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March 2017

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Keep a watch on NVIDIA’s upcoming keynote

After making an appearance at The Game Awards 2016, Bioware has announced Mass Effect Andromeda to make an appearance at CES 2017, which takes place in January. The gameplay will be featured in NVIDIA Corporation’s (NASDAQ:NVDA) keynote address that is scheduled for January 4 at 6:30PM Pacific Time.

Bioware has teased more information on environments, possibly a tech demo on how GeForce can make the Andromeda galaxy more visually stunning. Speaking of GeForce, NVIDIA is expected to announce the much-hyped GeForce GTX 1080 Ti at the event. It is possible that NVIDIA will showcase its new powerful weapon running the game in 4K.

Mass Effect Andromeda takes place 600 hundreds years after the events of Mass Effect 3. Species from the Milky Way galaxy set out to colonize other galaxies, abroad vessels called Arks. Each Ark has a pathfinder that is tasked to find habitable planets in the new galaxy. The game will feature familiar races, such as Asari and Krogan, and a new villain race called the Kett.

The game is officially scheduled to arrive in March 2017.

BMW tries to attract Tesla Model 3 reservation holders and attacks the vehicle’s reservation process through a new commercial

After the Model 3 unveiled in April, Nissan Motor Co. openly attacked Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) on the reservation process of its compact sedan, the Model 3, through its new ad campaign. Now, BMW AG is trying to attract the Model 3 reservation holders via its new commercial.

Electrek reported that the German luxury carmaker released a 30-second video commercial for its plug-in hybrid 3 Series, dubbed as “BMW 330e,” urging Model 3 customers that they should not have to wait so long for a vehicle. The commercial attracts them to purchase its new hybrid merely because it is available now.

Throughout the video, the German automaker focused on the wait time and revealed just one feature of its vehicles: EPA-rated gas consumption of 72 MPGe.

The Model 3 is expected to launch late 2017 in the US and in 2018 in the rest of the world, if everything goes as planned, which implies a wait time of at least two new years for reservation holders as mentioned in the video. This, along with “that other electric car company’s new model ever even arrives” clearly referred to Tesla’s Model 3 and implied that BMW now considers itself an EV maker too.

Given Tesla’s history with the Model S and the Model X, the market’s skepticism on timely launch of the Model 3 appears reasonable. However, directly advertising that it will be delayed by stating “and maybe more” seems like a direct attack on the Californian EV maker.

The Model 3 base-version has an estimated EPA-range of over 215 miles and a tag price of $35,000 (excluding incentives). Conversely, the BMW 330e has a 14 mile-range on electric and costs $44,000. Perhaps the German automaker fears that its all-electric 3 Series, the Model 3’s real competitor, will not hit the roads before 2020.

With over 373,000 reservations, Model 3 customers are unlikely to purchase another vehicle over the next few years. Thus, it is understandable why BMW and Nissan are using cheap ads to attract those people. However, the company should consider that while availability could be one of the major factors considered while buying an electric vehicle, it is certainly not the only one.

Interestingly, BMW has started a new campaign dubbed “wait or drive” under which it released an ad which includes a dummy Tesla Supercharger. The video below talks about waiting in lines to pay a deposit and waiting for a vehicle to arrive, which is another direct attack on the Model 3.

Following the delivery miss, Baird reduces its Q1 margin estimate on Model X but expects Tesla to hit the full-year guidance

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is expected to report first quarter of fiscal year 2016 (1QFY16) earnings after the closing bell on May 04. After missing the quarterly delivery guidance for the quarter, Baird slashed its margin estimate on the premium electric SUV the Model X, which has been facing several quality issues.

Tesla shares continue to head south after the report, leading to a second straight decline. The stock slid as much as 1.56% on Friday and hit a session low of $243.84. By 11:05 AM EDT, the stock was trading down 1.09% at $245.02 and 1.30 million shares were traded compared to average daily trading of 5.94 million.

