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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Acacia Communications sold for $2.6B

Cisco to acquire Acacia Communications for $70.00 per share in cash

Acacia Comms tumbles, Stockwinners.com
Acacia Comms. sold to Cisco, Stockwinners.com

Cisco (CSCO) and Acacia Communications (ACIA) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Cisco has agreed to acquire Acacia.

An existing Cisco supplier, Acacia designs and manufactures high-speed, optical interconnect technologies that allow web scale companies, service providers, and data center operators to meet the fast-growing consumer demands for data.

Cisco buys Acacia Comms. at a 47% premium, Stockwinners

Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco has agreed to acquire Acacia for $70.00 per share in cash, or for approximately $2.6B on a fully diluted basis, net of cash and marketable securities.

The acquisition is expected to close during the second half of Cisco’s FY2020, subject to customary closing conditions and required regulatory approvals.

Cisco, whose equipment makes up the backbone of the internet and corporate networks, has recently rekindled growth by revamping existing products and adding new software and services under a corporate makeover by Chief Executive Officer Chuck Robbins. In May, the company gave a bullish sales and profit forecast for the current period, a sign that corporations continue to spend on computer networks despite the trade dispute between China and the U.S.

Bill Gartner, who heads Cisco’s Optical Systems and Optics, wrote that Acacia’s products “are designed to transform communications networks through improvements in performance, capacity and cost.” He added that Acacia’s coherent optics technology will build on Cisco’s strength in optical, silicon, and software technologies.

Upon completion of this transaction, Acacia employees will join Cisco’s Optical Systems and Optics business within the networking and security business under David Goeckeler.

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Electronics for Imaging sold for $1.7 billion

Siris Capital affiliate to acquire Electronics for Imaging for $37.00 per share

Electronics for Imaging (EFII), or EFI, announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Siris Capital in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $1.7B.

EFI sold for $1.7 billion, Stockwinners

Electronics for Imaging, Inc. provides industrial format display graphics, corrugated packaging and display, textile, and ceramic tile decoration digital inkjet printers worldwide. Its Industrial Inkjet segment offers VUTEk format display graphics, Nozomi corrugated packaging and display, Reggiani textile, and Cretaprint ceramic tile decoration and building material industrial digital inkjet printers; digital ultra-violet curable, light emitting diode curable, ceramic, water-based, thermoforming, and specialty inks; various textile inks, including dye sublimation, pigmented, reactive dye, acid dye, pure disperse dye, and water-based dispersed printing inks, as well as coatings; digital inkjet printer parts; and professional services. 

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by EFI’s board, an affiliate of Siris will acquire all the outstanding common stock of EFI for $37.00 per share in cash.

The purchase price represents an approximately 45% premium over EFI’s 90-day volume-weighted average price ended on April 12. EFI may solicit alternative acquisition proposals from third parties during a “go-shop” period over the next 45 calendar days.

EFI will have the right to terminate the agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement.

There is no guarantee that this process will result in a superior proposal and the agreement provides Siris with a customary right to attempt to match a superior proposal.

EFI does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the solicitation process unless and until it determines such disclosure is appropriate or is otherwise required.

EFI’s board has unanimously recommended that its shareholders adopt the agreement with Siris.

Subject to the go-shop, a special meeting of EFI’s shareholders will be held as soon as practicable following the filing of the definitive proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and subsequent mailing to shareholders.

Subject to the go-shop, the proposed transaction is expected to close by Q3 and is subject to approval by EFI’s shareholders, along with the satisfaction of customary closing conditions including antitrust regulatory approvals.

The transaction is not subject to any financing conditions. Upon completion of the acquisition, EFI will become wholly owned by an affiliate of Siris.

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Economy expanded at a moderate rate

Fed’s Beige Book says “economic activity continued to expand”



Fed’s Beige Book says economic activity continued to expand , Stockwinners


Fed’s Beige Book: “economic activity continued to expand in late January and February,” said the report.

But 10 Districts noted “slight-to-moderate” growth, with Philly and St Louis reporting flat conditions. That’s the most tepid characterization in sometime, as the more normal description has been “moderate” to “modest.”

