Seeking Alpha
  • Sunday, April 20, 2014

  • 4:24 AM
    • Airbnb has finalized a fundraising round of over $450M that values the company at $10B, the WSJ reports. The deal makes Aribnb, which enables people to rent their homes, sofas, rooms, castles and/or yachts to travelers, worth more than publicly traded hotel chains Wyndham Worldwide and Hyatt Hotels.
    • Private-equity firm TPG, mutual fund T. Rowe Price Group (TROW), venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital and Dragoneer Investment Group participated in the round.
    • The investment adds to the more than $300M that Airbnb has previously raised.
  • 4:07 AM
    • Toyota (TM) aims to more than double it sales in China to 2M a year from 917,000 in 2013 and introduce 15 models in the country by the end of 2017. From 2015, the Japanese company intends to produce and sell hybrid versions of its Corolla and Levin cars in China. Toyota unveiled its plans at the Auto China show in Beijing, which has officially kicked off this weekend.
    • Ford (F) is unveiling a prototype of the Ford Everest, a seven-seater off-road SUV that will be made by the company's JMC joint venture with Jiangling Motors. At the moment, Ford makes its SUVs with Chongqing Changan Automobile.
    • Fiat Chrysler (FIATY) plans to start producing three new Jeeps in China with partner Guangzhou Automobile Group from late 2015 via the companies' GAC Fiat JV, which intends to invest 4.7B yuan ($755.8M) in a project in Guangzhou. The plans have received government approval. GAC Fiat could even make a vehicle customized for the Chinese market.
    • GM is on course for "a good month" in the U.S., the head of its North American operations, Alan Batey, has said. GM increased sales in March despite the bad publicity the company suffered because of the ignition-switch defect. GM is launching a new Chevrolet Trax and a redesigned Chevrolet Cruze compact car at Auto China. Batey reckons GM isn't "too far away" from selling 1M Chevrolet vehicles in China after selling 650,000 in 2013.
  • 3:24 AM
    • French mobile operator SFR is poised to announce a network-sharing venture with Vodafone (VOD) in the coming days, CEO Jean-Yves Charlier has said.
    • The partnership will cover several areas and will give SFR's professional clients access to Vodafone's network world-wide.
    • News of the prospective collaboration comes after SFR's parent, Vivendi, agreed to sell the unit to cable operator Numericable Group.
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  • 2:24 AM
    • Charter Communications (CHTR) is in negotiations to acquire 3M subscribers from Comcast (CMCSA) in a deal that could be worth $18-20B, Reuters reports.
    • Charter could buy the subscribers through a straight purchase or Comcast could create a spin-off in which Charter would acquire a large minority holding.
    • Other cable firms also are interested in obtaining the Comcast subscribers.
    • Comcast has already committed to selling the subscribers in order to assuage antitrust concerns about its $45.3B takeover of Time Warner Cable (TWC).
  • Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • 10:00 AM
    • An uptick in the housing market, market-share gains at the expense of struggling Sears, and substantial supply-chain improvements could be the catalysts for a near-25% rise in Home Depot (HD) over the next year, writes Avi Salzman in a Barron's cover story.
    • The stock price is up just 6% Y/Y, sharply lagging both the S&P 500 and Lowe's (LOW). Its 17.4x P/E ratio slightly trails that of Lowe's despite more impressive earnings. As Lowe's has relied on promotions and new stores in the years following the housing bust, Home Depot - under the leadership of Frank Blake who came to the CEO spot just ahead of crash - has moved to cut costs, close underperforming units, and improve customer service, and since mid-2009 has consistently posted same-store sales gains higher than Lowe's. In 2013, comp-store sales grew 6.8% at HD, the best print since 1999.
    • Home Depot has the best management team in the business, says Credit Suisse's Gary Balter, and ROE has shot up to 35.5% - roughly twice that of competitors - from 22.2% when Blake took over and began reorganizing the supply chain.
  • Friday, April 18, 2014

