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June 2019

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The Country Caller talks about the biggest ride-sharing services in the US

Uber or Lyft – everybody wants to distinguish and know the difference between both, who was the first, and who offers a better ride-sharing experience. TCC takes a closer look at these two strongest competitors in the rapidly growing Transportation Network Company (TNC) market.

The big discussion around this topic usually revolves around topics such as:

Who is better for rides, Uber of Lyft?

Uber prices vs Lyft prices – are the prices really high than what we pay to Uber rides?

How does Uber app compare to Lyft app?

In 2009, Uber was originally founded as Ubercab by Travis Kalanick and Garett Camp. In 2011, the name was changed from Ubercab to Uber. Lyft, a major competitor of Uber, was founded by John Zimmer and Logan Green. Lyft was launched in San Francisco in the summer of 2012 as a division of its parent company Zimride, which officially changed its name to Lyft in 2013.

Talking about service and experience, if you want an engaging, fun-filled, front-seat ride, Lyft is generally your choice. Uber drivers are more likely to be dressed well and open the door for you, whereas drivers from Lyft are generally instructed to greet their customers like a friend. 

Both ride-sharing companies compete heavily on pricing fares at a low rate in an attempt to poach customers from their rivals constantly. At the times of high-demands and locations, the cost can significantly increase for Uber and Lyft respectively. For Lyft, users might see a significant increase in fares during “Prime Time” which can peak anywhere from 25% to 200%. On the other hand, for Uber, “Surge Pricing” can increase the cost of fares by as much as 7 to 8 times the cost.

For drivers and passengers, Uber and Lyft apps are generally accepted as functional and user friendly, allowing users to request a ride, plug-in and address, monitor driver, navigate your location on the map, and submit ratings. Uber app is said to benefit passengers by showing them the real-time cost of their ride, but Lyft app tends to be more fun, with fireworks displayed after a good tip is given. As of November 2016, iPhone App Store reviewers gave Uber app 3-star rating and Lyft app 4.5-star review. Whereas, Google Play Store reviewers gave Uber app 4.3-star review and Lyft app got the same solid 4.3 star.

Who do you think is better, Uber or Lyft? Let us know in the comments section below.

We take a look at the recent rumors surrounding the Sailfish variant

The last few months have numerous leaks surface about Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) upcoming Nexus devices. According to multiple sources, HTC has partnered with Google to release two new Nexus devices later this year. Rumors suggest that there will be a 5.2inch and another 5.5inch model, though both devices will feature a similar design. Now, a new leak by tipster Evan Blass gives us details of the specs of the smaller Sailfish variant.

Evan Blass today discovered and released a build.prop file that shows the details of specs for the 5.2 inch Sailfish variant. The new device is reported to feature Full HD display that will produce a screen density of 420. The device will also feature the Snapdragon 820 chipset rather than the Snapdragon 821 which was rumored to power the new device. The report also stated that the new device will feature biometric authentication, which will most probably come with a fingerprint scanner.

The report claims that the bigger Marlin variant will only differ in terms of size and both Nexus devices will share the same specs. The new Nexus devices will also feature built in VR technology as the new devices will be the support to Google’s recently introduced VR platform called daydream. The upcoming Nexus devices will come pre-installed with Android Nougat 7.0, which brings in ton of new features and improvements to further enhance user experience.

There are also reports that Google is planning to release two new Nexus smartwatches alongside the new smartphones as the company looks to compete directly with the Apple Watch. The Nexus devices are also reported to feature a new ‘G’ logo in place of the Nexus logo that was found on all previous Nexus devices. The evices are also rumored to be the most powerful devices that the company has released so far. The anticipated phones are to be launched in the coming month at the awaited event by the company.

The company has defied the allegation and said that it would contest the verdict of the commission

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) has just been slapped with a fine of £84.2 million by the regulatory body that over sees drug pricing policies in the UK. The competition regulator persists that the $191 billion company inflated the prices of its anti-epilepsy drug by more than 2500%. The recent penalty is perhaps the biggest issued the Competition and Markets Authority. Due to Pfizer, the National Health Services and taxpayers had to pay millions of pounds extra. Mr. Philip Marsden, the in-charge of investigations on behalf of the CMA, said that there was no justification of the price increase by the company.  

