Thursday, December 08, 2016

Facebook Inc (FB), Alphabet Inc (GOOGL) Shouldn’t Fear European Ruling

The EU may consider legislation forcing tech giants like FB and GOOGL to respond quicker

The European Commission recently released a report revealing that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) have thus far failed to comply with the provisions set forth in last May’s voluntary acceptance of an online Code of Conduct agreement.

According to the Code of Conduct, these tech behemoths vowed to implement additional measures aimed at identifying and removing blatantly hateful content, with “the majority” of user reports of such content reviewed and addressed within 24 hours.

Further, each company agreed to implement comprehensive and ongoing training for staff members tasked with addressing these reports, with focus on “current soceital developments” as they may relate to potential surges in hate speech.

Training was supposed to include and encourage participation and involvement by various “civil society organizations” whose goals were to promote tolerance and education.

Apparently, that didn’t happen.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Can Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) Use Solar Roofs to Sell More Cars?

TSLA stock has a great opportunity to cross-promote with its solar roof

After the successful completion of the deal to acquire SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY), Elon Musk announced that Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is officially entering the home building arena. According to Bloomberg, TSLA stock will begin offering revolutionary new solar-powered residential roofs sometime in 2017.

In a video presentation on the Tesla website, Musk stated that his company’s new roofs are expected to cost less than traditional roofs, and that “electricity is just a bonus.”

Fortune reported that much of the projected cost savings for homeowners is tied to the expectation that a new Tesla solar roof will be “lighter and easier to ship, thus reducing costs on breakage and transportation.”

Bloomberg called the roofs “stunning” and described them as “a range of four solar roofing materials that look virtually indistinguishable from high-end terracotta, slate or slick modern asphalt shingles.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Reclaims Its Lead With Video Downloads

NFLX stock is now even more secure thanks to downloadable videos

This morning, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) announced a brand new feature: subscribers can now download movies and television shows for offline playback. There’s no extra cost for this added functionality, and it’s “included in all plans and available for phones and tablets on Android and iOS.” The Netflix download option isn’t currently available via desktop computer, though. The question is: Will this have a significant effect on Netflix stock?

According to the official announcement, NFLX implemented this change in response to user feedback. Apparently, the demand for downloadable movies and TV shows is quite significant.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Nvidia Corporation (NVDA) Stock Will Get a Boost From IBM

IBM and NVDA can revolutionize deep learning and artificial intelligence

Earlier this week, news surfaced that a new high performance computing system is now available, and it is the culmination of a partnership between two tech industry powerhouses: International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) and Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA).

According to Venture Beat, “A new software toolkit available today called IBM PowerAI is designed to run on the recently announced IBM server built for artificial intelligence that features Nvidia NVLink technology optimized for IBM’s Power Architecture.”

This is potentially a very significant step forward for both IBM and Nvidia stock, as the deep learning arena is still relatively small, yet will certainly be a major factor in the future.

For the uninitiated, non-geek consumer, HPC and deep learning are, in layman’s terms, the use of multiple pieces of high-powered computer hardware components together with software designed to analyze huge amounts of data.

Initially, software teaches the machine — referred to as “machine learning” — how to analyze and interpret the data so, later, it will be able to act independently (e.g., recognizing and understanding spoken words or identifying specific characteristics of an image) without the need for additional instructions.

One of the ultimate goals of die-hard deep learning enthusiasts is to further the development of a true artificial intelligence system.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL) Stock’s New Backbone: Artificial Intelligence

As the AI space evolves, GOOGL is determined to remain on top

Last week, Martin Abadi, a computer scientist and member of the Google Brain Team at Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL), along with David Andersen, an associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, published a research paper that describes how artificial intelligence entities “can learn how to perform forms of encryption and decryption, and also how to apply these operations selectively in order to meet confidentiality goals.”

In simpler terms, GOOGL created three separate AI entities and instructed two of them to pass secret messages back and forth while the third attempted to intercept and decode them.

When the encryption was broken, subsequent messages were secured with even more advanced methods.

