the end of 2009, to 15% at the end of 2011, to 18.1% at the end of 2013.

Microsoft has struggled to capture market share from Google (GOOGL, GOOG), the undisputed king of search, for more than a decade.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oculus Rift Will Push Facebook Stock Higher

Oculus Rift is the clear front-runner in the VR race

Regardless of whether you like social media or not, there’s no denying that Facebook (FB) is a solid leader and a wise addition to any tech-centric portfolio.

As of the end of the first quarter this year, the number of monthly active users on Facebook had grown to more than 1.4 billion, with 936 million daily active users.

In the three years since its IPO, Facebook stock is up more than 110% — including 27% in the past year alone.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has grown the social media site into a $230 billion international conglomerate. FB has acquired some of the industry’s most popular communication and photo-sharing apps including Instagram and WhatsApp.

However, one of the most interesting acquisitions for the future of Facebook stock is virtual reality front-runner Oculus.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Micron (MU) Stock Is a Screaming Bargain

MU's 30% pounding year-to-date has created a great entry point for investors looking for a second-half rebound story

Micron Technology (MU) is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of DRAM and NAND memory technology … but Micron stock is also one of Wall Street’s biggest laggards in 2015.

Micron’s advanced semiconductor products compete with those from Samsung (SSNLF), Intel (INTC) and SanDisk (SNDK), among others. However, unlike its competitors, Micron’s exposure to the PC market is significantly higher at nearly 30% of sales.

And ongoing weakness in the PC market — along with an overstock of DRAM (an essential component to desktop and laptop PCs) — has been a drain on MU stock as investors remain concerned about the company’s future.

IDC predicts that worldwide PC shipments will decrease by 6.2% this year, marking the fourth consecutive year of declining volume. As more consumers shift to tablets and smartphones, desktop PC and laptop sales will remain depressed, which could lead to ongoing trouble for Micron.

Friday, June 12, 2015

How Long Will EBAY Stock Survive After PayPal Spinoff?

A lot of questions remain unanswered about a post-PayPal eBay

Sometime in the third quarter, eBay (EBAY) will spin off PayPal, returning its payment division to a standalone company.

Originally, eBay acquired PayPal in 2002 for $1.4 billion, and after 15 years together the auction giant has succumbed to pressure from activist investors claiming the two businesses will be more valuable as separate entities.

Last month, PayPal announced its intention to resume use of its original ticker symbol PYPL on the Nasdaq exchange.

Most analysts have high hopes for PayPal stock, but the consensus for EBAY stock has been mixed. Of the 44 analysts providing recommendations to, 16 declare eBay a “buy” and 22 call it a “hold.”

Friday, June 05, 2015

3 Stocks to Buy to Play the Internet of Things

These 3 stocks are perfectly positioned for massive IoT growth

Renowned research firm IDC released a report this week predicting that the Internet of Things market will reach $1.7 trillion by the year 2020, growing from $656 billion last year.

IoT endpoints — the various personal and household devices and hardware connected to the Internet — are expected to reach nearly 30 million in the next five years, up from 10 million in 2014.

With that kind of massive growth on the horizon, investors have been looking for the best ways to play the Internet of Things boom. There’s a plethora of stocks to buy that could produce good gains over the next several years, and many of the tech industry’s established leaders seem like obvious choices.

For example, last August, hardware and software giant Cisco (CSCO) announced it had created a division within the company called the Internet of Things Systems & Software group, whose focus would be on expanding machine-to-machine connectivity. Another similar example is Intel (INTC), which announced last December the creation of a proprietary new platform designed to streamline the process of connecting devices to the Internet and enhance the security of those connections.

However, with CSCO valued at $145 billion and INTC at $153, neither company is likely to see its stock soar on Internet of Things developments. Sure, they make safe plays for risk-adverse investors. These companies are gigantic, have multiple revenue streams, and aren’t likely to collapse if their IoT efforts don’t dominate the market. But they’re not the best ways to play the trend.

If you’ve got a longer time horizon and aren’t scared of a little volatility, read on to learn about three stocks to buy the play the Internet of Things.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Google Now on Tap Won’t Help GOOG Stock

Google Now on Tap could be helpful, but it's not necessary

In the seemingly never-ending battle for smartphone supremacy, tech giants such as Google (GOOGL, GOOG), Apple (AAPL), and Samsung (SSNLF) have been racing to develop an attractive, affordable device that can successfully handle every need and deliver on any request from the user.

For the most part, today’s smartphones are immensely powerful and comprehensive — you have more computing power in your hand right now than all of NASA combined when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.

All things considered, modern smartphones can perform an impressive array of tasks, and the demands for “better” devices are more related to convenience than functionality.

