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February 2017

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Reports indicate that iPhone 7 will be almost identical to its predecessor

Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next generation flagship smartphone, iPhone 7, is expected to be released later this fall and there have been countless rumors about the changes brought by the company to its latest device. According to reports, the iPhone 7 will not be much different from its predecessor, iPhone 6s, as it shares the same design elements as the previous flagship. Recent leaks suggested that the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus would come with changes like the exclusion of a headphone jack, redesigned home button, new cameras and refined antenna lines on the back of the device. However, a new report surfaced from Foxconn in China that claims most of the anticipated new features on the upcoming iPhones have been cancelled.

The report stated that the new dual lens camera setup on the iPhone 7 Plus has been cancelled due to “immature technology”, which leads us to believe that Apple might not have fully developed the new tech to implement it on the new device. However, it is not yet confirmed if the news is authentic.

According to rumors, the biggest feature of iPhone 7 Plus phablet was the inclusion of a dual lens camera setup as the company hopes to regain lost sales after the iPhone 6s. Initially, few versions of the iPhone 7 Plus were expected to feature dual lens camera setup, but they now indicate that we might not see dual-lens iPhone this year at all.

Sony will no longer provide the camera modules for the upcoming iPhones because of supply issues. LG Innotek is now rumored to cover the camera modules for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. There are also strong rumors that the iPhone 7 will feature Smart Connector in place of 3.5mm headphone jack, though major changes to the iPhone will be made in 2017 when the iPhone 8 will be released.

Amazon announces to open its second fulfillment center in North Las Vegas which could create over 1,000 full-time jobs

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has been heavily spending on Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), expanding the network of its advanced fulfillment centers across the US. Today, the company announced that it is considering opening its third fulfillment center in Nevada, which will be located in North Las Vegas.

Amazon already employs full-time over 1,500 hourly associates that would on full-time basis at the two existing locations in Reno and North Las Vegas. Akash Chauhan, Amazon’s VP of Operations in North America, said in a press release: “Our ability to expand Nevada operations is the result of two things: incredible customers and an outstanding workforce in the state. We are excited to expand in Nevada by growing our team, creating good jobs and partnering with members of the southern Nevada community.”

Nevada Governor Brian Sandova turned out to be delighted to be a part of the grand opening of the fulfillment center launched in Reno in April, 2015. He believes that Amazon’s plan to expand its fulfillment network in Nevada is “terrific news,” as it is creating more jobs, meeting customer needs, and providing “generous tuition assistance,” as well as a focus on military and veteran hiring. Amazon employees at the new facility covering 800,000 square feet receive, pack, and deliver large consumer products, like kayaks, patio furniture, and television.

Mayor North Las Vegas, John Lee also expressed his gratitude to Amazon for donating Kindle devices for children in elementary school. Amazon’s full-time employees get competitive wages and a complete benefits package, which includes healthcare, maternity and parental leaves, stock options, as well as access to programs like Career Choice which offers tuition fee of courses on in-demand fields.

The Cupertino based outfit has upcoming problems relating to its iPhones, as another one blows up after the previous incident in a New Jersey college

It seems as if Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) devices want their fair share of the limelight; another iPhone device explodes. The incident takes place in Fresno, where an iPhone 6S has exploded in a house, whilst it was on charge.

Yvette Estrada, the woman to whom the iPhone belonged to, said that she was awoken by a sudden exploding sound in the middle of the night. Her iPhone was on her dresser; the phone was charging when it exploded.  The woman says that the whole of the screen was on fire as she heard a sizzling sound coming from her room.

The exploding iPhone caused a small fire, due to which the woman called 911. By the time the authorities got to the house, the phone was only bits and pieces of melted steel. The woman also said that the phone caused damage to the dresser, a pair of glasses and two Apple watch stands. The concerned user counted her blessings as the phone wasn’t near her when the explosion took place otherwise she could have had lethal damage to herself.

This iPhone is the second iPhone to have faced the same demise in a week. Previously, an iPhone device caught fire in a classroom in a New Jersey college. The phone was in the student’s pocket when it started heating up and exploded.

The recent news of the Note 7 unit exploding after it was replaced after the recall has also spread a lot of concern amongst customers. The company had said that it has taken care of all problems related to the phone and the battery has been tested by independent testers.

