Today - Wednesday, December 11, 2013
2:23 AMGerman CPI returns to growth
- As expected, German CPI rose 0.2% on month in November following a drop of 0.3% in October.
- On year, inflation edged up to 1.3% from 1.2%.
- Harmonized CPI +0.2% on month vs -0.3%.
- On year, HCPI +1.6% vs +1.2%.
- All the figures are as expected.
- As in the previous months, the low rate of inflation was mainly due to the falling prices of mineral-oil products, although these contrasted with rising electricity costs.
- Food inflation was still substantial for some products, although the overall increase in expenses has slowed.
- The euro is flat at $1.3765. (PR)
- ETFs - Stocks: FGM, EWG, GERJ, EWGS, DBGR. Bonds: BUNL, BUNT, BUND, GGOV
12:38 AMFacebook wants to become a news hub, users feel differently
- "The gap between ... two Facebooks (FB) — the one its managers want to see, and the one its users like using today — is starting to become visible," writes AllThingsD's Mike Isaac in a report examining the social networking giant's efforts to evolve into a news/information hub.
- But while Mark Zuckerberg wants his company to be "the best personalized newspaper in the world," its users still largely see it as a place to keep in touch with friends/family and "share a funny, viral story or LOLcat picture." Viral, "low-quality" content often receives far more clicks than "high-quality" news pieces.
- This disconnect has reportedly led Facebook to hold off on rolling out its media-heavy news feed overhaul (announced in March) to most users, and for engagement to stall among those users who have received the update.
- An update amounting to "a less drastic change" is now reportedly being prepped. Ahead of that move, and in spite of the click rate data, Facebook has updated its news feed algorithm to show more "high-quality" stories.
- Meanwhile, Twitter (TWTR), while still having a far smaller active user base, has evolved into a news hub for many of its users, and is trying to make the most of this status.
- Isaac's report arguably drives home the challenges Facebook contends with as it tries to keep users (inc. younger ones) tiring of its traditional fare engaged, and without alienating the hundreds of millions of users content with the status quo.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
9:15 PMNokia reportedly prepping low-end Android phone. Will Microsoft sell it?
- Multiple sources tell The Verge Nokia's (NOK) phone unit has been working on a low-end Android phone even as the business gets set to be sold to Microsoft (MSFT). A 2014 launch is said to be planned.
- The phone, codenamed Normandy, reportedly features (like Amazon's Kindle Fire line) a non-Google-approved version of Android. That means it can't feature Google Play, or commonly pre-installed Google apps/services such as YouTube, Maps, Gmail, and Now. Sources compare the product to Nokia's Asha feature phones.
- The NYT previously reported Nokia worked on Android phones before the Microsoft deal was announced. However, the deal prohibits Nokia from selling phones under the Nokia brand until 2016. Moreover, maintaining a phone business, and the patent cross-licenses needed for it, could undercut Nokia's efforts to better monetize its IP.
- Thus, Microsoft will probably have the final call on whether to sell the phone. Thanks in large part to the Lumia 520 and variants, Windows Phone has made decent gains in the low-end smartphone market. But it hasn't yet reached the unsubsidized price points (well below $100) delivered by the cheapest Android phones. In the meantime, those Android phones are eating into Nokia's feature phone business.
- NOK +1.6% AH
7:08 PMTwitter updates apps to emphasize messaging, support private photo-sharing
- Twitter's (TWTR) iOS and Android apps have been updated to place much greater emphasis on the service's direct messaging (DM) feature - a DM tab has been added to the apps' main navigation bar - and to enable photo-sharing via DMs.
- The update is aimed squarely at contending with the popularity of mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Kik, Line, and Viber. Though centered around basic messaging services, the apps have added support for photo/video-sharing, 3rd-party games, and even payments, and in doing so represent a challenge to Facebook (FB) and Twitter's engagement rates.
- WhatsApp alone had 350M+ monthly active users (MAUs) as of October, and Line has 300M+ registered users. Twitter had 231.7M MAUs at the end of Q3.
- Instagram is reportedly thinking of adding a private photo-sharing/messaging feature of its own. Twitter recently began allowing image previews to appear in timelines.
6:50 PMWidePoint +7.1% AH on bullish SA thesis
- Shares of WidePoint (WYY) jump 7.1% AH after SA contributor The Behavioral Economist makes the case for why shares are significantly undervalued, even in the context of their recent outperformance (shares are up 241% since the beginning of the year).
