February 2019


The deal seems slightly unlikely because of search engine business’s increasing focus on cloud storage and artificial intelligence development rather than social networking

In earlier news, Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) has been in the eyes of buyers for the past few weeks. Amongst the most renowned companies to potentially bid for the micro-blogger are Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), Microsoft Corporations (NASDAQ:MSFT), and, inc. (NYSE:CRM). It has also witnessed rising interest from Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS). In this regard, according to people familiar with the matter, Google has been reported recently to be working with a financial advisor known as Lazard Ltd. (NYSE:LAZ). It is doing so for considering a potential bid for the Californian business amid Twitter’s continued efforts of exploring its sales options.

Moreover, the report indicated that while hiring Lazard, the Mountain View-based company has not stated if it would definitely make an offer. However, the move suggests its plans of making a bid and the fact that the company is evaluating the said option. If it does so, it would put it against other above mentioned potential bidders. Nonetheless, its spokeswoman Gina Scigliano refused to comment on the situation. Also, Lazard spokeswoman could not be reached for noting its viewpoints. Despite this, Lazard continues to remain one of its most essential financial advisors. This is because it had served the same role previously when the $539.39 billion enterprise decided to acquire Apigee Corp. (NASDAQ:APIC) for $625 million and was able to extract a deal, expected to close at the end of FY16.

In addition to this, Google, which is considered as the largest and the strongest subsidiary of its parent business, was viewed as the most natural suitor for Twitter. The latter business has been struggling for some time now; however, both are similar to each other in terms of mobile publishing products and advertising. The two have invested heavily in the above mentioned segments. Also, the search engine business also cut a deal with the social networking site to include its content in the search results despite their failure to achieve collaboration earlier. Also, Google has been searching for opportunities to expand its footsteps into the social media segment. This was because its previous effort known as Google Plus, flopped largely in the market, leaving it with no service that could compete with other rivals such as Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB).

Due to such increasing interest from the tech giant as well as the San Francisco-based organization, the micro blogger has joined hands with Allen & Co. and Goldman Sachs to aid with its sales process. While Google may have hinted some interest, the deal seems unlikely because of the slow growth of Twitter’s user base. Although it has been trying to reshape its business to include live streaming content, it has failed to attract immediate buying bids. Also, the deal also seems unlikely because of Google’s increasing focus on cloud storage and artificial intelligence rather than social networking. Regardless of this, the investors of the Californian business continue to be bullish.

Alphabet has also scored 38 Buy, three Overweight, and four Hold ratings from FactSet Fundamentals. It has an average price target amounting to $936.37, exhibiting its potential to increase by 16.46% over the last close.

Fitbit stock price dipped nearly 6% during yesterday’s trade, The Country Caller explains why

Fitbit Inc (FIT) stock closed at $13.01, shedding about 5.86% of its value against its previous close. Moreover, Dougherty & Co. analyst Charles Anderson also published a research note yesterday, wherein he reaffirmed a Neutral rating on the stock.

In his research note, the analyst highlighted the performance of the company’s sell through indicators which include Google Searches and the application downloads. The Google search and the number of application downloads for Fitbit took a hit during the period from February and April. Additionally, they continued to be at lower levels than the product cycle-induced run rate.

However, the analyst mentioned in his report yesterday that the Google searches for the Fitbit brand over the past week were up 29% as compared to the same period of the previous year. On a global basis, rise in Google search was 29%, in the United States it was 18%, while it escalated 84% in the United Kingdom.

Furthermore, the application moved up the charts on Apple Inc’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) App Store by 17% during the past week, as compared to the same period of 2015. In addition to this, the app also moved 30% up year-on-year on Android smartphones across the United States.

A total of 23 Wall Street analysts provide coverage on Fitbit stock. Out of these, 13 analysts advise the investors to place a long position on the stock. The remaining 10 analysts believe the shareholders should hold the stock, while none of the analysts rate the stock as a Sell.

