Today - Tuesday, March 3, 2015
- Cal Dive (OTCPK:CDVI) files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, while the company and its U.S. subsidiaries continue to operate their businesses during the proceedings; foreign subsidiaries have not sought bankruptcy protection and will not be affected.
- Cal Dive has a commitment for up to $120M in debtor-in-possession financing to fund the ongoing operations.
- The company will try to sell non-ore assets and reorganize or sell its core subsea contracting business.
- For the first time ever, China's box-office take passed that in the United States in February: $650M compared to the U.S. $640M, according to Entgroup.
- While Rentrak doesn't agree (placing domestic revenues at $760M, though it doesn't break out U.S.), it doesn't affect China's trajectory to world's biggest film market.
- China's recent New Year holiday means theaters were kept clear of foreign films, leaving the way especially clear for The Man from Macau II (starring Chow Yun-Fat) to take the month's crown with $104M. The film's predecessor was key to Bona Film Group's (NASDAQ:BONA) 2014 earnings, contributing 542.9M yuan for the year.
- The Lunar New Year (this year, Feb. 18-24) has become the peak moviegoing holiday in China.
- Don't make too much of it, says Scott Mendelson: It was the Lunar New Year vs. a traditionally weak month for the U.S.
- In related news, Bona has established a second film fund of 1.7B yuan (about $271M) to finance film and TV projects over the next few years.
- China ETFs: FXI, EWH, KWEB, PGJ, YINN, GXC, FXP, ASHR, HAO, TAO, YANG, CHIQ, CQQQ, CHIX, MCHI, QQQC, PEK, XPP, YAO, YXI, CHXF, ECNS, FCA, CHII, CN, CHIE, CHIM, EWHS, FCHI, ASHS, KFYP, CNXT, CHNA, KBA, FHK
- At its upfront, Spike TV (VIA, VIAB) -- known for skewing aggressively male -- has rolled out a new logo and tagline ("The Ones To Watch"), and added a fitness competition with Jillian Michaels as it pursues female viewers.
- Female viewership is part of a companywide challenge for Viacom, facing ratings declines even as key networks skew to male viewers.
- The network also signed a deal wth Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to produce programming surrounding troops and veterans.
- Drama Emergency Broadcast goes into development, as well as eight more episodes of celebrity competition Lip Sync Battle.
- Previously: Viacom looking outside company for Stewart replacement? (Mar. 03 2015)
- Previously: Viacom reportedly prepping companywide layoffs (Feb. 23 2015)
- Frontier Communications (NASDAQ:FTR) named Daniel McCarthy to succeed CEO Maggie Wilderotter today -- a decision that Elevation analyst Stephen Sweeney thinks is "oddly timed" given Frontier's large, "transformational" $10.5B deal to acquire Verizon wireline assets.
- The company says McCarthy led negotiations on the deal in his capacity as COO.
- While Wilderotter remains on the board as executive chairman, Sweeney thinks the move adds a "degree of risk."
- He believes with no upside catalysts the stock should be shorted with $7/share fair value. Shares closed unchanged today at $7.95.
- Previously: Frontier's Q4: Customer growth through acquisition (Feb. 19 2015)
- Previously: Frontier to tap junk market for Verizon-deal funds (Feb. 17 2015)
- Facing its fair share of ratings challenges, Viacom (VIA, VIAB) may look for an outsider to take the helm of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart when its eponymous host leaves the program -- as some obvious candidates inside and outside rule themselves out.
- Comedy Central management is working from a short list and there is a good chance it skews female: “If there’s room for Comedy Central to grow, it’s probably with female viewers,” says Starcom's Sam Armando.
- But show correspondent Jessica Williams has said she's "unqualified" for the role, and peer Samantha Bee (who at 45 may be older than the network would like) is working with husband Jason Jones on a new series at TBS.
- With Stephen Colbert having already departed The Colbert Report, the pressure on Comedy Central is enormous to make the right call for the next-gen Daily Show.
- Previously: Viacom reportedly prepping companywide layoffs (Feb. 23 2015)
- Previously: Is Jon Stewart worth $100M to Viacom? (Feb. 12 2015)
- Though Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW) opened lower today in the wake of its FQ2 beat and strong FQ3 guidance, shares gradually moved higher and finished up 2%, making new highs in the process. A slew of positive analyst notes - at least 11 firms hiked their targets, many to the $165-$170 range - helped the next-gen firewall vendor's cause.
