FOMC leaves rates unchanged near zero

Fed members project Federal funds rate near zero until end 2023 

There were some important shifts in the statement versus July’s, however, that further support the ZIRP posture.

Indeed, the Fed will “aim” for an inflation rate “moderately above 2% for some time so that inflation averages 2% over time and longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored at 2%.

The Fed reiterated from June that it will in coming months increase its holdings of Treasuries and MBS “to sustain smooth market functioning and help foster accommodative financial conditions.” There were two dissents. Kaplan approved of the current target range, but wanted to retain a “greater policy flexibility.” Kashkari wanted the statement to indicate the current target range on rates will be maintained until core inflation has reached 2% on a sustained basis. The Fed’s SEP reflected an improved outlook on 2020 growth, as expected.

FOMC Chief, Jerome Powell

The Federal Reserve said in today’s statement,

“The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. With inflation running persistently below this longer-run goal, the Committee will aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time so that inflation averages 2 percent over time and longer-term inflation expectations remain well anchored at 2 percent. The Committee expects to maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy until these outcomes are achieved.

The Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2 percent and is on track to moderately exceed 2 percent for some time. In addition, over coming months the Federal Reserve will increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning and help foster accommodative financial conditions, thereby supporting the flow of credit to households and businesses.”

Feds balance sheet ballons

The Fed released the economic projections of Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents under their individual assessments of projected appropriate monetary policy, which shows that the median projection for Federal funds rate is 0.1% for the end of 2020, the end of 2021, and the end of 2022. The group’s projections in June were also for a Federal funds rate of 0.1% at the end of 2020, the end of 2021 and the end of 2022. The Fed group has extended its projection out to 2023, and still sees a Federal funds rate of 0.1% at the end of 2023.

FOMC will continue to pump money into economy

FOMC Forecast revisions, released with the FOMC statement, show the huge boosts in the official 2020 GDP forecasts that analysts had assumed, followed by a more restrained 2021-23 bounce.

The jobless rate estimates were lowered by much more than expected across the forecast horizon, and inflation was boosted as expected.

The median Fed funds rates sit at 0.1% through 2023, though the range of estimates show expectations of hikes by some starting in 2022.

The 2020 GDP central tendency was boosted sharply to the -4.0% to -3.0% from the prior central tendency of -7.6% to -5.5%, versus our own -2.4% forecast.

Unemployment expected to stay high

Analysts saw a huge trimming the jobless rate central tendency to 7.0%-8.0% from 9.0%-10.0%, versus our own higher 8.2% figure. Analysts saw boosts in the PCE chain price central tendencies to 1.1%-1.3% from 0.6%-1.0% for the headline and to 1.3%-1.5% from 0.9%-1.1% for the core, versus our respective estimates of 1.2% and 1.6%.

The central tendency for the Fed funds rate rises to 0.1%-0.4% in 2023 after unanimous 0.1% figures in 2020 and 2021. The range rises to 0.1%-0.6% in 2022, and to 0.1%-1.4% in 2023. page for a table of assumptions for the Fed’s revised forecasts.

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TikTok suing Trump Administration

TikTok suing Trump Administration over efforts to ban TikTok in U.S.

TikTok stated in a post to its corporate website:

“Today we are filing a complaint in federal court challenging the Administration’s efforts to ban TikTok in the US…

TikTok sues Trump Administration

Today, 100 million Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection; countless creators rely on our platform to express their creativity, reach broad audiences, and generate income; our more than 1,500 employees across the US pour their hearts into building this platform every day, with 10,000 more jobs planned in California, Texas, New York, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington State; and

On August 6th, Trump issued an executive order giving TikTok 90 days to sell

many of the country’s leading brands are on TikTok to connect with consumers more authentically and directly than they can elsewhere.

Put simply, we have a thriving community and we are grateful – and responsible – to them.

The Executive Order issued by the Administration on August 6, 2020 has the potential to strip the rights of that community without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance

We strongly disagree with the Administration’s position that TikTok is a national security threat and we have articulated these objections previously.”

ByteDance has reportedly been making progress in talks with potential acquirers of the U.S. operations of the short video app, including Microsoft (MSFT) and Oracle (ORCL), media reports have indicated. Reports have also indicated that Twitter (TWTR) is exploring a bid for TikTok.

Other publicly traded companies in the social media space include Facebook (FB) and Snap (SNAP).

TikTok/Douyin is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based Internet technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. 

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Stein Mart files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Stein Mart voluntarily files Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

Stein Mart (SMRT) announced that it and its subsidiaries have filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida – Jacksonville Division.