The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $22.11, which translates into a return potential of almost 70% against the stock’s current price.

Kathryn Huberty, an analyst at Morgan Stanley has the most bullish stance on the stock as she projects Fitbit stock price to shoot to $32 by the end of the 12-month period and predicts the stock would outperform the market.

In contrast to Morgan Stanley’s analyst, William V Power – an analyst at Robert Baird has the most bearish sentiments in the stock. The analyst has a Neutral rating on the stock and forecasts Fitbit stock price to tank to $16 by the end of the 12-month period.

Tesla says it will “vigorously defend” the lawsuit filed against it to bar the automaker from opening another dealership in Virginia

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) said today, that it will “vigorously defend” the lawsuit filed against it by the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association (VADA). The move by the state’s authority is aimed at stopping the Palo-Alto, California based manufacturer of upscale electric vehicles from opening and operating a second company-owned dealership in Virginia.

Tesla has a history of opening its own stores in several states in America, despite franchise laws that, in most of the cases, do not allow a car maker to own and operate an automobile dealership. The automaker stated in an emailed statement yesterday, saying that the lawsuit filed by VADA “is entirely without merit.” Furthermore, the company also said that it has always complied with the terms and conditions of the parties’ settlement agreement which was reached in 2013 which allowed the car maker to open a dealership the northern region of Virginia. In February last year, the EV maker opened a dealership in Tysons Corner, which is a suburb of Washington, D.C.

Keeping in view the agreement outlined in 2013, Tesla says that it does not stop it from opening any other dealerships in future. On the other hand, VADA has taken an absolutely opposing stance in its lawsuit filed day before yesterday, in Fairfax County, Virginia. The 2013 agreement was a product of a compromise between the high-end producer of electric vehicles, VADA and Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles. Tesla further stated in an email: “We will vigorously defend against VADA’s lawsuit and continue to fight for our customers and consumer freedom in Virginia.”

During the previous month, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) came up with a “Kill Tesla” bill which was aimed at denting Tesla’s chances to sell cars in Indiana. The electric vehicle producer publically accused the Detroit car maker behind this move. This is because the latter does not want Tesla to market and sell its cars directly to the customers – a regular practice followed by Tesla.

Chief Executive Officer of Tesla, Elon Musk believes that the environmental friendly car producers should be backed by the automobile regulators and should be permitted to sell their cars directly to customers. Here, Tesla seems to be at the same level as other auto giants in United States.


Morgan Stanley’s survey points to the most bullish home furnishings spending picture in over three years

Morgan Stanley conducted an AlphaWise Home Furnishings survey and found that spending increased to $149 per shopper over the past three months. Analyzing the survey, the firm noted 15% year-over-year (YoY) growth in spending per shopper and highlighted that the current figure is 12% above the average over the life of survey.

Wave 18 indicates most bullish spending picture of home furnishings in over 3 years. However, a major proportion of the spending has shifted to online sales, noted Morgan Stanley analyst., Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) surpassed Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) with a leading market share of 17.2%.

Simeon Gutman, Morgan Stanley analyst commented, “AMZN picked up an incremental 20 bps of market share to 17.2%, jumping WMT which slipped 60 bps to 16.8%, while TGT (9.8%) and BBBY (9.7%) remain well behind. 14% more customers shopped AMZN at least 1x/month vs. a year ago, the biggest spike among all retailers, while visits per year were up 20% from ~11 to ~13.”

According to the analyst, Amazon has traditionally benefitted a great deal as more percentage of consumers shift to online sales from brick & mortar stores. Home furnishings in context include kitchen appliances, cookware, towels, bath mats, blankets, pillows, etc.

For other home furnishing stocks, Mr. Gutman remains on the sidelines and has a cautious view. The firm maintained an Equal Weight rating for The Container Store Group (TCS), Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM), and At Home Group (HOME). For Pier 1 Imports (PIR) and Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), Morgan Stanley reiterated an Under Weight rating due to fulfillment and payroll expenses.

