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January 2019

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Facebook Inc with Sony and Samsung is looking for ways to fully unlock the potential of the lucrative virtual reality market

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) with its Rift headset, Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE) with its upcoming Playstation VR and HTC with the Vive as well as chipmakers like Qualcomm and Nvidia are all making aggressive plays at the virtual reality market which according to Forrester will be worth $30 billion by 2020. While Facebook may be among the first movers, it is Sony which is expected to be the biggest beneficiary in the near term thanks to its gaming focus.

Facebook has already released its VR device; a $599 headset that needs a PC with around $1500 worth of high end specs to work and is unlikely to be well received as a mass market product. Facebook’s device was one of the earliest VR releases and reception is expected to be mildew with the Street guiding for between 0.5-2 million units sold within a year of the launch creating a $1.2 billion revenue stream. Of course Facebook would also monetize off content brining in another 100-300 million from games which are the hottest area for VR. Facebook has not guided on the profitability of its VR business and its strategy might be focused on a social virtual platform in the long run.

It is Sony with its upcoming $399 PlayStation VR which will be one of the fastest growing companies in virtual reality. Analysts project sales of 50 million by the end of the year due to the inexpensiveness of the device with no attached expenses and will be making $50 per unit seeing instant profitability. The PlayStation VR will not be the only point of monetization as Sony can roll out a range of VR centric accessories such as controllers and of course users will be paying for the content adding around $24 incremental profit per user. If Sony only sells 10 million units this year, they still stand to gain $1.25 billion with $625 million operating profit; making it one of the most profitable segments for the company.

HTC, like Sony, hopes that its affordable $200 Vive will help grow its earnings but the main hurdle for the company is the lack of brand awareness. Samsung’s device, the Gear VR is by far the cheapest with its $100 price tag and uses Qualcomm’s powerful mobile technology giving Qualcomm a leg in to mass market VR technology. Qualcomm chips have had success in reducing lag in collaboration with developers thanks to the release of its SDK and the company is working on solving the biggest VR related issues. Fellow chip maker Nvidia meanwhile has a partnership with HTC on the Vive, and is hoping that its server grade chips will create more computer vision centric VR advancements that would create a VR experience independent of the need of accessories and other inputs. However these companies are all betting on a still young and undeveloped field and while the possibilities may seem endless, there are a huge range of risks.   

The S&P 500 fell about 2% following the earnings call as compared to 11% decline in stock price

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) posted a weak Q1 following which the stock took quite a beating and plummeted down to below the $100 mark for the second time during the year. The company reported declines in volumes for across all of its products, including iPhone. Apple smartphones and gadgets remained popular among teens as indicated by surveys, but, the upgrade cycles have been elongated, as a large number of consumers chose to hold on to their devices a little longer than anticipated, leading to a sharp decline in iPhone 6/6s sales.

Amit Daryanani, analyst at RBC Capital has maintained a positive view of Apple shares for as long as one could remember, and, he is at it once again as Apple shares declined following Q1 earnings. Mr. Daryanani believes that the investor reaction to the company’s Q1 has been overdone and a bounce back in near term is inevitable. To further press his point, the analyst compares the fall in S&P 500 index to stock price which brings out the fact that stock price declined 9% more than the S&P 500, supporting Mr. Daryanani’s hypothesis of being oversold.

Given the current price levels, investors are likely to seek a way in which will help the stock bounce back, specially, ahead of iPhone 7 launch as a number of indicators show that the pent up demand from the iPhone 6 cycle is going to burst out, making iPhone 7 a phenomenal success in terms of volumes. The analyst concluded his report by reaffirming an Outperform rating with a price target of $120. The analyst believes that in near term the stock is likely to be $90 – $110 with slightly greater chances of being at the high end of the given range. The analyst opinion for APPL has 17 strong Buy, 21 Buy, eight Hold and one Underperform ratings. The stock is traded at $92.95 in the final hour of the premarket trading.

