Today - Monday, December 9, 2013
6:57 PMMicrosoft reportedly looking to bring back Windows Start menu
- Paul Thurrott reports Microsoft (MSFT) is looking to bring back Windows' traditional Start menu with its 2015 Threshold OS updates (previous). The company is also said to be interested in allowing users to run (touch-friendly) Metro-style apps in desktop mode.
- Microsoft brought back the Start button with Windows 8.1, but not the full-blown Start menu; a power menu can be accessed by right-clicking the button.
- Meanwhile, Mary Jo Foley reports Threshold could feature the release of three Windows variants (SKUs): A "modern" consumer SKU focused on Windows RT apps and touch devices; a "traditional" consumer SKU meant to placate keyboard/mouse users; and an enterprise SKU featuring "all the usual business bells and whistles."
- The reports come at a time when Windows 8/8.1's adoption rate continues to significantly trail that delivered by Windows 7 following its launch, thanks to minimal enterprise uptake and ongoing complaints about its dual UIs and lack of a traditional Start menu.
6:23 PMSenior Salesforce exec leaves for startup
- Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, Salesforce's (CRM) president of global sales, is leaving to become the sales chief of performance monitoring software startup New Relic.
- Koplow-McAdams was in charge of Salesforce's international sales teams. AllThingsD reported two months ago she was looking to leave the company, rather than work for new sales chief/vice chairman Keith Block.
6:11 PMDeutsche starts coverage on 3D Systems and Stratasys, shares up AH
- 3D Systems (DDD) +0.8% AH and Stratasys (SSYS) +0.9% after Deutsche starts coverage with Buy ratings. Fellow 3D printer maker ExOne has been started at Hold.
- The day has already seen Pac Crest start coverage on 3D Systems with an Outperform and Stratasys/ExOne with Sector Performs, and Nomura argue current industry hype is excessive. Also: Piper's Troy Jensen has issued another bullish industry report after returning from last week's EuroMold trade show.
- Jensen states 3D Systems, which introduced new high-end printers, materials, and software, was by far "the most active at EuroMold with respect to new product introductions." He's especially a fan of a new metal printer from 3D's recently-acquired Phenix Systems unit.
- Jensen also liked Stratasys' launch of a nylon printing material (resellers are upbeat), and says a visit to the HQ of Swedish printer maker Arcam (AMAVF) indicates the company is focused on rapidly expanding (it currently has only 65 employees).
5:36 PMNXP's P-E backers commence 25M-share offering; shares -1.7% AH
- NXP (NXPI) shareholders, including the P-E firms that took the chipmaker public - KKR, AlpInvest, Apax Partners, Bain Capital, and Silver Lake - are selling another 25M shares (9.7% of outstanding shares) through a secondary offering. (PR) (prospectus)
- The P-E firms previously announced 25M-share offerings in September and March, and a 30M-share offering in February. After the latest sale, the firms and affiliates will collectively be left with a 14.8% stake in NXP.
5:27 PMAehr Test Systems receives $1M FOX-15 and WaferPak follow-on order| Comment!
5:26 PMFinisar selling $200M worth of convertible debt, shares -1.8% AH
- Finisar (FNSR) is selling $200M worth of convertible senior notes due 2033. Underwriters will have a $30M overallotment option. (PR)
- Finisar says it expects to use the proceeds for "general corporate purposes," but adds it may also use some of the funds to "acquire complementary businesses, products or technologies." The optical component industry has seen a decent amount of M&A in recent years.
- It's worth noting Finisar doesn't have any pressing need for cash: As of Oct. 27, the company had $316.5M in cash/equivalents on its balance sheet, and only $4.7M in debt.
5:18 PMAccelrys acquires Irish cloud compliance software maker QUMAS for $50M| Comment!
5:12 PMDiodes +4.7% AH after FQ4 gross margin guidance is hiked by 60 bps| Comment!