Stein Mart files for bankruptcy protection

Stein Mart offers designer and name-brand fashion apparels, home decor merchandise, accessories, and shoes at everyday discount prices in the United States. As of June 3, 2020, it operated 281 stores in 30 states. The company was founded in 1908 and is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.

The Company has filed customary motions with the Bankruptcy Court that will authorize, upon Bankruptcy Court approval, the Company’s ability to maintain operations in the ordinary course of business, including, among other things, the payment of employee wages and benefits without interruption, payment of suppliers and vendors in the normal course of business, and the use of cash collateral.

Too much savings caused Stein Mart’s demise

These motions are typical in the Chapter 11 process and the Company anticipates that they will be approved shortly after the commencement of its Chapter 11 case.

Details on the Company’s Chapter 11 process and go-forward strategy are as follows:

The Company expects to close a significant portion, if not all, of its brick-and-mortar stores and, in connection therewith, the Company has launched a store closing and liquidation process.

The Company, however, will continue to operate its business in the ordinary course in the near term; and the Company is evaluating any and all strategic alternatives, including the potential sale of its eCommerce business and related intellectual property. 

SMRT last traded at $0.18.

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FTC to fine Twitter over misuse of data

Twitter faces FTC fine of up to $250M over alleged misuse of email, phone data

On July 28, 2020, Twitter (TWTR) received a draft complaint from the Federal Trade Commission alleging violations of the company’s 2011 consent order with the FTC and the FTC Act, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Twitter books a $150M charge., Stockwinners

The allegations relate to the company’s use of phone number and/or email address data provided for safety and security purposes for targeted advertising during periods between 2013 and 2019.

The company estimates that the range of probable loss in this matter is $150M to $250M and has recorded an accrual of $150M.

The accrual is included in accrued and other current liabilities in the consolidated balance sheet and in general and administrative expenses in the consolidated statements of operations.

FTC complaint relates to misuse of phone number and email addresses

The matter remains unresolved, and there can be no assurance as to the timing or the terms of any final outcome.

The company is also currently involved in, and may in the future be involved in, legal proceedings, claims, investigations, and government inquiries and investigations arising in the ordinary course of business.

These proceedings, which include both individual and class action litigation and administrative proceedings, have included, but are not limited to matters involving content on the platform, intellectual property, privacy, data protection, securities, employment and contractual rights.

Class Action suits have been filed against Twitter

Legal fees and other costs associated with such actions are expensed as incurred.

The company assesses, in conjunction with its legal counsel, the need to record a liability for litigation and contingencies.

Litigation accruals are recorded when and if it is determined that a loss related matter is both probable and reasonably estimable.

Material loss contingencies that are reasonably possible of occurrence, if any, are subject to disclosure.

Twitter used customer phone numbers for marketing purposes, Stockwinners

As of June 30, 2020, except for the referenced class actions, derivative actions and FTC matter, there was no litigation or contingency with at least a reasonable possibility of a material loss.

Except for the aforementioned accrual of $150M recorded in relation to the FTC matter, no other material losses were recorded during the three and six months ended June 30, 2020 and 2019 with respect to litigation or loss contingencies.

TWTR closed at $36.39.

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AMC Theatres to open in July

AMC to reopen 450 U.S. theaters on July 15

Beginning July 15, AMC will resume operations of 450 U.S. theatres as part of a phased plan that is expected to bring the 600-plus U.S. theatre circuit to nearly full operation leading into the opening of MULAN on July 24 and TENET on July 31.

Adam Aron, CEO & President, AMC Theatres, said, “After a painful almost four-month hiatus due to the coronavirus, we are delighted to announce that movies are coming back to the big screen at AMC.

Our next 100 years of making smiles happen officially begin at approximately 450 theatres across the United States on July 15. I cannot emphasize enough how much care and attention to detail we have taken in developing AMC Safe & Clean, our absolute commitment to optimizing the health and safety of our theatres for our guests and associates.

Remember that there is a rumor that Amazon may buy AMC

Developed along with The Clorox Company, and current and former faculty of Harvard University’s School of Public Health, AMC Safe & Clean represents a comprehensive commitment with a broad array of tools being used in sanitizing our theatres.

Social distancing, reduced seat capacity, greatly intensified cleaning regimens, new employee health protocols, contactless ticketing and mobile food & beverage ordering are all part of AMC Safe & Clean.

So too is a new multimillion-dollar commitment to implementing high tech solutions in making AMC theatres safe, including deploying electrostatic sprayers, HEPA vacuums and upgraded MERV 13 ventilation filters.

