Saturday, June 17, 2017, Inc. (AMZN) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT) Will Shred Costco

Costco now fights a war on two fronts - against old foes Walmart and Sam's Club, but also against Amazon, now armed with Whole Foods

Source: Atomic Taco via Flickr
Early Friday morning, e-commerce juggernaut, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced plans to purchase Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM) in an all-cash deal worth $13.7 billion that will also see Amazon absorb Whole Foods’ debt. And while the deal sent a number of food-related retailers lower, I see Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) as the biggest potential victim.

At least for the time being, Whole Foods’ retail stores will continue to operate under the same brand name, there won’t be any immediately noticeable differences for shoppers, and there are no plans to lay off Whole Foods workers, either.

But once the deal is complete and WFM is wholly in the Amazon fold, quite a bit is expected to change — and not just on the grocery front.

Whole Foods has struggled for quite some time with increasing same-store sales and boosting short-term profits. With Amazon’s plethora of resources behind it, WFM management should be able to more effectively work toward lifting sales figures. Additionally, AMZN is in the perfect position to use its influence and global logistics network to reduce in-store costs for consumers.

There’s a reason grocers hit the floor on Friday.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Facebook Inc (FB) to Pull WhatsApp Off IBM Cloud Servers

Neither FB stock nor IBM stock will be affected by the transfer of WhatsApp

According to a CNBC article this afternoon, social media juggernaut Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is making arrangements to move the WhatsApp messaging service off of cloud servers hosted by International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) and onto its own bank of data centers instead.

However, the effects of this decision will likely be minimal for both companies, and negligible for FB stock and IBM stock as well, even though those effects will be in direct opposition to one another.

Earlier today, some other news outlets reported that WhatsApp is one of IBM’s five largest cloud service customers and described the messaging service as the “poster child” for the IBM cloud.

However, an IBM representative told me this afternoon that WhatsApp is not actually one of the company’s top five clients. She said:
Contrary to what some of the stories are saying, WhatsApp is not a “top 5” cloud client at IBM – not even close. We have many multi-million and even some billion dollar cloud clients, including US Army, Wal-mart, BMW, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Emirates, Workday, Chubb, AT&T, Wanda, Etihad, Maersk and many more.
So, losing the WhatsApp account could have a negative impact on IBM’s bottom line, but considering that list of other cloud clients it’s likely to be almost insignificant, at least from a financial perspective.

Facebook, on the other hand, stands to gain a bit from this decision. Apparently, “Facebook was spending nearly $2 million per month on the IBM cloud,” according to an unnamed source for CNBC.

That means once the transition to FB’s own cloud servers is complete, the company could realize as much as $24 million per year in savings (not considering, of course, the potential costs associated with maintaining the WhatsApp data on Facebook-owned servers).

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) Leads the Silicon Race

IBM stock may be slow to respond, but it also has a healthy dividend

Source: Connie Zhou/IBM
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) announced Monday that its research department has successfully developed the world’s first ever 5-nanometer chip. What does that mean, though? describes it like this: “In case you’re wondering how small that is in real terms, a nanometer is one billionth of a meter. A single blood cell is 7,000 nanometres wide.”
So, for the non-geeks, we’re talking about the tiniest microscopic chip ever — “a 5-nanometer device is just a few atoms thick.” What’s more, this development has made it possible for IBM to jam more than 30 billion transistors onto a single piece of silicon the size of your fingernail. If you’re unfamiliar with the inner workings of electronic circuitry, transistors are essentially on-of switches.

The announcement was made at the 2017 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits conference in Kyoto, where IBM presented its groundbreaking wafer and explained that it can deliver performance enhancements of more than 40% alongside a 75% reduction in power usage. IBM said:
“Let that sink in while reading this article on a mobile device with 10 percent power left: 5nm chips would give you hours, not minutes, before needing to recharge. A future 5nm-chip-powered mobile device will last days longer than what’s in your hand right now.”
Developers went on to explain in excruciating detail the methodology used to create IBM’s 5nm chips, and how significantly it differs from the current 10nm processes. If you really want to know, head over to IBM’s announcement post on the company’s THINK Blog. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too comprehensive for me and my eyes started to glaze over as I read about nodes and FinFET transistors and silicon nanosheets.

What I was able to take away from IBM’s announcement post is that its 5nm chips are expected to be available within the next three-to-five years.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Are Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Visa Inc (V) in Trouble With Apple Pay Lawsuit?

AAPL stock barely flinched when news of the lawsuit surfaced

Source: iPhoneDigital (Flickr)
Both Wall Street and consumers alike have become numb to breaking news stories involving the world’s gigantic corporations. It’s near impossible to scroll through the day’s business headlines or — gasp! — pick up an actual newspaper without coming across at least a handful of articles and stories describing how this company is suing that one, or this company stole trade secrets from that one, or somehow otherwise wronged somebody somewhere.

