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August 2018

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A look into the specifics of the deal and how it is geared towards creating more jobs in the US

Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) announced a $17 billion deal with Iran on Sunday, to sell planes to Iran. This is a huge achievement for Iran whic was blocked economically from the rest of the world due to sanctions imposed on it. The deal comprises of nearly 80 jetliners which will be given to Iran. This will be one of the most high profile transactions after the removal of sanctions on Iran.

Washington assigned approval to Boeing in September 2016 to sell and make transactions with Iran. Airbus still needs full and final approval from Iran because only 10% of its plane components come from American origins.

Boeing deal is likely to face criticism from Congress and the White House. This is because in May, republican representatives were of the opinion that only when Iran stops supporting terror groups, should they make trade or other economical transactions with the country. The opposition of Congress to the nuclear deal has further gained momentum after Trump’s victory.

Creation Of Jobs

Boeing stated that the deal is very important as it will support thousands of jobs in the US. The jobs will mainly be created in the production and the delivery of the planes. This is also going to benefit the new economic environment and employment rates under the Trump government.

Currently, Boing employs 150,000 people in US and produces most of its parts within US. It also exports most of the products that it produces. Thus it is contributing a lot to the economy by bringing cash from other regions into the US.

Stock Update

Recently, the Renaissance Investment Group reduced its stake in Boeing by a massive 3.9%. It sold 1,413  shares during the third quarter 2016.

Boeing’s stock traded at $156.49, surging 0.71% as at the closing bell on Friday. The company has a market capitalization of $97.26 billion. The stock trades in the 52-week range of $102.10-156.88. It has a year-to-date (YTD) increase of 8.23%.

The Cupertino-based company has recently revamped its Twitter account and looks forward to doing something big

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has had a Twitter Inc. (NASDAQ:TWTR) account since September 2011 but finally had the chance to set it up in the wake of the iPhone 7 unveiling in the coming days. The company has put up a new picture and a header on its twitter account, matching the theme of the new unveiling event on September 7.

The official page of the company had around 52,000 followers earlier, but as word got out, the followers rose to 120,000+ with more people following the tech giant by the second. Also, it is fair to note that the company has still not tweeted anything yet. However, it is said that it will not be a customer support page as Apple already has an official Apple Support page. We believe that the company will offer the whole world (or at least those who follow its page) special Live updates throughout the event on September 7. Subsequently, we will most certainly witness the event on Snapchat as well.

There might also be a possibility, albeit a slightly lesser one, that the company has opened the page for the sole purpose of providing credible insider facts related to its products. This will allow the company to directly communicate with customers in the future.

According to Statista, Twitter had a whopping 313 million monthly active users as of 2QFY16. You can see what the company might be thinking as it looks to provide a special show to Twitter users. The social media company could even benefit from having most or some of its key figures, including Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, Phil Schiller, and Lisa Jackson, who already have accounts on Twitter, use Periscope to share their experiences.

Apple has also reportedly been thrown up as a name which might also buy out Twitter. If this happens, at least now we might see Apple announce the deal on the social media platform itself.

Apple Newsroom has also seen a redesign with the layout being shifted to a story type scenario. Each news is placed on a newly-designed card. The company has added news on the website since the change. The reason we’re moved by all these changes is that Apple has not been one to change its ways. The company has stuck to what it knows and what it is good at. However, with the new iPhone 7 having no headphone jack, the company moving deeper into the Artificial Intelligence and the Virtual Reality spaces, these are indeed exciting times and we hope what we would get from the company would be worth the wait.

The Country Caller digs into the much anticipated numbers ahead of the second quarter earnings report of Gap and Ross Stores

After the closing bell today, Gap Inc (NYSE:GPS) & Ross Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:ROST) are about to report their second quarter earnings for fiscal year 2016. Gap is expected to post earnings in line with the Street’s expectations, while Ross Store might beat the Street on bottom line with a margin of one cent. Both the companies are expected to report revenues in line with the Street’s expectations.