All this is being put into motion because at AMC our single highest priority is the health and safety of our guests and associates. Both personally and professionally, I couldn’t be more excited for what this means for movie lovers.”

Disney’s Mulan to open July 24th

In the coming weeks, theatre teams will begin returning to their theatres for training on AMC’s new, enhanced cleaning and safety procedures.

AMC expects that almost all its 600-plus U.S. locations will be open and in operation for the launch of MULAN on July 24 and TENET on July 31.

The resumption of AMC operations may be adjusted if there are changes to the current theatrical release schedule, or as needed in response to local or regional conditions.

To facilitate proper social distancing within theatre auditoriums, AMC will approach seat capacity limitations in four distinct phases. But AMC will always follow all federal, state and local directives, including those that mandate a maximum capacity if lower than those envisioned in AMC’s four phases as now planned.

Tenet is scheduled for July 31 opening

The reopening schedule for specific theatres will be communicated in early July. During the weeks leading up to new major theatrical releases, AMC will be showing popular repertory titles made available from its studio partners. Those titles and ticket price information will be announced prior to reopening.

AMC closed at $5.63.

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DOJ issues guideline for online content

DOJ issues recommendations for Section 230 reform

The Department of Justice has released a set of reform proposals to update the outdated immunity for online platforms under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Responding to bipartisan concerns about the scope of 230 immunity, the department identified a set of concrete reform proposals to provide stronger incentives for online platforms to address illicit material on their services while continuing to foster innovation and free speech.

The department’s review of Section 230 over the last ten months arose in the context of its broader review of market-leading online platforms and their practices, which were announced in July 2019.

The department held a large public workshop and expert roundtable in February 2020, as well as dozens of listening sessions with industry, thought leaders, and policy makers, to gain a better understanding of the uses and problems surrounding Section 230.

The first category of recommendations is aimed at incentivizing platforms to address the growing amount of illicit content online, while preserving the core of Section 230’s immunity for defamation claims.

These reforms include a carve-out for bad actors who purposefully facilitate or solicit content that violates federal criminal law or are willfully blind to criminal content on their own services.

Additionally, the department recommends a case-specific carve out where a platform has actual knowledge that content violated federal criminal law and does not act on it within a reasonable time, or where a platform was provided with a court judgment that the content is unlawful, and does not take appropriate action.

A second category of proposed reforms is intended to clarify the text and revive the original purpose of the statute in order to promote free and open discourse online and encourage greater transparency between platforms and users.

One of these recommended reforms is to provide a statutory definition of “good faith” to clarify its original purpose.

The new statutory definition would limit immunity for content moderation decisions to those done in accordance with plain and particular terms of service and consistent with public representations. These measures would encourage platforms to be more transparent and accountable to their users.

The third category of recommendations would increase the ability of the government to protect citizens from unlawful conduct, by making it clear that Section 230 does not apply to civil enforcement actions brought by the federal government.

A fourth category of reform is to make clear that federal antitrust claims are not, and were never intended to be, covered by Section 230 immunity.

Over time, the avenues for engaging in both online commerce and speech have concentrated in the hands of a few key players.

It makes little sense to enable large online platforms (particularly dominant ones) to invoke Section 230 immunity in antitrust cases, where liability is based on harm to competition, not on third-party speech.

The action follows President Trump’s executive order seeking to weaken broad immunity enjoyed by Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and Google (GOOGL).

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Several retailers grab their shopping bags and file for bankruptcy

As JC Penney’s files for bankruptcy, others line up to do the same

Retailers have long been suffering from a tough retail environment due to competition from online retailers such as Amazon, Etsy and eBay; it seems like COVID-19 fired the kill shot.

J.C. Penney

J.C. Penney announced that it has received approvals from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, in Corpus Christi, TX for the “First Day” motions related to the company’s voluntary Chapter 11 petitions filed on May 15, 2020, including approval for the company to access and use its approximately $500M in cash collateral.

The 118 year old retailer files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Stockwinners

J.C. Penney entered into a restructuring support agreement with lenders holding approximately 70% of J.C. Penney’s first lien debt to reduce the company’s outstanding indebtedness and strengthen its financial position. J.C. Penney has approximately $500M in cash on hand as of the Chapter 11 filing date.

James Cash Penney started the company in 1902

JCP Gets Delisted

The New York Stock Exchange announced that the staff of NYSE Regulation has determined to commence proceedings to delist the common stock of J.C. Penney Company – ticker symbol JCP – from the NYSE. NYSE Regulation reached its decision that the company is no longer suitable for listing after the company’s May 15, 2020 disclosure that the company filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Recent Retail Bankruptcies

On May 4th, J.Crew Group announced it has reached an agreement with its lenders holding approximately 71% of its Term Loan and approximately 78% of its IPCo Notes, as well as with its financial sponsors, under which the company will restructure its debt and deleverage its balance sheet, positioning J.Crew and Madewell for long-term success.