About half of the Districts said the shutdown weighed on some sectors, including consumer spending was mixed, but in part due to “harsh winter weather and higher costs of credit.”

Manufacturing generally strengthened but “numerous” contacts worries about weaker global growth, higher costs due to tariffs, and continued trade policy uncertainty.

The service sector increased at a modest-to-moderate pace. Also, residential construction activity was steady or slightly higher in most of the U.S., but home sales were generally lower.

There was little change in the employment outlook, with employment increasing in most Districts, with “modest-to-moderate gains in a majority of Districts and steady to slightly higher employment in the rest.

Labor markets remained tight for all skill levels.

Wages continued to increase for both low- and high-skilled positions, and a majority of Districts reported increases were moderate.

And for prices, they continued to increase at a modest-to-moderate pace, “with several Districts noting faster growth for input prices than selling prices. The ability to pass on higher input costs to consumers varied by region and industry.”

The report (prepared by KC Fed with data collected on or before February 25) is consistent with the FOMC’s outlook for slower growth with tame inflation.

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Top Stories for weekend of February 22

U.S. extends trade talk deadline with China

As a result of these very… productive talks, I will be delaying the U.S. increase in tariffs now scheduled for March 1.

1. Using his Twitter account, President Donald Trump said that, “I am pleased to report that the U.S. has made substantial progress in our trade talks with China on important structural issues including intellectual property protection, technology transfer, agriculture, services, currency, and many other issues.

Assuming both sides make additional progress, we will be planning a Summit for President Xi and myself, at Mar-a-Lago, to conclude an agreement. A very good weekend for U.S. & China!”

2. Kraft Heinz (KHC) has tapped investment bank Credit Suisse to review options for its Maxwell House coffee business, which could include a potential sale, CNBC’s Lauren Hirsch reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Based off valuations for other sales of consumer brands, a sale could fetch a price of at least $3B, sources said.

3. While investors are cheering indications of progress being made toward a resolution of trade issues between China and the U.S., the battle for tech supremacy between the two global superpowers shows few signs of abating, Reshma Kapadia wrote in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Global chip makers remain highly reliant on China, which makes just 30% of the chips it actually needs, the publication noted.

Companies with revenue exposure to china include Qualcomm (QCOM), Micron (MU), Marvell Technology (MRVL), Broadcom (AVGO), NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), AMD (AMD), Maxim Integrated Devices (MXIM), Applied Materials (AMAT), Intel (INTC), Xilinx (XLNX), Skyworks (SWKS), Nvidia (NVDA), Analog Devices (ADI), Lam Research (LRCX), and KLA-Tencor (KLAC).

How to train your dragon top the box office, Stockwinners

4. Comcast (CMCSA; CMCSK) subsidiary Universal’s “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” won the weekend with a franchise-best launch of $55.5M from 4,259 theaters in North America, the top opening of the year so far. Overseas, the threequel earned another $34.7M from 53 market for a foreign total of $216.9M and $274.9M globally. The movie sports an audience grade of A and a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score.

5. Altria Group’s (MO) and WellCare Health (WCG) saw positive mentions in Barron’s, while Windstream (WIN) was mentioned cautiously.

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Cinedigm to acquire ComicBlitz 

Cinedigm to acquire ComicBlitz 

 

Cinedigm to acquire ComicBlitz , Stockwinners
Cinedigm to acquire ComicBlitz , Stockwinners

Cinedigm (CIDM) announced an agreement to acquire the digital comic book service ComicBlitz, which will provide access to approximately 10,000 digital comic books, with more than 175,000 pages of content from a growing network of 30 or more publishers.

#ComicBlitz content will be distributed globally as a licensed offering for mobile carriers, OTT providers and other media companies.

It will also be integrated with Cinedigm’s existing and planned OTT services, including the fandom lifestyle network CONtv.

Cinedigm expects that the acquisition will close before the end of the year. Cinedigm plans on rapidly enhancing ComicBlitz’s content and services offering by leveraging Cinedigm’s forthcoming, next-generation technology platform and expects to service global distribution of the ComicBlitz content and platform offerings alongside Cinedigm’s existing footprint of nine OTT channel offerings.

