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July 2019

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AMD is looking to battle it out on the performance turf next year

Last night’s New Horizon event hosted by Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) was about one thing: to showcase Zen’s performance to the public. The red team succeeded in achieving the goal and gave fans a taste of what to expect from Zen next year.

First things first, as the leak before the show revealed, Zen is now called Ryzen. The top of the line CPU features 8 cores and 16 threads, base clock of 3.4GHz and 20MB L2+L3 cache. AMD says that all Ryzen CPUs will have a base clock speed of at least 3.4GHz, shunning any rumors regarding Ryzen’s clock speed woes.

The biggest feature set of Ryzen is AMD’s new SenseMI Technology. There are five pillars to this technology: Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Neural Net Prediction, Smart Prefetch. Pure Power acts on hundreds of sensors in the chip that allows it to operate at minimal power consumption. Secondly, Precision Boost is AMD’s turbo boost and it can scale the clock speeds, thanks to the sensors built in.

XFR allows the chip to push beyond its normal Precision Boost frequency if it detects thermal headroom. So if you have better cooling setup such as liquid cooling or LN2 cooling, you will get higher clock speeds out of Ryzen. Neural Net Prediction and Smart Prefetch intelligently anticipates the workload and better equips itself to feed data. According to CEO Dr. Lisa Su, the two account for a quarter of the performance uplift of Ryzen.

“With Neural Net Prediction we are using Machine Learning to self-train and preload the right instructions to enable the machine to run faster. And once we get those right instructions, Smart Prefetch actually learns to anticipate the data the app needs and have it ready before it’s actually needed” – CEO Dr. Lisa Su

AMD had a couple of demo stations to put Ryzen in a live environment. Blender Render demo pitted the 8-core Ryzen with Intel Corporation’s (NASDAQ:INTC) own 8-core Core i7-6900K. AMD actually turned off Precision Boost on Ryzen so the CPU was only operating at its base 3.4 GHz frequency while the i7 6900K could reach up to 3.7 Ghz. The result was that Ryzen was neck-to-neck with the 6900K; an $1100 CPU.

Another point to note was that the TDP of Ryzen is much lower at 95W versus 140W of the Intel CPU. The second demo in Handbreak handed a completion time of 54 seconds for Ryzen, the Core i7 was five seconds slower. Moving on to Battlefield 1 demo station, two rigs were paired with TITAN X GPU. The takeaway from all three demos was that Ryzen at 3.4 GHz can match an Intel Core i7-6900K that costs $1100. While AMD has not announced pricing, it’s safe to assume they’ll be pursuing an aggressive price point.

The launch of Ryzen certainly invigorates excitement in the CPU market. AMD did not reveal pricing, which is the second part of the recipe for success if the company hopes to snatch Intel’s market share. CES 2017 in January will finally answer that.

The entry-level Pascal has been tested and it holds good news for notebook segment

After launching GeForce GTX 1050 Ti to the market last month, NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) is now planning to bring the GPU to the notebook market. The first ever performance benchmark has been provided by the folks at LaptopMedia.

As we’ve seen with Pascal, NVIDIA ditched referring mobile GPU lineup with “M” suffix simply because they are no longer cut-down configurations of the desktop variants. The GTX 1050 Ti, which is due to be featured in notebooks, retains almost the same GP107 spec. This means 768 CUDA Cores, 32 ROPs, 64 TMUs, 4GB GDDR5. In addition to higher Texture Units, the base and boost clocks are higher at 1493 MHz and 1620 MHz, respectively.

GTX 1050 Ti was pitted against GTX 970M, GTX 965M and GTX 960M. In tests, including 3DMark Cloud Gate, 3DMark Fire Strike and Unigine Heaven 4, Pascal GPU was up to 10% faster than GTX 970M and 60% faster than GTX 960M, which is impressive to say the least.

This bodes well for the notebook segment. Customers looking for an entry-level solution for gaming can assure they get the right kind of performance without shelling out too much money. With the right kind of settings, you can certainly pull off 60fps in majority of the games in market. LaptopMedia also published a video showcasing DOOM running on the GPU.

