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January 2018

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Jefferies analyst has reiterated his Buy rating on NVIDIA stock following keynote announcements at the CES 2017

A major contributor to this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA), as the company elaborated in the opening keynote its involvements in the autonomous vehicle systems.

Following the development, NVIDIA stock has been under Wall Street analysts’ watch-list. Today,  Jefferies analyst Mark Lipacis issued a research note whereby he reaffirmed his Buy rating on the stock along with a 12-month price target of $110.

Mr. Lipacis discussed the Graphics Processing Units’ (GPU) producer’s involvement in the automotive industry through powering the autonomous vehicle systems. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Santa Clara, California based company, Jen-Hsun Huang, presented the participants of CES 2017 with new Artificial Intelligence platforms. These are fully autonomous vehicle platforms and run via GPUs produced by NVIDIA.

In his research note today, investment firm Jefferies’ analyst also mentioned that the company has extended its relationship with German automaker Volkswagen AG’s (OTCMKTS:VLKAY) luxury brand Audi. The German vehicle brand believes that it will be offering the most advanced self-driving vehicles to the motorists by 2020.

As NVIDIA stock is under watch by several analysts at the Wall Street, Citigroup analyst Atif Malik also published a research report yesterday on the stock. Mr. Malik reiterated his Buy rating on the stock and also hiked his price target on the stock to $120 from $110.

Mr. Malik’s optimism is also fueled by the technology company’s powerful entry into the automobile space. The analyst is of the opinion that there will be an increase in auto sales in 2018 accompanied by a higher rate of adoption of self-driving vehicles by major car makers in the industry.

NVIDIA shares skyrocketed more than 200% in 2016, and have a 52-week range of $24.75 to $119.93. The stock is just about $15 far from hitting another 52-week high, as compared to its previous close of $104.39.

Chesapeake energy agrees on selling its Barnett Shale interests to Texas private equity-backed firm

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) agreed on conveying its acreage in Barnett Shale operating area to Saddle Barnett Resources. Saddle Barnett Resources is backed by First Reserve which is an infrastructure investment and a private equity firm worldwide with focus especially in the energy sector. With this agreement, the company has terminated all the future commitments that were associated with this asset.

The said agreement is considered to increase the operating income of the $3.58 billion company by approximately $200-300 million annually excluding the termination costs and other charges associated with the Barnett Shale transaction. This rise in operating income is expected to be witnessed till FY19.

Moreover, it would reduce transportation, gathering and processing expenses of the company by $250 million approximately. The projected FY17 expenses are also expected to decline to the range of $7.15-7.65/BOE, marking a reduction of 45 cents in this category resulting in FY17 gathering, transporting and processing expenses of $465 million. Furthermore, this agreement would decrease commitments in the area, both downstream and midstream by $1.9 billion. It will also increase the proved reserves of the company by about $550 million after the exclusion of Barnett Shale assets.

Chesapeake Energy Corporation and William Partners have collectively agreed to terminate the said agreement creating a win-win commitment for both in short term as well as long term. The energy company is expected to pay $334 million in cash to William Partners. The rest is to be paid by Saddle Resources. The transaction is expected to end in the third quarter. CEO Doug Lawler marks this as a significant step in transforming the Oklahoma-based company. The company expects the payback of this transaction to be within 18 months of finalization.

Furthermore, the company has renegotiated an expensive gas pipeline agreement with Williams worth $66 million. The company expects to save $1.9 billion in its future liabilities with this agreement. With this transaction, the company’s gas gathering costs in the Mid-Continent are expected to be lower by 36% in this year.

Not only this, the company has also increased it value of other gas supply contracts by selling rights for $146 million with a long-term gas supply agreement. This is expected to increase its net production by 62,000 BOE daily.

Following this news, the stock soared 6% in the after-market hours to $5.07 over the last close of $4.8 on Wednesday. Investors are bullish on the stock and are waiting for the transactions to materialize soon. FactSet Fundamentals analysts have restated four Buy, one Overweight, 18 Hold, two Underweight, and nine Sell ratings on the stock.

Citibank analyst believes eBay could serve as possible takeover target

Analyst Mark May at Citibank mentioned his speculation for the stock in his research note to investors on eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY) that it could serve as a potential target for takeover. In wake of increased Merger & Acquisition (M&A) activity, analyst eyes eBay as one of the potential takeover targets in his entire global coverage. This is because the turnaround of company’s business makes it more appealing for takeover.