From a business perspective, the transaction is expected to generate revenues through content licensing, subscription and advertising revenues, new distribution platform partnerships and by accelerating global expansion of Cinedigm’s OTT business.

Cinedigm expects the acquisition will be accretive within the first quarter following closing, pending certain license deals currently in negotiation. The deal could be expected to generate more than $5M in incremental annual digital revenues within 18-24 months after closing, if new platform and licensing agreements related to this acquisition are consummated.

This deal will support Cinedigm’s strategy to provide high quality turn-key offerings to third party platforms on a global scale through acquisition and partnerships.

It will also provide a deep portfolio of quality comic book offerings that significantly broadens the company’s content portfolio for highly sought after fandom audiences worldwide.

The worldwide digital comic book and graphic novel market is estimated at over $1B in annual sales. Launched in 2015, ComicBlitz has a distribution footprint of over 133 countries, with key penetration in North America and major territories including the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Mexico, Brazil and Germany.


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Apptio sold for $1.94 billion

Apptio to be acquired by Vista Equity Partners for $38 per share 

Apptio sold for $1.94 billion, Stockwinners
Apptio sold for $1.94 billion, Stockwinners

Apptio (APTI) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Vista Equity Partners.

Apptio, Inc. provides cloud-based technology business management (TBM) solutions to enterprises. Its cloud-based platform and SaaS applications enable IT leaders to analyze, optimize, and plan technology investments, as well as to benchmark financial and operational performance against peers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vista will acquire all outstanding shares of Apptio common stock for a total value of approximately $1.94B.

Apptio shareholders will receive $38.00 in cash per share, representing a 53% premium to the unaffected closing price as of November 9, 2018.

Apptio’s board unanimously approved the deal and recommended that stockholders vote their shares in favor of the transaction.

Apptio’s headquarters will remain in Bellevue, with regional offices across the U.S., EMEA and APAC.

Closing of the deal is subject to customary closing conditions, including the approval of Apptio shareholders and antitrust approval in the United States.

The transaction is expected to close in Q1 2019 and is not subject to a financing condition.

The merger agreement includes a 30 day “go-shop” period, which permits Apptio’s Board and advisors to actively initiate, solicit, encourage, and potentially enter negotiations with parties that make alternative acquisition proposals.

Apptio will have the right to terminate the merger agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to the terms and conditions of the merger agreement.

There can be no assurance that this 30 day “go-shop” will result in a superior proposal, and Apptio does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the solicitation process unless and until the Board makes a determination requiring further disclosure.


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Finisar sold for $3.2 billion

II-VI to acquire Finisar for $26 per share in cash/stock deal

Finisar sold for $3.2 billion, Stockwinners
Finisar sold for $3.2 billion, Stockwinners

II-VI (IIVI) and Finisar (FNSR) announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which II-VI will acquire Finisar in a cash and stock transaction with an equity value of approximately $3.2B.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, Finisar’s stockholders will receive, on a pro-rated basis, $15.60 per share in cash and 0.2218x shares of II-VI common stock, valued at $10.40 per share based on the closing price of II-VI’s common stock of $46.88 on November 8, 2018.

The transaction values Finisar at $26.00 per share, or approximately $3.2B in equity value and represents a premium of 37.7% to Finisar’s closing price on November 8, 2018. Finisar shareholders would own approximately 31% of the combined company.

The combination of II-VI and Finisar would unite two innovative, industry leaders with complementary capabilities and cultures to form a formidable industry leading photonics and compound semiconductor company capable of serving the broad set of fast growing markets of communications, consumer electronics, military, industrial processing lasers, automotive semiconductor equipment and life sciences.

Together, II-VI and Finisar will employ over 24,000 associates in 70 locations worldwide upon closing of the transaction. On a pro forma basis, the combined company had approximately $2.5B of annual revenue.

The combined broad base of talent, technology and manufacturing is expected to enhance the ability to better address near-to medium-term opportunities and accelerate revenue growth.

The combined company expects to realize $150M of run-rate cost synergies within 36 months of closing. Synergies are expected to be achieved from procurement savings, internal supply of materials and components, efficient research and development, consolidation of overlapping costs and sales and marketing efficiencies.