The truly amazing part of the experiment was that “the networks were not taught anything about encryption before the game began, meaning that the strategies they came up with were entirely original.” That also means Alphabet researchers may never know exactly what kind of encryption methods were being used, and they probably won’t be able to crack it, either.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL) Alliances Won’t Help Android Pay Take Down PayPal (PYPL)

Android Pay teamed up with Visa and Mastercard, as the service lags competitors in the digital payments realm

Earlier this week, Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG) announced an agreement with Visa Inc (NYSE:V) and Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) to provide Android Pay users with much more flexibility and convenience in online purchasing, as well as at countless retail locations around the country.

The benefits of this agreement are expected to come to fruition early next year and will allow Android Pay users to more conveniently shop using smartphones and tablets on hundreds of thousands of new sites.

According to Google’s global head of payment products, a strategic partnership has been created allowing users to link their Masterpass and Visa Checkout accounts with the Android Pay app. 

According to Google:
“Visa Checkout and Masterpass users who link their accounts with Android Pay can look forward to easy and secure payments in stores and online with a simple tap.”
Some investors have wondered, though, whether Google’s new relationship with Visa and Mastercard will be received well enough to generate meaningful revenue gains, or if Google is just following suit to remain relevant.

Thursday, October 27, 2016, Inc. (CRM) Would Love to Buy Tableau … But Can It Afford to?

CRM would need to finance an acquisition of DATA

Wall Street is abuzz this week after it was discovered that, Inc. (NYSE:CRM) was never actually considering acquiring Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR). According to a confidential presentation discovered buried within thousands of other email messages that were part of a hack carried out by DCleaks, CRM was evaluating more than a dozen publicly traded companies as possible takeover targets, but the micro-blogging site TWTR wasn’t among them.

What was on the list, however, was Tableau Software Inc (NYSE:DATA). Of all the companies CRM management has been considering as potential acquisitions, DATA seems to make the most sense.

Acquiring Tableau would do two things for Salesforce: incorporate DATA’s current technology and SaaS products and services to leverage the best components of each, while also eliminating a top competitor from the cloud computing arena.

The question, however, is less about why Salesforce would want to acquire Tableau or what synergies may exist, and more about whether current CRM and DATA shareholders would approve a merger.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL) Google TV Could Threaten the Entire Cable Industry

Google TV should only exacerbate the culture of cord-cutting

According to Reuters, earlier this week an agreement was reached between Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG) and CBS Corporation (NYSE:CBS). Apparently, Google will be carrying CBS television content on its yet-to-be-released streaming service.

If the few details revealed by Reuters are indeed accurate, Google will almost instantly become a dominant force in the streaming television space, and could eventually threaten the entire cable industry.

Google’s TV service is expected to launch at some point early next year. YouTube is the undisputed king of online video sharing, and Google has taken steps over the past few years to improve its subscription platform (e.g., YouTube Red) and live streaming capabilities.

The presence of a bundle containing traditional television stations and content wouldn’t be much of a stretch for consumers to digest, and in fact could be extremely well-received.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Seagate Technology PLC (STX) Stock Is NOT a Contrarian Buy

Seagate stock has been on a tear recently, but the rally is out of juice

Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ:STX) is expected to announce the results for the first quarter of its fiscal 2017 today. Ahead of that quarterly report, Wall Street has been buzzing with news that several analyst firms have increased target prices for STX stock, and some have raised ratings as well.

The concern, however, is that Seagate stock will not benefit investors in the long run. Management has reported margins and revenues that are above earlier expectations, and claimed increased demand for computer hard drives.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fitbit Inc (FIT) Charge 2 Demand Is Below Expectations

It's probably too early to tell how good the Charge 2 actually is...

Shares of Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) have been floundering this week, down over 11%. Management had been hoping for a continuation of the surge that’s been pushing Fitbit stock higher over the past three months. Expectations were that the official release of the Charge 2 tracking band would aid the rally.

Unfortunately for Fitbit stock, the release of the Charge 2 did not cause massive stampedes at local electronics retailers, nor generate anything worth reporting on the nightly news.