However, the incident which took place yesterday onboard an airliner caused the whole flight to be evacuated and cancelled. This has also created further problems for Samsung which has had a torrid time in the past two weeks, as the recall has been very problematic to say the least. 

The trend of exploding phones is getting out of hand as the premier smartphone makers, such as Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNLF) along with Apple are high profile casualties. The phone makers should work with proper authorities and take care of any possible reason due to which these phones are exploding. Currently, no lethal damage has been done from these explosions but it might happen if the explosions continue to happen this frequently.

Microsoft is reportedly set to unveil its highly anticipated Surface Phone during its upcoming October 26 event

2016 is almost over, but Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is yet to give the slightest hint about when it intends to launch its next generation smartphone devices. However, the latest rumors have it that the Redmond based tech giant could potentially reveal details regarding its most awaited Surface Phone during its upcoming major event, scheduled for October 26.

The Redmond based tech giant recently suffered from downfall is revenue and sales due to the failure of its Nokia inspired Lumia smartphones. However, the tech company wouldn’t want to fall too far behind its rival firms when it comes to new products and services. Interestingly, Microsoft is only weeks away from its next major event, which has led to speculation regarding the possible announcement of the Surface Phone.

Microsoft is rumored to release three different variants of its Surface Phone, each targeting different consumers and business. Although, all three models of the Surface Phones will reportedly incorporate similar displays and build quality, the processing speed of the devices will be their biggest differentiating points. According to numerous reports, the entry level model will incorporate 3GB RAM, the mid-range model will incorporate 6GB RAM, while the high-end model will incorporate a whopping 8GB RAM.

Nothing is confirmed yet but all three Surface Phone models could feature Quad HD displays which could range from 5.5–6inches. Also, all the models are rumored to feature at least 64GB internal memory. Microsoft may even incorporate Intel’s latest generation Kaby lake processing chipsets into the devices. However, Intel will not be ready to mass produce its latest generation processing chipsets until early 2017, which could potentially cause further delays for the next generation Surface Phones to hit the market.

It seems that Microsoft might not roll out its next generation smartphone devices anytime soon. However, there is a slight chance that the tech giant may shed some light regarding the possible release date of its highly anticipated Surface Phone during its upcoming live event. Stay tuned as we would keep you posted about all the rumors surrounding Microsoft’s major announcements.

A recently released regulatory filling states that Apple has been granted a board seat on the “Uber of China”

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been granted a board seat on Didi Chuxing after the tech giant invested $1 billion in the ride hailing company, reported The Information. This investment will give Apple access to valuable expert data on electric and autonomous vehicle technology. It seems that the iPhone maker is headed in the right direction given its own plans to come out with an electric car product soon.

Apple Mergers and Acquisitions Chief, Adrian Perico, now represents the tech giant on Didi’s board of directors. In the past, Mr. Perico has led Apple’s acquisition of Beats worth $3 billion. Apple’s investment in Didi’s has further compelled Uber to hurry with its decision to leave the Chinese market. Didi has been the Chinese market leader since long and has stagnated Uber’s growth. Apple’s recent investment in Didi has left Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, demotivated and disappointed.

The Information further revealed that Apple anticipates this position in Didi’s board will harbor way into more strategic partnerships with China. The most obvious motive behind this partnership is Project Titan, Apple’s self driving vehicle technology which is currently under development. The fleet of cars owned by Didi will serve as the perfect testing platform for Apple’s hardware and software integration.

Apple has been working on Project Titan since long at a secret car developing facility in Sunnyvale. Rumors suggest that Apple is also working on a driving software which will work in Apple car and could also be used by third-party cars.

Apple’s partnership with Didi will give it a strong testing ground for its car software. This new field which Apple has ventured into may revolutionize the car industry forever. Apple has always been a market leader and not a follower. Its products, such as the iPhone and iPad, have set new paradigms for all technology companies. Apple’s automatic car is expected to give other car companies serious competition.