The transaction is expected to drive accretion in Non-GAAP earnings per share for the first full year post close of approximately 10% and more than double that thereafter.

II-VI intends to fund the cash consideration with a combination of cash on hand from the combined companies’ balance sheets and $2 billion in funded debt financing.

The transaction is expected to close in the middle of calendar year 2019, subject to approval by each company’s shareholders, antitrust regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.Upon closing of the transaction, Dr. Mattera will continue to serve as President and CEO of the combined company.

In addition, in connection with the closing of the transaction, three Finisar board members will be appointed to the II-VI board, which will be expanded to 11 directors.


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Red Hat sold for $34 billion

 IBM to acquire Red Hat for $190 per share

Red Hat sold for $34 billion, Stockwinners
Red Hat sold for $34 billion, Stockwinners

IBM (IBM) and Red Hat (RHT) announced that the companies have reached a definitive agreement under which IBM will acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat for $190 per share in cash, representing a total enterprise value of approximately $34B.

With this acquisition, IBM will remain committed to Red Hat’s open governance, open source contributions, participation in the open source community and development model, and fostering its widespread developer ecosystem.

In addition, IBM and Red Hat will remain committed to the continued freedom of open source, via such efforts as Patent Promise, GPL Cooperation Commitment, the Open Invention Network and the LOT Network. IBM and Red Hat also will continue to build and enhance Red Hat partnerships, including those with major cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) Azure, Google (GOOG; GOOGL) Cloud, Alibaba (BABA) and more, in addition to the IBM Cloud.

At the same time, Red Hat will benefit from IBM’s hybrid cloud and enterprise IT scale in helping expand their open source technology portfolio to businesses globally.

Upon closing of the acquisition, Red Hat will join IBM’s Hybrid Cloud team as a distinct unit, preserving the independence and neutrality of Red Hat’s open source development heritage and commitment, current product portfolio and go-to-market strategy, and unique development culture.

Red Hat will continue to be led by Jim Whitehurst and Red Hat’s current management team.

Jim #Whitehurst also will join IBM’s senior management team and report to Ginni #Rometty.

IBM intends to maintain Red Hat’s headquarters, facilities, brands and practices.

The acquisition will accelerate IBM’s revenue growth, gross margin and free cash flow within 12 months of closing.

It also will support a solid and growing dividend. The company will continue with a disciplined financial policy and is committed to maintaining strong investment grade credit ratings.

The company will target a leverage profile consistent with a mid to high single A credit rating. The company intends to suspend its share repurchase program in 2020 and 2021.

The company intends to close the transaction through a combination of cash and debt. The acquisition has been approved by the boards of directors of both IBM and Red Hat.

It is subject to Red Hat shareholder approval. It also is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close in the latter half of 2019.


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Pandora sold for $3.5 billion

Sirius XM to acquire Pandora in all-stock deal valued at about $3.5B

Pandora sold for $3.5 billion, Stockwinners
Pandora sold for $3.5 billion, Stockwinners

Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI) and Pandora Media (P) announced a definitive agreement under which SiriusXM will acquire Pandora in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $3.5B.

The combination creates the world’s largest audio entertainment company, with more than $7B in expected pro-forma revenue in 2018 and strong, long-term growth opportunities.

Pursuant to the agreement, the owners of the outstanding shares in Pandora that SiriusXM does not currently own will receive a fixed exchange ratio of 1.44 newly issued SiriusXM shares for each share of Pandora they hold.

Based on the 30-day volume-weighted average price of $7.04 per share of SiriusXM common stock, the implied price of Pandora common stock is $10.14 per share, representing a premium of 13.8% over a 30-day volume-weighted average price.

The transaction is expected to be tax-free to Pandora stockholders. SiriusXM currently owns convertible preferred stock in Pandora that represents a stake of approximately 15% on an as-converted basis.

The merger agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which Pandora and its Board of Directors may actively solicit, receive, evaluate and potentially enter negotiations with parties that offer alternative proposals following the execution date of the definitive agreement.

There can be no assurance this process will result in a superior proposal. Pandora does not intend to disclose developments about this process unless and until its Board of Directors has made a decision with respect to any potential superior proposal.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by both the independent directors of Pandora and by the board of directors of SiriusXM.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.