Instead, since Thursday’s opening bell, shares of FIT have given back a rather sizable portion of the 37% gains that Fitbit stock has earned over the past three months. Some investors are concerned that shares will continue to decline if the Charge 2 doesn’t start selling.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Facebook Inc: Facebook at Work Is Great for FB, Bad for Work

Social media already costs employers billions in lost productivity

According to TechCrunch, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is planning to reveal a modified collaborative network called Facebook at Work, aimed at enhancing communication between employees with a suite of messaging options and real-time video calling. When it debuts, the enterprise platform should add yet another layer to Facebook stock, which is up 23% year-to-date.

The Facebook at Work concept isn’t a new one, as rumors of such a product’s development have been tossed around for years.

However, apparently “a source close to Facebook” has just confirmed that the social media giant’s enterprise platform is finally ready and will be revealed within the next few weeks.

On the surface, using FB for effective communication and collaboration in a work setting may sound like the perfect idea. People are already familiar with the FB interface, so transitioning into the Work Feed shouldn’t be all that difficult.

But, it’s not the functionality I’m worried about, nor the ability of employees to learn to use Facebook features.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Oracle Corporation (ORCL) Co-Founder Bashes Amazon Web Services

AWS is so far ahead, it would take a miracle for ORCL to beat AMZN

Larry Ellison founded Oracle Corporation (NYSE:ORCL) in 1977 and served as the company’s CEO until September 2014. He’s currently ORCL’s chief technology officer, and ranks as the seventh wealthiest billionaire in the world, according to Forbes. Clearly, Ellison has immeasurable experience in the IT field, not to mention a boatload of respect and influence. Simply put, when he speaks people listen.

Ellison isn’t shy about touting his company’s advantages, nor does he shy away from competition. Earlier this week, he took to the stage for a second keynote address at this year’s Oracle OpenWorld event and “spent an hour trashing Amazon’s $10 billion cloud.”

For the past decade,, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has grown Amazon Web Services into its most profitable division. This past June, AWS CEO Andy Jassy described what’s been drawing customers away from longtime tech big dogs such as Oracle and Cisco Systems, Inc.(NASDAQ:CSCO). According to Business Insider, those three factors are: customer focus, innovation and long-term perspectives.

However, Ellison stood fast and defended ORCL, citing a number of benchmarks and other instances that apparently demonstrate Oracle’s cloud computing superiority over AWS.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Facebook Inc Messenger Rooms Will Be the Next Big Thing (FB)

Facebook Rooms could mark the return of the chat room

Earlier today, TechCrunch reported that a developer discovered a hidden feature buried in the source code of Facebook Inc’s (NASDAQ:FB) Messenger program. Apparently, the code for Facebook Messenger describes “rooms” that will be used for “public conversations about topics and interests.” FB management, unsurprisingly, declined to comment on the discovery.

Facebook Messenger has received some serious upgrades over the last few years, including the ability to serve as a money transferring service and put you in touch with virtual robots that can make dinner suggestions based on what’s in your pantry.

That being said, the notion of Facebook Rooms — which appear to be nothing more than a modernized version of those old AOL chat rooms we pretend we never used — is surprisingly intriguing.

All things considered, I think the idea has some solid potential. The prevalence of chat rooms has all but disappeared and given way to the forum platform. But, the ability to have a conversation in real-time with a perfect stranger who shares a common interest is definitely something that plenty of Facebook’s user base will surely find attractive.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Pandora Media Inc (P) Is Rockin’, But Don’t Come A-Knockin’!

Pandora stock is up on more optimism concerning a premium plan, but the proof will be in the pudding

For more than a month now, rumors of a $5 per month premium music service from Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P) have been circulating, ever since The Wall Street Journal first broke the news last month. Yesterday, the New York Times speculated that Pandora might unveil this new pricing structure as early as this week.

And today, Pandora stock is up a few percent on news that the streaming music company has signed several licensing agreements with major labels and big-name independents, including Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE).

Pandora has some things going for it. For instance, P pulled in more than $343 million in revenue last quarter — a 20% increase year-over-year.

Interestingly, more than $265 million came from ads served up to Pandora’s 76 million free listeners — a 15% year-over-year increase — and only $55 million was generated from paid subscribers — a 1% year-over-year increase.