Despite healthy operating margins across all segments, BlackBerry failed to meet analysts’ revenue expectations

BlackBerry Ltd. (NASDAQ:BBRY) posted financial results for the third quarter of fiscal 2016 (3QFY16) before market hours on Tuesday, December 22. Following which, the company’s shares fell approximately 2.85% on Tuesday, as it posted mixed results for the three-month period. The tech giant reported earnings per share (EPS) of two cents, against consensus estimate of a loss of one cent. It also announced $301 million revenue, missing out on analysts’ expectations of $331.5 million. Consequently, on Wednesday, MKM Partners analyst, Michael Genovese, weighed in on Blackberry and maintained his Neutral rating along with a price target of $8. According to Mr. Genovese, BlackBerry’s absence of revenue growth and high valuation offsets company’s appealing strong gross margins, driven by software growth. Having already plunged about 21.34% year-to-date (YTD) through Wednesday, the BBRY stock further declined 2.67% on December 21. Mr. Genovese further noted that Mobility Solutions gross margins improved to 44% this season, up from last quarter’s 26%. Gross margin was also significantly higher from 8%, reported two quarters ago. Moreover, Blackberry noted positive operating income across all three revenue segments. It further observed sharp quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) improvements in Mobility Solutions and Software & Services’ operating margins. Regardless of these improvements, the company missed out on analysts’ top line expectations in all the segments, leading to the firm’s Neutral rating. Other research firms also weighed in on BlackBerry following disappointing third quarter (3Q) results. Only yesterday, Imperial Capital issued a research note to investors stating that it remains sidelined over the company’s shares. However, the analyst reduced price target by about 2.94% from $8.5 to $8.25. The Street also holds consensus price target of $10.33, depicting 41.5% upside potential over last closing price. Of the total analysts covering the BBRY stock, one suggest a Buy, 13 a Hold, and three recommend a Sell rating.

The Country Caller discusses why analysts at the Wall Street tend to be bullish on Netflix stock

Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) stock closed at $92.89 yesterday, up about 2.60% against the stock’s previous close. So far this year, the stock has tanked 18.79% while on the other hand; the S&P 500 Index gained nearly 2% over the same time span. The Country Caller shares the Wall Street analysts’ ratings on the stock and shares the reasons why the analysts hold a bullish stance over the stock.

Over the past two years, an increasing number of analysts have started to rate the online streaming media provider’s stock as a Buy; many of Netflix bears have turned into bulls as the company showed growth on a global scale.

A total of 45 analysts cover the stock and more than half of these analysts hold a bullish outlook on the stock. Out of these 45 analysts, a whopping majority of 25 analysts advise the investors to place a long position on NFLX stock. Another 16 analysts suggest a Hold on the stock, while only four analysts suggest a Sell. Consensus target price for 12 months is $119.25, carrying a return potential of almost 28%, against the stock’s current price.

Michael C Morris, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities, has the most bullish stance for the stock. The analyst projects Netflix stock to shoot to $150 by 12-month period end, and rates the stock as a Buy. In opposition to him, Wedbush analyst, Michael Pachter, has the most bearish sentiment for the NFLX stock. Mr. Patcher forecasts Netflix stock price to plunge to $45 by the end of the 12-month period.

Furthermore, the analyst also believes the stock may underperform the market. The short interest data released during the past month suggests that the investors have 3.13 days to cover their short position on the stock. Currently, the number of shorted shares stand at 34.52 million, with an average daily volume of 11.03 million.

 

Bank of America shows signs of improvement, but warns investors about continued Brexit uncertainties that might impact the bank

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) released its second quarter earnings for fiscal year 2016 in July. It barely met the Street expectations, both on the bottom line and top line. It reported earnings per share of 36 cents and revenues of $20.4 million compared to the consensus estimate of 35 cents in EPS and $20.4 million in revenues.

Investors believe that the bank is doing well through its earnings results. They admit that the banking corporation had its share of regulatory issues, however, they have faith that it would be able to overcome these. This is because the bank has a strong decent management which would work effortlessly in directing the stock towards the overall market direction. They believe that the poor earnings returns provide the bank with steady long-term opportunity to provide its investors with dividend growth.

Investors have decided to remain calm and take advantage of what they believe as an undervalued stock. Thus, the long term investors remain positive that the financial services provider would continue to improve on the basis of its cost-cutting plans, enabling it to achieve a healthy book value leading to an increase in stock price in years to come.

Furthermore, during the last season, the bank’s business lines were able to attain growth in net income across the board. Its international market segment grew by 42% year-over-year, and the global banking segment grew by 21% YoY in terms of net income. This improvement in net income would be translated into other metrics that are deteriorating for the bank. Moreover, the domestic segments such as the consumer banking segment also reported an improvement in its earnings marked by 5% increase in consumer loans, 8% increment in its consumer brokerage division, and 8% rise in consumer deposits.