5:08 PMValueClick selling website unit to IAC
- ValueClick (VCLK) is selling its Owned & Operated Websites business, which includes properties such as Investopedia and U.K. price-comparison site PriceRunner, to InterActiveCorp (IACI) for an undisclosed sum. The deal is expected to close in January. (PR)
- ValueClick announced last month (in tandem with disappointing Q3 results) it plans to sell its O&O unit, and focus on its online ad network/tech ops. O&O had Q3 revenue of $28.9M, and operating income of $4.5M.
- IAC plans to add the business to its Search & Applications unit, which includes Ask.com, About.com, and Dictionary.com. The acquisition stands to provide Barry Diller's Web empire with a little more advertising scale.
- With its numbers boosted by the About.com purchase, Search & Applications had Q3 revenue of $407.3M (54% of IAC's total revenue), and op. income of $87.8M (72% of the company total).
4:57 PMIron Mountain +2.7% AH, approves REIT Protection Rights Agreement
- Iron Mountain (IRM) shares jump 2.7% AH after the company discloses its board has approved a REIT Status Protection Rights Agreement providing for a dividend of one preferred stock purchase right for each share of common stock (Dec. 20 record date). Each right entitles the holder to purchase one-thousandth of a Series A Junior Preferred share for $114. (8-K)
- The company intends to convert to the REIT structure no earlier than the taxable year beginning Jan. but "has not yet received from the [IRS] the private letter rulings it believes it requires ... Nevertheless, the Company ... will begin to operate its business in a manner consistent with being a REIT effective January 1."
- The company entered the rights agreement to protect its potential conversion to a REIT by preventing "concentrated ownership" of common equity. IRM will seek shareholder approval to impose ownership limitations into its charter upon successful conversion to a REIT.
4:47 PMComtech +5.7% AH on FQ1 beat, FY2014 guidance, dividend hike, buyback
- Comtech Telecommunications (CMTL) shares jump 5.7% AH after the company beat expectations in FQ1, updated guidance, and announced a dividend hike and share repurchase expansion.
- EBITDA dropped 22.7% Y/Y to $14.3M. Total bookings grew 8.7% Y/Y to $76.5M, but backlog fell 2.7% Q/Q to $182.8M.
- The board raises the target annual dividend to $1.20 from $1.10 (with a quarterly dividend of $0.30/share declared implying a forward yield of 3.6%) and authorizes an increase to the share repurchase program to $100M from $50M. (PR)
- Management updates FY2014 guidance, seeing revenue of $325M-$345M (vs. analyst consensus of $328M), EPS of $1.12-$1.25 (vs. $1.14), and EBITDA of $55M-$59M.
- Conference call at 8:30am ET tomorrow, PR
4:47 PMTexas Instruments narrows Q4 guidance, shares -0.2% AH
- Texas Instruments (TXN) uses its mid-quarter update to narrow its Q4 guidance ranges. The chipmaker now expects Q4 revenue of $2.92B-$3.04B vs. prior guidance of $2.86B-$3.1B (consensus is at $2.99B), and EPS of $0.44-$0.48 vs. prior guidance of $0.42-$0.50 (consensus is at $0.46). (PR)
- TI did something similar in its Q2 and Q3 mid-quarter updates.
- CC at 5PM ET.
4:34 PMMarvell names new interim CFO
- Marvell (MRVL) has named Michael Rashkin, the president of the chipmaker's charitable fund (according to his LinkedIn profile), its new interim CFO. Rashkin, a 14-year company vet, has also worked as Marvell's VP of tax, and as interim CFO in the 2007-2008 timeframe. (PR)
- The appointment comes a week after Brad Feller, Marvell's interim CFO for 14 months, resigned to "pursue other opportunities."
4:20 PMTwitter closes sharply higher in absence of major news
- Though no major news or sell-side calls arrived today to give shares a boost, Twitter (TWTR +9.5%) managed to soar nearly to its post-IPO high of $50.09 (achieved on its first day of trading). 16.7M shares changed hands.