That’s why Pandora is gunning after a paid plan. But …

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sony Corp (ADR): Why PS4 Pro Gives SNE Stock a HUGE Advantage

The PS4 Pro will hit shelves a full year earlier than Scorpio

Last week, Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) held its PlayStation Meeting and announced that its updated PlayStation 4 gaming console will be officially dubbed the PS4 Pro. Since the console was first reported early this year, gamers and tech enthusiasts alike have referred to it by Sony’s internal codename, Neo.

It has been roughly three years since PlayStation 4 hit the market, and during that time it has gained significant ground over its fiercest rival, Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One. The PS4 Pro isn’t intended to replace the base model PlayStation 4, but rather, it will be presented as an optional, enhanced version for hardcore gamers.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL): Why Does the World Hate Google?

Believe it or not, Google is NOT the next Big Brother

Since before its existence as a publicly traded company, Alphabet Inc (GOOGL, GOOG) has had to fend off waves of antitrust accusations and charges of intellectual property violations, invasion of privacy and a myriad of other issues. GOOGL’s legal department expanded to nearly 100 lawyers in its first five years, and by 2014 had around 400 lawyers.

The question, though, is why does the world seem to hunt Google?

Obviously, a company as large as Google, which has a hand in countless aspects of the technology arena across the globe, is more likely to be the target of lawsuits simply because of its involvement there. That’s the easy explanation, but is there something more?

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

GoPro Inc: GPS News Is Helping Investors Find GPRO Stock

Sports enthusiasts are excited about the possibility of GPS in the Hero5

In case you haven’t noticed, GoPro Inc (GPRO) is on a tear. The undisputed leader in the action sports camera arena was up more than 7% by lunchtime Monday, as GPRO stock reached heights not seen since January. It’s up 2% so far today.

That is the second trading day in the past two weeks that’s sent GoPro through the proverbial roof, the other being July 28, with GPRO stock finishing that day up more than 12.5%. The difference, however, is that the latter was the result of a better-than-expected Q2 earnings report.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

AMZN Stock: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) Isn’t Even on, Inc.’s Radar

Walmart can't compete with Amazon in the e-commerce arena

By now you’ve surely heard about Prime Day, which is, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) one-day annual worldwide summer sales event. If you don’t know what it is, I’d bet that’s because you’re not an Amazon Prime member (the deals are exclusively for Prime members).

Simply put, Prime Day — which is today, by the way — is little more than an excuse for AMZN to offer great deals on thousands of products.

And since those deals are only available to members, the benefits for Amazon stock are two-fold: outrageously impressive sales revenue and a sizable bump in new Prime signups.

Traditional retailers, most notably Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), have been struggling to compete with Amazon’s ever-growing e-commerce dominance, but none can even come close to AMZN’s market share. According to, at the end of 2015, Amazon’s e-commerce market share was greater than 68.4%. Walmart held the No. 2 spot with 10.1%.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY): No, Seriously. Get Out of Phones NOW!

The announcement is expected to come by September

Last week, BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) released earnings results for its first quarter of fiscal year 2017, and while the figures were essentially flat they were still better than analyst expectations.

Since January, BlackBerry stock is down more than 30%, and revenue during the first quarter of fiscal year 2017 fell 39% to $400 million primarily due to plunging handset sales.

Total handset sales for BBRY’s first fiscal quarter barely reached 500,000, down 16.7% from Q4 2016’s total of 600,000 which itself was down 14.3% from Q3 2016’s total of 700,000.

To put it another way, BlackBerry’s phone sales have tanked 28.6% over the past three quarters. Even the company’s most recent device, the Priv — which has been called “the best BlackBerry in a decade” and sports Android and a touchscreen that slides up to reveal the iconic BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard — couldn’t boost sales figures.

CEO John Chen has apparently indicated that the final decision regarding BlackBerry’s possible exit from the hardware arena will be made later this year. At the company’s annual shareholder meeting, Chen stated, “The device business must be profitable, because we don’t want to run a business that drags onto the bottom line.”

This statement mirrors his comment to Reuters two years ago when he said, “If I cannot make money on handsets, I will not be in the handset business.”