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MoviePass raises prices

Helios and Matheson says MoviePass accelerating plan for profitability

MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners
MoviePass raises prices, Stockwinners

MoviePass, a majority-owned subsidiary of Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), announced the implementation of several new measures aimed at accelerating the plan for profitability.

Through these new steps, the company believes it will be able to compress its timeline to reach profitability.

Approaching the one-year anniversary of introducing its standard $9.95 price point, the MoviePass community has grown to more than 3 million members and in turn has contributed to record box office growth, responsible for approximately 6 percent of the nation’s total box office sales in the first half of 2018.

In addition, MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films are contributing to the company’s ancillary revenue. The company has implemented several elements of a long-term growth plan to protect the existing community and set it up for future sustainable growth.

MoviePass has implemented several new cost-reduction and subscription revenue increase measures: Actions that have been implemented are currently cutting the monthly burn by 60%.

A future increase of the standard pricing plan to $14.95 per month within the next 30 days.

First Run Movies opening on 1,000+ Screens to be limited in their availability during the first two weeks, unless made available on a promotional basis, Implementation of additional tactics to prevent abuse of the MoviePass service.

As of Q3 and beyond, MoviePass is also generating incremental non-subscription revenue of approximately $4 to $6 per subscriber per quarter: Integration of MoviePass Ventures and MoviePass Films with our own original content allows us to gain revenue by owning the films through box office, streaming, DVD, retail, transactional sales e.g. Apple and Samsung, and international rights, etc.

Partnerships with 3rd party media inventory to increase scale and reach of marketing efforts driven by data. Continued rollout and refinement of the Peak Pricing program.

Creating strategic marketing partnerships and promotions with studios, content owners, and brands. Integration of Moviefone.Com to support the media buys of brands and studios.

In an effort to maintain the integrity of the MoviePass mission, to enhance discovery, and to drive attendance to smaller films and bolster the independent film community, MoviePass will begin to limit ticket availability to Blockbuster films. This change has already begun rolling out, with Mission Impossible 6 being the first film included in the measure.

This is a strategic move by the company to both limit cash burn and stay loyal to its mission to empower the smaller artistic film communities.

Major studios will continue to be able to partner with MoviePass to promote their first run films, seeding them with a valuable moviegoing audience.

HMNY is up 7 cents to $0.88.


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 EU ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple

EU antitrust ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple

 

 EU ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple, Stockwinners
EU ruling against Google seen as win for Amazon, Apple, Stockwinners

The EU has hit Alphabet-owned Google (GOOG; GOOGL) with a record antitrust fine for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system.

Commenting on the decision, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said he believes it to be a “pro-Amazon” (AMZN) ruling, benefiting the e-commerce giant and potentially Apple (AAPL) as well.

ANTITRUST FINE

The European Commission has fined Google EUR4.34B for breaching EU antitrust rules.

“Since 2011, Google has imposed illegal restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators to cement its dominant position in general internet search. Google must now bring the conduct effectively to an end within 90 days or face penalty payments of up to 5% of the average daily worldwide turnover of Alphabet, Google’s parent company,” the Commission stated.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in response to the European Commission competition decision, stated that “rapid innovation, wide choice, and falling prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition and Android has enabled all of them.

Today’s decision rejects the business model that supports Android, which has created more choice for everyone, not less. We intend to appeal.”

‘PRO-AMAZON’ RULING:

In a research note to investors, Baird’s Sebastian argued that the European Commission’s ruling against Google is “a bit misguided,” but likely a “relatively minor inconvenience” in the short and medium terms.

Longer-term, the analyst said he sees modest but not unexpected added risk from requirements to support forked versions of Android, and from the direct and/or indirect benefits of this ruling for Apple and Amazon. In practical terms, the EC is saying that Android users need to download the Google apps they want rather than have them pre-installed and implicitly instructs Google to make its apps available on forked-version of Android, even if those apps won’t work as well or as intended on modified operating systems, he contended.

Sebastian believes this ruling should have a limited direct impact on Google since it ostensibly does not force a change to the Google search algorithm and seems relatively straight-forward for Google to comply. However, the bigger issue may be the obvious benefits to Amazon and potentially Apple, he argued.