NVIDIA hasn’t announced or even hinted at GTX 1050 Ti for notebooks but it’s obvious to expect the GPU to arrive at some point.

Wells Fargo has a $30-$36 price target range on Nvidia’s stock

NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) shares fell by more than 1% in pre-market today after investment firm Wells Fargo downgraded its rating to Underperform from Marketperform. The firm keeps a price target range of $30-$36 on the stock.

Wells Fargo analyst David Wong attributed his rating change on an increasing competitive environment for Nvidia. The analyst noted that Nvidia could lose a significant portion of its graphic processor sales to Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) and of coprocessors to Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) as both companies gain strong momentum.

“Despite having apparently peaked in unit graphics market share some quarters ago, Nvidia’s gaming GPU revenues have continued to show good growth, in the 17-58% year/year range in each of the last 4 quarters (July 2015 through April 2016)” said Mr.Wong. The analyst added that the primary reason for this is Nvidia’s leadership position in the graphics market. However, at the same time Mr. Wong noted that AMD is increasingly gaining up to Nvidia with a host of new product offerings. The analyst projects that AMD during the second half of this year will regain some share in the graphics market. Mr. Wong points out that AMD’s 14nm Polaris would allow the company to snag a significant share of the high volume mainstream portion of the graphic card segment.

Mr.Wong further noted that Nvidia is stepping up its game in coprocessors by reaching further than the HPC segment to accommodate advanced functionality such as machine learning and AI infused cloud platform. The analyst is of the opinion that Nvidia has the capacity to expand its coprocessor segment in the long run hoever highlights that Intel ramping up its business may halt some of Nvidia’s momentum in the coming quarters. According to the analyst, Knights Landing product line would allow Intel to regain a certain portion of the HPC coprocessor segment.

The ‘Save to Facebook’ button allows users to share quoted text. However, it will be integrated into various other features and apps later on

Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has, for quite some time now, been working on ways to make it easier for users to share content on its platform. It is for this reason the social media giant introduced yet another feature to make this possible. This time around, Facebook has made it easier for users to share quotes from an interesting article they may have come across.

Instead of having to copy and paste, all users need to do is to highlight the text they are interested in and then post it with nothing more than a simple click.

When the text is posted on a user’s newsfeed, it will be presented as block quote along with its source, which would normally be in the form of a link.

That being said, Facebook has already announced that it would be working on employing the feature into the various apps already present on its platform. Additionally, the ‘Save to Facebook’ button will be made available for the web as well, thus giving users the ability to catch up on interesting content later on when feasible.

Even though the feature is not entirely new, it does have a lot of potential. Seeing how Facebook is determined to make its platform easier to use and a one-stop shop for all its users’ needs, it has managed to exceed expectations with the features and updates it has released so far; it does not look like the social media giant will stop anytime soon, taking into account how it has already outdone Twitter on so many levels.

Herbalife to rise on the back of increasing stake of Carl Ichan amidst clearance of FTC probe, leading to increased optimism amongst investors

Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) shares surged in the market as Carl Icahn reinforced his confidence in the company. This is why the shares of the nutrition business are rising approximately 13.91% year-to-date through September 9. Even the market indexes such as Dow Jones and S&P 500, are outperforming 3.79% YTD and 4.09% YTD, respectively. The company has 92.91 million shares outstanding, which are trading in the daily range of $61.01-62.41 and 52-week range of $42.26-72.22.

The positive momentum in the stocks of the Los Angeles-based enterprise is due to increasing support from its investors. Only recently, the investors helped it in moving past its challenges Carl Icahn purchased 2.3 million shares of the company to show his confidence in the future of Herbalife. Following this, other investors were also confident about the performance of the dietary supplements provider. The management was thankful for his continued support.

This support came in after it was mocked by activist Bill Ackman who is a short seller for the $5.57 billion business. Earlier, it was rumored that the company had been using misrepresentations to attract investments. However, the company had settled the FTC probe by paying $200 million, stating that it has been involved in no such acts. When Bill Ackman failed to turn investors against the supplier of weight management products, he resorted to spreading rumors about Carl Icahn selling his stake in the company, so that the investors can be further discouraged.