Monday, June 13, 2016

Alphabet Inc’s Google Play vs. Apple Inc.’s App Store: The Battle Heats Up

Subscriptions are apparently the main focus now

Next week is Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference, and it’s being reported that AAPL plans to implement some major changes to both the platform itself and arrangements with developers. Tech geeks, app developers and investors alike are bursting with anticipation, especially considering it has been years since the last notable update to the App Store.

Of course, not to be outdone by AAPL, it’s no surprise that Alphabet Inc (GOOGL, GOOG) is also coming out with a fresh update to its Google Play Store developers arrangement.

Clearly, AAPL and GOOG are vying for the attention of app developers, both hoping to attract and retain top creators with revised arrangements that ultimately lead to more money for everybody involved. The problem, so eloquently stated by DZone, is that “arguing which mobile platform is the most popular among developers can be like debating religion — much heat, little light, and even less information.”

A few things are certain, though: more developers create apps for Android devices than for iOS. According to a Forrester survey last November, 70% of app developers create for Android, compared to only 51% for iOS. Throughout the world, Android remained the most-supported platform, until last year when survey responses indicated a slight shift in the U.S. in favor of iOS.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL): Allo Chat Privacy Concerns Are Way Overblown

Allo has top-notch encryption features, but they're turned off by default

After last week’s Google I/O event, Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL, GOOG) annual tech-centric State of the Union conference, there has been an increasing buzz surrounding one of the company’s latest reveals, the Allo chat app.

The buzz hasn’t been focused on Google’s seemingly backward efforts to decompile its flagship Hangouts chat app, and replace it with multiple standalone apps. Instead, the focus has been on the company’s decision to make end-to-end encryption an optional feature that users must manually enable.

And of course, why wouldn’t privacy and encryption be the focus in today’s post-Snowden era?

Since Edward Snowden’s infamous whistleblowing, the entire nation has been overwhelmed and inundated with a constant, exasperated and sometimes hysterical barrage of news articles, blog posts and videos identifying and criticizing every potential risk — regardless of how minuscule — to our individual privacy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The 7 Coolest Things, Inc. (AMZN) Does

There are a number of lesser-known, but undeniably cool perks to using Amazon services, Inc. (AMZN) has evolved in the past two decades from a simple online bookstore to the undisputed king of e-commerce, serving as the go-to platform for all things retail. Now a worldwide household name, AMZN connects millions of shoppers with retailers, effectively cutting out most of the other middlemen to provide lower prices.

But while most people are familiar with Amazon’s position and features for online shoppers, not everybody is aware of some of the company’s other offerings and capabilities.

Here’s a look at some of the coolest things that AMZN does.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

5 Baffling Reasons Why Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Is Dying

A long line of bad decisions and unstable management has killed Yahoo

By today’s tech standards, Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) is a dinosaur. Founded in 1994, Yahoo was a dominant force that shaped the early stages of the evolution of the internet.

Over the course of its 21 years, Yahoo has built a massive online ad business, as well as a search engine and suite of successful website properties that currently rank as the third most-visited on the internet.

With a billion-or-so monthly visitors and properties such as Tumblr, Flickr and Yahoo Finance, why isn’t Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer generating enough revenue to pay the bills?

Friday, May 06, 2016

Move Over Siri — Viv Labs AI Assistant Is Finally Ready

Viv Labs is preparing to reveal a revolutionary AI assistant

The team responsible for creating the iconic Siri assistant, which was scooped up by Apple Inc. (AAPL) in 2010 for a whopping $200 million, has been quietly working on another artificial intelligence assistant, code named Viv, for the past few years. According to sources such as The Washington Post and The Next Web, Viv Labs is finally ready to reveal its creation to the world, with a public demonstration scheduled for Monday, May 9th.

Geeks far and wide are giddy with anticipation, as the features and capabilities described by Viv’s creators will be a significant leap forward for artificial intelligence. Nearly two years ago, I introduced Viv Labs and shared my personal excitement about this project in another Twisted Nonsense Exclusive article, “Viv Labs: The Little Tech Company That Could Change the World.”

