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March 2019

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Exxon’s latest move would not impact climate change, but it is likely to hamper investor confidence

Coming ahead of probes being launched against the largest US oil producer by market share for having prevented assets write-downs during the past ten years. Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) has informed its investors that the energy giant may cut back on the estimates of its Canadian tar sands reserves. At one hand, where the latest announcement may hamper investor confidence, on the other hand, there remains little possibility of a climate impact anytime soon.

Only recently, the energy giant was accused of avoiding asset write downs for several years. With the oil prices crashing from $115 per barrel to around $27 per barrel in 2014, almost all the players in the industry including Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE:RDS.A) made considerable large scale asset write-downs.

Amid the crude prices downturn, prevention of write downs by Exxon raised many doubts leading to inquiries being launched in the company. The energy giant argued that the worth of its reserves was the prime reason behind prevention write downs; however, in a financial disclosure on October 28, Exxon finally warned its stakeholders that the company may eradicate most of the reserves in the oil sands from its books.

Furthermore, the oil giant stated that it may have to write off around 1 billion barrels of oil & gas equivalent in North America along with 3.6 billion barrels of crude at Kearl tar sands field due to the low crude oil environment. The move comes at the back of accounting formulas derived by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

With the latest decision, around 20% of the company’s assets would be written down. Having posted disappointing financial results for the third quarter of fiscal 2016 (3QFY16), the move would further dent Exxon’s balance sheet position.

Want iOS 10’s Emoji prediction but not willing to give up your jailbreak? Here’s the solution

One of the new features which has a lot of people excited about in Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS 10 is Keyboard Emoji prediction. The feature works by recognizing keywords which are mirrored by Emojis; for example, if you type love, the heart emoji will show up in the predictions list. This allows you to use Emojis without having to spend a lot of time in the Emoji drawer searching for the one you want.  

Unfortunately for the folks in the jailbreak community who are going to be stuck with iOS 9 until a new jailbreak arrives, there was previously no way to get the handy feature on their device. But now, thanks to a skilled jailbreak developer, you can get Emoji prediction on your jailbroken iOS 9 phone in a few simple steps. You get to keep your jailbreak, and enjoy the features of iOS 10 as well. The tweak is entitled “EmojiSuggest” and is available on the Big Boss Repo for free right now. 

Currently, the tweak only supports the English language, but people on Reddit are coming together to compile translations for other languages as well which will later be incorporated into the tweak via an update. If you want to get the tweak right now, simply launch Cydia on your phone and after letting the sources refresh, search for EmojiSuggest. Install the tweak on your device and the restart the Springboard. 

And that’s it. Emoji suggestions will now be incorporated into the stock Apple keyboard. Enjoy. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments.

Qualcomm Inc among Wall Street analysts’ favorite stock

Qualcomm Inc (NASDAQ:QCOM) stock has been underperforming the market since the start of 2016. However, with a lot of upside potential, the company is among Wall Street analysts’ favorite stocks. Analysts are also optimistic about the company’s stock due to emerging opportunities in China and India, which have shown an increase in demand for 3G mobile technology. Analysts believe that the growth in demand there could be a gamechanger for Qualcomm, as the company has been leading the 3G code division multiple access (CDMA) development market since many years.

Qualcomm finally won back the contract with SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) for providing semiconductors for the recent flagships phones of the company. Qualcomm stock value increased by 2.02% as soon the news hit the market. As per Qualcomm, the company will be providing its Snapdragon 820 processor for the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, which will be released in the US markets only. Samsung will be using its own Exynos processors in its phones for South Korea and other countries.

Qualcomm stock has gained 20.16% since February 11, despite being on a downward trend before that. The company’s stock is up by 3.27% year-to-date (YTD). Conversely, the Dow Jones and S&P 500 Index are down by 4.51% and 4.3%, respectively. Qualcomm stock has an average daily trading volume of 13.91 million and a 52-week range of $42.24-74.09.

Peachtree Investment Advisors recently increased its stake in Qualcomm by 10.9% according to the latest filing with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company now holds 28,145 shares in Qualcomm worth $1,407,000. Moreover, Personal Capital Advisors Corp has also boosted its shareholding in Qualcomm by 14.6% and now holds 26,934 shares in the company, worth $1,346,000.