Gap

As per earningswhispers.com, Gap would report earnings per share, same as the consensus estimate of $0.59. EPS for the year-ago quarter was $0.64, which implies that the company would report 7.81% year-over-year decline in earnings if it meets the Street on bottom line for Q2. The $10 billion company’s earnings for the previous quarter were $0.32.

GPS is expected to report $3.79 billion in sales, according to Estimize. This remains almost in line with the $3.75 billion revenue estimate the consensus maintains. For 1QFY16, the company reported $3.44 billion in sales, while for the same quarter a year-ago, Ross sales stood at $3.89 billion. If the company meets the Street on top line, revenues will decline 3.59% YoY.

Ross

The off-price apparel retailer is expected to report earnings of $0.67 cents per share, according to consensus. In contrast, earningswhispers.com estimate of $0.68 suggests that the company would beat the Street on bottom line by one cent. Ross Store reported $0.73 cents per share for the previous quarter, while in the same quarter a year ago it reported $0.63 in EPS. Given that, earnings will rise 6.34% YoY if the company meets the Street on bottom line.

As of Estimize, the $24 billion company will report $3.13 billion in sales, similar to the figure that the consensus has estimated. Ross reported $3.089 billion in revenue for the preceding quarter, while revenue reported for the year ago quarter was $2.968 billion. According to consensus estimate, the company will report 5.45% YoY sales decline this earnings season.

Both the research firms have opposing near-term views for Allergan

Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) received both bullish and bearish reviews from analysts on Friday, based on different views about the company’s expected performance in the near future. While Goldman Sachs rated the stock a Conviction Buy, Mizuho Securities lowered its price target from $250 to $232 while maintaining its Neutral rating.

Goldman Sachs analyst Jami Rubin felt confident that the company can maintain double-digit growth and expand margins after meeting company executives. The analyst nodded at upcoming growth catalysts, namely the pharma giant’s $40 billion sale of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:TEVA) closing next month. Allergan also announced a $10 billion share buyback program in its Q1 earnings release on Tuesday. Ms. Rubin saw the reduction in acquisitions and investment in more profitable assets i.e. shares as a positive shift in strategy.

However, Mizuho Securities analyst Irina Koffler was not so impressed by the share buyback. She said: “Aside from a large $5-10B share buyback, management is not pursuing any transformational changes to the business (as expected) and are less excited by an execution story.” The stock has lost over 28% of its value since 2016 kicked off, and it tanked 14.77% on April 5 as its $160 billion merger with Pfizer had been called off. This disadvantage arose when the Treasury Department revised policies in order to avoid US companies shifting operations to lower-tax countries like Ireland (Allergan’s base).

Allergan management reported results for 1QFY16 with $3.80 billion in revenues, undperforming the Street’s $3.95 billion estimate, and $3.04 in earnings per share, versus a consensus of $3.00. Allergan’s full-year 2-16 guidance stands $17 billion, out of which $15 billion is expected in branded revenues. 

Nonetheless, the consensus mean target price lies at $292.63, signaling 31.02% upside potential over its previous close. Out of total of 20 analysts covering stock, seven rate the stock a Strong Buy, 11 rate it a Buy, while two suggest a Hold rating on it.

We take a look at the recent rumors surrounding the Nexus device

Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is expected to release the company’s latest Nexus device later this year and rumors continue to surface about the changes the company is expected to bring to their latest devices. Earlier, reports suggested that HTC has partnered with Google again for the new Nexus device, and a leaked image by Android Police today confirms that HTC will indeed be manufacturing the new device. The new Nexus device is now expected to release as early as August and will be powered by the latest Android 7.0 Nougat.

According to reports, HTC will be releasing two separate Nexus devices, one packing a 5-inch display and the other will sport a 5.5 inch display. The two devices will share the same specs and users will have the option to choose different sizes without having to compromise on performance or specs. The two devices are also expected to be very similar in terms of design, with the only difference being the size of the display.