In response to this, Carl Icahn turned down the rumors. He further stated that he had not asked Jefferies to sell its stake, as Bill Ackman had rumored to be accessed by the firm for buying the stake. Following this, Ackman stated that he would only buy a part of the stake in order to save Carl, but turns out Icahn did not need to be saved. Icahn further ensured investors that the company has been undertaking its efforts to restructure its business practices to make them more transparent to investors and analysts. This restored confidence of many in the multinational.

This majorly increased the confidence level of the investors of the company, who have decided to take refuge in the bullish camps. The analysts at FactSet Fundamentals have given the investors with one Buy and two Hold ratings for Herbalife. The median PT has been presented at $78, with potential to increase by 27.7% over the closing price of Friday.

There’s no reason to force everyone to keep paying for content in order to play with friends

It’s shocking to see how quickly this has become a sort of industry tradition. Games, especially multiplayer first-person shooters, have a tendency of releasing multiple expansion packs post-release that include new maps. From the developer’s point of view, the move is to give their players new content to absorb. However, the community is ultimately forced to purchase the onslaught of map packs in order to keep playing with their friends or on their favorite servers.   

Servers keep on adding the new maps into their rotations, booting players who have yet to purchase the new DLC. This becomes an annoyance, as one player will not be able to enjoy a specific map with his friend, if one of them has yet to purchase it.

Microsoft’s Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb has expressed concern over the same matter in IGN’s latest Podcast Unlocked episode. Dubbing the consequences of such a tradition as “really dangerous,” he said that this way of selling DLC can only help in splitting up a community. He further called it “fracturing the community,” and praised the way 343 Industries has moved around this obstacle for Halo 5: Guardians.   

The developer of the latest installment in the iconic Master Chief’s franchise has made a commitment to give away free DLC maps to everyone on a monthly basis. This week, it announced the next free update in this freebie initiative, called Hammer Storm. It features a new Arena map, multiple new game modes (Grifball returns), and a whole line of REQs. 343 Industries is currently prepared to keep on continuing this stream of content until summer 2016.

Hryb explained that most publishers are concerned with post-release revenue generation, which they think can only be fulfilled through releasing map packs. However, in the case of Halo 5, 343 Industries is making it up through microtransactions – REQ packs – which so far have already generated more than $1.5 million. In fact, that figure will most probably hit the $2 million figure by the end of March.  

UBS believes key issue for Sprint Corporation is its uncertainty to grow subscription base

Sell Side Firm UBS in its report on Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) mentioned that it believes the key issue pertaining the company is the uncertainty whether it would be able to grow its subscription base or not. Moreover, would it be able to redirect itself on path of revenue growth for sustainable period of time is also a concern.

The report mentioned that company is cutting its cost base very aggressively, which also includes costs incurred in lieu of marketing which is making it difficult for Sprint to attract or make further gross additions.

Similarly, the reduction in Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) would also make the continuation in churn gains to be more difficult, as its network performance improvement would be in a pause. The report mentioned that company is missing the service revenue growth aspect which is contributing downside to company.

Moreover, it stated that liquidity concerns are a bit eased up, but is it possible to witness a stream of revenue growth amidst the heavy cost cuttings by the company?

Sprint currently trades at $3.57, and stock has already declined by around 1.38% Year-to-Date (YTD). The poor stock performance is justified since market has punished the stock because of company’s deteriorating operational income. Adding fuel to the fire was company’s postpaid churn which is on increasing rate, on the other hand, its postpaid phone net additions are on a decline. In past one year of trading, stock has declined by hefty 26.61% which reflects investors lost confidence in the stock.

The average Price Target for stock by analysts at the Street is of $7.28, which represent significant upside potential inherent in it. The most bullish and bearish estimates for stock are $9 and $6 respectively.

Out of 30 analysts covering the stock, majority of the analysts i.e. 18, have Hold rating, while 5 rate it as Underperform. Four analysts rate it as Sell, while one and two rate it as Buy and Strong Buy respectively.