The technology industry is no stranger to lawsuits, either, so when news surfaced on Monday of the most recent filing against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), consumers shrugged their shoulders and Wall Street analysts shook their heads.

The New York Times first broke the story and explained the lawsuit filed by Universal Secure Registry CEO Kenneth Weiss against both Apple and Visa Inc (NYSE:V), which claims the two companies have infringed on existing patents since the 2014 release of Apple Pay and continue to do so without license, concern for or acknowledgement of Weiss’ legal standing.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) Stock Isn’t Done Running With Bloomberg

TWTR stock jumped another 4% on Tuesday to continue a torrid weeklong rally. Could a UFC joiner be next?

Source: Esther Vargas (Flickr)
Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is partnering with Bloomberg Media to launch its first permanent streaming channel, and Wall Street is downright giddy. TWTR stock has jumped by double digits in the past two days alone, including a 4% bump in Tuesday morning’s trade.

There are still a number of details that must be worked out, many of which will remain confidential, but the channel is expected to go live later this fall.

This round-the-clock Bloomberg TWTR channel will, apparently, be comprised of live news reports and coverage from five separate outlets, as opposed to simply a re-broadcast of other Bloomberg content. Justin Smith, Bloomberg Media CEO, told the Wall Street Journal, “It is going to be focused on the most important news for an intelligent audience around the globe and it’s going to be broader in focus than our existing network.”

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) to Battle Alphabet Inc (GOOGL) for Class Crown

MSFT stock could get a boost from Windows 10 Cloud, but we won't know for a while

Next week, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) will host a spring hardware event in New York City to showcase its latest and greatest new devices, as well as unveil the Windows 10 Cloud edition of the company’s iconic operating system.

The interesting part, though, is not anticipation of a new device or expectancy of some revolutionary program rollout.

Rather, the focus is expected to heavily surround the Windows 10 Cloud OS and management’s intentions to shift significant attention to the education market.

CEO Satya Nadella will, apparently, be allocating a larger portion of the company’s resources to wage war against tech behemoth Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) in the classroom arena. Both Microsoft and Google each sport their own classroom services that offer teachers and students alike the opportunity to learn, work and collaborate using a variety of tools designed to increase efficiency and cultivate a productive environment.

However, despite having equally robust and functional Classroom products, MSFT has struggled to gain ground against GOOGL since the official release of Microsoft Classroom in April 2016. Comparatively, Google Classroom has been around since August 2014 and, for the most part, it has been very well-received across the country by professors and teachers as well as students ranging from elementary school-age up through universities and grad schools.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

PayPal Holdings Inc (PYPL) Hopes Partnership Will Make It the King of Mobile Payments

PYPL is No. 1 online, but not in-store. Partnering with GOOGL may fix that.

Source: Gregory Gambone
Earlier this week, it was announced that PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL) and Google parent company Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL, NASDAQ:GOOG) will be partnering up to integrate PayPal’s mobile payment options into Google’s NFC-enabled smartphone payment app, Android Pay.

No specific details of the arrangements were revealed, but according to Fortune, “PayPal’s chief operating officer, Bill Ready, said that his company’s partnership with Google will be implemented in the coming weeks.”

Executives at both GOOGL and PYPL hope that the addition of PayPal as a funding source for Android Pay will serve to increase the number of smartphone owners who actively use Google’s digital wallet, while also making PayPal a more common choice for consumers making in-store purchases.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Big Tech Goes to War Over Toshiba Corp (TOSBF) Flash Memory

While Toshiba drowns in debt, sharks are circling the water

Last week, shareholders of Toshiba Corp (USA) (OTCMKTS:TOSBF) voted to approve the separation of the company’s NAND flash memory business, with the intention of attracting outside companies and initiating what amounts to, essentially, an auction of its most valuable asset.

In early February, Barron’s reported that Toshiba execs were apparently considering the sale of the NAND business to offset the company’s debt. At the time, “Toshiba’s equity [had] dropped to negative $1.7 billion, so it needs to come up with at least that much cash to stay afloat.”

That negative equity was the result of a $6.3 billion write-down, which apparently stemmed from “accounting regularities” and “overstated profits” of more than $1.2 billion and ultimately led to the resignation of the company’s chairman.

Initially, Toshiba attempted to auction off a 20% stake in its NAND business, but nothing came of that, likely because “the serious proposals probably all required the investor to get majority control of the business.”