Mr. Gutman’s key conclusions from the survey highlighted that home furnishings retailers have witnessed solid spending backdrop in the past 3 months. Spending intentions have increased for the next three months with more sales shifting toward online purchase; Amazon in particular.

Tesla has been in talks with SK Innovation, Samsung SDI, and LG Chem to diversify its “battery-sourcing channels”

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has partnered with the Japanese battery-maker Panasonic Corporation to build lithium-ion batteries for its vehicles and storage batteries at the $5 billion plant, the Gigafactory, in Reno, NV. Yet, it is approaching its local rival including SK Innovation, Samsung SDI, and LG Chem to build batteries for its first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3, according to The Korea Times.

The electric vehicle (EV) maker reportedly plans to diversify its “battery-sourcing channels” and LG Chem will likely be chosen due to its good pricing, on-time delivery, and output commitment, the report said. Additionally, Tesla’s recent partnership with LG Display could pave for LG Chem, as both the companies are subsidiaries of LG Corp.

Although LG Chem supplied batteries for Tesla Roadster, the company sold merely 2,500 sports cars.

An official who wasn’t named stated to The Korea Times: “Tesla intends to use more Korean technology on its Model 3. It decided to use tires manufactured by Hankook Tire and LG Display who will possibly be supplying its OLED panels for the automotive systems. Additionally, Tesla is testing the manufacturing capability and production of LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation.”

Tesla officials also visited important research facilities of SK Innovation, Samsung SDI, and LG Chem for “working-level meetings” with the trio, which neither accepted nor denied any involvement with Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 is expected to boost the EV industry’s “third wave of adoption,” which will eventually hit the majority “mainstream and economically attractive” segment. With about 400,000 reservations, the $35,000 sedan has also compelled other automakers to develop mass-market EVs.

“This is why LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation all are keenly interested in boosting their tie-up with Tesla. The three Korean battery manufacturers can’t afford to lose the new business given the Model 3’s impressive initial responses from customers,” another unnamed official stated.

The report said that Tesla’s partner, Panasonic, has been making “small-sized rounded batteries,” which are also being built by Samsung SDI and LG Chem, as they are easier and more economical to produce on a large scale.

Tesla plans to build 500,000 vehicles per year by 2018 and sources close to the matter believe that Tesla is willing to use different battery technologies to maintain adequate inventory level.

Which video streaming device meets your needs, is it Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV stick

This is the time where majority of customers want to upgrade their video streaming services with the most important question in their mind—which streaming device best meets their needs. Chromecast Ultra, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV Stick are up against each other this time, each giving users different features.

Amazon Fire TV can be connected to the TV via HDMI port. It features more than 7000 games, applications, and channels. It has 250,000 movies and TV shows on board through Amazon Video, Netflix, Hulu, and many more platforms. The HDMI cable gives users faster Internet speed for the dongle. The Fire TV comes with a remote control which pairs up with the dongle automatically. Moreover, an app for the smartphone allows users to remotely control Amazon Fire TV from their device.

An open source software can be download on the Fire stick, Kodi, containing interesting content such as games and media files. Kodi, users can download different apps and watch whatever they wish to. Amazon Prime subscribers get access to unlimited Amazon video, which indicates that this device is ideal for them. The device costs $39.99, including the Alexa voice control remote. Users can control Amazon streaming devices via voice control now, without even moving. Users can even watch TV without cable or satellite if they have this device. Keep in mind that Amazon Fire TV and Amazon TV stick are different streaming devices by the e-commerce giant.

Fire TV stick supports numerous video services including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and many others with an internal storage of 8GB. It comes with quad-core 1.5GHz, 1GB RAM and provides users with HD content.