- Twitter did announce a deal with Swiss software firm Myriad that will allow its services to reach mobile users lacking Internet connections, courtesy of a text transmission technology known as USSD. Users won't need to log into Twitter, or even have an account.
- With Myriad having partnerships with ~45 carriers worldwide (the company is looking to add 40 more), the deal could strengthen Twitter's international reach. CEO Dick Costolo recently stated he wants Twitter, which ended Q3 with 231.7M MAUs and is dealing with concerns its service is too specialized to have a Facebook-sized base, to eventually have 1B MAUs, and to become easier for new users to figure out.
- Also: Social media analytics firm Gigya estimates Twitter had a 30% share of social media referral traffic in Q3, up from 24% in Q2. Facebook still leads with a 41% share.
2:50 PMSolar stocks lower again; investors worried about Chinese draft proposal
- The Chinese government, which has a 12GW 2014 solar installation target, wants to see 8GW of installations involve distributed solar systems (such as those installed on residential and commercial buildings), and just 4GW of higher-margin utility-scale deployments.
- Credit Suisse notes investors are concerned the 12GW target won't be attainable if utility-scale installations are capped at 4GW. It thinks Yingli (YGE -5.9%), Trina (TSL -7%), and JinkoSolar (JKS -5.3%) have the most to lose if such a cap is implemented.
- Nomura is less concerned, noting most companies it has talked to believe 4GW "will be more of a guideline rather than a firm cap." The firm adds China's solar policy discussion is "fluid," and that the government remains committed to supporting solar adoption.
- Notable solar decliners (in addition to the aforementioned companies): HSOL -12.1%. SPWR -5.6%. CSUN -5.5%. JASO -3.4%. DQ -2%.
- Last Friday: Solar stocks fall in spite of market rally
2:44 PMJPMorgan starts coverage on healthcare information services names
- JPMorgan initiates athenahealth (ATHN +0.1%), Allscripts (MDRX), and MedAssets (MDAS -1.7%) at Overweight, Overweight, and Neutral, respectively.
- On ATHN: The company "offers highly rated products differentiated from competitors' because of SaaS-based functionality and supportive back-office operations." Price target is $155.
- On MDRX: "We believe the growing share of recurring revenues, in part due to the company's large installed physician base, combined with recent bookings trends, sets the company up well for improving trends in 2014." Price target is $18.
- On MDAS: "While we like the company's positioning in both the revenue cycle and group purchasing markets, we are concerned about the impact from utilization trends on the SCM business and the volatility experienced in the RCM business." Price target is $23.
2:23 PMAmazon estimated to have 16.7M Prime subs; Janney a fan of Kiva's robots
- Research firm CIRP estimates Amazon (AMZN -0.8%) now has 16.7M Prime subs, up 72% from a year-ago level of 9.7M. The firm also reports 93% of Prime subs responding to a survey said they're happy with the service, and plan to renew.
- The estimate meshes with a recent report from Dan Rayburn, who was told by an Amazon insider the e-commerce giant ended Q3 with 15M+ Prime subs.
- Amazon's October decision to hike its minimum free shipping order size to $35 from $25 could be fueling a pickup in Prime subscriptions (free two-day shipping for $79/year, no order minimum). More recently, Amazon struck a deal with the USPS to enable Sunday delivery for Prime subs in major metro areas.
- If CIRP's estimate is reasonably accurate, it means close to 17M Amazon accounts now have access to Prime Instant Video (whether they're using it is a whole other question). Rival Netflix (NFLX -0.2%) ended Q3 with 31.1M U.S. streaming subs.
- Separately, Janney estimates Kiva Systems' robots could lower Amazon's per-order fulfillment costs by 20%-40% from a current $3.50-$3.75. That, in turn, spells estimated cost savings of $458M-$916M/year.
- Amazon mentioned in its Q3 report it deployed 1,382 Kiva robots during the quarter in three fulfillment centers.