Credit Suisse stock rises 3.5%; European bank woes seem to come to an end

Credit Suisse Group AG (ADR) (NYSE:CS) chief executive Tidjane Thiam should be delighted after the US elections, as the banking sector in Europe gains significant market value. Bank of America Merrill Lynch upgrades the Swiss bank from Neutral to Buy. Since taking over the office last year, Mr. Thiam has faced lots of criticism as the stock lost more than half of its value in 2016.

Analyst at Credit Suisse said in a note that the poor times are over for the Swiss bank as the banking sector enters a new cycle. The new cycle is expected in the wake of the new president Donald Trump and higher probability of rate hike in the US. Mr. Trump’s economic policies vaguely suggest that there will be cut in tax rates and higher government spending, in pursuit of growth. Higher interest rates and higher GDP would also mean a stronger dollar.

On the other hand, Investment banking revenues have been slightly boosted by the Fixed Income trading. Fixed income revenues have significantly increased for all the banks as traders look for haven assets class. Credit Suisse posted surprise profits in the past two quarter, which has delighted the chief executive.

Investors criticized Mr. Thiam for the undeforming stock, as it tanked significantly in his era. However, the banking sector in Europe and the US has faced headwinds from low interest rates, declining oil prices, and a global economic slowdown. In response, all banks have been involved in restructuring their businesses looking to cut costs.

One of the major reasons for the banking stocks boost by Mr. Trump’s triumph is the possibility of altering the Dodd-Frank Act. Since the financial crisis, the regulations have been tighter on banks and the republican economic policies may make them less stringent.

Recently, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods upgraded the stock from Underperform to Outperform. The stock jumped 3.5% in the beginning hours of the New York Stock Exchange.

Apple is highly rumored to release its next-gen MacBook Pro by the end of the year

Rumors regarding the next generation Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) MacBook Pro have flooded the internet, which makes it difficult to determine which ones are reliable and which ones are over-hyped. Fortunately, a few reliable sites have been speculating about the possible specifications regarding the upcoming MacBook Pro. Here are all the reliable rumors that have been reported so far regarding the next generation MacBook Pro.

There are multiple conflicting reports regarding the release date for the product. However, the most reliable sites have majorly listed fourth quarter of 2016 as a possible release date for the MacBook Pro 2016. After Intel released its seventh generation Kaby Lake processors, it is highly likely that Apple will speed up the production of its next-gen MacBook Pro. Thus, it is possible that we could get our hands on the MacBook Pro 2016 by November 2016.

We all know that the device will run on the latest MacOS Sierra, which Apple released during its Worldwide Developers Conference. The latest operating system is expected to bring a host of nifty features that will improve its functionality. Also, Apple’s digital personal assistant Siri is expected to have a significant role in it. Some sites even suggested that the device would feature 4G LTE compatibility, which will allow users to engage in Facetime on the go.

Almost every major site has confidently speculated that the upcoming MacBook Pro 2016 will replace the physical functional keys with an OLED touchbar. The device will also incorporate a USB Type-C port that will offer super-fast charging. The MacBook Pro 2016 is expected to be priced very similarly to its predecessor model.

‘common_reservation_id’ of the source code of ‘My Tesla’ page is possibly the reservation number for the Model 3

Last month, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) announced that it gained over 373,000 reservations for the Model 3, after adjusting cancellations and duplicate orders. Considering such astonishing demand for the compact sedan, the company accelerated its 500,000-unit production plan to 2018.

Yet, the management urged customers to place their orders soon to get the $35,000 vehicle by 2018-end, implying that it is nearly sold out from its scheduled launch late 2017 to 2018-end. Since Americans want to get full access to the federal tax credit of $7,500, they would want to know where they stand in the Model 3’s reservation queue.

The automaker has been issuing non-sequential reservation numbers which does not tell customers where they are in the queue. Despite not having Signature series like Model S/X for now, the Model 3 reservation process is complex.

We know that Tesla and SpaceX employees, and existing Tesla owners have priority over new customers. The deliveries will start from the west coast and then gradually move towards the east, making it difficult to estimate when a customer will exactly get his /her delivery.

But, here’s how to get the reservation number.

Electrek author Fred Lambert, who is a Model 3 reservation holder, shared a screen of his ‘My Tesla’ page, which includes his non-sequential reservation number ‘RN1078XXXXX.’