The game just doesn’t seem to time travel to commercial success

April marked the release date of Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) much-anticipated time-bending action game, Quantum Break. Initially revealed as an Xbox One exclusive, a Windows 10 version was released alongside the Xbox One version on launch.

While the game faired positively well among critics, the commercial success hasn’t been up to mark, or what you’d expect from an exclusive such as Quantum Break. As it stands, the game is struggling at retail. According to analyst ZhugEX, Remedy’s Quantum Break had a second poor month, with total sales of the game yet to reach 200k in the US, that is, according to NPD’s results.

Quantum Break also had a poor 2nd month, the game has yet to sell over 200k at retail in the US according to NPD’s Packaged  Software feed.

— ZhugeEX (@ZhugeEX) June 10, 2016

This is possibly due to the fact that only the Xbox One version is available at retail. For Windows 10, the game is downloadable via Windows Store. But even then, the sales are surprising. There are currently, by a rough estimate, 20+ million Xbox One owners around the globe, with the bulk of sales coming from its home turf, the US. The last thing you’d expect is an exclusive struggling to reach the 200k sales mark in the strongest territory of the platform.

Word of mouth hasn’t been exactly strong for the game. While it enjoyed critical reception, user reception wasn’t that favorable. The game was criticized as offering a forgetful experience and the live-action episodes were simply too boring to endure.

Sony Corp.’s (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4 exclusive, Ratchet and Clank, released the same month and had no problem outselling the Microsoft exclusive. NPD’s April 2016 sales result put Ratchet and Clank at the second spot and Quantum Break at number seven. Both games are different in nature and on a basic level, one was a promising new high-budget game, built from the ground up, to add to the growing list of new IPs for Microsoft and the other was a reboot of a game that released back in 2002 on PlayStation 2.

Global pharmaceutical business largely remains out of threat as the most selling Namenda version is expected to remain branded for a long time

Allergan plc Ordinary Shares (NYSE:AGN) recently released statement regarding its ongoing patent litigation related to Namenda XR, also known as memantine hydrochloride. The issue was especially focused on the FDA final ANDA approval received by Lupin Limited for making extended release capsules as the generic version. In its statement, the drug maker stated that it has reached a settlement agreement with the licensors whereby licensed entry date for the generic version is supposed to be in FY20 given as January 31 and nothing earlier to this. Following the announcement, it has also settled with all the defendants, including Mumbai-based business.

Moreover, it stated that one of the licensed patent families covering the drug was held invalid by Delaware court. Thus, the decision is still under plea largely to the US Court of Appeals. The business is said to believe that its arguments are quite praiseworthy and substantial; therefore, it might defend the validity of its patents. Parsippany-Troy Hills-based organization stated, “If the district court ruling on these patents is upheld, there is a possibility that generic entry for Namenda XR could occur following an adverse Court of Appeals decision.”

Evercore ISI observed that the investors were quite confused regarding the last bit, whereby it stated that there was possibility of Namenda XR generic entry resulting in unfavorable decision by the Court of Appeals. However, the firm and its analyst Umer Raffat stated that this was not a big deal. He backed this by stating that the decision of the court would be focused on patent family relating to FY26. Thus, it would not impact the $94.15 billion enterprise much as the ruling of the FY29 patent went in its favor.

Mr. Raffat further explained that the FY29 patents revolved around high dosage of Namenda XR specifically pertaining to 28mg, which represents about 70% of the total volume of the drug in the market. Thus, even if FF26 ruling is not in its favor, the firm only sees generics for 7, 14, and 21mg versions, whereas 28mg version is largely expected to remain branded. On the other hand, consensus holds that the patent would erode before that and the company might be under threat of losing Namenda branding by FY20. Despite this, its investors remain bullish on the explanation given by Evercore ISI. Thus, analysts at FactSet Fundamentals have given Allergan 17 Buy, two Overweight, and three Hold rankings. It has an average target price of $303.61. This PT shows high upside potential of up to 31.55% over the last closing price.