The leaked image of the Nexus device also shows the changes that will be coming to the on-screen buttons. Android Police reports that the new device will come with redesigned white home buttons, and the new home button is expected to look like a flower and will come with four different color options. The new devices are also expected to come with a metal design with the presence of the antenna lines on the back of the device.

The leaked image also shows that there is no camera bump on the new Nexus, unlike the previous generation Nexus devices which had a significant camera bump that protruded from the back. The latter is expected to be offered in three color variants; white, black and a new color option called electric blue. The new Nexus line is expected to be launched at Google’s event next month and if rumors are true, it will be the best one from Google yet.

Amazon yesterday announced the availability of Alexa and Echo is Germany and UK

The e-commerce giant, Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) yesterday announced that it is launching its Alexa, Echo as well as the Echo Dot are now available in the UK and Germany.

Amazon’s Alexa is a voice service based on the cloud which gets smarter and smarter. Through this system, the customers can play music, listen to audiobooks, turn the lights on and switch them off, provides the users with sports scores and also checks the traffic if you are travelling. And surprisingly, all this is done through a voice command. Alexa is in direct competition with Apple Inc’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri – the voice command service.

The device is always ready, can be used without even a single touch and is fast. Actually, Alexa can be seen as the brain powering Echo. Amazon’s Echo Dot can be connected to external speakers and then the users can voice-control their sound system, or it can also be utilized like a standalone device to access all of Alexa’s features.

In the UK, Echo is priced at £149.99 for pre-order; the pre-order can be placed at www.amazon.co.uk/echo. The shipments are scheduled to start in coming weeks, as per the official press release issued by the e-commerce company.

Moreover, Echo Dot can be pre-ordered as a single device for £49.99, in a 6-pack and in a 12-pack. The shipment of Echo Dot would commence from next month.

These devices have seen immense popularity in the US, which is evident by the 28,000 5-star reviews. The founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos said: “Millions across the US have already fallen in love with Alexa. And, predictably, she’s even more likeable with a British accent.” He also expressed how delighted he was that these devices are being introduced in United Kingdom as well.

Amazon stock currently trades at $762.19, up about a paltry 0.14%. So far this year, the stock has surged about 13%, outperforming the S&P 500 Index’s gain of 4% over the same time span.

That is, if everything goes according to plan

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has apparently been working hard on a Project Centennial version of Office 2016, making sure that we’ll be soon able to download the entire list of Office apps as part of a single suite from the Windows Store.  

Currently, only a test version is available on the store which is only able to successfully install, not successfully run the respective app. This just comes to show that it is an early version which still needs a lot of work before it is finally released. However, weighing in at just 1 GB in size, it’s impressive to see the full suite toned down so much.

At the same time, it is also important to note that Microsoft has not officially confirmed that it will be releasing the next iteration of Office through its Windows Store. This could be either because the company wishes to keep a low profile or it simply wishes to avoid a potentially catastrophe if the suite does not meet expectations.

If everything does go according to plan, chances are the Office suite will be released in the next few months. Even if the Centennial version of the suite does not work out, Microsoft could always rework it and offer it as the traditional suite that everyone is accustomed to.

Investors applaud another job creation and investment announcement, as well as more details about the Model 3

Yesterday, The Country Caller reported that Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announced that Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) will offer an additional $350 million investment and create 550 new skills jobs in the state as it plans to build the electric motors and gear boxes of its upcoming compact sedan, the Model 3, at the Gigafactory 1.

Following the announcement, Tesla shares surged and closed the market up 1.18% at $238.36, representing its eight-hour high closing price. About 3.77 million shares had been traded compared to an average daily trading volume of 4.57 million.

The news merely confirmed a report TCC covered a few months ago regarding the new Drive Unit at the Gigafactory 1 which we said would produce drivetrain units for the Model 3. But why was it considered so big? Here’s what we think:

First, the announcement points at the Model 3 being on schedule for production this summer and on track for launch during the second half of 2017. Even after the fourth quarter and 2016 delivery targets miss, Tesla shares have climbed over 11.54% year-to-date through Wednesday, mainly on the back of revelation of more details about the Model 3 and the Gigafactory 1, which is expected make the $35,000-vehicle profitable for the company.