Following the 1QFY16 delivery report, analyst Ben Kallo believes that the Model X margins must have been impacted due to the slower production ramp. He reduced his margin estimate on the SUV from -5% to -10% and the overall margin from 20.10% to 19.30%, compared to consensus forecast of 20.30%. Additionally, he thinks cash flow break-even or positive cash flow will likely be achieved during the current quarter instead of the first quarter because of weaker-than-expected deliveries.

For 2QFY16, he is projecting deliveries of just 16,500 units for the new Model S and the Model X, whose production is expected to increase throughout the quarter. Mr. Kallo’s estimates show that the company will deliver 52,600 vehicles in the second half of 2016 or 26,300 units per quarter. Although this looks like an enormous ramp for the back half of the year, the analyst thinks that Tesla is on track for the full-year delivery guidance of 80,000-90,000 units.

Regarding the Model 3 reservations, he believes that the company has raised over $400 million in deposits. The deposits along with the $1 billion credit line should assist the company in overcoming short-term needs. Baird reiterated an Outperform rating on Tesla stock, along with a price target of $300.

Alphabet Inc has promised a million Africans to provide them with training, helping bolster the employment numbers

Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google says it is planning to scale up its ‘digital skills training program’ and for that, it has promised 1 million African residents to provide them with the apt training and facilities. The tech giant believes that this move would help in reducing the unemployment numbers in the continent.

A million Africans would be accommodated in the training program which is scheduled to start next year.

In a statement released yesterday, the company said it has decided to train 300,000 residents in South Africa. It is a country where more than one-third of the people ageing between 15 to 34 years are without jobs. Under the training program, another 400,000 residents belonging to Nigeria, 200,000 Kenyans and 100,000 residents from other sub-Saharan African countries would be trained.

The country head for Google in South Africa, Luke Mckend said: “Google is in Africa for the long haul and we are making an investment in talent. We hope that the people trained will become pioneers in the field and do great things in digital for companies and for Google.”

Mr. Mckend also added that a lot more efforts need to be invested in the African continent which would boost the area’s digital development. Further, he said in today’s world the Internet has a lot to offer, one can start a new business and bolster their existing businesses through reaching untapped markets. Mr. Mckend reaffirmed the tech giant’s commitment to help African people grow in and adapt the digital revolution.

While Google has come with a strategy to support its credentials as “good corporate citizens” through promising jobs in Africa, the company along with other huge tech firms of United States such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is under global public scrutiny for paying relatively less taxes outside the country.

There have been several instances where these companies have claimed to have funded educational programs free-of-cost and also boast about the improvement in employment numbers their businesses have caused.

A newfound focus on non-lethal combat

Rather than simply sticking with a single protagonist for Dishonored 2, Arkane Studios is going to allow players to choose between two lead characters to experience their own narratives: Corvo Attano, our hero from the previous game, and Emily Kaldwin, daughter of the slain Empress.

Each protagonist is going to feature his/her own unique bag of powers and abilities. Speaking with Game Informer in a recent interview, Lead Designer Dinga Bakaba stated that players are going to find Corvo’s entire kit very familiar. A majority of his abilities are based on slight variations from what he had in the first game. However, that doesn’t mean he’ll have access to all of it from the get go. We’re assuming some sort of plotline to be the cause of it, but Corvo will have to relearn all of his powers over the course of the game.

Emily, on the other hand, is going to feature entirely new abilities. Some of those abilities are going to be similar in functionality to what Corvo has. However, they will have slight differences in manner of gameplay mechanics. For example, Emily can use Far Reach to move around the terrain. It’s similar to Corvo’s Blink ability but while he teleports himself forward, Emily is going to be projecting herself physically. This ultimately means that she can be seen while traversing the terrain. On the plus side, Far Reach can be also used to pull objects and people towards her.

Mesmerize is another ability of the now-grown princess, allowing her to instantly hypnotize patrolling guards to aid her in times of need. Shadow Walk can be used to transform into a “shadow-like entity” to escape detection. Most interestingly, Domino chains the fates of multiple characters. Killing or harming one will affect them all.