Under the leadership of CEO Mr. Devin Wenig, the turnaround for the business enabled the company to serve as a possible acquisition target. The management has been successful to reaccelerate the growth and lower the risk for investors.

Citibank analyst mentioned that although the acquisition of a company such big as eBay would require longer period for due diligence, he predicts that the acquisition for the company is surely bound to happen in future.

He mentioned that eBay’s fundamentals are now on an improving trend, which could present upside for the upcoming quarters, but the stock is yet to catch up its real value from a valuation perspective, according to the analyst’s belief.

According to Mr. May’s belief, there could be many possible buyers for acquiring the company. He mentioned that the foreign suitors willing to acquire the ecommerce giant could include companies such as Alibaba who want to expand their global footprint in the industry.

Digital media companies such as Alphabet could also be in the list of possible suitors who want to enhance their transactional capabilities for their media properties. The analyst also mentioned that retail companies including Walmart and media companies coupled with other private equity firms could service as possible suitors for taking over the e-commerce giant.

The analyst reiterated Buy rating for the stock, along with a price target of $34.

The Country Caller provides its insights for both US organizations before their pre-arranged earnings conference call

Vera Bradley, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRA) and Joy Global Inc. (NYSE:JOY) have arranged their conference calls for upcoming results on Thursday, September 1, prior to opening bell of the market. Vera Bradley will announce financial earnings for second quarter of fiscal year 2017, whilst Joy Global is projected to give its results for 3QFY16.

Both the companies have shown exceptional beat trends in the past, including expectations beat in their previous quarters. Therefore, in this quarter, both business are expected to fulfill both top line and bottom line expectations when they announce their earnings for the season.

Vera Bradley

The luxury brand is expected by both Street and earningswhispers.com to publish earnings per share of 14 cents in its upcoming financial results announcements. This figure is well within the range provided by Indiana-based organization in the previous quater, which stands at 13-15 cents in EPS.

If 14 cents are declared in EPS, the luggage bag designer would observe 133.33% rise in its EPS from the preceding quarter. However, the EPS would decline by one cent year-over-year if 14 cents estimate is fulfilled by the company.

In addition to this, the $559 million enterprise has been projected by the consensus to provide net sales of $120.61. This is about $0.94 million lower than estimize.com’s projection, which has been stated at $119.67 million. This is within the revenue range provided in the guidance, of $118-123 million. Furthermore, if $120.61 is announced for net sales, the handbag designer would observe increments of $0.06 YoY and 14.65% sequentially in 2QFY17.

Joy Global

The Street analysts look forward to the mining company reporting 12 cents in EPS alongside earningswhispers.com. The EPS forecast of 12 cents is 33.33% higher than the 1QFY17 figure which was declared at nine cents. However, EPS would decline dramatically by 73.91% YoY if 12 cents estimate is satisfied by the mining machinery maker.

Furthermore, the Street has also given net sales estimate of $612.02 for Joy Global. This is approximately $2.95 million higher than the number predicted by estimize.com. If the projections are met, revenues would rise by $10.02 in 3QFY16. Moreover, not only earnings declined dramatically from 3QFY15, but revenues also exhibited similar trends and would decline 22.72% YoY as it reported $792 million in net sales in 3QFY15.

Elon Musk says that he would be surprised if the acquisition is not approved by investors

Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO and SolarCity Corp. (NASDAQ:SCTY) Chairman, Elon Musk, the brainchild behind the creation of the world’s only sustainable energy entity, has had a lot of faith in his shareholders and firmly believes that they will provide a green signal to his initiative of combining the operations of both the companies. In August, he even went on record saying that shareholders would happily vote in favor of the deal, despite all the lawsuits and disagreement at Wall Street.

During the press conference on the objectives of the SolarCity acquisition on Tuesday, Mr. Musk suggested that he would actually be surprised if the transaction does not go through shareholder vote out, according to Electrek. He told analysts that the early votes are “overwhelmingly in favor” of the deal.

Shareholders of both the companies have been allowed to vote by proxy over the last few weeks. The official results will be disclosed in a special shareholder meeting scheduled for November 17. While talking to the analysts, the CEO stated: “As I expressed before, I’m pretty optimistic about where the vote is going. The early votes so far have been overwhelmingly in favor and I’d be surprised if it wouldn’t pass.”

By “before,” he referred to the interview with The Wall Street Journal in which he shared his confidence on the deal’s approval after talking to main shareholders. After going through the proxy votes, he seems to be even more confident about the shareholders’ decision.