The New York based company has defied the allegation and said that it would contest the verdict of the commission. That being said, the commission also said the prices were deliberately raised for the UK than any other region of Europe. Moreover, it also reported a more than 2500% increase in the amount that was spent by NHS on phenytoin sodium capsules between 2012 and 2013. Following the penalty, the company has been ordered to lower down the prices of its drugs with immediate effect.

Being one of the biggest in the mass market for drugs, the 167-year-old company has always been in a position to put on its terms in the pharma industry. Earlier this year it raised its concerns that its products were used as lethal injections in capital punishments. Following this, the company blocked the sale of its medicines in the US region.

Pfizer has already been losing investor confidence, as it has not been able to yield out impressive returns this year. However, investor optimism seems to be increasing as short interest has decreased by 3% as per the recent data.

The Street maintains bullish views as equity research firms, such as Barclays PLC and Bank of America, stick to their high price targets (PT). The consensus PT of $37.67 implies an upside of over 18% from yesterdays close. It will be worth watching investors’ response after the recent development.

The Country Caller previews Chesapeake’s first quarter financials, scheduled for release tomorrow

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) will release its first quarter earnings results Thursday. The results would be announced before the markets open. The Country Caller previews the performance of the $3.5 billion company through the quarter.

Chesapeake, according to the Street, is expected to report revenues of $2.55 billion. Analysts across the Street predict a substantial decline in revenues when compared to the first quarter of 2015 in which the company reported revenues of $2.76 billion. The consensus also expects Chesapeake to post a loss per share of 10 cents.

The company, in the past one year, was thrashed by selloff in the oil and gas industry. The current expectations are below the earnings of $0.11 the company posted for 1QFY15.

The latest quarter has added additional challenges for the Oklahoma-based oil and gas company. Oil prices bottomed to their 13-year lows in the first three months of the year, and made life miserable for all energy companies. Chesapeake, which already is highly-leveraged, is likely to have faced a difficult situation through the period.

According to the data compiled by Bloomberg, a total of 34 analysts currently provide ratings on the stock. Two analysts rate it as a Buy, while 21 have a Hold on it. The 12-month consensus price target for shares is $4.33, reflecting a 25.34% downside potential from its previous close of $5.80.

Barclays seems confident of the impact from Brexit despite significant exposure in UK

Global equity markets rallied last week after a couple day market sell-off. The stocks gained an upward momentum but uncertainty exists. Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BCS) was amongst the most hammered stocks after an unexpected Brexit result.

Pound Sterling turned out to be the biggest loser as it hit more than 30-year low against the dollar. Initially, bank stocks struggled the most, particularly the European banks. However, the stocks are rallying and are expected to continue. Analysts believe that the short term impact on banks is over but in the long term, bank earnings are to be affected.

Last week, Jes Staley, Chief Executive of Barclays, said that investors fear that bank earnings will be impacted after Brexit. It is important to note that UK is one of the core markets for Barclays. However, Mr. Staley looks confident that the impact in the UK market will be minimal as he opposed to the idea of moving its headquarters from London to other cities of Europe. Since the referendum announcement, banks along with other corporations prepared their contingency plans for both possible scenarios.

David Wright, Vice Chairman of Barclays, in an interview with CNBC said that the bank was prepared for both the outcomes. The market volatility was expected in case of Brexit and Barclays showed resilience despite a market sell off. Barclays set a group of team across the globe to prepare for market volatility. He stated that the issue was no more financial or economical, but political. Therefore, the strategy going forward is the same what they had before. Barclays looks to downsize its operation in the Asian markets due to a slowdown in the global economy.

On a contrary note, Bernstein released a report mid of June, which stated that Barclays is to have to most impact from Brexit, as it has the highest exposure in UK. Moreover, Barclays being an investment bank, already sees its losses widen in 2015. Investment banking have been underperforming in the past year, and Barclays heavily relies on earnings from investment banking.

Now we know why brokerages were going crazy after this e-commerce giant

Perhaps the time for which the entire set of investors were waiting has arrived, and arrived with a bang. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) has released its quarterly earnings, in which it beat both its topline and bottom-line estimates. Following the news, shares have skyrocketed, nearing price targets of many brokerages. Strong performance can be seen in all the four distinct segments, including cloud computing, e-commerce, digital media, and entertainment. It can thus be said that Daniel Zhang has been the lucky charm for the e-commerce giant.

