Seeking Alpha
  • Today - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

  • 2:26 PM
    • 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.
    | 2 Comments
  • 2:16 PM
    • Northcoast Research upgrades 1-800-Flowers.com (FLWS +19.6%) to a Buy rating and sets a $11 price target on shares (+79% upside) following the company's acquisition of online retailer Harry & David.
    • Retail analysts have largely applauded the deal for the immediate and long-term synergies that it's likely to drive.
    • Harry & David is expected to be run as a wholly-owned subsidiary by 1-800-Flowers.com in order to keep cashing in on the strong affinity of consumers for the brand.
    | Comment!
  • 1:44 PM
    • Shares of Home Depot (HD -3.1%) are lower after KrebsonSecurity.com reports the company might have suffered a massive credit card breach.
    • There is some evidence that Russian and Ukrainian hackers are responsible for the breach in what could be retaliation against U.S. intervention and sanctions against Russia.
    | 2 Comments
  • 1:22 PM
    • Danone (OTCQX:DANOY) appoints Emmanuel Faber to be the new CEO while Franck Riboud will hold the Chairman position with enhanced duties.
    • The company also cut out the role of co-COO by terminating Bernard Hours.
    • The split of the Chairman and CEO roles becomes effective on October 1.
    | Comment!
  • 1:07 PM
    • Aston Martin selects Andy Palmer to be its new CEO
    • Palmer was the exec in charge of Nissan's electric vehicle program.
    • The buzz in the industry is that development on several new Aston Martin models, including a SUV, is in the works.
    • Daimler (OTCPK:DDAIF) holds a 5% stake in Aston Martin as part of a technology-sharing arrangement, while former parent Ford (NYSE:F) still owns ~15% of the automaker.
    | 1 Comment
  • 12:59 PM
    • 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.
    • Related tickers: (NUS -5.9%) (HLF -2.7%)
    | 10 Comments
  • 12:53 PM
    • Toyota (TM +1.3%) continues to hype its new fuel cell vehicle as the car of the future with the launch date of the highly-anticipated model inching closer.
    • The Japanese automaker aims to start selling the car domestically before March of 2015 and in Europe and the U.S. before the summer.
    • What to watch: A list price of ¥7M ($67K) and an extremely limited hydrogen charging station network could crimp sales. Expect Toyota to appeal to consumers on environmental factors and gas savings.
    | Comment!
  • 12:39 PM
    • Shares of Under Armour (UA +2.5%) trade higher after Nike snatches Kevin Durant away from its grasp with a renewed basketball shoe contract.
    • 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.
    | Comment!
  • 12:02 PM
    • Cargill announces it acquired the chocolate business of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM +0.9%) for $440M.
    • The deal will see three of Archer Daniel Midland's plants in North America go to Cargill.
    • A closing date in the first half of 2015 is anticipated.
    | Comment!
  • 11:35 AM
    • 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.
    | Comment!
  • 11:08 AM
    • Trading in El Pollo LoCo (LOCO +5%) is volatile again as the restaurant chain becomes a battleground stock in the sector.
    • The company reports earnings on September 4 and its guidance on expansion and store count will be closely-watched with valuation getting stretched.
    • Valuation on El Pollo Loco runs 5X that of Popeyes on a per-store look, notes SA contributor The Specialist.
    • Share of LOCO are up 41.2% since debuting last month.
    | Comment!
  • 10:33 AM
    • Piper Jaffray boosts its rating on Life Time Fitness (LTM +1.8%) to Overweight from Neutral.
    • The investment firm thinks the potential conversion of the company's assets into a REIT isn't fully factored into share price yet.
    • The PT on LTM is raised to $61 from $44.
    | Comment!
  • 10:20 AM
    • Sands China (NYSE:LVS) took over the market share lead from SJM Holdings (OTCPK:SJMHF) in August as SJM's VIP business fell off, according to Macau Business Daily.
    • Overall, Macau gaming showed a 6.1% year-over-year decline in August to 28.9B patacas ($3.61B) due in part to an anti-corruption crackdown in the region which limited some junkets.
    • Macau August market share: Sands China 24.6%, SJM Holdings 22.4%, Galaxy Entertainment (OTCPK:GXYEF) 21%, Melco Crown (NASDAQ:MPEL) 13%, Wynn Macau (NASDAQ:WYNN) 10.1%, MGM China (NYSE:MGM) 8.9%.
    | 8 Comments
  • 10:08 AM
    • Shares of Amira Nature Foods (ANFI +2.2%) extend on last week's post-earnings rally to reach their highest level since April.
    • The company has benefited from its broader global reach and a lack of competition in many markets for the basmati rice category.
    | Comment!
  • 9:29 AM
    • 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.
    • DRI -1.6% premarket
    | Comment!
  • 9:07 AM
    • 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.
    | Comment!
  • 8:39 AM
    • 1-800-Flowers.com (NASDAQ:FLWS) acquires Harry & David Holdings for $142.5M.
    • The company expects the addition of the well-known gift retailer to be immediately accretive to EBITDA and free cash flow.
    • FLWS +16.4% premarket
    | Comment!
  • 8:35 AM
    • Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) is added to the Conviction Buy list at Goldman Sachs.
    • Analysts with Goldman think Dish is well-positioned to benefit from the rapidly evolving convergence in the pay-TV sector between satellite, telcoms, and cable players.
    • DISH +0.3% premarket
    | Comment!
  • 8:26 AM
    • 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."
    • TSLA +2.8% premarket to $277.26.
    | 71 Comments
  • 8:19 AM
    • Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NASDAQ:NCLH) snaps up Prestige Cruises International for $3.025B.
    • Prestige operates eight ships under two different brands - Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
    • The company plans to finance the acquisition through existing cash and by tapping credit facilities. In addition, Norwegian will issue 20.3M new shares of common stock.
    • NCLH halted until 8:30 am ET.
    | Comment!
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