- "We believe Palo Alto is the best-positioned vendor in the space and will continue taking market share at the expense of all other vendors," writes Piper's Andrew Nowinski in one of the upbeat notes. He observes over 1,500 new customers were added (bringing the total base above 22.5K), and that over 1K customers were added for the WildFire threat-protection service (bringing the base above 5K)."
- Imperial Capital's Ashok Kumar: "PANW’s ability to upsell into its installed base and sell additional services is key to our investment thesis ... In addition to strong results, the company reported improving leverage. Operating margins of 12.4% compares to [Palo Alto's] target model of 22-25% over the next six quarters."
- On the CC (transcript), CEO Mark McLaughlin mentioned Palo Alto's customer base now includes 916 Global 2000 companies, and that "dozens" of customers were added for his company's recently-launched Traps endpoint protection service. On the hardware side, the high-end PA-7050 firewall (up to 120Gbps of throughput) remains a strong point.
- With Mobile World Congress focusing lots of talk on the next generation of wireless radio technology -- 5G -- NTT DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM) is putting itself in the center, working with many firms in the space, in Asia and otherwise, to help define the standards and develop the tech.
- Recently the Japanese company announced a regional consortium with South Korea's KT Corp. (NYSE:KT) and China Mobile (NYSE:CHL). The three will share information to develop custom 5G tech for Asia, in a bid to get ahead of competitors in the U.S. and Europe.
- Today China's Huawei said it was teaming with DoCoMo for tests in both China and Japan. At MWC, Huawei announced plans to invest at least $600M on 5G research over the next three years.
- On Monday, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) said it was working with DoCoMo to develop high-frequency networks for 5G that could offer 2 Gbps speeds by tapping previously unused spectrum.
- DoCoMo is among the more conservative firms on 5G, expecting it to really arrive in 2020 (just in time for the Tokyo Olympics), with 2030 a target for major deployment.
- FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says of 5G: "It is like going to the Picasso museum here in Barcelona and looking at a picture; I’ll see something different than you see," but agreement is crystallizing around goals: speeds of up to 10 Gbps, vs. 4G's theoretical 300 Mbps; latency of 1 ms, 500 times faster than current; green and sustainable; flexible; and secure.
- DuPont (NYSE:DD) nixes a request from Trian Fund Management to use a universal ballot in a coming vote on directors, just weeks after the company rejected the hedge fund’s board nominees and proposed two of its own.
- DuPont says it will continue to rely on proxy cards, which will force shareholders to either vote for or against its slate of directors; a universal ballot would put both Trian’s four nominees and DuPont’s full 13-member board on the same paper document sent to shareholders.
- While the issue seems technical, the decision can affect the ability of smaller investors to pick and choose directors from each side’s slate, which is particularly important at DuPont since it has a base of nearly 600K individual shareholders.
- DuPont and Trian are engaged in a bitter fight over the performance and future of the company, with the hedge fund believing the company's agriculture and industrial chemicals businesses should be separated.
- Two months after stating cumulative PlayStation 4 sales have topped 18.5M, Sony (NYSE:SNE) says they were above 20.2M as of March 1. For reference, Xbox One sales were only at 10M as of last November, though holiday season demand (boosted by price cuts) appears to have been strong.
- Separately, Sony promises its anticipated Morpheus VR headset (gaming-focused) will launch in the first half of 2016. A new Morpheus prototype has been unveiled: It contains a 5.7" 1080p OLED display with a 120Hz. refresh rate - Sony promises very low latency - as well as a 100-degree field of view and 9 LEDs for positional tracking.
- No word yet on Morpheus' price. From a technology and developer support standpoint, Facebook-owned Oculus is still generally seen as the VR market's leader. But plenty of other firms have thrown their hats into the ring over the last 12 months.
- TrueCar (NASDAQ:TRUE) has "a low quality lead gen business that is poised to plummet," declares SA Pro author The Friendly Bear in a column now out of embargo.
- The author asserts TrueCar's business momentum has "decelerated meaningfully" since its IPO, that "mounting competitive forces" will affect its pricing and expansion efforts, and that recent conference remarks from CEO Scott Painter about 2015 spending plans potentially contradicted guided provided during TrueCar's Q4 CC.
- To back up these arguments, the author notes TrueCar's unique site visits fell meaningfully Q/Q in Q4 for the first time since Q2 2012, and that Y/Y growth in the number of monetized leads per franchise dealer has fallen rapidly (though is still positive for now).