Talking of Mr. Zhang, his previous track record says it all. Transforming Haier from a company nearing bankruptcy, to being one of the pioneers in the electronic items market was a task led brilliantly by him. That same work ethics and commitment seems to transcend at Alibaba too; perhaps the hiring of Mr. Zhang in early 2015 was another master stroke by Jack Ma.

Coming to the numbers, impressive growth can be seen in the topline of the company, which jumped more than 59% YoY to $4.838 billion in the recent quarter. A strong performance can be seen in all areas, especially the home country, China, where the company reported exceptional YoY growth of 49%. Moreover, the profits of the $216.66 billion e-commerce giant are also phenomenal; the bottom-line stood at $2.501 billion, representing YoY increase of 38%. The non-diluted EPS for the quarter stood at $0.74.

Mobile transactions represented 75% of the overall Gross Merchandise Value, which stood at $126 billion, implying YoY increase of 24%. Multiplied growth rate in its cloud computing segment is a treat to watch for any investor, as the segment earned $187 million. However, it could still not contribute to the bottom-line as of yet.

Now that Alibaba Group has started segment-wise accounting reports, it will surely be a lot convenient for investors to interpret the performance of its division. Let’s see how high the stock prices go today, currently the stock trades at $91.37 (7:14 AM EDT).

Tesla is working to open two new Colorado stores in Aspen and Vail on December 19

In 2011, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) made its first foray into Colorado with a retail location in Parks Meadows shopping mall in Lone Tree. However, the automaker has not really expanded into the state since then.

Denver Post reported today that Tesla is now expanding its retail presence in Colorado with not one but two new stores expected over the next week in Aspen and Vail. While the store in Aspen will be located at 422 E. Cooper Street in Cooper Avenue Mall, Vail dealership is situated in Solaris at 141 E. Meadow Drive in Vail Village.

Tesla’s spokeswoman Sonja Koch told the publication that both the stores will open on December 19. She added, “Opening right before the holidays where both towns are bustling with visitors, these locations serve as a great opportunity.” Aspen Daily posted a photo of Tesla’s new Aspen location:

Shakti Shala is a yoga studio that is being transformed into Tesla store, which has enough space for just one Tesla car.

Apart from the existing dealership in Lone Tree, Tesla has a service center at 6395 E. Evans Avenue in Denver. Given the service problems faced by Tesla owners in the state, the automaker should add more service centers. One of the two stations could have a service location.

It has a strong charging network of 8 Supercharger stations and 46 Destination Charging locations for the 104,091 square-mile state. Tesla owners frequently use Interstate 70 (I-70) and I-25 and therefore, the automaker has completed electrified the two highways across Colorado. According to Supercharge.info, Tesla has started constructing stations in Brush on I-76 that would connect Colorado to Nebraska.

Tesla is preparing to bring its first mass-market vehicle, Model 3, on the American roads by late 2017. While its premium model vehicles are out of reach for many people, the compact sedan will definitely increase the total addressable market for the company, particularly in the US. Colorado is one of the half of the US states where the company is allowed to directly sell its vehicles to customers.

Goldman Sachs has a $70 price target on Qualcomm stock

QUALCOMM, Inc.(NASDAQ:QCOM) stock jumped by 7.6% in early trading today after the company disclosed its earnings results for the third quarter of the current fiscal year. For the three months ended on June 30, Qualcomm earned a profit of $1.16 per share on revenue of $6 billion compared to consensus estimates of 97 cents per share and $5.58 billion respectively.

Investment firm Goldman Sachs, in an updated research note sent out to clients and investors, added the company’s stock to its conviction buy list. The firm keeps a $70 price target on the company’s stock that suggests an upside of 25%.

“Qualcomm posted its first year over year revenue growth in four quarters on a strong chipset product cycle, better smartphone demand in the low end, and recovery of royalties in China’ said analyst Simona Jankowski. The analyst projects acceleration in Qualcomm’s revenue growth going into 2017. This she attributes to Qualcomm’s continued momentum in making increasing market share gains at Samsung coupled with the company witnessing recovery in royalty collections.