With no alternative options, the proposal to completely sever and sell the flash memory business was put to a vote, with more than two-thirds of shareholders approving the proposal.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why Nvidia Corporation (NVDA) Stock Will Keep Jumping Higher

NVDA stock is set to continue its impressive run up

Earlier this month, Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) announced the Jetson TX2, which is the latest iteration of the TX1, which NVDA describes as “the world’s first supercomputer on a module.” The company designed the Jetson module as a tool to assist developers in advancing and creating new technology. Additionally, in partnership with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Nvidia announced development of the HGX-1 Hyperscale GPU Accelerator, which promises improved performance and standardization for cloud-computing servers.

These tools will also serve NVDA stock investors (indirectly, of course), as they further the company’s rise to the top of the AI industry ladder.

Android Central described the Jetson TX2 best, saying:
The people who will build this technology of the future will need the tools to do so. In 2017, NVIDIA is doing its part, and the Jetson TX2 is the embodiment of this idea.
Simply put, the Jetson TX2 is a mini supercomputer that can process massive amounts of data on the spot, which can be a huge advantage for technology developers who would otherwise have had to upload all that data to an online server for cloud computing.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) Stock Gears Up for War

The meteoric rise of AMD stock isn't over yet

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) stock has quite literally skyrocketed over the past year, as shares of AMD are up nearly 400%, while the Nasdaq is up only 22% over the same period.

With the release of its Ryzen 7 processor line earlier this month, and the Ryzen 5 products slated for April 11, more than a few analysts on the Street have issued upgrades and raised price targets for AMD stock.

According to MarketWatch, 11 of the 29 analysts providing recommendations call AMD stock a “buy” and 15 call it a hold.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Can’t Commit to Hollywood

Investors have heard it all before, so don't expect AAPL to react much

Rumors abounded last week as two executives from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) were involved in a series of closed-door discussions in Hollywood, involving some high-ranking TV and film producers.

While few details of those meetings have been made public, journalists and analysts alike have speculated about a range of possibilities, including everything from a massive effort to make Apple TV a legitimate player in the streaming arena, to acquisition and partnership negotiations.

Eddy Cue, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services, held meetings last week with executives from various film studios, including Sony Pictures Entertainment, the cinema division of Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE), and Paramount Pictures Corporation, a subsidiary of Viacom, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIAB).

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Is No Longer Top Dog in China

AAPL stock may not be the top dog in China anymore, but Apple stock remains strong

Earlier this week, research firm IDC released a report indicating that, for the first time ever, Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone shipments to China have decreased significantly. According to the report, shipments of iPhones to China decreased last year to 44.9 million, a 23.2% decrease from 2015.

Apparently, Chinese smartphone makers, particularly Oppo, Vivo and Huawei, have increased market share in the region by offering “higher-end gadgetry that appeals to consumers seeking Apple-like quality and innovation.”

This has led to an overall decrease in the AAPL market share in China, down to 9.6% from 13.6% in 2015, and a subsequent drop in revenue — Apple’s “fourth consecutive year-over-year dip in the region” — by 11.4%.

This new situation is potentially disconcerting to a number of analysts and investors, as China has presented a fantastic opportunity for growth in years past.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Intel Corporation (INTC) Stock Could Dominate With New Compute Card

Intel stock has always been a good choice, now it's even better

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) has been around for a very long time and it has been a mainstay in the technology industry, as well as one of the most recognized household names in consumer electronics since the late 1970s. INTC didn’t invent the computer, but it did develop a superior processor that was designed to be functional in almost any computer, regardless of who manufactured it.

With that, over nearly four decades, Intel has grown into a $173 billion company, giving early INTC stock investors returns in excess of 30,000%.

The company went on to manufacture a growing number of microprocessors and other types of computer chips, which today are found in countless pieces of electronic hardware.

It would seem that Intel stock has dusted off the old playbook, unveiling the Compute Card two weeks ago at CES 2017. The Compute Card, according to an INTC Newsroom press release, is intended to “transform the way compute and connectivity can be integrated and used in future devices.”

If things turn out as planned for Intel, the Compute Card has the potential to become another virtually universal component that can be integrated into a gigantic — and constantly expanding — selection of consumer electronics.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Apple Inc. (AAPL) Will Hike App Store Prices … Because Brexit?

The depreciating pound sterling has forced Apple's hand

According to an email to developers, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is making plans to raise prices in its U.K. App Store by approximately 25%. The price hike is, apparently, in response to the weakening pound sterling exchange rate, which has been steadily dropping since June’s Brexit vote.

The price changes are expected to roll out to the App Store over the next week. Per The Guardian:
“Similar price increases are expected to hit other Apple Stores, including the iTunes Store for music and video and the iBooks Store.”
This announcement comes on the heels of October’s unilateral 20% price jump for AAPL hardware, including the company’s newest MacBooks, Mac Pro, and the iMac.