Following reports Apple (AAPL +0.8%) is working on a mobile payments platform leveraging NFC radios, Touch ID fingerprint sensors, and 800M+ iTunes accounts, Stifel thinks Apple may have finally "cracked the code" for getting consumers to make offline payments with their phones rather than credit/debit cards.
Stifel: "With NFC and iBeacon to follow, we expect Apple’s payments product to be more focused on physical, brick-and-mortar retail than online ... We think Apple correctly sees a much bigger opportunity offline where consumer adoption is still negligible."
RBC sees a chance to create a loyalty points system for Apple products/services. Forbes' Mark Rogowsky thinks tech advances, Apple's scale, and the pending U.S. adoption of chip-and-PIN readers (will increase NFC reader support and make card payments slightly less convenient) amount to "a perfect storm" that can allow Apple's platform to succeed in spite of the failures of existing NFC solutions (Isis, Google Wallet, etc.).
PayPal owner eBay (EBAY -0.9%) is off moderately. PayPal has made a number moves to expand into offline payments, but uptake has been limited. It handled $27B in mobile transactions last year, largely for online payments. Unlike Apple's solution (from all indications), PayPal's mobile payments offerings support both Android and iOS.
Reported Apple NFC chip supplier NXP (NXPI +0.7%) is adding to its recent gains.
In a five-month crackdown on illegal pyramid schemes, Chinese authorities bust 1,446 pyramid operations involving 3.7B yuan ($607M). A total of 3,911 people are being investigated and 64.4M yuan has been seized. Severe punishments await core participants.
No word if U.S.-based multi-level marketers are in their crosshairs.
The company has reportedly signed model Gisele Bundchen to a multi-year deal to help promote its women's products. Bundchen's husband, the New England Patriot's Tom Brady, is already in the Under Armour stable.
What to watch: Retail analysts think the loss of KD isn't a large negative for Under Armour as it can strategically spread around the $30M/year endorsement spend it would have taken to land the basketball star.
A battle over carriage fees played out over the weekend between Fox Sports 1 (NASDAQ:FOXA) and Dish Network (DISH +0.8%).
The dispute centered on a per-event charge that Fox Sports 1 was attempting to tack on to its distribution deal for college football games which wouldn't have aired on the Speed network (from where Fox Sports 1 evolved).
Though Dish struck a deal to add the college football games, FS1 is reportedly looking to strike new arrangements with other pay-TV operators over the issue of the content beyond the original scope of Speed.
What to watch: The major league baseball playoffs in October may provide FS1 the leverage it needs to land the longer-term carriage deals at a higher per-subscriber rate.
Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI) updates profit guidance after sizing up its traffic and sales trends for June through August.
The restaurant chain operator sees FY15 EPS of $2.22-$2.30 vs. $2.23 consensus.
Darden picked up some momentum in August as same-restaurant sales growth improved to 0.8% for the Olive Garden chain from -4.2% in July and to 3.2% for Longhorn Steakhouse from 1.5% the previous month.
Family Dollar (NYSE:FDO) indicates it will review the updated offer from Dollar General (NYSE:DG) with advisers before it will offer a recommendation to shareholders.
The Dollar General bid commands a 7.4% premium over what discounter peer Dollar Tree (NASDAQ:DLTR) offered up and includes a commitment to shed up to 1.5K stores.
Retail analysts think the ample competition in the supercenter/superstore/supermarket space will keep regulators largely at bay as they evaluate the potential combination of the two dollar store chains.
FDO +0.8% to $80.45, a shade above the $80 bid price from Dollar General, in an indication that some investors are betting yet another offer could come down the road.
Stifel Nicolaus upgrades Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) to a Buy rating and gives the EV automaker a $400 price target.
The investment firm walked away impressed from a factory tour and sees a run rate of 1,000 units per week by the end of the year as achievable.
The estimate for Tesla's 2017 EPS is lifted to $8.28 vs. $6.14 prior.
Stifel on momentum: "TSLA sentiment is like a freight train, in our view, benefiting from a well manicured growth story that has caught the eye of a much broader investor base relative to most auto stocks."