Houston-based Stage Stores Inc. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in Texas last week.

GNC Holdings (GNC), the nutritional supplement retailer, avoided bankruptcy by reaching a last-minute deal with creditors that allows it to avoid bankruptcy for at least 30 days but no more than 90 days under a deal announced Friday.

GNC avoids bankruptcy for 90 days

True Religion

Even before COVID-19 forced True Religion to close its 87 stores, the denim specialist’s sales were in decline and its profits were negative. After shuttering its footprint in response to the pandemic, 80% of its sales disappeared, according to the company. 

Others on the list

According to Law.com, both Macy’s (M) and Neiman Marcus have hired bankruptcy law firm Kirkland, and Wachtell. Neiman filed for Chapter 11 last week. Macy’s should be forthcoming.

Pier 1 Imports (PIR) filed for bankruptcy protection this month. It would only make sense if it’s competitors follow the same path.

Nashville-based retailer, Kirkland’s, Inc. operates as a specialty retailer of home décor in the United States. The company’s stores provide various merchandise, including holiday décor, furniture, ornamental wall décor, decorative accessories, art, textiles, mirrors, fragrance and accessories, lamps, artificial floral products, housewares, outdoor living items,

Kirkland’s has avoided Chapter 11, Stockwinners

In 2019, seventeen major retailers filed for bankruptcy. For some of them it was their second trip to the alter including Payless, Gymboree, and Charming Charlie.

Some of the retailers that filed for bankruptcy in the past 18 months. Stockwinners

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Uber in talks to acquire GrubHub

Uber made all-stock offer to acquire GrubHub, WSJ reports

Shares of food delivery company GrubHub are sharply higher after the Wall Street Journal reported that Uber Technologies (UBER) approached GrubHub (GRUB) earlier this year with a takeover offer and the parent company of Uber Eats and its rival service operator continue to discuss a possible combination.

Uber may buy GrubHub, Stockwinners

Uber is seeking to acquire GrubHub in an all-stock deal that would reshape the meal-delivery business, but “it’s far from guaranteed the talks will produce a deal,” according to the report.

UberEats has 25% of the food delivery market, Stockwinners

Bloomberg’s Ed Hammond has separately reported this morning that Uber has made an offer to acquire GrubHub.

The companies are in talks about a deal and could reach an agreement as soon as this month, sources told Bloomberg. 

“While our Rides business has been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic, we have taken quick action to preserve the strength of our balance sheet, focus additional resources on Uber Eats, and prepare us for any recovery scenario,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Uber has a market cap of $57B

Uber Eats is a direct competitor to Grubhub, with Grubhub controlling  26.7% of the market while Uber holds a 25.2% market share. 

Grubhub has a market cap of more than $5.3 billion. Uber has a market cap of $57 billion.

GrubHub (GRUB) is seeking 2.15 Uber (UBER) share in exchange for each of its own shares in a potential takeover and Uber’s board is expected to review the latest GrubHub counter proposal, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing sources.

NEEDHAM

After Bloomberg reported that Uber (UBER) has approached GrubHub (GRUB) with a takeover offer, Needham analyst Brad Erickson said such a deal would be consistent with his bullish thesis that Uber Eats could eliminate as much as $500M of its roughly $1.2B in losses last year through such a GrubHub acquisition.

With Uber having exited India and seven other unprofitable markets, Erickson thinks investors would “further recognize a dramatically clearer picture towards food delivery profitability” if a GrubHub deal were to occur, he added. Erickson reiterates a Buy rating and $42 target on Uber shares.

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Amazon may buy AMC Movie Theatres

As AMC considers bankruptcy, Amazon may snap up the company

Amazon.com (AMZN) has held talks to acquire the troubled movie chain AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC), but it is unclear if the discussions are still active, Jamie Nimmo of Daily Mail reports, citing sources.

The companies are thought to have held talks about a potential takeover of AMC by Amazon, the sources said.

Amazon may buy AMC

Buying a cinema chain would enable Amazon to control the screening of films, giving it greater dominance of the industry. Amazon’s interest in cinemas is not new. 

In 2018, Amazon looked at buying American arthouse cinema chain Landmark Theatres, but lost out to the eventual buyer, Cohen Media Group. Netflix was also reportedly in the running to buy Landmark.