Apple TV costs more than Amazon Fire TV stick, the 32GB model costs $149, while the 64GB model comes at $199, which is triple the amount of what Amazon Fire TV box costs. Connecting Fire TV or Apple TV is easy, so both the devices are at a tie in the area. Apple TV also consists of video services such as YouTube, Netflix, HBO, and others. It comes with an antenna like its competitor, but users can connect an Ethernet cable. The set top TV box by Apple even support Bluetooth 4.0.

Apple TV comes with Siri while Amazon Fire comes with Alexa now. However, Apple loses the affordability battle as it costs way more than what Fire stick costs. Apple TV is ideal for users who are accustomed to iOS and mostly own Apple devices, which is what the streaming device is only compatible with. The same case is with Amazon streaming stick, it works better with the company’s own applications and devices, but it is compatible with other devices unlike Apple TV.

Apple TV hosts A8 chip, IR receiver, USB Type-C, and an HDMI port. It comes with peripherals like Siri remote control, a power cord, and a lightening USB cable.

Both devices stand in different places with pros and cons that vary according customer’s preferences. Amazon Fire TV stick is ideal for Amazon Prime subscribers, while Apple TV should be considered by customers who use iPhones and Macbooks. Hence, it is difficult to determine a clear winner in the two top steaming devices available in the market, currently.

The latest move would incredibly add to the oil giant’s plans to boost crude production

After being out of the corruption scandal massacre, oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA Petrobras (ADR) (NYSE:PBR) is not just taking adequate cost control measures, but is also aiming to increase production. This is significantly because the corruption scheme not only impacted the state owned company via case filings on its executives, but also shook the Brazilian economy at large.

As per the latest updates by Reuters citing energy regulator ANP, reassessment of a lucrative exploration contract between the company and the Brazilian government will be based on the crude prices as at the end of 2014.

The latest announcement is likely to leave Petrobras with a credit. More so, the revised terms of the contract would enable the company with rights to produce about 5 billion barrels of oil in a massive subsalt area that is under government control. In exchange for carrying out production, the government would be granted with the company shares. All other conditions remain the same as when the agreement was initially signed in 2010 and the crude prices hovered near $100 per barrel. At the end of 2014, Brent crude prices closed at $57.33 per barrel, denting the rights valuation in the Santos Basin south of Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian oil giant acquired rights as part of around $70 billion share exchange program. As of now, the agreement requires price revisions of the rights on which the additional resources present in the area would be based on.

In conversation with media persons on Tuesday, Magda Chambriard, general director of ANP stated that the energy prices as at the end of 2014 would just be used as a reference in price negotiations for the contract instead of the actual basis. “All indications are for the company to be a creditor. We only have to check the amount,” she added.

Being the most leveraged energy giant globally, the latest move of crude for shares transfer is likely to help the company’s management that is already carrying out measures to deleverage and raise cash.

Earnings predictions for United Continental and Lennox International before they release their earnings

United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE:UAL) and Lennox International Inc. (NYSE:LII) are expected to announce their earnings today, on Monday, October 17, for third quarter of fiscal year 2016 (3QFY16). Lennox would provide its results before the market bell, whereas United Continental would provide it after the closing bell. They have exhibited commendable performances in the past by surpassing expectations on both top and bottom levels. Today, we have analyzed predictions for their upcoming performance.

United Continental Holdings

The airline holding business has been provided with a consensus estimate of $3.05 for its earnings per share (EPS) for 3QFY16. Street’s expectations mark a sequential increase of 32.67% over EPS of $2.61 for the previous quarter. If such is the case reported in earnings, the Street prediction would result in 32.67% year-over-year (YoY) decline. Moreover, has set its expectations lower, at $2.9 for the quarter.

Likewise, the Illinois-based business is expected to report revenues of $9.86 billion, approximately 0.22% below’s prediction of $9.89 billion. If the business is to maintain Street expectations, it would observe YoY revenue decline of 4.24%. However, a 4.93% sequential rise would also be noted, based on its 3QFY15 and 2QFY16 revenue values, of $10.3 billion and $9.4 billion, respectively.