- Shares fell to $17.68 today. TrueCar is coming off a Q4 in which it saw 38% Y/Y revenue growth (compares with 52% in Q3), and is expected by the Street to post 38% growth in 2015.
- California regulators have ordered oil drillers including Chevron (NYSE:CVX) and Linn Energy (LINE, LNCO) to shut operations at 12 injection wells in the state because of concerns they may taint groundwater.
- All the wells are located in Kern County, northeast of Los Angeles, and are within a mile of the surface and 500 vertical feet underground of a water supply.
- The state says the orders were part of a systematic review of California's 50K injection wells, triggered by an acknowledgement that some well injections were taking place in zones that had not been approved by the U.S. EPA.
- TIVO's FQ4 service/technology revenue totaled $91.7M, +9% Y/Y and above an $89.9M consensus. FQ1 service/tech revenue guidance is at $90M-$92M, below a $92.3M consensus. Net income guidance is at $5M-$8M.
- Pleasing the Street: FQ4 net subscriber adds totaled 340K, up from FQ3's 328K and the year-ago period's 319K. MSO subs grew by 324K to 4.53M (3.89M households); TiVo-owned subs (higher-ARPU) grew by 16K to 944K. TiVo-owned sub growth was the best in 7 years. Over 3M of the MSO subs are in Europe, and all European partners saw sub growth in FQ4.
- MSO service revenue +30% Y/Y to $13.7M; TiVo-owned service revenue -7% to $21.5M; media services/other revenue (boosted by Digitalsmiths) +86% to $5.3M. Digitalsmiths revenue was up 25% Q/Q.
- Lifting EPS: Subscription acquisition costs fell to $153 from $155 in FQ3 and $202 a year ago. That contributed to an 11% Y/Y drop in GAAP operating expenses to $53.7M.
- TiVo has risen to $12.02 AH.
- FQ4 results, PR
- BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty (NYSE:BPT) files to delay its 10-K, citing a material weakness in its internal control over financial reporting as of year-end 2014.
- BPT says it expects to disclose in the 10-K that its disclosure controls and procedures and its internal control over financial reporting were not effective.
- After posting a strong FQ4 beat, Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA) has guided on its FQ4 CC (webcast) for FQ1 revenue of $64M-$68M, soundly above a $59M consensus. Net income guidance is at $18M-$20M.
- FQ4 gross margin was 64.3%, up from FQ3's 63.4% and the year-ago period's 64.1%, and above guidance of 62%-64%. FQ1 GM guidance is also at 62%-64%. GAAP operating expenses rose 22% Y/Y to $24.3M (compares with 62% revenue growth) - R&D spend totaled $16M, and SG&A $8.3M.
- Ambarella has risen to $66.80 AH, making new highs along the way. GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) has risen to $41.20. Ambarella had already risen 10% over the last two days in the wake of Xiaomi's action camera launch.
- Ambarella's FQ4 results, PR
- Terrorism poses a greater risk to railways and the communities they pass through than derailments, and notifying public officials of shipments of dangerous goods may actually increase the risk of attacks, says Canadian Pacific Railway (NYSE:CP) CEO Hunter Harrison.
- The CEO says he is happy to divulge information about shipments but warns that it could fall into the wrong hands, pointing to Toronto and Chicago as examples of major cities that are at risk of rail-related accidents or terrorist attacks.
- Following the Lac-Mégantic oil train disaster in 2013, Canada introduced new regulations that require Class 1 railways, including CP and Canadian National Railway (NYSE:CNI), to provide a quarterly breakdown of the nature and volume of dangerous goods they transport through each municipality.
- Bob Evans Farms (NASDAQ:BOBE) has turned far south in the post-session, down 18%, after saying it won't go for separating from its BEF Foods business.
- Activist investor Sandell Asset Management has been pressing the firm to split so it can unlock the real estate value in its restaurant portion (70% of the business) -- which Sandell estimates at $900M.
- Bob Evans earnings missed on top and bottom lines today after the close.
- Chart Industries (NASDAQ:GTLS) jumped 4.5% in today's trade after Piper Jaffray upgraded shares to Overweight from Neutral with a $45 price target, raised from $36, as valuation has tumbled due to weak oil prices and several guidance misses.
- China's announced price cut for natural gas this signals an effort to support natural gas vehicle sales despite cheap oil, the firm says, while adding that China could boost orders significantly for GTLS.
- The firm predicts GTLS will no longer trade near the bottom end of its four-year range thanks to rising investor expectations that estimates have finally bottomed, but admits "it is still difficult to predict what will happen in 2016."
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