The analyst pointed out that while Amazon already generates about 50% of commerce and product-related searches, the EC will require Android users to take another step before they can access an alternative product search engine. Additionally, to force Google to support distribution of forked-versions of Android could directly benefit Amazon’s Fire devices, he highlighted.

Nonetheless, the analyst noted that the decision does not change his positive view on Alphabet and reiterated an Outperform rating and $1,300 price target on shares of Google’s parent company.

PRICE ACTION

In morning trading, Class A shares of Alphabet and Amazon are each fractionally lower. Meanwhile, Apple’s stock has dropped almost 1% to $190.12.


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Market higher at midday

Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800 for the first time since the middle of March.

Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800, Stockwinners
Stocks on Wall Street were higher at midday as the S&P 500 rose above 2,800, Stockwinners

The Dow has also been strong, though not much of that outperformance is due to JPMorgan (JPM) after the bank and several of its large peers kicked off earnings season with their reports this morning.

ECONOMIC EVENTS:

In the U.S., the June trade price report was mixed, with a weaker than expected 0.4% import price decline and a stronger than expected 0.3% increase in export prices.

The University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey was weaker than expected, falling 1.1 points to a 6-month low of 97.1 in the preliminary print for July. In Asia, China’s exports were strong in June, rising 11.3%, while imports fell a bit short of expectations with an increase of 14.1%.

COMPANY NEWS:

Shares of JPMorgan advanced fractionally after it started off this summer’s earnings season by reporting better than expected earnings for the second quarter. Of note, the bank’s CEO Jamie Dimon said he sees “good global economic growth, particularly in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo (WFC) slipped 2% after reporting downbeat results for Q2, with the company noting in presentation slides that the third party review of customer accounts is “ongoing.”

Citi (C) shares also fell about 2% after its quarterly report, though the bank’s headline earnings for the quarter beat analysts’ estimates.

In addition, PNC Financial (PNC) reported better than expected results for the quarter and guided for third quarter net interest income to be up low-single digits…

Meanwhile, AT&T (T) was in focus after the U.S. Department of Justice said it plans to appeal the approval of the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. In an interview on CNBC this morning, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that he doesn’t know exactly what the government basis will be for an appeal and that the move by the DOJ “changes nothing”.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) dipped about 1% after a Missouri jury awarded $4.69B to 22 women who alleged that use of J&J’s talcum powder products caused their ovarian cancer. The jury award includes $550M in compensatory damages and $4.14B in punitive damages against the company. J&J responded by saying it “intends to pursue all available appellate remedies.”

MAJOR MOVERS:

Among the noteworthy gainers was Biocept (BIOC), which surged 58% after it announced a provider agreement with Alliance Global FZ.

Also higher was Achillion (ACHN), which gained 13% after it said it began dosing in its Phase 1 trial of ACH-5548. Among the notable losers was Gogo (GOGO), which fell 11%, reversing last night’s afterhours gains following the company’s announcement of a strategic review.

Also lower was Ingredion (INGR), which dropped 11% after it announced a $125M cost savings program, provided lower than expected Q2 guidance, and cut its outlook for fiscal 2018.

INDEXES:

Near midday, the Dow was up 93.18, or 0.37%, to 25,018.07, the Nasdaq was up 13.35, or 0.17%, to 7,837.26, and the S&P 500 was up 4.74, or 0.17%, to 2,803.03.


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Carbon-free aluminum smelting process now a reality

Alcoa, Rio Tinto, Apple  announce ‘world’s first’ carbon-free aluminum smelting process 

carbon-free aluminum smelting process; Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process; 

Alcoa (AA) and Rio Tinto (RIO) announced what the companies called “a revolutionary process to make aluminum that produces oxygen and eliminates all direct greenhouse gas emissions from the traditional smelting process.”

carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners

To advance larger scale development and commercialization of the new process, Alcoa and Rio Tinto are forming Elysis, a joint venture company to further develop the new process with a technology package planned for sale beginning in 2024.

carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners
carbon-free aluminum smelting process, Stockwinners

Apple (AAPL) is also investing in the venture. Apple said that its involvement with the new process started in 2015, when Apple engineers came across the new technology at Alcoa in Pittsburgh when looking for a cleaner way to mass-produce aluminum. They were able to get Rio Tinto on board, and three years later, the three companies have formed a joint venture.