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Amazon.com is in talks to buy AMC, Stockwinners

However, a takeover of AMC would be on a different scale as Landmark only had about 250 screens in the US, while AMC has about 1,000 around the world.

Amazon certainly has the means to buy AMC, whose stock market value has collapsed in recent years to just $420million.

In a sign of bad times in the movie business, earlier this month AMC Theatres (AMC) sent a letter to Universal Studios (CMCSA) chairman Donna Langley, saying that, going forward, AMC will not license any Universal films in any of its 1,000 globally effective immediately.

Amazon bought supermarket chain Whole Foods Market in 2017 in a sign that the company was willing to spend money buying non-web-based companies. 

Stockwinners offers stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, stock downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Avoid
Amazon bought Wholefoods in 2017

AMC was bought by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda for $2.6 billion in 2012, but it bought back $600 million worth of shares in 2018 after Beijing cracked down on overseas investments by Chinese companies.

Under Wanda, AMC launched a major expansion plan, and in 2016 bought Odeon in the UK for £920 million from British financier Guy Hands’ private equity firm, Terra Firma, and US group Carmike Cinemas for $1.1 billion.

The deals turned AMC into the world’s largest cinema company, with 1,000 outlets and 10,000 screens around the world.

However, the expansion plan backfired and left AMC saddled with debts that are now close to $ 5billion. Last month, AMC raised $500 million from bond investors in an effort to stay afloat during the crisis. 

However, investors still questioned whether AMC could avoid bankruptcy, given its parlous financial state.

A group of AMC’s lenders reportedly hired lawyers to advise on restructuring options last month, underlining AMC’s financial strife. 

In Monday’s pre-market trading, AMC shares are up 70% to $7.00. AMZN closed at $2379.61.

Read our blog about AMC.

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Paypal is expected to report strong results

What to watch in PayPal earnings report

PayPal (PYPL) is scheduled to report results of its first fiscal quarter after market close on May 6, with a conference call scheduled for 5:00 pm EDT.

PayPal international business hurt by Covid -19

What to watch for:

1. OUTLOOK: On February 27, PayPal said that it had been “carefully assessing the effect of COVID-19 as conditions continue to evolve… PayPal’s business trends remain strong; however, international cross-border e-commerce activity has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

We currently estimate the negative impact from COVID-19 to be an approximate one percentage point reduction, on both a spot and foreign currency-neutral basis, to PayPal’s year-over-year revenue growth for the first quarter, as compared to the revenue guidance provided on January 29, 2020.

PayPal domestic business remains strong, Stockwinners

Stronger performance quarter-to-date across our diversified business is partially offsetting this one percentage point negative impact. We now expect to report first quarter 2020 revenue toward the lower end of our previously guided range of $4.78B-$4.84B.”

The company also reaffirmed its Q1 GAAP and non-GAAP EPS guidance.

During the company’s last earnings call in late January, PayPal said it expected Q1 adjusted EPS between 76c-78c, and FY20 adjusted EPS of $3.39-$3.46.

2. ‘RAPID ADOPTION INCREASE’: In a research note to investors last month, Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan #Keane raised the firm’s price target on #PayPal to $147 from $127, while keeping a Buy rating on the shares.

The analyst believes the Street is underappreciating the “rapid adoption increase” toward e-commerce in the new COVID-19 world, with PayPal as one of the main beneficiaries of this trend. The surge in new online shoppers should drive “strong” net new active customers for the company, he contended.

3. TO WAIVE CERTAIN FEES, DEFER PAYMENTS: PayPal announced on March 31 a set of relief measures to help its more than 24M merchants around the world impacted by the coronavirus.

e-Commerce continues to fuel Paypal’s growth, Stockwinners

The company said it was waiving certain fees and deferring repayments on business loans for some of its most affected small business customers.

4. LENDING TO SMALL BUSINESSES: PayPal, Square (SQ), and Intuit (INTU) started lending to small businesses that couldn’t get access to COVID-19 relief funds through large U.S. banks, Bloomberg’s Olivia Rockeman and Edward Ludlow reported last month.

Fintech companies have been pushing to provide emergency loans since mid-March, over a week before the passage of a federal bill that crated the Paycheck Protection Program, the authors noted.

“The PPP program has manual checks and processes that require time, and we’re doing the best we can despite having tech that can operate at scale and efficiency,” said Brian Peters, executive director of Financial Innovation Now, an industry group whose membership includes PayPal and Square.

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Department of Defense back’s Microsoft cloud contract

DOD issues report on JEDI contract, sees award to Microsoft as proper

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General has issued a report on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud Procurement.