While major shareholders such as Fidelity’s OTC Portfolio and Fidelity’s Contrafund have openly expressed that they believe in the board’s vision, the company has had to face about seven shareholder lawsuits. The company released the financial benefits and strategic rationale of the merger with SolarCity, as well as its vision at the October 28 event. This also aimed to ensure disgruntled investors change their minds. Although Mr. Musk already believes that the shareholder vote out would not stop the deal from going through, the true picture will be revealed on November 17.

The Cupertino based company looks to invest more in its Irish tax-free haven as it move $9 billion worth intellectual property in Ireland

According to AppleInsider, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has moved another $9 billion in assets to Ireland. The company came under fire recently with a tax scandal in Ireland. Even though, the decision was taken against Apple, the company seems to think little of it.

Apple has planned to take its iTunes business and content stores to more than 100 countries, to be managed from Holyhill, Ireland. Since 2004, the company managed its business from Luxembourg. Apple has around 6,000 employees in Ireland. Despite multiple probes from the country’s regulatory authorities, it has continued to expand its operations in the country, and has a significant impact on the community.

The recent move hints at the company’s plan to open another 1,000 jobs for the community. Although, the US government does have a right to criticize the company over its actions, it is well within the company’s right to conduct its operations in any country it wants to, as long as it operates legally. Apple has been asked for $14.5 billion in taxes to the Irish government, as a consequence of taking illegal aid from the state. The company has planned to appeal the decision and isn’t worried of overturning the decision either. Irish authorities will come under pressure from various businesses as they may lose appeal to foreign investments. Apple has made further commitments in a bid to stay in the country.

The company uses foreign countries such as Ireland as a tax haven to manufacture cheap iPhones. Companies have to pay more taxes in the US as compared to the other countries. US government has criticized companies, such as Apple, which have production in different countries. The government believes that such companies don’t pay taxes in the US, thus the US is deprived of valuable tax money which could be used to build up the infrastructure. The company paid a total of 0.005% on its European profits in 2014. The rate implemented was a minute fraction of the country’s standard corporate tax rate.

This came out of nowhere

In a very surprising turn of events, a new report brought forward by Semi Accurate (via NeoGAF) claims that Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s (OTCMKTS: NTDOY) upcoming NX console will use Tegra SoC provided by NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA).

The console box itself will not be powered by NVIDIA’s solution but the long-rumored NX handheld. Nearly all rumors have said Nintendo NX will be a two-entity product, much like the Wii U. The previous leaked documents revealed the main console can be paired with a handheld that will either be sold separately or come bundled with the package. The combination will allow seamless gameplay experience between the console and the handheld screen. The main system, however, is rumored to use SoC provided by AMD.

NVIDIA was the graphics provider for Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) first Xbox and Sony Corp.’s (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 3. The firm chose to distance itself from the console space by stating that the console margins weren’t convincing enough, and the report also claims that losing console contracts hurt NVIDIA eventually and that led them to enter a deal with Nintendo. According to the report, NVIDIA will be providing the solution at a very low cost (maybe even at a loss), including software and support.

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) is currently the sole provider of chips used in PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Looking at how well the current generation consoles have earned more success than anyone had imagined, PlayStation 4 to be more specific, it must have been a hard realization for NVIDIA to have skipped on potentially large profits. At this point, consoles have become the biggest SoC business for AMD. It would not be surprising at all to hear a rumor in the future that NVIDIA is approaching the console manufacturers with deals for the next-generation consoles.

Nintendo NX is set to launch in March, 2017.

Chinese accessory vendors presented the Lightning audio adapters, which fueled the fire for this rumor

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) could include the 3.5mm EarPods and Lightning to 3.5mm adapter in the box set with the next flagship, iPhone 7, according to a report published by Japanese tech site, Macotakara.

Rumors have been flying everywhere regarding the headphone jack on iPhone 7, with some sources claiming that the next flagship iPhone will do away with the vintage audio component, while others have stated that Apple wants to make the transition to Lightning audio solutions, but iPhone 7 will come too soon for that. The latest rumors from Macotakara suggests that Apple remains undecided on this front and is considering to ship the usual 3.5mm EarPods along with the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter.

The adapter would allow the users to plug in their 3.5mm headphones into the Lightning port, and if Apple switches to Lightning-only audio later, they would have an official adapter from Apple on their hands already. Moreover, the space previously occupied by the 3.5mm jack would be filled by placing additional speaker holes at the sides of the Lightning port. Macotakara’s report also states that a 256GB storage variant of the iPhone 7 will also be launched this September.