To put it simply, Viv Labs wants to create an independent, universal assistant that can handle almost any spoken request. According to the company’s website, “Viv is taught by the world, knows more than it is taught, and learns every day.” Also, “Viv radically simplifies the world by providing an intelligent interface to everything.”

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Intel Corporation: With Withdrawal From Mobile, Is INTC In Trouble?

Focusing on profitable areas makes sense, but might not be enough for INTC

The road to the mobile processor arena has been a constant uphill battle for Intel Corporation (INTC) since the company began that journey eight years ago with the introduction of its Atom architecture in 2008. That was two years after management “famously dismissed the opportunity to develop a processor for the iPhone, citing the low profit per handset and development costs.”

Unfortunately for INTC, by the time management made the decision to enter the smartphone processor market, it was too late.

In the years since, Intel has dumped billions of dollars into development, and while its silicon has indeed come a long way, the chips have failed to capture a significant portion of the mobile electronics market.

On the heels of mixed quarterly results last month, management announced a major restructuring plan that includes eliminating 11% of the company’s workforce — 12,000 employees worldwide by mid-2017 — and focusing the majority of efforts on its data center and Internet of Things businesses.

Last week, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich further clarified the changes that will take place and reiterated the company’s strategy for the future, which boils down to focusing on INTC’s most profitable segments and axing those that are not (namely, the SoFIA and Broxton products).

The obvious question, then, is what can INTC stock investors expect in the coming years now that Intel has exited the fastest-growing segment of the technology industry?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Apple Inc.: Is China About to Weigh on AAPL?

With iPhone sales slowing, AAPL needs its ecosystem now more than ever

It’s no secret that the Chinese consumer market is one of the largest untapped potential revenue streams in the world, and countless U.S. companies have strived to gain entry.

Apple Inc. (AAPL) hasn’t been a complete exception, although the tech behemoth has had far fewer problems than other American corporations. That was, anyway, until earlier this month when Chinese regulators forced the shutdown of Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies services.

For Apple, China is its second-largest market behind the U.S. With iPhone sales in the country beginning to slow, revenue from the region will become even more dependent on the iOS App Store. The future appeared bright, considering that “In the March quarter, revenues from the Chinese iOS App Store surpassed Japan for the first time — showing them on a course to eventually top the U.S.”

However, with this month’s moratorium on Apple’s sale of digital books and movies, some investors are concerned about not only the current quarter’s overall revenue expectations, but the stability of AAPL’s historically secure operations in China.

The question, then, is if the ban isn’t lifted any time soon, how much of a negative impact will that have on both revenue and the price of Apple stock?

Western Digital Corp (WDC) Stock Is a Solid Long-Term Value Play

WDC, SNDK have synergies that will benefit both in the long-term

Western Digital Corp (WDC) has been on the slide for about a month now, not long after it got the green light for its planned acquisition of SanDisk Corporation (SNDK), which had been in the works since October of last year.

Originally, the deal was expected to cost WDC an estimated $19 billion, but that figure was reduced to $17 billion after the withdrawal of Unisplendour, a Chinese electronics manufacturer, which had previously agreed to acquire a 15% stake in WDC valued at nearly $4 billion.

Still, both Western Digital and SanDisk, as well as WDC and SNDK shareholders, stand to benefit immensely in the long run.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Facebook Inc (FB): Ticketmaster Deal Sounds Neat, But …

This is a boon for Ticketmaster, but not so much for FB shares

Facebook Inc (FB) earlier this week announced a partnership withTicketmaster Entertainment, Inc., the event ticket sales and distribution company owned by event promoter Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. (LYV). By the end of April, FB users will be able to purchase tickets to a small number of live events, without the need to leave the Facebook platform to complete the transaction.

According to BuzzFeed, “To start, the buy-on-Facebook option will be limited to a select group of general admission events,” but that’s expected to grow to a larger number of events and venues in the future.

How far into the future, though, remains to be seen.

The partnership between Facebook and Ticketmaster should benefit both companies … but certainly not evenly.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

HP Inc (HPQ): Should Apple Fear the Super-Thin Spectre?

HP has built the world's thinnest laptop. Was that a wise idea?