In comparison to Dishonored, the sequel is going to offer more non-lethal options and a comprehensive skill tree for players to follow. According to Creative Director Harvey Smith, each tree has been carefully designed to cater to a singular gameplay style. Players can either choose to go in a straight line or branch off at multiple points in accordance with their play-style.

Dishonored 2 is scheduled to release on November 11 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. 

 

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.

 

The chipmaker remains the leader in the high-end baseband market through the Snapdragon 835 cycle, says Rosenblatt

On Thursday, Rosenblatt Securities revised up QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) stock rating from a Neutral to a Buy. It also raised the price target from $70 to $75, implying 13.43% upside potential over the latest closing price of $66.12. According to the firm, QCOM has the potential to regain its market share in iPhone 8 and grow well in the mid-end market.

Rosenblatt analyst Jun Zhang believes Qualcomm continue to be the high-end baseband market leader through its Snapdragon 835 processors’ cycle, leaving behind MediaTek. Qualcomm will gain market share in the high-end SOC market to offset margins pressure, he added. This is also likely to help QCOM strengthen its licensing agreement with China based OEMs. He expects QCOM to ship around 28 million Snapdragon 825 chipsets in March 2017 versus 8 million in March 2016.

“MediaTek’s (2454-TT:NR) new high-end SOC product, X30, received negative feedback from major clients, which will be a positive for Qualcomm. We expect Qualcomm to also grow well in the middle-end market and could potentially regain market share in the iPhone 8 (AAPL: Neutral),” said Mr. Zhang. However, pricing competition is expected to continue in mid to low end markets, limiting gross margin improvements.

Although NXP Semiconductors NV (NASDAQ:NXPI) acquisition deal is far away from the final step, Mr. Zhang believes NR integration could act as catalysts for QCOM. Excluding the impact of NXP deal, the analyst give QCOM valuation a 15x price  to earnings ratio and raised its price target to $75 given 2017 EPS estimate of $5.

Mr. Zhang also wrote that QCOM is on the path to drive significant growth through share gains in Chinese smartphone makers Oppo, Xiaomi, Vivo, and Meizu. According to the analyst, Qualcomm market share in China is expected to grow from 50% in CY16 to 65% in CY17.

Tesla’s v8.0 software update will revamp UI, improve Autopilot visualization and features, as well as improve its braking system

If no last-minutes issues are found, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) will release the long-awaited v8.0 software update globally on Wednesday, to its fleet of Model S sedans and Model X SUVs. While the update contains improvements in Autopilot features with the new radar processing technology, it will also have the biggest user interface (UI) overhaul since 2012, when the Model S was launched.

Electrek, citing anonymous sources, published some new pictures of the new UI coming with the v8.0 software update. While the Autopilot updates will only benefit those owners with ‘Autopilot Convenience Features’ option, the UI will make every Tesla owner delighted.

However, some of the most interesting UI changes will occur with Tesla cars with Autopilot, as the automaker has changed the Autopilot visualization on the dashboard. This provides more accurate vehicle renderings on the 17-inch touchscreen.

Additionally, the company also updated the icons for key Autopilot features: Auto-steer and traffic active cruise control (TACC). Tesla owners can change TACC’s speed setting through its icon, while the Auto-steer icon becomes a blue circle with the steering wheel engaged, making it more visible. These icons reportedly blink at times, according to Electrek.

Nevertheless, non-Autopilot owners do not have to worry as there are a few new design features available to every Tesla car. Firstly, owners can get rid of the top menu bar to have a view of the application on Tesla’s touchscreen. Other than the fixed menu bar, some icons hover over the app, the publication noted. These new features can be really essential to owners who use Tesla’s navigation app frequently.

Moreover, the media app has been completely overhauled and now owners can find shortcuts to their favorite streaming stations or radio. The company improved the search option with filters for album, artist, and music in the new app.

