Today - Tuesday, March 11, 2014
- Nestle (NSRGF) plans to change its corporate-governance rules to comply with new Swiss laws, and will allow shareholders to have a binding vote on the aggregate compensation of the company's executive committee and board.
- Nestle will also enable investors to vote directly for the chairman, and it will hold annual elections for directors; until now, board members have served three-year terms.
- The food giant cut the compensation of CEO Paul Bulcke by 6.7% to 9.3M Swiss francs ($10.6M) last year after the company missed a long-term sales target and growth slowed.
- Letter to shareholders
- Annual report
- Microsoft (MSFT) is carrying out a massive launch of hotly anticipated computer game "Titanfall" today, with the company hoping that the sci-fi combat title will boost sales of the Xbox One, which appears to be lagging behind Sony's (SNE) PlayStation 4.
- The strategy is one that worked with "Halo," a sci-fi shooter game that was launched in 2001 and became a blockbuster that fueled sales of the Xbox.
- Titanfall was developed by Respawn Entertainment and is being published by Electronic Arts (EA).
- GM (GM) is set to face hearings in Congress about why the company took almost a decade to recall 1.6M vehicles for defective ignition switches that have been linked to 13 deaths.
- A panel, the House Energy & Commerce Committee, will also probe the role of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- GM yesterday appointed former Lehman examiner Anton Valuskas to lead its own internal investigation, while the NHTSA is also carrying out an inquiry.
Monday, March 10, 2014
- Sean "Diddy" Combs is offering ~$200M for the Fuse music network owned by Madison Square Garden (MSG), according to a Bloomberg report.
- Sources say Combs would convert Fuse into Revolt TV, the music-focused channel the hip-hop mogul launched in October.
- Fuse is available in ~74M homes through pay-TV systems including DirecTV (DTV), Dish Network (DISH) and Cablevision (CVC), while Revolt TV currently reaches ~22.8M homes and is carried by Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC).
- Activist investor Elliott Management discloses it owns 5.38M Boyd (BYD) shares, good for a 4.99% stake. The firm also says it has "economic exposure to approximately 2.05% of the shares of Common Stock outstanding pursuant to Derivative Agreements." (13D)
- Elliott has a long track record of mounting activist campaigns in which it calls for a company to make big changes and/or put itself on sale.
- An RBC survey of 1K+ U.S. consumers found 44% stating they use Netflix (NFLX -1.9%) to watch TV shows and movies. That figure is up from 37% a year ago, and represents the first time it exceeds the one achieved by YouTube (43%, up from 40%). Hulu fell to 27% from 28%, and Amazon (boosted by Prime sub growth) rose to 22% from 15%.
- 2/3 of Netflix users said they're either "extremely satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the service, up from 63% in November. 69% said they're "not at all likely" to cancel their subscriptions, up from 66% a year ago. Those high satisfaction rates could be helpful if/when Netflix goes through with a price hike.
- Meanwhile, Netflix's February ISP speed data suggests its direct peering deal with Comcast provided a lift to streaming speeds: Netflix subs using Comcast had an average speed of 1.68Mbps, up from 1.51Mbps in January.
- The figure is still below the 2Mbps+ average speeds Comcast subs were seeing as recently as last September, and also trails those for many other top U.S. ISPs. However, the Netflix/Comcast deal only appears to have gone into effect in mid-to-late February.
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- Barclays maintains a cautious approach to Tesla Motors (TSLA -3.2%) after meeting with management, reiterating its Equal-weight rating on the EV automaker.
- The investment firm thinks the path to margin expansion will be slow and notes Tesla already has the benefit of the doubt on many valuation fronts.
- It also goes with a more conservative estimate of the grid storage opportunity Tesla sits on, seeing a 20%-25% boost to valuation instead of a clean double.
- Delta Air Lines (DAL -0.7%) exec Ed Bastian says the company took a revenue hit of $55M in the first two months of the year due to weather cancellations.
- Winter storms caused the cancellation of 17K flights during the period.
- The carrier still expects to post a profit in Q1 and see its revenue-per-passenger metric improve.
- Nike (NKE -0.9%) has signed a record sponsorship deal with Manchester United (MANU +4.8%), according to a report from The Daily Mirror.
- The club will bring in £600M ($998M) a year from Nike in a new 10-year agreement which begins when the current contract between the two companies expire next year.
- The team is currently in 6th place in the English Premiere League, an uncharacteristic position which is expected to prompt lavish off-season spending for new talent.
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- The Telegraph reports Amazon (AMZN -0.7%), already widely rumored to be prepping a sub-$300 Android gaming console/streaming set-top, is "on a hiring spree to recruit industry heavyweights in Seattle and Silicon Valley" for its young Amazon Game Studios unit, and hopes to turn it into "a major operation."
- Not surprisingly, Amazon is said to be interested in using games (much like other content) as "bait" to drive console sales. The company recently bought 75-employee game studio Double Helix, and is also reportedly making outreaches to 3rd-party game publishers.
- Re/code has reported Amazon is hoping to launch its set-top in March. Of course, the WSJ reported last October Amazon hoped to have a box ready by the holidays.
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- General Motors (GM -1.9%) selects Anton Valuskas to lead an internal investigation into how the automaker handled a recall tied to ignition swich issues.
- Valuskas is well-known after being the DOJ-appointed examiner of the Lehman collapse.
- The recall issue has been one of the biggest tests of Mary Barra's short tenure atop GM.