Bernstein and Susquehanna recently upgraded their stock rating for Qualcomm stock to Outperform and Positive, respectively. As per data gathered by FactSet, seven analysts in the market recommend a Strong Buy for the company’s stock, 14 suggest a Buy, whereas 13 give a Hold rating. As per Zacks Research firm, Qualcomm stock is expected to reach a price of $59.55 in 2016. The company’s stock is currently trading at $51.10, down by 1.01% in pre-market hours on February 29.

The Country Caller examines both companies in terms of technical analysis

Sprint Corp (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS), two of the major telecommunication players in the US, have been trying to expand their presence in the region. Sprint Corp traded at higher ranges recently, although the consensus price target of analysts is $3.58. The company has not been able to show some impressive financial numbers recently and is yet to enter the profitability region.

T-Mobile, on the other hand, has been going steady and has an EPS of $1.47. The company reached its 52-week highs earlier this month and since then, it is trading near the levels. The Country Caller examines both the companies in terms of technical indicators.

The recent turmoil has taken T-Mobile stock to oversold region and there is an opportunity for the bulls to further dominate. The 14-day RSI stands at 44.5, which indicates it is near the oversold region. The Stochastic RSI however depicts a completely oversold situation which may be another positive for the bulls. The current bearish trend is not so strong and the bulls are also losing momentum gradually.

Major price level for T-Mobile is $41.54, if the level is achieved successfully, then the stock may head towards $41.88 and $42.72 levels, respectively.  Immediate support exists at $40.68 level, a fall below which may further plummet prices to $40.16 and $39.30 levels, respectively.

Sprint Corp appears to be slightly overbought and may see a rally in today’s session too. The 14-day RSI is currently 62.37, which indicates that the stock is approaching its overbought region. Moreover, the Stochastic RSI hints a relatively Neutral situation. The Average Directional Index (ADX) suggests that the bearish trend is getting stronger. There seems to be very little power left with the bulls though.

Major price level for Sprint Corp stock is $4.27, and if the level is reached, then the stock may head towards $4.34 and $4.53 levels, respectively. Major support exists at $4.08, a fall below which may plummet to $3.96 and $ 3.77 levels, respectively.

Our stance on both the telecom companies remains Neutral.

The Simplo cell bug was patched but now an integrated battery pack issue has popped up

Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface Pro 3 has now encountered another battery issue, this time with the integrated battery pack that prevents it from charging.

Surface Pro 3 has been earmarked as the problematic device from Microsoft that is never out of the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Only recently, the Redmond firm patched another bug related to the Simplo cell battery within the device. Now, the latest issue has arisen with the integrated LG power pack that not only prevents the battery from charging, but it causes the device to shut down immediately if you unplug it from the power source.

Surface Pro 3 is currently available starting from $799 for the 64GB storage and Core i3 processor, and $1949 for the Core i7 chipset with 512GB storage. For a device that costs this much, finding out that its battery dies out unexpectedly of its own accord is most frustrating. Add to it the fact that Microsoft has not even promised a patch fix and only issued an acknowledgement of the problem on its answer forum, and you have a user that is really displeased.

There are also reports that the patch fix for the Simplo cells has caused the LG batteries on the device to malfunction, which puts even more emphasis on the fact that Microsoft needs to address it before long. For now, the new battery issue seems to have struck LG integrated batteries only, but if the cause really is the patch fix for Simplo cell, then it could spread to non-LG devices as well.

The Country Caller sheds light on the earnings whispers numbers for Groupon and Expedia

Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) and Expedia Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE) are hours away from publishing their financial results for their first quarters today after markets close today. The Country Caller shares vital earnings whispers numbers for these two companies.

Groupon

The global e-commerce marketplace, Groupon, saw shares close at $4.61, at the same price it closed at on April 26. Since the start of this year through April 27, 2016, the stock has surged over 50%, beating the Dow Jones Composite Index’s gain of 3.54% by a wide margin over the same time span.

As per earningswhispers.com, the Chicago, Illinois-based company is about to report zero cents in earnings, which suggests Groupon is about to break even for the quarter. In contrast to this, the Street believes that the company might report a loss of two cents for the first quarter. For its last quarter the company posted four cents in earnings per share, and for the year-ago period, the company reported three cents in EPS.

According to the projections by Estimize, Groupon would report revenue of about $719.31 million for 1Q, surpassing the consensus revenue estimate of $707.99 million. For its previous quarter, the company posted $917.2 million in sales. For 1QFY15, the nearly $3 billion company reported revenues of $750.4 million. Both the figures suggest the company is about to post sequential as well as yearly revenue decline this earnings season.