“On June 11, 2019, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General initiated a review of the DoD Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud procurement, and an investigation into allegations that former DoD officials engaged in ethical misconduct related to the JEDI Cloud procurement,” the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General said in a statement.

DOD OIG says JEDI contract was handled correctly

According to the report, the DoD OIG concluded that “the DoD’s decision to award the JEDI Cloud contract to a single contractor was consistent with applicable law and acquisition standards. […] We concluded that the procuring contracting officer’s determination to use a single-award contract was in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and was reasonable.

Amazon sued to overturn the contract , Stockwinners

We also concluded that the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment’s authorization for a single-award contract was consistent with applicable law.

DOD awarded the contract to Microsoft, Stockwinners

In addition, we concluded that the JEDI Cloud requirements in the Request for Proposal were reasonable and based on approved requirements, essential cloud capabilities, DoD cloud security policy, and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program guidance.

In addition, we concluded that the DoD’s inclusion of gate requirements was reasonable and did not overly restrict competition. We also concluded that the DoD conducted the JEDI Cloud source selection in compliance with the FAR, the DoD Source Selection Procedures, the JEDI Cloud Source Selection Plan, and the Request for Proposals, Sections M1 – Basis for Award and M2 – Evaluation Process.

We concluded that the source selection team’s evaluation of the contractors’ proposals was consistent with established DoD and Federal source selection standards. We also note that on February 13, 2020, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued an opinion and order which granted Amazon’s request for a preliminary injunction and stopped the DoD from proceeding with JEDI Cloud contract activities until further order of the court.

The court concluded that Amazon is likely to demonstrate in the course of their bid protest that the DoD erred in its evaluation of a discrete portion of Microsoft’s proposal for the JEDI Cloud contract. The court’s decision was not inconsistent with our conclusion that the source selection process used by the DoD was in compliance with the FAR, the DoD Source Selection Procedures, the JEDI Cloud Source Selection Plan, and the Request for Proposals, Sections M1 – Basis for Award and M2 – Evaluation Process.

In this report, we do not draw a conclusion regarding whether the DoD appropriately awarded the JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft rather than Amazon Web Services.

We did not assess the merits of the contractors’ proposals or DoD’s technical or price evaluations; rather we reviewed the source selection process and determined that it was in compliance with applicable statutes, policies, and the evaluation process described in the Request for Proposals. In addition, however, we concluded that after the JEDI Cloud Contract award, the DoD improperly disclosed source selection and proprietary Microsoft information to Amazon.

In addition, the DoD failed to properly redact names of DoD source selection team members in the source selection reports that were disclosed to Amazon and Microsoft. […] we believe the evidence we received showed that the DoD personnel who evaluated the contract proposals and awarded Microsoft the JEDI Cloud contract were not pressured regarding their decision on the award of the contract by any DoD leaders more senior to them, who may have communicated with the White House.”

AMZN last traded at $2308. MSFT last changed hands at $172.44.

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RBC Capital’s predictions for 2020

Accelerating Netflix subs, Uber profitability among RBC’s top 10 surprise list

RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney compiled a broader research note titled “Top Ten Internet Surprises for 2020” list, in which he assigns a “reasonable chance” of 30% or more for the following to occur against the “average internet investor” expectations of the event being improbable.

Disney loss having minimal impact on Netflix subscribers. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more
RBC expects subs accelerating in 2020, Stockwinners
  • 1) Netflix (NFLX) subscriber additions may accelerate because the company will be comping 2019’s “material price increase and a dramatic slowdown in marketing spending.
  • 2) Google’s (GOOGL) operating margins may be flat to up as its Google Cloud becomes a smaller margin drag and the company’s Other Bets division gets greater investment after the resignation of its founders.
  • 3) Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) achieve EBITDA profitability thanks “insurance expense leverage, driver and rider subsidies rationalization, pricing actions, and growth leverage”.
  • 4) Amazon’s (AMZN) profitability plummets as the company continues its “aggressive investment” in shipping and fulfillment, particularly internationally, while continuing the build-out of AWS salesforce.
  • 5) Maturing growth rates and large cash piles may see Google, Facebook (FB), and Booking.com (BKNG) become dividend payers in the internet sector.
  • 6) Spotify (SPOT) gross margins may expand as the company concludes its music label negotiations.
 EU ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple, Stockwinners
Google may pay a dividend, Stockwinners

RBC Capital Markets is a global investment bank providing services in banking, finance and capital markets to corporations, institutional investors, asset managers and governments globally. Locations span 70 offices in 15 countries across North America, the UK, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 

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Netflix, a battle of bulls and bears!