  • 8:00 AM
  • 6:36 AM
    • Vimpelcom (VIP) unit Global Telecom Holding (GTH) has agreed to sell its 51% stake in Orascom Telecom Algeria (Djezzy) to the Algerian National Investment Fund for $2.6B.
    • Djezzy will also pay a dividend of $1.86B to to GTH prior to the closing of the transaction.
    • However, Vimpelcom and GTH will take a one-off charge of $2B related to the settlement of a dispute with Algeria.
    • GTH will maintain operational control over Orascom Telecom Algeria. (PR)
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  • 6:03 AM
  • 5:46 AM
    • GM (GM) hasn't tested cars with faulty ignition switches to see if knee bumps from drivers can accidentally turn the engine off, Reuters reports. The issue is significant because company engineers complained as early as 2004 that such a knock could turn the engine off.
    • GM didn't assess its cars for the problem despite carrying out over 80 tests in order to persuade a judge that the vehicles are safe to drive as long the key ring doesn't have more than one key on it.
    • The judge seems to have concurred, as he ruled that GM doesn't have to instruct owners of cars falling under the ignition-switch recall to park their vehicles until they are fixed.
  • 5:27 AM
    • Procter & Gamble's (PG) Gillette is set to launch a new high-end razor called the ProGlide FlexBall, which incorporates a swiveling ball-hinge that enables the blade to pivot, the WSJ reports. The FlexBall is Gillette's first major upgrade since 2010.
    • P&G intends to start shipping the product in June and hopes to generate $188M in sales in the first year.
    • The company will set suggested prices of up to $12.59 for the razor and one cartridge, which could be a bit of risk given the emergence of low-cost competitors such as Dollar Shave Club.
    • P&G's grooming business is one of its most important, bringing in $8B in revenue in the last fiscal year, although that was down 3.7%.
  • 4:34 AM
    • Microsoft (MSFT) has sold over 5M Xbox One computer gaming consoles to retail shops since launching the device in November, well below the more than 7M PlayStation 4 machines that Sony (SNE) has sold since its product was launched last year as well.
    • Still, Xbox One sales have outpaced those of its predecessor, the XBox 360, by over 60% at the same point in time since launch.
    • The introductions of the Xbox and PlayStation 4 helped boost U.S. sales of consoles in March by 78% on year to $395M.
    • However, sales of videogames fell 28% to $432M, with revenue to multiplayer Internet games such as "World of Warcraft" dropping 19% to $84.8M.
    • Tickers: EA, ATVI
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014

  • 4:41 PM
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  • 4:08 PM
    • Hub Group (HUBG): Q1 EPS of $0.33 misses by $0.03.
    • Revenue of $848.45M (+10.3% Y/Y) beats by $8.62M.
    • Press Release
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  • 4:04 PM
    • Select Comfort (SCSS): Q1 EPS of $0.31 misses by $0.01.
    • Revenue of $276.41M (+7.0% Y/Y) beats by $2.14M.
    • Press Release
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  • 4:03 PM
    • athenahealth (ATHN): Q1 EPS of $0.12 misses by $0.05.
    • Revenue of $163.03M (+29.8% Y/Y) misses by $6.96M.
    • Press Release
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  • 4:02 PM
    • Acacia Research (ACTG): Q1 EPS of -$0.11 misses by $0.16.
    • Revenue of $12.58M (-83.6% Y/Y) misses by $4.34M.
    • Press Release
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  • 3:11 PM
    • Ryanair (RYAAY) has a full-blown SEO crisis which could ultimately impact financial results.
    • The company's website has nearly disappeared from Google search results for European flights after a web redesign mucked things up for search engine spiders.
    • The company says a fix is on the way.
    | Comment!
  • 3:01 PM
    • Amazon (AMZN +0.5%) should take the giant step of acquiring Sears Holdings (SHLD +13.3%) to instantly create a distribution network and omnichannel answer, writes Robin Lewis.
    • A move by Amazon to buy Sears in one full swoop would be faster and more efficient than building a retail network from ground up.
    • In addition to the real estate assets, Lewis notes Amazon might be able to bolt on Sears' e-commerce business and charge some life into its once-vibrant brands.
    • For Sears, a sale to Amazon makes sense because the string might be run out on Eddie Lampert's financial engineering plays.
    • The wildcard in the mix is unwinding the complex morass of business units and brands that Eddie Lampert created at the company to unlock value.
  • 2:44 PM
    • A work disruption in Toledo, Ohio impacted production of 2014 Jeep Cherokee vehicles.
    • 70 employees at Piston Automotive walked off the job in a bid to gain recognition of the UAW as its bargaining rep.
    • The plant is important for Chrysler (FIATY) with the Jeep Cherokee a hot seller this year.
    | 1 Comment
  • 2:39 PM
    • Sam's Club (WMT) plans to get more aggressive in taking share in the electronics market.
    • The chain will use its expanded warranty coverage to offer more perks to consumers and will unveil 24/7 tech support.
    • What to watch: The electronics market has become more fragmented with larger chains such as Best Buy, hhgregg, and Conn's diversifying their product lines. If Sam's has an edge, it's with its dual value-service proposition.
    | 1 Comment
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