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May 2019

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk urges his employees to focus on reducing costs and increasing deliveries before another capital raise

Year 2016 has been arguably the most important year for Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) in terms of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable transport and energy. The company not only showed the industry that there is a massive demand for its vehicles via Model 3 reservations, but also started deliveries of stationary battery products, opened its lithium-ion battery plant the Gigafactory, and announced intentions to acquire SolarCity to merge it with Tesla Energy.

Not to forget the highly anticipated Secret Master Part Deux, which includes futures plans related to automobile business expansion, integrated solar and storage products, autonomy and ride sharing. Yet, the stock is more than 14% year-to-date (YTD). Like always, the young Californian automaker has shown a lot of potential this year, and shared plans that appear far beyond its reach, while failing to produce strong financial numbers and incrementally burning cash.

The company went for an equity offering worth $1.7 billion a few months ago, and last week it revealed that it would require another capital raise to support the Model 3 production plan, and Gigafactory construction, and cell production in Sparks, NV. The stock tumbled over 6% and broke below the $200 bar over the past week.

Today, Tesla shares rallied and traded up 2.54% at $202.80 by noon. While increasing oil plays its own role, the stock surges on the back of strong expectations that Tesla will produce strong results in this quarter, after disappointing the Street twice in a row for the first time this year.

At the end of last week, Bloomberg obtained a letter from Tesla CEO Elon Musk to the company employees, urging them to reduce costs and deliver as many cars as possible this quarter to achieve robust cash flow position and profitability. He said that the third quarter would be the last chance for Tesla to encourage investors to put more money in the company.

Tesla plans to go for the second round of funding by the fourth quarter of 2016 or first quarter of 2017. Mr. Musk said in the letter, “We will be in a far better position to convince potential investors to bet on us if the headline is not ‘Tesla Loses Money Again,’ but rather ‘Tesla Defies All Expectations and Achieves Profitability.'”

Tesla is attracting the next generation of EV owners by offerings by offering test drives for ‘Model S for Kids’

At the beginning of this year, the Chicago-based toymaker Radio Flyer announced that it has joined hands with Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) to build a Model S toy, dubbed ‘Model S for Kids.’ The toy sedan has some amazing features, such as swappable battery packs and a small front-trunk, similar to the Model S for adults.

Electrek reported that the electric vehicle (EV) company has strengthened its relationship with Radio Flyer, as it has announced to provide test drives for the toy at its Stores & Galleries. In the cross-promotional initiative with the toymaker, Tesla sent an email to its customers, inviting them for the test drives.

The company wrote in the email: “At the event, your little one will have the chance to experience the Tesla Model S by Radio Flyer in our mini-test drive track alongside future owners and likeminded enthusiasts. Following their drive, we welcome you to join us in the store for light bites and Tesla talk.”

It is interesting to see how the automaker is trying to to convert kids into EV enthusiasts and Teslamanics. Model S for Kids’ charging system is the same as any other EV; therefore, it makes a good learning experience regarding EV infrastructure.

The base-price of the Model S for Kids stands at $500 and the toymaker offers several options, allowing young customers to customize their Teslas in its own online design studio, which looks like the Tesla’s Model S online design studio.

Model S for Kids is offered for kids in the age bracket of three to eight years, as the vehicle weighs just 81lbs. The increasing popularity of the product in US and Canada makes the automobile’s waiting period long similar to that of the real Model S. Kids taking a reservation today will have to wait till July to take their deliveries.

Here’s the email sent to customers:

We take a look at the best features of the recently launched ZenBook 3 by Asus

Asus has been active in the news this week, as the Taiwanese hardware giant recently unveiled the company’s new ZenFone 3 smartphone lineup alongside the much-awaited ZenBook 3. The ZenBook 3 is the latest computer from the company which features a slim design and is extremely light. The ZenBook 3 is powered by the latest Microsoft Windows 10 and is Asus’ answer to Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) MacBook Air lineup. The new device offers a bunch of new features that will leave fans of portable laptops drooling. Today, we take a look at the best features found on the new ZenBook 3.

Intel Powered Chipsets

The new ultraportable laptop from Asus features low energy dual core Intel chips, with the base model sporting the i5 chipset whereas the most expensive model has the latest generation i7 processors. The base model also comes with 4GB of RAM, which can be expanded up to 16GB; the new Asus ZenBook 3 starts at a steep price of $1099.

Storage

The new ZenBook 3 is the perfect device for all your storage needs, as the base model comes with 256GB of storage, while the top of the line ZenBook 3 boasts a massive 1TB of built-in storage.

Design

Asus has redesigned its new laptop, which makes it look like a device from the future. The new device is constructed with aerospace grade aluminum alloy and is only 11.9mm thick, while only weighing 910g. Even though the device is so thin, Asus claims that it still manages to last 9 hours on normal use. However, the slim design comes at a cost, as connectivity options are limited and the device now offers a standard USB-C port for connectivity. The device comes in three color options of Quartz Grey, Royal Blue and Rose Gold.