Hence, it is clear that any news related to the Model 3 or Gigafactory 1 production will be seen positively by investors, who are currently focusing on the long-term story.

Secondly, the report reflects another major step by Tesla to concentrate its vehicle parts’ manufacturing. The company is already one of the most vertically-integrated auto manufacturers. Tesla CEO Elon Musk believes that this move would save a lot of costs for the company and accelerate production processes over the long term. With Gigafactory 2, the company plans to bring all the production processes, from battery to EVs, under the same roof for its European customers.

Third, some analysts like Trip Chowdry of Global Equities Research believe that any news related to job creation or investments within the US will be cheered on at the Street under the upcoming Trump administration, which plans to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. Since the presidential election, we have noticed several tech companies highlighting their contribution to the domestic economy and some have even announced future job creation plans within the country.

The Brazilian courts still have a bone to pick with Facebook about WhatsApp

After being blocked in Brazil two separate times in the past year, WhatsApp has gotten caught up with the country’s Supreme Court yet again. According to a recent court ruling, the Brazilian court has ordered $6.07 million in Facebook funds to be frozen. The reason for this is Facebook’s failure to comply when ordered by the court in a drug related case. 

According to the Brazilian police, WhatsApp was ordered to hand over the conversation between members of a cocaine smuggling ring who were implicated in an investigation which had started in January. WhatsApp, however has refused to comply with this. The police are saying that without this crucial piece of evidence, the involvement of the suspects in the criminal capacity related to the cocaine smuggling ring may range from difficult to impossible.  

The amount of funds which have been frozen by the courts correspond directly to the amount fined incurred by WhatsApp for refusing to comply with the court’s orders. Since WhatsApp has no direct accounts in Brazil, the funds have been frozen from the account of its parent company, which is Facebook. However, this freezing of funds is is usually the first step. The Brazilian authoritites can also use a clause in the company’s Internet law which allows the court to block WhatsApp country-wide. 

The courts have used this strategy twice in the past year, blocking access for the entire country to WhatsApp. In the first case the outage lasted 12 hours, and 24 hours on the second one. The second shutdown was the result of this current investigation as well. WhatsApp is extremely popular in Brazil with over a 100 million users, and they all may be deprived of the service yet again in a few days from the outlook of things.

Rumor has surfaced amidst the announcement of Corp PlayStation VR price

Sources close to Kotaku have revealed that Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) is planning to launch an upgraded hardware model of PlayStation 4. It means that somewhere down the road, a PlayStation 4 version with a more powerful GPU, CPU and more RAM is a possibility and reportedly a part of Sony’s future plans.

Kotaku also reveals that they overheard some developers at the recent Game Developers Conference 2016 mentioning 4K resolution and the VR headset during their conversation about “PS4.5”. The price and release window of this PS4.5 has not been revealed.

A more powerful hardware version will allow PlayStation 4 to stay relevant a lot longer by keeping up with the demands of gamers. Considering that PlayStation VR is planned to release this year, the rumor certainly seems plausible. In comparison to what other headsets recommend for a VR experience, the PlayStation 4 is not even close to matching those requirements. Perhaps Sony wants to release a beefier version that can cope with the demands of virtual reality.

The rumors are not new. Last year, Sony’s Executive Vice President, Masayasu Ito, hinted at the possibility of a more powerful PlayStation 4 during an interview, but was later clarified by Shuhei Yoshida to be something that’s possible due to the PC-like X86 nature of the console and not something they are interested in.

Just this month, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) sent shockwaves in the industry when the Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, talked about their stance on incremental hardware upgrades and revealed their plans to go down that path.

It seems like console manufacturers are feeling the need to keep up with the latest tech in PC hardware. We may be on the brink of redefining consoles as the closed boxes we know and love to be.