But convenience goes a long way with consumers in our instant-gratification society, and GOOG is looking to take the lead in the convenience department with the introduction of Google Now on Tap, an enhancement to the current voice-controlled native Android assistant.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Enhance Your Investing Reality With GoPro’s Virtual Reality

Catering to the thrill-seeking sports enthusiasts, the GoPro drone has unlimited potential

Undisputed king of the personal video camera market, GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO) CEO Nick Woodman announced at this week’s Code Conference that GPRO will be expanding with two exciting new projects: drone cameras and virtual reality.

Woodman remained tight-lipped about the GoPro drone specifics, except to say that the quadcopter is expected to be available in the first half of next year and is being designed for consumers, not businesses.

Additionally, GPRO is apparently working with existing quadcopter manufacturers to develop a type of universal rig that could accommodate existing GoPro cameras, which could then be mounted on any number of drones.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Office for Android Won’t Save MSFT

Office for Android won't convince users to pay for Office 365 subscriptions

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) was, at one time, the most dominant technology company on the planet. With the release of Windows 1.0 in 1985, which was the first time users were able to interact with their computers using a mouse and visual representations of files and folders, MSFT exploded as its new “Windows” operating system took the world by storm.

The rest is history. In just a few short years, the vast majority of the world’s desktop computers were running Windows, and competing operating systems were so far behind that they weren’t even visible on the radar.

The first version of Microsoft Office — namely Word, Excel and PowerPoint bundled together — debuted at the end of 1990, and it, too, quickly became the de facto standard.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Apple Watch Estimates Differ Wildly, But AAPL Doesn’t Care

The iPhone remains the dominant profit-maker for AAPL stock

On Wednesday, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) analyst Katy Huberty bumped up her estimates for Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) sales of the iPhone and Apple Watch. Huberty’s new estimate for iPhone sales is 50 million units in AAPL’s fiscal third quarter, up from 46 million; her estimate for Apple Watch sales is 36 million units for the year, up from 30 million.

Interestingly, Huberty described her increased estimates as conservative. She referenced data from Morgan Stanley’s smartphone tracker, which apparently indicates consumer demand for iPhones in excess of 53 million units.

Similarly, she referenced a series of Apple Watch surveys conducted in December, March and May, which seem to suggest demand for the Apple Watch is up more than 60%.

Huberty also explained that she believes her 36-million-unit Apple Watch estimate is less than consumer demand, which she pegs at 50 million units; supply and production limitations will be the only reason AAPL doesn’t hit the 50-million-unit mark.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BABA and WMT – A Perfect Marriage In the Making?

A partnership between BABA and WMT could change the world's retail landscape, both online and off

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) has struggled for traction on the New York Stock Exchange as BABA stock is down more than 5% since Alibaba’s historic initial public offering last September.

On opening day, BABA jumped 38% to close at $93.89 and continued rocketing upward for almost a full two months. BABA stock reached a high of almost $120 per share in November 2014 but has since plummeted more than 22% to about $88 per share.

On May 7, shortly after BABA stock dipped below $80 for the first time, management announced plans to replace Alibaba’s CEO, Jonathan Lu. Alibaba’s COO, Daniel Zhang, took the reigns on May 10, along with “a further management shuffle that brings in a wave of younger leaders.”

Zhang laid out his plans for the future of BABA, describing the need to globalize by investing in overseas operations and expanding Alibaba’s workforce to include talent from all over the world.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why Does Warren Buffett Like IBM So Much?

Warren Buffett is looking longer term than most investors

Late last week, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) — the infamous multinational holding company led by iconic CEO Warren Buffett — released the updated list of its equity holdings as reported on SEC form 13F, a quarterly filing requirement for institutional investment managers with more than $100 million in assets.

Considering Warren Buffett’s five-plus decades of successful investing and the fact that Berkshire Hathaway stock has grown to become the most expensive of any company traded on a U.S. exchange (shares of BRK.A currently trade above $219,000 apiece), it’s no surprise when Wall Street analysts pore over every minute detail of the report looking for an inkling of insight.

The news that’s had the Street buzzing was Warren Buffett’s increased positions in Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), which currently occupy the No. 1 and No. 3 most valuable spots in Berkshire Hathaway’s $100-plus billion portfolio (the second-place spot, held by The Cola-Cola Co (NYSE:KO), remained static).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

FB to Challenge EBAY With Auction Feature

A FB auction platform could destroy EBAY

Earlier this week, reports emerged about an apparent auction-style sales feature that’s slated to be added to the quiver of social networking tools for Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).

Details were limited, but according to NDTV Gadgets, worldwide rollout of integrated search capabilities for sale items should arrive within the next several weeks.

While Facebook’s “Sell Something” feature was implemented in December, users were only permitted to create sales-related posts within properly-designated groups, and only members of those groups could see the posts.

Further, only the limited number of groups that had received approval from FB would display the “Sell Something” option to members creating new posts.

Apparently, the feature was well-received by the FB community, enough that management chose to expand the capabilities and offer accessibility to everyone. There has been no official word from FB regarding the issue, but The Next Web claims that this feature is already being tested.