 Ms. Jankowski believes that revenue growth coming back after declines in four consecutive quarters coupled with $700 million reduction in overall expenses would result in gross margins rising by 3% next year. The firm believes that Qualcomm will earn a profit of $5.17 per share next year considerably above a consensus estimate of $4.65. The analyst highlights that this quarter is an important turning point in Qualcomm’s path with revenue estimate cycle moving upwards. 

Ms Jankowski adds that Qualcomm now has been able to gain a strong shares in the high end market ith the Samsung win and also in the mid tier market by securing deals with several Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEM). Among other things the analyst believes that Qualcomm’s successful royalty recovery in China would counter the bearish sentiment towards the stock.

Tesla misses its 2QFY16 delivery guidance for the second consecutive quarter

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) builds great electric vehicles (EVs) and uses innovative ways to promote and sell them. Though, it still has not mastered the art of fulfilling its promises, particularly when it comes to quarterly guidance. In fact, it has mastered the art of missing delivery numbers.

Tesla announced its production and delivery numbers for the second quarter of 2016 (2QFY16) during the weekend, missing its shipment guidance for the second straight quarter for the first time. After vowing to produce 20,000 vehicles with 17,000 deliveries, the automaker delivered 14,370 units with production of 18,345 units.

The management claimed that the targets were missed partly due to steep production acceleration, leading to half of the quarterly units being produced during the last four weeks of the quarter. Therefore, a major chunk of produced vehicles (5,150 units) were in-transit by the end of the period. At the end of 1QY16, 2,615 vehicles were in-transit, representing that vehicle in-transit doubled over the quarter and represented about 36% of the delivered numbers.

While the deliveries of the premium SUV the Model X almost doubled to 4,625 units, the Model S deliveries declined for the second consecutive quarter to 9,745 units, down 22% from 1QFY16 and 44% from its record high deliveries in 4QFY15.

Here’s a chart of quarterly, global deliveries for both the Model S and Model X:

Tesla has delivered 29,030 units during the first half of the year and expects to produce roughly 50,000 units during the second half. This shows it plans to barely hit the lower end of the full-year guidance range of 80,000 and 90,000 units.

The company departed the quarter with production rate of 2,000 units per week. With plans to continuously improve productivity at the factory in Fremont, CA, the EV maker expects to increase weekly production rate to 2,200 units during the current quarter and to 2,400 units during the last three months of the year. Tesla noted that existing backlog and “order rate trends” would help in achieving the estimated production rates per week.

Skullcandy stock surged more than 23% in yesterday, after receiving multiple takeover bids

Skullcandy Inc. (NASDAQ:SKUL) stock surged more than 23% yesterday, after receiving a takeover bid from global consumer technology platform Incipio Group. The company agreed to pay over $5.75 per share of Skullcandy common stock, making the total buyout deal worth $177 million. The household electronics company’s shares had halted before news of its merger with Incipio broke out.

The acquisition price offers a premium of roughly 29% over the company’s closing price June 22. As per the agreement, Incipio Group will finance the transaction by using only cash. The deal is expected to be closed by the end of the third quarter of 2016.

Incipio founder and CEO Andy Fathollahi also issued positive comments on the aforementioned tie-up: “Skullcandy and Astro amplify our dynamic mix of products and brands, while bolstering the technical and operational capabilities that serve as the foundation of our platform. The team at Skullcandy and its international presence will also allow us to accelerate the global impact of our multi-brand offense.”

In addition to Incipio Group, a private equity firm named Mill Road Capital also joined the race to acquire Skullcandy after disclosing a 9.8% stake in the company. The equity firm also disclosed its intention to purchase the remaining stake in the company at a price tag of $6.05 per Skullcandy share, edging the offer given by the global consumer technology platform.

Analysts at Wunderlich Securities slashed their rating on Skullcandy stock from Buy to Hold after the takeover news surfaced in late trading hours yesterday. Skullcandy stock has tumbled nearly 28% in the last 12 months, hitting its 52-week low of $2.75 in late January. The Street currently has a 12-month mean price target of $5.92 on the stock, reflecting 2.78% upside potential over the last closing price. Data on Thomson Reuters indicates analysts have three Buy and one Hold rating on the stock.