Elysis, which will be headquartered in Montreal with a research facility in Quebec’s Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, will develop and license the technology so it can be used to retrofit existing smelters or build new facilities. Canada and Quebec are each investing C$60M in Elysis.

The provincial government of Quebec will have a 3.5% equity stake in the joint venture with the remaining ownership split evenly between Alcoa and Rio Tinto. Apple is providing an investment of C$13M.

The company helped facilitate the collaboration between Alcoa and Rio Tinto on the carbon-free smelting process, and Apple has agreed to provide technical support to the JV partners.

Aluminum has been mass produced the same way since 1886, when it was pioneered by Alcoa’s founder, Charles Hall. The process involves applying a strong electrical current to alumina, which removes oxygen. Both Hall’s original experiments and today’s largest smelters use a carbon material that burns during the process, producing greenhouse gases.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will invest C$55M cash over the next three years and contribute specific intellectual property and patents.

The patent-protected technology, developed by Alcoa, is currently producing metal at the Alcoa Technical Center, near Pittsburgh in the United States, where the process has been operating at different scales since 2009.

The joint venture intends to invest up to C$40M in the United States, which would include funding to support the supply chain for the proprietary anode and cathode materials.


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Barron’s is bullish on Apple and Exxon

Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue mentions several names:

Stockwinners offers Barron's review of Stockwinners offers stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Buy On Margin
Stockwinners offers Barron’s review of stocks to buy, stocks to watch

BULLISH   MENTIONS

Apple reaffirms position as tech’s ‘undisputed’ leader – In a follow-up story, Barron’s says that with its earnings report last week, Apple (AAPL) flexed its financial muscle and reaffirmed its position as “tech’s undisputed leader.” Fiscal second-quarter iPhone sales came in roughly as expected, while the company’s total profit was slightly ahead of estimates, the report notes, adding that Apple’s real surprise came from its updated buyback plans. Investors rewarded the company with its best five-day stretch in the stock market since October 2011, Barron’s says.

Apple raking in profits amid technology impasse – Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) has bought another 75M shares of Apple (AAPL), Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. While the current impasse for technology is going to continue to reduce new opportunities for Apple, for competitors such as Samsung (SSNLF) and suppliers like Qorvo (QRVO), there is enough wealth in the steady supply of what exists to keep investors like Buffett delighted with the cash flow, he contends. Milking it, at the moment, triumphs over innovation, Barron’s says.

Boeing eyeing ‘air supremacy’  – Boeing  (BA) announced last week that it would acquire KLX, whose products include airplane parts, as part of the aircraft manufacturer’s long-term plan to bolster its presence in parts, components, and services, Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. This is a trend investors should keep an eye on, he contends.

Sarepta winning over investors – Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) has been winning over investors with rising sales of its drug to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy and a promising pipeline of drugs targeted at the fatal muscle-wasting disease, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Part of the optimism surrounding Sarepta is that it can bring to market two drugs similar to Exondys 51, which treats about 13% of DMD patients, he notes, adding that these drugs – casimersen and golodirsen – target mutations at other points on the dystrophin gene and could treat another 16% of DMD patients.

Exxon Mobil looks appealing – Demand for oil and natural gas is expected to be strong for decades and to capitalize on this growth, Exxon (XOM) has an ambitious plan to increase the company’s energy output by 25% and more than double earnings by 2025, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. At a share price of $77, Exxon looks “appealing,” he adds.

BEARISH  MENTIONS

Wolverine may face mounting cleanup costs – The Scotchgard chemicals that gave stain resistance to Wolverine’s Hush Puppies shoes have leached into wells and aquifers from rusting barrels of sludge and other factory waste scattered around Michigan’s Kent County, where Wolverine (WWW)  used the chemicals for about 50 years, Bill Alpert writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. The footwear firm has provided water filters to area homes and last year it set aside $35M to cover expected legal and remediation costs, but the question is whether $35M is enough, Barron’s notes.


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