Expedia Inc

The Bellevue, Washington-based company, which owns several global online travel brands, has seen shares closed at $107.77 yesterday, up 1.06% from the prior close. Up till April 27 this year, the stock has tanked more than 13%, heavily underperforming the Dow Jones Composite Index’s gain of 3.54%.

According to earningswhispers.com, the company might report breakeven bottom line results for the first quarter, incurring neither profit nor loss. However, on the other hand, Expedia is expected to report a loss of five cents per share for the quarter, as per the Street’s forecast. For the fourth quarter, the company posted 77 cents in earnings per share. For the comparable year-ago quarter, it reported an EPS of 34 cents.

Furthermore, Estimize suggests the company to report revenue of $1.82 billion, below the Street’s estimate of $1.84 billion. Expedia posted revenues of $1.37 billion for the first quarter of FY15, and $1.70 billion for the same quarter of 2015.

According to the analyst, the article was factually incorrect and misleading; maintains Buy rating

Shares of Abeona Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ABEO) plunged as much as 14% on Monday’s trading session following a negative article that highlighted irrefutable flaws in its trial design. Soon after, Cantor Fitzgerald issued commentary on ABEO stock to defend the company against what he termed as “factually incorrect and misleading” article. 

According to the assertions made in the article, Abeona would not stand a chance to succeed if peer company Lysogene failed. As per the article, Abeona uses wrong gene promoter to treat glial cells of the nervous system and that its primary endpoint used in the trial is wrong, noted Elemer Piros, Cantor Fitzgerald analyst. 

“Lysogene conducted a failed clinical trial in three children suffering from MPSIIIA. Their gene therapy was directly injected into a handful of brain regions. Abeona infuses the drug to the bloodstream, providing widespread brain distribution, as shown in rodent and primate studies. In the first clinical trial, Abeona reported significant reductions in a toxic substance in the CSF of humans,” said Mr. Piros in defense of Abeona. 

According to the analyst, the negative articles cited an abstract which showed AAV1/2 vectors that preferentially transduce neurons rather than glial cells of the nervous system. Abeona works on AAV9 vectors which promotes and delivers expressions in both types of cells. 

Mr. Piros commented all phase AAV1/2 trials, particularly associated with gene therapy, have safety as primary endpoint. However, this does not define that efficacy is not tested, which the company reported a few weeks ago. 

Cantor Fitzgerald has maintained a Buy rating and a $21 price target on the stock that represents an upside potential of 371.91% over the last closing price $4.45. Abeona shares closed down 13.59% on Monday following the negative article.

Celebrities and publishers can now tag third-party products or services. However, ‘overly promotional’ content has been banned

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is making a huge change in its branded content policy; according to which, publishers and celebrities can promote third-party goods and services.

A new tagging feature has been introduced, which is more specifically going to appeal to those who having anything to do with marketing. Basically, when a third-party company is addressed in a post, it will be alerted and will also be able to view the post and share it as well. Additionally, the company will also be able to view analytics.

On the other hand, the celebrity or publisher making such a post will get a ‘with’ tag, which is actually no different from when Facebook users tag their friends and family.

Even though this new change will make it easier for Facebook’s audience to identify brands, but a word of caution, as the social media giant, will not in any circumstance allow ‘overly promotional’ content. This includes pre-roll ads for videos and watermarks on images. Moreover, sponsors, brands and products will no longer be allowed to be used as a Profile or Cover photo.

That being said, the change in the branded content policy has already been rolled out. Facebook stated that the same policy will take into effect for its Live Video platform too.

On one end, Facebook may have made it easier for publishers and celebrities to promote products and service, while on the other it has made it equally difficult to go the extra mile for companies to create brand awareness for its products or services. For now, it is difficult to tell whether the move is a good one, but it does come to show that the social media giant is taking ads on its platform more seriously than before.

Majority of Netflix subscribers in the US and Canada are willing to pay $12-15 per month, but they pay more and spend more on Pay-TV

Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is un-grandfathering a large number of its subscriber base and increasing its standard plan to $9.99 per month and accrediting it for higher churn and weak growth during the second quarter. A new study reveals that its subscribers were willing to pay far more than $10 before discontinuing the service.