Shipping the next iPhone with both – the 3.5mm EarPods and the Lightning adapter – simply reeks of indecision and inconclusiveness on Apple’s part. If the transition is to be made to Lightning for audio solutions, Apple would want to lead the rest to that transition. Also, including an accessory like the Lightning to 3.5mm adapter is very ‘unlike’ Apple, and even if the company does manufacture the adapter, the chances of it being included with the iPhone are slim.

In either case, Apple would still continue to produce 3.5mm EarPods for the 4-inch iPhone SE and previous generation gadgets.

The Country Caller takes a look at the latest asset sales of Petrobras

The Brazilian state run company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras (ADR) (NYSE:PBR) steps up its game when it comes to selling assets. The Rio de Janeiro based company’s natural gas pipeline sale has been confirmed. The acquirer of the assets, Brookfield Asset Management group, confirmed a deal in a press release announced today.

The sale of the pipeline was made to Brookfield Asset Management, and others including its institutional clients, CIC Capital Corporation and GIC Private Limited, have indicated that they have finally closed a deal with Petrobras of acquiring 90% stake in the pipeline, called the Nova Transportadora do Sudeste S.A. (“NTS” or the “Company”).

The asset sales would help Petrobras to address its liquidity concerns as the sale would generate some $5.2 billion. As mentioned in the press release, the entities that would be owned by Brookfield would assume a controlling stake in the pipeline. Brookfield infrastructures from the consortium would hold 20% stake which comes around $825 million. Petrobras will have the authority over governance rights.

The CEO of Brookfield, Sam Pollock, was extremely optimistic over the deal. He highlighted that the assets are expected to present the company a one-of-a-kind opportunity. Through the assets, the company can tap into the utility business and gain access to Brazil’s gas industry which is growing at a fast pace. He further added that the newly acquired assets would help the company generate stable cash flows that would help it mitigate the negative impacts of inflation.

Petrobras has kept an asset divestiture target of $15.6 billion to fight off its massive debt load. The sale of the gas pipeline will greatly help the company in this cause. It is still under scrutiny from regulatory authorities over a corruption fiasco that started around two years ago.

Apple and Samsung are tipped to go all out for their next-gen smartphone devices

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) are currently the two biggest smartphone companies in the world, which is a fact that pushes both tech giants to constantly innovate and bring something new to the market. Although it can be argued that Apple failed to bring any revolutionary feature in its current iPhone models, but the Cupertino-based tech giant is heavily tipped to introduce significant upgrades in its 2017 iPhone model, dubbed as iPhone 8. This is in order to mark the tenth-anniversary of its original iPhone.

Similarly, Samsung will be looking to banish the demons of its faltering Galaxy Note 7 by introducing radical changes in its much-discussed Galaxy S8. Here is a quick review of the two upcoming smartphone devices.

Apple iPhone 8:

Apple has done its best to keep its upcoming iPhone model a big secret but recent reports and speculations have helped generate a picture regarding what the iPhone 8 could turn out to be. For starters, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo has tipped Apple to finally introduce OLED technology in its upcoming iPhone model. However, the limited supply of OLED displays could mean that only the high-end model of the next-gen iPhone will sport such a desirable display.

Also, recent rumors have indicated that the upcoming smartphone device will incorporate an all-glass look. If this is the case, then it is probable that Apple will implement the home-button of its next iPhone in the display of the device. Furthermore, the Cupertino company should introduce a faster processor, AKA A11 chipset and an upgraded software in its upcoming smartphone device.

Samsung Galaxy S8:

After the disaster caused by its discontinued Galaxy Note 7, Samsung knows that it has a significant task at convincing customers of choosing its next flagship smartphone device. Fortunately, recent speculation has linked important upgrades with the South-Korean tech giant’s upcoming smartphone device. According to an earlier report from TheInvestor, Samsung is set to introduce an edge-to-edge display in its next flagship Galaxy smartphone, which means that we will see little to no bezel on the upcoming Galaxy S8.

Also, Park won-Sang, a senior display engineer at Samsung, has indicated that the Galaxy S8 could have a whopping 90% display to area ratio. Furthermore, multiple leaks in the Korean media have suggested that the upcoming Galaxy S8 will arrive in two variants, including an entry-level 5.7-inch model and a high-end 6.2-inch model. Interestingly, Samsung is tipped to incorporate a curved display in both variants of the smartphone device.