Display

One of the key features of the new ZenBook 3 is its flawless display, as the new device packs 12.5 inch full HD display, that is protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 4 coating.

Keyboard and Sound

The new ZenBook 3 is also the perfect machine for media playback, offering 4 speakers that have been configured by audio specialist Harman Kardon. The keyboard on the ZenBook 3 is also fully backlit with only 0.8mm of travel, which makes typing a pleasant experience. The keyboard also features a fingerprint scanner that can be used with Windows Hello.

The ZenBook 3 is undoubtedly one of the best ultraportable devices of the year and with its above par performance and specs, it is likely to give Apple’s MacBook Air a tough time.

Despite posting favorable results, Exxon Mobil Corporation shares closed down more than 2% Friday

Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) posted its earnings for the third quarter on Friday, October 28. The energy giant was able to beat the Street in terms of earnings as it posted an EPS of $0.63, beating the Street’s $0.60 estimate. The performance for the quarter seems to have improved. Despite posting good results, the stock was unable to outperform the market.

The stock for the Texas-based energy giant closed down 2.46% at $84.78 Friday. Analysts had expected that the stock will perform well in the market after the results were posted. However, this was not the case as the markets fell altogether. The main reason for the stock to finish in red was solely that the wider markets had fallen. Indices fell as Nasdaq closed in 0.5% lower, whereas the S&P 500 lost 0.31% for the day.

The markets started to fall on the news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating new the use of a private email server by presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. This news created uncertainty in the market.

Exxon, in its quarterly earnings announcement, had also hinted that if the low oil prices persist, then the company will “De-Book” its oil reserves. It had further specified that it will look into the value of its major assets. This came after the Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial regulator for USA had said that it had started an inquiry into the energy giant’s reporting of reserves and asset valuations.

The Street has mixed sentiments on the stock. Sell side firms such as Bank of America, Collins Stewart, and Deutsche Bank have issued a Hold rating on the stock. However, research firms such as RBC Capital and Wells Fargo have given it a Buy rating, whereas Credit Suisse Group and Morgan Stanley have issued a Sell rating on Exxon shares. The consensus 12-month price target stands at $87.06, reflecting a 2.68% potential upside over the last close.

Microsoft’s digital assistant now exclusively works only for Bing with competitors such as Google and Firefox shut off

After letting everyone get a taste of its Cortana digital assistant, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is cutting off competitors such as Google, Firefox and Yahoo. Cortana’s results will now only use Bing and give Microsoft a chance against Google’s hegemony of the search market.

According to a blog post by Microsoft, the company is making Cortana’s search capability dependent solely on Bing. Cortana’s personalization of search results will now actively block other engines and seems to be targeted at Google’s own questionable search practices. Cortana, the digital assistant integrated into Windows 10, is leveraging the popularity of both the operating system and the novelty of digital assistance to force greater adoption of Bing. Microsoft’s argument is that using third party results compromise the quality of its search that suffers in terms of both reliability and reduce predictability. To deliver a more personalized and seamless experience, Cortana will use the Microsoft Edge and Bing Search to cater queries for users.

Users of Windows 10 can continue to use their choice of search engine using any browser they see fit including Microsoft’s own. Meanwhile, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Android Voice searches provide no options to users in terms of search engines and are locked into default. One could argue that these services are tied into each other but then Microsoft can present the same argument. The truth however, remains that all these companies are now far from digitally neutral. Microsoft is the underdog here so it is obvious that the company would show its competitive edge someday, considering that it has only 3% of the search market while Google controls upwards of 90%.   

 

SolarCity’s loan program will offer twice the value than lease programs

The US based provider of energy services, SolarCity Corporation (NASDAQ:SCTY) has announced the launch of its solar loan program that will provide solar panels access to households at affordable rates. The new program currently applies to 14 states. It explains the companies approach to tap into the market for loans, considering a recent increase in the latter. Credit Suisse’s Patrick Jobin said that it is the right time to introduce the product as it offers a simpler value proposition to home owners.

Patrick further said that the new loan program has its advantages for both home owners and residential solar development companies, and has double value than the lease model. Moreover, there are other benefits of loans such as they offer cash up front, minimize long term risk, and also do not carry any taxes. Also, they will prove to be beneficial to regions such as California, where third party ownership is banned.

During its Q1 earnings release last week, SolarCity announced the loan product, while offering rates as low as 2.99% for a 10-year period and 4.99% for a 20-year period. The company will provide these loans through third-party financing providers such as Mosaic. Meanwhile, the costs savings from the new loan program will increase overtime and by the 5th year, they are expected to be 30% as compared to solar lease. Deutsche Bank’s Vishal Shah also seems optimistic that the company will meet its break-even and cost cutting targets by year end.