Reservation holders can access the source code of the page by right clicking on the page and then selecting ‘view page source’ or by simply pressing Ctrl+U while on the page. In the source, customers can find their ‘reservation id’ by searching (Ctrl+F) and typing ‘common_reservation_id. There will be a six-digit value with the reservation id.

Early reservation data implies that the sequential reservation number possibly starts from 300,000 or 350,000. Mr. Lambert reserved the Model 3 just minutes before the Model 3 event started on March 31 and first three digits of his number is ‘412,XXX’ and by the end of the event there were 130,000 worldwide pre-orders. He revealed that his publisher reserved two sedans hours before he did and he received two numbers in the ‘380,XXX’ with difference of 15 between them.

Tesla Motors Club (TMC) members say they initially figured this out and started a thread where everyone is sharing their reservation id to see if anyone can find more correlations.

Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Dark Souls III, and Project Cars are the highlights in this week’s Deals with Gold

It is perhaps an open-secret that Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Xbox Live membership is tremendous value for money, and the Deals with Gold for this week only serve to remind us all of it.

Every week, popular titles on both the previous generation Xbox 360 and current-gen Xbox One are put up on a mouth-watering deal, where users can get their hands on some major bargains. Those bargains are not only on games that are not high-hitters, but also on popular titles. While the deals are applicable on the Xbox Games Store for all users, the biggest and best discounts are reserved for Xbox Live Gold members.

For this week, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Dark Souls III, and Project Cars have all been significant marked down, as Unity is available at 60% discount, and the other two have been marked down by 40%. Apart from these three titles, Dragon Ball: Xenoverse and its Season Pass Bundle are both also available after a 67% and 60% discount respectively. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm and Storm 4: Deluxe Edition are also up on a 50% sale if you’re feeling like it.

However, all of the above-mentioned discounts are only for Xbox One users. For Xbox 360 players, the first four installments in the Assassin’s Creed series are all available at half their usual retail price, and Dark Souls I, II, and Dragon Ball Xenoverse are also available at a whopping 75% off. Also, Pac-Man, Galaga, and Galaga Legions DX are also available at 50% off. You can get full details of this week’s Deals from here.

Airbus Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier looks ahead to beat Boeing in delivereing most commercial jets by 2020

Airbus Group SE has fallen behind Boeing in delivering most commercial jets per year. CEO, Fabrice Bregier, turned bullish during an interview with a German newspaper today. Mr. Bregier forecasted that the company plans to lead its rival and deliver more commercial jets than Boeing Co. by fiscal year 2020.

He believes that A320neo family and A350 commercial jets would be the company’s primary focus as these variants receive most demand from the market. Industry experts believe that Mr. Bregier seems to be bullish as the company has faced technical issues in its A320neo family series, due to which its delivery schedule was also impacted.

At A320neo’s launch, customer Qatar Airways refused to take deliveries of the aircraft based on the same technical issue in last year’s models. Reportedly, Airbus has resolved the engine problem after closely working with United Technologies Corporation Pratt & Whitney unit that manufactured and delivered engines used in A320neo. However, official updates on delivery of the ratified A320neo engines has not yet been reported.

Mr. Bregier stated that the company aims to deliver a total of 50 A350 jets by the end of this year. This statement seems bullish as the company delivered only 26 A350 jets till the end of September, which means that the company has only two and half month to deliver remaining jets.

Airbus is moving toward automation and plans to increase its monthly production capacity based on which the company aims to beat its rival. However, Boeing is also opening new aircraft production facilities to boost its monthly production. Boeing plans to increase production capacity of its single aisle 737 series that is poised to increase competition and keep Airbus from taking its lead.

Airbus has been leading Boeing in booking most commercial aircraft orders since fiscal year 2012. However, it has not come up to competition in delivering most commercial jets, comparatively.