Let’s be honest: HP Inc (HPQ) isn’t a company that comes to mind when you hear the word “innovation.”

Indeed, HP has survived for decades and grown into a $20 billion international technology powerhouse. But, HPQ isn’t on the cutting edge — or, at least not as close to it as competing tech Goliaths such as Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Alphabet Inc (GOOG, GOOGL).

Management hopes — or rather, expects — to change all that, though, with today’s unveiling of a brand new HP laptop, the Spectre. The company is betting big on today’s reveal and has set its sights on the top rung of the consumer technology ladder, taking aim at the undisputed innovation king of the 21st century, Apple.

HP’s own Ron Coughlin, head of the company’s PC division, conceded that “For years, Apple has been seen as the innovator and the driver of innovation.”

But “HP is really taking over that mantle.”

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Microsoft Corporation: MSFT Doubles Down on Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft will position Cortana as the future of human-to-machine interaction

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) has strived to be a leader in the artificial intelligence arena, developing advanced AI theories and applications that permit machines to learn, evolve and make independent decisions.

Microsoft’s AI research team is building software that automatically learns from data, becoming more intelligent over time. For Microsoft stock, shifting focus to artificial intelligence could create a solid foundation for future stability and growth.

The company’s most well-known AI project is Cortana, an integrated smartphone assistant that first appeared on Windows Mobile devices back in 2013.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Target Corporation: Will the Internet Power TGT Even Higher?

Target stock needs its e-commerce side to keep growing like a weed

Target Corporation (TGT) CEO Brian Cornell recently revealed some details about his plans to beef up the company’s online presence and spur increased e-commerce revenue.

And in the long run, this could help paint a more bullish picture for Target stock.

Last month, TGT reported fourth-quarter earnings, revealing 34% growth in e-commerce sales during the holiday shopping season. Investors were pleased with the results as a whole, sending Target stock more than 10% higher ever since.

Cornell’s decision to spend upward of $1.4 billion on improving the TGT website and mobile shopping experience clearly paid off, with full-year e-commerce revenue growing 31% over 2014. Sure, that’s not quite as well as he’d originally hoped, predicting 40% improvement. But Target’s 34% e-commerce growth in Q4 was more than quadruple the 8% increase reported by key retail rival Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) and also ahead of the 26% increase reported by e-commerce big dog, Inc. (AMZN).

Cornell has said that TGT will spend approximately $2 billion in 2016 to further improve the company’s digital capabilities and make shopping online an easier, more pleasant experience for consumers.

Continued spending in this area could help TGT maintain steady e-commerce growth … but that doesn’t necessarily mean Target stock will benefit.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Alphabet Inc: Google’s Project Fi Is Loose, Watch Out! (GOOGL, GOOG)

Google's wireless service boasts competition-killing features and rates

Alphabet Inc (GOOGL, GOOG) announced in an official blog post Monday that its Project Fi wireless service has exited the invitation-only beta period and the service is now open to everyone in the U.S.

Last May, after several years of rumors, speculation and debate, Google finalized arrangements to set itself up as a mobile virtual network operator.

Simply put, an MVNO is a reseller of cellular phone services, and in the case of Project Fi, customers will utilize a combination of network and data services from both T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S).

In this regard, Project Fi is the first MVNO to offer customers the benefit of simultaneous cell service from two of the nation’s top four carriers. Even better, the price for Project Fi is surprisingly low, and in most cases significantly less than comparable voice and data plans from other carriers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Apple Inc.: AAPL Tests Virtual Reality Waters With View-Master

It's late to the game, but can AAPL repeat history in the virtual reality market?

Earlier this month, it was reported that Apple Inc. (AAPL) is now selling the View-Master virtual reality headset, a modern-day iteration of the clunky reddish-orange goggles that amazed us as kids. The difference, though, is that instead of sticking a cardboard circle into the front, you’d stick in your iPhone.

The View-Master is the Apple store’s first retail virtual reality offering. However, the View-Master has been available as a sturdy upgrade to Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL, GOOG) Google Cardboard virtual reality headset since February of last year when it was revived through a partnership with Mattel, Inc. (MAT) — the company responsible for developing the original View-Master in 1939.