SolarCity Corporation stock has been volatile overtime with a 52-week low of $16.31 and a 52-week high of $61.72. Yesterday, the stock was almost up by 11.2% to $23.97 at market close and climbed to $24.10, up 0.54% in the after-hours. Meanwhile, street analysts are bullish on the stock and have given Price Targets ranging from $32-34. The consensus TP stands at $32, which offers almost 33% upside potential from the current levels.

iOS 10.2 blocks multiple exploits; avoid the firmware at all costs

Within just a few weeks of release, the jailbreak for iOS 9 was released by the Pangu team. However, as it seems, iOS 10 isn’t faring as well for members of the jailbreak community. It’s been months since the release of the firmware, yet there hasn’t been a jailbreak tool in sight. This has led to a lot of users with jailbroken phone holding off on updating to the new firmware for fear of losing their jailbreak.   

Now it appears that iOS 10.1.1 is the firmware you need to be on if you want a jailbreak on iOS 10. It has been confirmed that Apple has patched multiple exploits which could’ve been used to jailbreak with the release of iOS 10.2 and the last firmware with the exploits is iOS 10.1.1.   

Along with this, Ben Hawkes of Google Project Zero has also tweeted that: “Later this week we’ll release an exploit for some of the bugs fixed today (with the release of iOS 10.2) giving you a root shell and kernel memory access.” The main tweet also noted that “PSA from Ian Beer: if you’re interested in bootstrapping iOS sandbox and kernel research, keep a research-only device on 10.1.1.”  

While the intended release may not be a jailbreak tool, the exploit will be released and it may only be a matter of time before someone crafts it into a fully functional jailbreak tool. Since iOS 10.2 has been officially released, it’s only a matter of days before the signing window for iOS 10.1.1 closes and updates to the firmware are disabled by Apple.   

If you’re using the iOS 9.2-9.3.3 jailbreak, we suggest that you hold off on upgrading to the firmware since you already have a fully functioning jailbreak. However, if you’re on iOS 10, we suggest upgrading to iOS 10.1.1 so that you can jailbreak your device.

Verizon confirmed that it will not delay any updates planned for the upcoming Pixel smartphones

When Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) announced its Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones, the search giant confirmed that Verizon will handle all future software and security updates for the upcoming smartphone devices. It also confirmed that although it would release all future software and security updates for its upcoming flagship smartphones, all updates arriving for Verizon-sold Pixel smartphones will have to be certified by the US-based carrier before users can install them on their smartphones. This has concerned many users about the possibility of delays in future updates for software and security of the upcoming Pixel smartphone devices. Fortunately, Verizon officials have released a statement to effectively squash any reports about the delays in software and security updates for the new smartphones.

Verizon confirmed in an official statement that all future software and security updates for Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones will be released via partnership with the search giant. To put it simply, Verizon-sold Pixel smartphones will receive a software and security update as soon as Google releases one. The US-based smartphone carrier confirmed that it does not intend to stand in the way of Google when it releases its future software and security updates. This will come as a major relief to users who have already pre-ordered the new google devices, or even those who plan to buy them soon.

Quick software and security updates for the upcoming Pixel and Pixel XL will allow Google to effectively compete with its biggest rivals, especially Apple, which is known for releasing super-fast updates for its devices. Let us know if super-fast updates for the Pixel and Pixel XL are enough to convince you to purchase it.

QUALCOMM, Inc. CEO has indicated that Apple might look to Intel in the future for its LTE modem chips

In its earnings call on Wednesday, QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) CEO, Steve Mollenkopf, made a statement regarding the potential loss of a major customer switching to a rival. There remained a considerable speculation regarding Apple, one of Qualcomm’s two biggest customers, switching over to Intel which in the wake of Qualcomm’s statement and Intel’s restructuring process, seems to be close to the truth.

In the earnings report, Mr. Mollenkopf mentioned that the party switching from them to a rival was a major customer, a criteria that could best be applied to either Samsung or Apple, the biggest of Qualcomm’s customers. Samsung’s arrangement with Qualcomm is not exclusive as the handset maker does business with a number of vendors. It is Apple which has had an exclusive modem relationship with Qualcomm. Mollenkopf stated that losing some of Apple’s business will not impair the company’s ability to deliver on the bottom line it projects.  However, it’s not quite straightforward for investors as they believe that loss of Apple business would hit the company’s reputation as well as its profit making ability.

Intel, meanwhile, has begun a massive restructuring process, the scale of which is evident from the 12 thousand job cuts it will be making within the next two months. The company has also poached one of Qualcomm’s top talent and hired him at the Number 2 position in the company as Intel focuses on creating connectivity among computing devices. Intel is streamlining its business to increase profitability in areas like mobile, which is where receiving business from Apple could be highly lucrative for the company’s efforts.