Lennox International

For 3QFY16, the Street anticipates the company to report EPS of $2.25, one cent lower than’s prediction of $2.26. This estimate would pose a miss of about 11% over previous quarter’s estimate of $2.53. Given that Lennox had EPS of $1.5 in 3QFY15, the Street expects its EPS to rise by 7.33% YoY.

The $6.79 billion company is also expected to announce $1 billion in revenues, similar to its previous quarter. If such is the case, it would lead the company to observe 4.7% YoY increase, compared to its 3QFY15 revenue of $955 million. The revenue also holds a beat over’s prediction of $998.4 million, by roughly $2 million.

Google’s latest messaging app has been criticized by the NSA whistleblower for the lack of default end-to-end encryption

Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) latest messaging app “Allo” has been criticized for its lack of default end-to-end encryption, and now former NSA employee and alter whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has also commented that Google Allo should be boycotted.

Allo is Google’s answer to Facebook Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FB) Messenger, as the app has specifically been designed from scratch for messaging and emojis. As far as end-to-end encryption is concerned, users have to turn the setting on by themselves, which is not switched on by default. As it is now the standard for messaging apps to provide encryption for the services by default, Mr. Snowden has essentially said that Allo should not be used because it does not meet the industry standard of default encryption.

The reason for not using default encryption, according to a Google spokesperson, is that Allo is paired with a conversation bot Google Assistant for voice assistance and discussions, which is required to run its queries on Assistant servers. On the other hand, tech experts have said that it is not possible that Google couldn’t find a way to make Google Assistant and default encryption work together.

It is unfair to say that Allo does not in fact offer any security or encryption features. Strong encryption is a major plus point of the app, but the fact that it is not turned on by default and would require every user to turn it on by them, is not something favorable. For all the criticism it is facing for not giving this feature, we cannot imagine Google not releasing another version of the app with default encryption not too long from now.

A recent pre-order listing for the game reveals that Xbox One owners will receive Doom and Doom II for free, via backwards compatibility

Bethesda’s upcoming reboot of the long running Doom franchise is one of the most awaited games of the current year. We’re been receiving a lot of new details regarding the upcoming first-person shooter, and as we move closer to its release date, the more features Bethesda is unveiling to force everyone on the hype train.   

The latest bit of information comes in the form of an incentive, where the developer is looking to take full advantage of the backwards compatibility on Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One.

According to the official pre-order page for DOOM, players who pre-order the game right now are going to receive the original Doom and Doom II via Xbox One backwards compatibility for free. The pre-order incentive is not a new one. In the past year we saw Ubisoft making a similar offer with its Rainbow Six: Siege, as well as Bethesda with its latest post-apocalyptic release, Fallout 4.

It is worth noting that Doom and Doom II are already available on the Xbox store as backwards compatible titles and each can be bought for a measly $5. Additionally, we’ve yet to know about how the free copies are going to be distributed. We can assume that it is going to be similar to previous instances where redeemable keys were sent to users via private messaging on the Xbox One.

Giving away previous-generation titles for free has become a sort of industry norm right now and it is worth noting that Bethesda is not the only publisher to offer this incentive to customers. Bandai Namco has recently announced that it is going to give away a free copy of Dark Souls to whoever pre-orders the upcoming Dark Souls 3. Other than that, Square Enix Media Holdings Co. (OTCMKTS:SQNXF) recently gave away Just Cause 2 for free to those who had pre-ordered Just Cause 3 on the Xbox One.

It is worth noting that these offers can only be availed on the Xbox One as the rival console, Sony Corp.’s (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4 does not offer backwards compatibility. This gives gamers on the Xbox One console a sort of edge over its competitors in the eighth generation console war which the PlayStation 4 has been winning by a huge sales margin.

DOOM is set to release this May on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Are you excited for DOOM? Let us know in the comments below.