Netflix lost more than $18 billion in market capitalization in 2 days

Disney loss having minimal impact on Netflix subscribers. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar to read more
Netflix subscribers grew less than expected. Stockwinners

On Wednesday, Netflix (NFLX) reported 2nd Quarter June 2019 earnings of $0.60 per share on revenue of $4.9 billion. The consensus earnings estimate was $0.56 per share on revenue of $4.9 billion. Revenue grew 26.0% on a year-over-year basis.

The company said in its shareholders letter it expects third quarter earnings of approximately $1.04 per share on revenue of approximately $5.25 billion. The current consensus earnings estimate is $1.04 per share on revenue of $5.25 billion for the quarter ending September 30, 2019.

Bears vs Bulls, Stockwinners

The company saw its first loss in US subscribers last quarter, and a 2.7 million paid customers added globally, nearly half of what was forecast.

Competition

At the same time, the company is facing a steeper path than ever in the United States. Netflix lost subscribers this quarter for the first time in years, a combination of the price hike and a content loss. As the US market becomes oversaturated with streaming services — with WarnerMedia, Disney, and Apple all launching streaming services — the only way to ensure growth is going outside the United States. Netflix currently has 60 million paying domestic subscribers, and company believes they can get to 90 million, but the risk of market saturation is real, and raises difficult questions for the company’s content strategy.

BMO Capital

BMO Capital analyst Daniel Salmon lowered his price target on Netflix (NFLX) to $440 after its reported shortfall on subscriber addition in Q2, which he expects to “fuel the debate” about the company’s pricing power and the role of new content. Given the sequential decline in its U.S. markets and the approaching launch of Disney+ (DIS), the analyst contends that this may be a “more than just the usual” earnings-miss driven debate. Longer term however, Salmon believes that the company’s revenue trend remains on track, keeping his Outperform rating on the stock and recommending Netflix, Amazon (AMZN), and Disney as a “collective investment” in the global streaming race.

Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson lowered his price target for Netflix to $440 from $450 after the company posted its worst subscriber miss ever, short by 2.3M net adds, while revenue was in line and EBIT well ahead. The analyst reiterates an Outperform rating on the shares.

Disney to end Netflix distribution agreement in 2019. See Stockwinners.com Market Radar for details
Disney ended Netflix distribution agreement this year. See Stockwinners.com

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank analyst Bryan Kraft views post-earnings selloff in shares of Netflix as a buying opportunity. The analyst keeps a Buy rating on the streaming service.

KeyBanc

KeyBanc analyst Andy Hargreaves says that despite soft Q2 results, he believes Netflix retains competitive advantages that should support excellent revenue and profit growth well into the future. The likely decline in the stock price improves the risk/reward, but increased confidence in the potential for upside to his estimates is likely needed for a more positive view of the shares, he contends. Hargreaves reiterates a Sector Weight rating on the shares.

WarnerMedia streaming service hurts Netflix, Stockwinners

JPMorgan

JPMorgan analyst Doug Anmuth to $425 from $450 while keeping an Overweight rating on the shares. The Q2 net adds miss was meaningful, but the company’s Q2 results are often volatile and this quarter contained a number of moving pieces, Anmuth tells investors in a research note. Netflix’s back half of the year content slate is strong and the company is seeing significantly better trends quarter-to-date, adds the analyst. History suggests that Q2 is a “difficult quarter from which to extrapolate NFLX’s trajectory,” says Anmuth.

Stifel

Stifel analyst Scott Devitt said Netflix shares may be range bound until the company reports Q3 earnings following its miss in Q2 on its domestic and international paid net sub add guidance. He believes management’s explanations for the current quarter miss “appear reasonable,” though Netflix “will have to prove, as it has done many times, that its value proposition remains one of the best,” Devitt tells investors in a post-earnings research note. Following last night’s report, Devitt lowered his price target on Netflix shares to $400 from $425 and keeps a Buy rating on the stock.

Wedbush

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter raised his price target for Netflix to $188 from $183, while reiterating an Underperform rating on the shares after the company reported quarterly results. The analyst expects content spending to trigger substantial cash burn for many years, and notwithstanding four Netflix price increases in the last five years, he notes that cash burn continues to grow. Content migration and price hikes could cause a deceleration in subscriber growth, and consistently negative free cash flow makes DCF valuation impossible, he adds.

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Barnes & Noble sold for $683M

Barnes & Noble to be acquired by Elliott for $6.50 per share in all cash deal

Barnes & Noble sold for $683M, Stockwinners

Barnes & Noble (BKS) announces that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by funds advised by Elliott Advisors for $6.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $683M, including the assumption of debt.