- The author argues that Q3 results are stronger than they appear on first glance and that WidePoint's recent agreement with Compass Group, as well as "175 million dollars in current capitalization opportunities under contract," imply a valuation of $3/share (an upside of 138% from today's close).
6:50 PMObama pollution rules weighed by sympathetic Supreme Court
- Supreme Court justices today expressed sympathy for the EPA’s approach to air pollution that crosses state lines.
- The rule that would curb emissions from coal-fired power plants in 28 states - struck down by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and being tested by power companies, states and miners - has never taken effect, but it would force companies to either shutter old plants or invest billions of dollars in pollution-control technology.
- The court’s four Democrat appointees, at times joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy, suggested the EPA had adhered to the language of the Clean Air Act; only Justice Scalia seemed convinced the rule could be unfair to some states.
- ETFs: KOL, XLU, IDU, VPU, RYU, PUI, UPW, FXU, SDP, PSCU, FUTY, UTLT.
- Coal names: PCXCQ, BTU, WLT, CNX, ACI, ANR, JRCC, YZC, ARLP, AHGP, NRP, PVR, PVG, PVA, OXF, CLD, WLB, RNO.
6:39 PMIcahn ups Nuance stake again, shares +1.2% AH
- Carl Icahn continues to bet Nuance's (NUAN) big YTD decline represents a buying opportunity. Just six days after disclosing his firm has raised its stake in Nuance to 18.7%, the media-friendly activist investor discloses he bought another 1.38M shares from Dec. 6-10.
- The latest purchases leave Icahn with a 19.2% stake in the voice recognition software leader.
6:31 PMHouse, Senate negotiators agree to budget deal
- House and Senate negotiators announce a budget deal that sets spending levels for the next two years and replace some of the automatic budget cuts in the sequester; if agreed to by the full House and Senate, the deal would head off a government shutdown next month.
- Some conservative groups are trashing the deal and urging rejection.
6:26 PMSamsung sells 10M+ Note 3 units, reportedly dials back smartphone target
- Samsung (SSNLF, SSNGY) says it has sold 10M+ Galaxy Note 3 units (measured in terms of of channel sell-in, rather than end-user sales) since the 5.7" phablet went on sale on Sep. 25.
- The figure highlights the burgeoning size of the phablet market, whose growth has been fueled in part by strong Asian demand. It comes in a year that has seen sales of Samsung's flagship Galaxy S4 fall short of initial expectations, and a host of rival OEMs launch phablets of their own. Samsung tries to differentiate its Note line via its proprietary S Pen and related apps.
- Universal Display (OLED) and Synaptics (SYNA) are among the companies that benefit from strong Note 3 sales.
- Meanwhile, South Korea's ET News reports (translation) Samsung has lowered its 2014 smartphone shipment target to 330M units from a prior 360M. The new figure represents expected growth of just 14%, or less than the 20% growth forecast by IDC.
6:21 PML&L Energy delays 10-Q submission
- L&L Energy (LLEN) files to delay submission of its Form 10-Q, citing "time constraints that have rendered timely filing... impracticable without undue hardship and expense to the registrant."
- Trading in LLEN shares has been halted since Nov. 18 pending fulfillment of NASDAQ's request for additional information, and the chairman of its audit and special independent committees resigned a week later.
6:05 PMSprint promises unmatched 4G speeds; $2.5B raised in debt offering
- By leveraging spectrum found in three different bands (including city-friendly 2.5GHz. spectrum acquired from Clearwire), Sprint's (S -0.1%) Spark 4G LTE service will offer download speeds of 50-60Mbps in the near-term and (with the help of carrier aggregation) possibly 150-180Mbps in two years, says CEO Dan Hesse at a UBS conference.
- Sprint is in the midst of rolling out Spark in a handful of major cities (service was just launched in Chicago), but Hesse promises much wider availability next year. He also admits Sprint's breakneck LTE buildout has caused some near-term service quality issues; Consumer Reports recently ranked Sprint dead last among U.S. mobile carriers in a customer service survey.
- Verizon, which continues to have a 4G coverage edge over rivals, is in the midst of tripling its 4G capacity in major markets.
- Separately, Sprint has priced its debt offering. The company is selling $2.5B worth of 2024 notes carrying a relatively steep interest rate of 7.125%.
6:00 PMOn the hour
- S&P +0.11%.
- 10-yr -0.09%.
- Euro -0.01% vs. dollar.
- Crude +0.25% to $98.67.
- Gold +0.05% to $1261.3.