Some investors have been wondering, though, if AAPL has what it takes to dominate the virtual reality marketplace against competitors such as Facebook Inc (FB), Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) and Samsung (SSNLF), which are well ahead of Apple in the race to the top of the VR mountain.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Yelp Inc (YELP) Stock’s Only Value: Takeover Target

YELP shares only seem to rise when takeover rumors surface

Yelp Inc (YELP) stock has dropped more than 60% over the past year, which includes a 30%-plus hammering so far in this young 2016. Opinions on Wall Street about Yelp stock run the gamut from conservative to downright ridiculous, and a number of analysts have revised or reaffirmed their ratings and price targets in the wake of this year’s selloff.

Considering the abysmal performance history of Yelp stock alongside a number of other challenges — which include excessive complaints regarding unfair and inaccurate business ratings, and steep competition from tech behemoths such as Facebook Inc (FB) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL, GOOG) Google Maps — the Yelp stock landslide isn’t likely to end anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Apple Car Development Hits Speed Bumps (AAPL)

Zadesky's resignation isn't the only challenge facing the Apple Car

After the close of the markets last Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that 16-year Apple Inc. (AAPL) veteran Steve Zadesky had announced his intention to leave the company in the very near future, although a specific date for his departure was not revealed. Zadesky, who has been the head of the Apple Car project for more than two years, is apparently resigning for purely personal reasons.

While AAPL still has not formally confirmed the existence of its electric vehicle efforts, Project Titan has apparently been expanding at a rapid rate, with management approving an increase in the size of the project team to roughly 1,800 people. The current goal of Project Titan is to have a finished version of the all-electric Apple Car ready for consumers by the year 2019.

With Zadesky’s resignation looming, some have begun to question the viability of a complete Apple Car within the next few years. These concerns aren’t entirely based on the coming lack of Zadesky’s input, but also on the mounting reports about current status and conditions within Project Titan.

According to Stuff:
“Sources say that employees are struggling without ‘clear goals for the project,’ and that some of management’s deadlines are too ambitious to hit in the expected timeframes.”
However, those concerns are not shared by Dieter Zetsche, the Chief Executive of Daimler AG (DDAIF) and head of Mercedes-Benz. In a visit to Silicon Valley earlier this month, Zetsche stated that progress on the Apple Car has advanced further than he had originally anticipated.

This is in stark contrast to his comments last February, when he likened the notion of AAPL building an electric vehicle to Mercedes-Benz building a smartphone:
“If there were a rumour that Mercedes or Daimler planned to start building smartphones then they (Apple) would not be sleepless at night. And the same applies to me.”

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Amazon Stock’s Next Big Catalyst — Ocean Shipping?

AMZN's new delivery method will disrupt more than just BABA

Last week, it was reported that international e-commerce giant, Inc. (AMZN) had successfully registered as an ocean freight forwarder in the U.S.

Officially, it’s Amazon China that is listed as a licensed freight forwarding service provider by the Federal Maritime Commission, which will open the door to countless suppliers and vendors across Asia to begin shipping their wares via Amazon’s logistics network.

This move is another step forward for AMZN in its goal to control every step of the delivery process.

The notion of shipping via ocean freighters won’t be attractive for domestic retailers, but Amazon stock owners should be giddy about the prospects it represents.

There are hoards of Chinese retailers who will jump at the chance to ship their goods directly with Amazon and get them into its fulfillment centers. As David Morris of Fortune explained:
“As a freight forwarder, Amazon wouldn’t be putting its own ships in the water. Instead, it would be selling existing capacity, and managing the shipping process. An international Amazon freight service could oversee a products’ (sic) journey from ramp the (sic) at a Chinese factory all the way to an American warehouse.”
Amazon’s efforts to create its own delivery and distribution network will eventually pay off, and a worldwide logistics infrastructure will mean never again having to rely on a third-party to fulfill orders.

Further, such expanded capabilities will strengthen Amazon’s ability to compete with Chinese-based e-commerce retailer Alibaba (BABA), which has been taking steps to expand operations in the U.S.