Barnes & Noble has faced continued pressure from Amazon and independent booksellers. Its shares had fallen roughly 25% year to date before the news leak. Within the past five years, Barnes & Noble has lost more than $1 billion in market value.

Elliott’s acquisition of Barnes & Noble, the largest retail bookseller in the United States, follows its June 2018 acquisition of Waterstones, the largest retail bookseller in the United Kingdom.

James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, will assume also the role of CEO of Barnes & Noble following the completion of the transaction and will be based in New York.

The $6.50 per share purchase price represents a 43% premium to the 10-day volume weighted average closing share price of Barnes & Noble’s common stock ended June 5, the day before rumors of a potential transaction were reported in the media.

As a private company, Barnes & Noble will likely be more free to make the changes and investment that can be unwieldy under a public spotlight. Part of the bookseller’s turnaround plan has included closing some of its more than 600 stores across the U.S. and relocating to smaller spaces that receive a fresh and modern look. The company has said its prototype stores encourage shoppers to buy books online or from a tablet.

The retailer has shown small signs of upturn. In March, it reported that over the holidays, sales at locations open for at least a year during the quarter rose 1.1 percent — its best quarterly performance in three years. As of January, it had $15 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The announced transaction with Elliott is the culmination of an extensive Strategic Alternative Review conducted by the Special Committee of the Barnes & Noble board, which was announced on October 3, 2018.

The board of Barnes & Noble unanimously approved the transaction and recommend the transaction to Barnes & Noble shareholders.

Leonard #Riggio, the Founder and Chairman of Barnes & Noble, has also entered into a voting agreement in support of the transaction.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory and stockholder approval, and is expected to close in Q3.

The merger agreement provides for the acquisition to be consummated through a merger structure. However, the parties expect to amend the agreement to utilize a tender offer structure, which is expected to reduce the time to closing by a number of weeks.

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5G Service coming to Chicago and Minneapolis

Verizon discloses pricing for first 5G mobile service

Verizon brings 5G service to Chicago and Minneapolis, Stockwinners

Verizon (VZ) earlier said it will launch its 5G Ultra Wideband Network in Chicago and Minneapolis on April 11.

To coincide with this launch, Verizon is offering the new 5G moto mod, which is exclusive to Verizon. Beginning March 14, customers anywhere in the U.S. can pre-order the 5G moto mod.

Verizon said: “Select areas of Chicago and Minneapolis will be the first to experience Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband mobile service, and the company has plans to rapidly expand the coverage area.

Last month, Verizon announced that it intends to launch its 5G Ultra Wideband network in more than 30 U.S. cities in 2019.”

It added, “For a limited time, preorder the 5G moto mod for just $50 ($349.99 retail).

5G Antennas are the size of a large pizza, Stockwinners

Verizon postpaid customers with any Verizon unlimited plan, including Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited or Above Unlimited, get unlimited 5G data for $10 per month (with the first three months free).

To buy a 5G moto mod, customers must either have an active moto z3 on their account or purchase a moto z3 at the same time as the 5G moto mod.”

What is 5G?

Like the earlier generation 2G, 3G, and 4G mobile networks, 5G networks are digital cellular networks, in which the service area covered by providers is divided into a mosaic of small geographical areas called cells.

 Analog signals representing sounds and images are digitized in the phone, converted by an analog to digital converted transmitted as a stream of bits.

All the 5G wireless devices in a cell communicate by radio waves with a local antenna array and low power automated transceiver(transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels assigned by the transceiver from a common pool of frequencies, which are reused in geographically separated cells.

The local antennas are connected with the telephone network and the Internet by a high bandwidth optical fiber or wireless backhaul connection. Like existing cellphones, when a user crosses from one cell to another, their mobile device is automatically “handed off” seamlessly to the antenna in the new cell.

Their major advantage is that 5G networks achieve much higher data rates than previous cellular networks, up to 10 Gbit/s; which is faster than current cable internet, and 100 times faster than the previous cellular technology, 4G LTE.

 Another advantage is lower network latency (faster response time), below 1 ms (millisecond), compared with 30 – 70 ms for 4G.[ Because of the higher data rates, 5G networks will serve not just cellphones but are also envisioned as a general home and office networking provider, competing with wired internet providers like cable. Previous cellular networks provided low data rate internet access suitable for cellphones, but a cell tower could not economically provide enough bandwidth to serve as a general internet provider for home computers.

5G networks achieve these higher data rates by using higher frequency radio waves, in or near the millimeter wave band from 30 to 300 GHz, whereas previous cellular networks used frequencies in the microwave band between 700 MHz and 3 GHz.

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