Earlier this month, TheCountryCaller reported that Tesla will likely launch Spotify app integration for its American owners, after the service was launched in Europe last year. Currently, the company uses streaming app of Slacker in the US. However, the media app’s icons remain the same.

Other than the UI changes, the improvement in the regenerative braking software will cheer all the owners, who “may experience slightly stronger deceleration.” This would further increase the safety of Tesla cars which have attained highest safety ratings from the NHTSA.

Since TheCountryCaller cannot publish the images, here is the link to Electrek’s article.

MacOS Sierra brings Apple’s personal digital assistant Siri to the MacBook

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has finally rolled out its highly anticipated MacOS Sierra operating system which is designed to bring numerous improvements and upgrades to your MacBook device. Interestingly, if you have been a user of OS X operating system, you will feel very familiar and comfortable with MacOS Sierra. However, the latest software upgrade brings a host of noticeable improvements and upgrades over its previous generation operating system powering a MacBook device. The Cupertino-based tech giant has also incorporated minor tweaks and adjustments in the latest operating system which go a long way in significantly improving the user experience on a MacBook device. Here is a quick review of the latest software update available for MacBook users.

Pros: One of the greatest aspects about the latest operating system available on MacBook devices is that it offers users a smooth, seamless and effortless step up from the previous generation OS XEL Capitan operating system. Users who are familiar with OS X will feel right at home with the latest software update which is designed to feature noticeable performance improvements over its predecessor OS. The biggest upgrade available on MacOS Sierra is the incorporation of Apple’s personal digital assistant Siri, on MacBook devices. Hence, MacBook users will highly appreciate the ease and convenience that Siri will bring to their devices. Furthermore, the software update is designed to enhance and improve security features on your MacBook device. One of these includes the ability to unlock your MacBook Pro with the help of your Apple Watch.

Cons: The most frustrating aspect of MacOS Sierra is that users are required to gain a premium iCloud subscription in order to access most of the new features available on the operating system. Although this may not be a deal breaker for most MacBook users, it does mean that you will not be able to use the full potential of MacOS Sierra without paying a bit extra. Another drawback in MacOS Sierra is the OS does not support any touch input capabilities which is very disappointing considering most of the leading operating systems do. Furthermore, after using MacOS Sierra, users will notice that Siri is much more difficult to ‘wake’ and access, as compared to Windows 10 Cortana.

Verdict: Even though MacOS Sierra has its obvious flaws and drawbacks but its pros manage to outweigh its cons. Also, MacOS Sierra has just rolled out, so we can expect a software update from Apple which could potentially solve most of the issues experienced in the operating system.

The market has already assimilated its positive effects, amid expectations of FED announcement

Financial services giant, Bank of America Corp. (NYSE:BAC), seems to be the biggest beneficiary of the election results, as its share prices have touched sky high levels. The Country Caller has been a bull on the bank for a while, given its sound financial management and impressive control over non-performing-loans. Although we do not make any changes to our bullish thesis, but the current levels do appear overbought, while a correction may be on the cards.

Despite a bull dominant scenario, TCC notes that the price movements are now coming to a standstill position despite high trading volumes, in the last two trading sessions. While this hints a weakness of the bullish trend, it also suggests that the bears may soon take control.  Keeping the technical analysis views aside, there have been a lot of positive developments in recent times.

Energy stocks are trading higher, as OPEC reached an accord with non-member nations. As oil trades above $53, it will directly benefit the Charlotte based bank, considering its high exposure in the energy sector. Moreover, the recent unemployment data may further urge the FED to raise rates in the upcoming announcement, it is a positive development for the entire financial sector.

Considering the prominence of research firms for investors, it will be unjust to discuss their views to. The consensus price target of the street suggests that the current trading levels are overvalued by more than 20%. Since the FED announcement is due within 48-hours, TCC assumes that the market has already assimilated its positive effects, and a bear run is to follow in the next two sessions.

Shares of the $234.75 billion bank are currently trading lower in the pre-market at $23.03 (4:28 AM EDT). This confirms to our views that correction is very near and it is the ideal time to book profits.