Oculus explains the reason behind the delays in shipments of the Rift

Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ:FB) Oculus Rift had the advantage of being the first player in the VR Field but the company has seemingly run into a number of problems when it comes to shipping. The first batch got held up, and even though Oculus continues to ship out units, there are many who have still not received their virtual reality headsets. Recently, the company revealed the problem that it is currently facing.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch, Oculus revealed that the delays have been because of a “component shortage” which has severely affected the company’s production processes, “more than they had expected.” Oculus declined to comment on the actual number of units shipped ever since the original shipment date of late March and added that they are working on “getting Rifts out the door as fast as we can.” The statement also added that the initial component shortage has now been resolved and that they have taken steps in order to ensure a smooth production process.

It is worth noting that many of the pre-order delivery estimates have been pushed back from May to June of this year, causing a major outcry among fans and backers. It is even more frustrating when you consider the fact that the two additional touch controllers that are not included in the main package have also been delayed to the second half of the year, meaning that users of the Rift will not be able to actively interact with VR content and that the only way of interaction is going to be through Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One controller.

Meanwhile, the HTC Vive already began shipping earlier this month and so far has faced no such issues. Additionally, the company has also included two motion controllers in the base package as well. That being said, the price for the HTC Viva is still a bit steeper than the Rift, at $799 right now.

NVIDIA has delivered its third GPU to the market with impressive performance

NVIDIA Corporation’s (NASDAQ:NVDA) GeForce GTX 1060 is now officially out. The GPU marks the third entry in NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture lineup. GTX 1060 is targeted as a bang for the buck GPU in the mainstream segment and competes directly with Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMD) Radeon RX-480.

 

 

For some time now, RX-480 has been leading the mainstream market interest due to its $199 and performance that equals or surpasses GTX 970. It is an amazing proposition for anyone looking to spend less but get performance that rivals high-end GPUs from last generation. NVIDIA’s answer to this is GTX 1060. The GPU is available in a 6GB specification but there are rumors of a 3GB variant that will use a cut-down version of GP106.

 

 

 

NVIDIA played the price game against AMD and announced GTX 1060 at $249. While it is $50 expensive than a 4GB RX-480, it offers performance that is on par. There are over a dozen reviews available upon release and all of them put the GTX 1060’s on par with RX-480. The gap varies from game to game but we are looking at 10% percent better performance. RX-480 manages to outperform in DirectX 12 benchmarks.

The GeForce is also more power efficient with a TDP of just 120W compared to Radeon’s 150W. We will be looking at the performance numbers closely but for now, a brief overview is what we have for you.

GTX 1060’s $249 price is MSRP for custom cards. The custom variants will cost you anywhere between $259 – $279. That is based on a listing on Sabre PC which revealed two ZOTAC variants including AMP! edition. The Special Limited Founders Edition carries a price tag of $299.

While Tesla Model X owner claims that the Autopilot was activated, the police finds no evidence that the system malfunctioned

Last week, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) reported its first fatal crash of the Model S on the Autopilot mode, after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it will conduct a preliminary investigation on the automaker’s autonomous driving system. Couple of days later, the Model X crashed and rolled over while allegedly driving on Autopilot, according to Detroit Free Press.

The accident took place on July 1 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike close to the Bedford exit, just over 100 miles east of Pittsburg. The SUV ran into a guard rail and then the concrete median, leading to a roll over and stopping in the middle lane. The vehicle owner Albert Scaglione told Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) that the self-driving system was activated during the accident.

It is rare for a Tesla vehicle to rollover as it has low center of gravity with heavy weight at its base where battery packs are installed. It is even more unusual with the Model X, which has more weight than the Model S, and Tesla believes that it has the lowest possibility of rolling over than other SUV on the roads. It must have taken a lot of speed for it to rollover.

Fortunately for the automaker, Dale Vukovich, the investigator at PSP, is expected to charge the owner as there is no evidence that the Autopilot did not work properly. He claims that the Pennsylvania Tumpike has concrete medians and narrow shoulders, giving little margin of error for drivers.

Last month, we reported that a Model X owner, whose vehicle crashed into a building, claimed that his SUV autonomously accelerated; though, the company, after checking the logs, quickly clarified that the vehicle’s acceleration was suddenly increased significantly by manual means.

Tesla has been urging its vehicle owners to keep their hands on the steering while using the Autopilot so they can take control whenever required. The Model S and Model X also give audible and visual warnings whenever it does not sense hands on the steering.