Also, several investment funds increased their stake in this North Carolina-based company. 116 new funds invested in the bank, while 598 increased their stake in the bank. One of such funds is Seaward Management Limited Partnership, which further bought 7,429 shares of the bank.

On the other hand, in recent news, Bank of America warns its investors about possible effects of growing Brexit uncertainties. If they persist, the bank would have to incur extra costs and its business would be adversely impacted. This is because exit of Britain from the European Union could result in limited ability of its UK companies to conduct business in the area.

Not only this, the bank is subject to several variables and complexities in the region in calculation of its businesses’ fair value. Moreover, the UK referendum could create financial instability and exert political stress on the activities of the bank, especially in Portugal, Greece and Italy. However, the bank remains to be positive.

Keeping these things in mind, Bank of America’s performance is understandable. The $146.13 billion company is trading below the market level by 14.84% year-to-date through Monday. However, this performance is line with competitors Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) and Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) as they also traded below at 16.10% and 12.07% respectively, on YTD basis. The market indexes, on the other hand, were positive. Dow Jones and S&P 500 traded up 5.62% and 11.72% respectively, on YTD basis.

Currently, the stock trades within the daily trading range of $14.26-14.45. The stock is also traded within the 52-week range of $10.99-18.09. The total shares outstanding in the market are 10.22 billion. Out of these shares, 61.44 million trade in the active-market session.

Despite the headwinds from Brexit, the investors are bullish on the stock. According to FactSet Fundamentals, the analysts reiterate 21 Buy, six Overweight, and six Hold ratings on the shares of the bank. The stock closed at $14.33 on the Monday, August 1. The current 12-month median price target is $16.91, reflecting an upside potential of 18% over the last close.

Reuters reported that Apple is looking forward to increase its investment in the country

Reuters reported that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is looking to increase its investment in China, which even though is one of the most important and lucrative markets for technology, it is a difficult one too. The company is also expected to locate its first Asia-Pacific Research & Development (R&D) in China, as stated by company’s Chief Executive Tim Cook earlier on Tuesday.

In recent times, the demand for the company’s phones have declined in China, and the Chinese government has also shown some warysome attitude towards foreign technology in the country. Mr. Cook’s last visit to China marks his second trip to the country in the past four months, which envisages how important he considers the investment.

The new R&D center in the county is scheduled to be completed by the year end, as per a local broadcaster in China, which quoted Mr. Cook speaking to one of the most senior officials of the country, Mr. Zhang Gaoli, the Vice Premier of the state.

Earlier in May, China’s Head of Industry and Regulator of Technology mentioned to Cook that he expects Apple to deepen its co-operation in the country by expanding in R&D. He also stressed on information security.

Reuters mentioned that the company’s sales in Greater China, which was once regarded as its upcoming growth engine, has tumbled down by a third in its recent quarterly performance, as compared to the sales which doubled last year. The slowing and sluggishness of Chinese economy is one of the major concerns for decision makers, but in recent times, Apple Store’s performance for movies and books also went in dark in the region.

The company also lost its ground on intellectual property battles, along with Consumers labeling anti-US sentiment towards the company. Earlier in May, Apple also announced a deal worth of $1 billion with Didi Chuxing, a ride-hailing application.

The much awaited app finally makes its way to Android TVs

Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google’s Android TV will finally give users the opportunity to enjoy what Spotify has to offer. Apart from recent developments and several other features revealed during Google I/O, the Spotify app is finally making its way to not only to Android TVs, but to set-top boxes as well.

As for what the app has to offer, it is no different from its usual features. Users can enjoy listening to new tracks and create playlists and albums. However, the new app can be used to full effect using an Android TV remote, and they can easily do so via Spotify Connect.

On the other hand, the app makes brilliant use of larger screens, and fills the entire screen with useful information and artwork. For those who do not have an account, they can sign up for free from within the app. But for $10 per month, users can take advantage of Premium features and can get rid of ads at the same time.

The app is already available for download on the Play Store, but it will only work on supported TVs and set-top boxes like the Philips TV, Sony Bravia, Nexus Player and Nvidia Shield.

Seeing how well Spotify is doing, and the fact that it has reached over a 100 million users in total, it does not come as a surprise that the company behind the app is expanding its horizons. Additionally, it should also help it keep its competition at bay, more specifically, Apple Music, which is already gaining momentum and has managed to make tremendous progress in a short amount of time.