Grand Forks Herald reported that TiVo’s Digitalsmiths conducted a study during the second quarter and found that 21% of Netflix users in Canada and the US would pay at least $16 on monthly basis for its service. 8.4% and 6.5% of the subscribers were willing to pay $16-19 and $20-23, respectively. While 3% fell in the $24-27 range, 1.7% and 1.4% of them said they would pay $28-31 and at least $32, respectively.

A large number of subscribers (29.3%) said that they would not pay more than the existing prices for Netflix’s subscription packages. Majority of 39.1% were comfortable paying between $12 and $15 per month. 10.6% of the remaining respondents did not give an answer in a survey of 3,114 Canadians and Americans.

It is highly likely that Netflix will further increase its prices for the next couple of years, but it is interesting to see how much leverage does the streaming giant has in its core markets, as it is already considered expensive in the new Asian markets. Netflix will compensate the subscribers by investing more on original and exclusive content, which should be more next year than the $6 billion slated for this year.

Additionally, consumers already pay a lot of money on pay TV. According to Digitalsmiths survey, roughly 35% of respondents spent at least $100 per month on cable TV, while 49% pay $51-100 per month and 16% pay at most $50.

There is large number of people who still spend more time watching content on conventional TV than online. The study showed that 59% of SVoD subscribers viewed content for at most two hours per day and merely 5% watched content for at least five hours. Conversely, a US household watched roughly 4.5 hours on average of pay TV per day in the first quarter, according to Nielsen.

The research also found that about 10% of Netflix and other SVoD subscribers, like kids, friends and family, use other people’s account.

FBR Capital remains optimistic on CVS Health to deliver stronger results in future

CVS Health Corp (NYSE:CVS) announced financial results for 2QFY16 on Tuesday, August 2. The company succeeded in beating the Street on the bottom line, however it missed on the top line expectations. It reported earnings per share of $1.32 and revenues of $43.7 billion against the Street estimate of $1.30 in EPS and $44.2 billion in revenues. By reporting these figures, the company grew its revenues by 17.6% on year-over-year basis. Not only this, it also reported an increment of 8.3% YoY in EPS. Thus, FBR Capital analyst Steven Halper restated his Outperform rating on the stock.

The company further provided guidance for the third quarter of FY16 as well as the entire fiscal year. The pharma company expects its 3QFY16 EPS to be within the range of $1.55-1.58, depicting 17.4-19.7% sequential increase if it meets its expectations. It also raised FY16 EPS expectations from $5.73-5.88 to $5.81-5.89. The company also expects to raise FY16 cash flows from within the range of $7.6-7.9 billion to $8.8-9.1 billion.

Furthermore, CVS pharmacy services segment, largest contributor to the revenues of the company, reported $29.5 billion in revenues. This was an increase of 20.7% YoY. The revenue growth could be credited to growth in new pharmacy clients and increase in generic drug sales following the acquisition of Omnicare. Due to this, the segment’s operating income rose by 10.4% YoY.

Moreover, the company’s retail segment also did exceptionally well in this season. The revenues of the division came out to be $19.9 billion, marking an increase of 16% YoY. The division credits this increment to rise in same-store sales and acquisition of Omnicare and Target. Same-store sales rose by 2.1% YoY, translating into an increase in the segment’s operating income to $1.7 billion.

Based on these figures, FBR Capital analyst Steven Halper not only reiterated his Outperform rating on the stock but also maintained a price target of $120 on the shares. The firm was impressed by the performance of CVS Health this season, due to which it decided to stay as buyers of the stock.

Steven Halper further commented that he credits these results to the $106.19 billion company’s Pharmacy Benefit Management division. The division performed better than expected. Due to this, he believes that the company growth remains strong as the specialty revenue grew by 23%. Not only this, he believes that CVS Health FY17 selling season is going to be strong, as indicated by the company. This could be the reason why the company increased its EPS guidance and cash flow outlook for FY16.

Such results have encouraged FBR Capital analysts to remain hopeful on the shares of the company. They have confidence that the company would deliver strong results in quarters to come. They reiterated the Outperform rating on the stock. Other analysts at FactSet Fundamentals maintain 18 Buy, three Overweight, and five Hold ratings on the stock. They have set a 12-month median price target at $112.70, an increment of 14.93% over the last close. The company currently has 1.07 billion shares outstanding in the market.