Today - Monday, March 10, 2014
5:07 PM| Comment!
- Angie's List (ANGI) has hired Robert Wiseman, the CTO of travel giant Sabre's travel network, airline solutions, and Travelocity ops, to be its new CTO. Wiseman had held his prior job for eight years.
- Manu Thapar, Angie's last CTO, left the company in September. Shares sold off on the news; B. Riley speculated Thapar's exit may have been due to the poor performance of Angie's local services marketplace.
- As part of a broader coverage launch of networking hardware vendors, Bernstein has started Ruckus Wireless (RKUS) with an Underperform. Its PT is a mere $7 (over 50% below current levels).
- The launch comes with Ruckus shares close to their 2014 highs (but still well below early 2013 levels) following a February Q4 beat.
- Kara Swisher reports Naoko Okumoto, the Yahoo (YHOO -1.7%) exec in charge of managing the company's relationship with 35%-owned Yahoo Japan, has left the company.
- Yahoo Japan's sales fell 4% Y/Y in Q3 to $992M, but its net income rose 15% to $365M. The Japanese Web portal's shares are trading close to their 52-week high in Tokyo. Yahoo's stake has a current market value of ~$12B.
- Okumoto is the latest of several execs to leave Yahoo's struggling Asia-Pac unit. Yahoo's own Asia-Pac revenue (ex-TAC), pressured by the mobile shift, fell 10% Y/Y in Q4 to $195M (16% of total revenue).
4:34 PM| Comment!
4:28 PM| Comment!
- 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.
- Chinese Internet and solar names, many of them among the standouts of the 2013/2014 tech rally, are heading into the close with steep losses after the Chinese government reported exports fell 18.1% Y/Y in February (much worse than expected).
- Internet decliners: WUBA -10.7%. YOKU -7.3%. ATHM -7.2%. QUNR -6.4%. NQ -6%. RENN -5.2%. CTRP -5.2%. YY -4.4%. WBAI -4.4%. KONG -5.5%.
- Solar decliners: JKS -6.3%. YGE -5.8%. TSL -6.7%. CSUN -4.9%. CSIQ -4.5%. DQ -4.2%. HSOL -4.5%.
- Solar ETFs: KWT, TAN
- AT&T (T -0.3%), which unflinchingly stuck with a premium pricing strategy for years, has announced yet another price cut for its Mobile Share plans (previous), as it tries to fend off a share-gaining Verizon and a resurgent T-Mobile.
- The price of Ma Bell's low-end 2GB Mobile Share plan has been cut by $15/month. The base price for a single user is now $40/month; adding a smartphone via AT&T's Next upgrade plan adds $25/month to the bill. Opting for a traditional phone subsidy/contract instead of Next costs $40/month.
- T-Mobile (TMUS +0.3%) , meanwhile, has simultaneously increased its data allotments for cheaper postpaid plans - a $50/month plan featuring unlimited voice/text now provides 1GB of data, up from 500MB - and hiked the price of its unlimited data offering by $10 to $80/month.
- Verizon (VZ -0.5%), which has offered some minor price cuts and promotions lately, insists it won't depart from its premium pricing strategy. CFO Fran Shammo: "We’re not going to buy customers ... You have to earn customers." Shammo also reiterates Verizon's support for subsidies (and with them, service contracts), and says the carrier will take a cautious approach to installment plans.
- Bloomberg reports SoftBank's (SFTBF, [[SSFTBY]]) Masayoshi Son, facing regulatory opposition to his plans for a Sprint (S +0.4%) bid for T-Mobile, will shift from arguing a merger is needed combat Verizon/AT&T to arguing a deal will allow Sprint/T-Mobile to act as a last-mile broadband alternative to phone/cable duopolies. Son is due to make a speech tomorrow.
- 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.
- Amber Road's (AMBR) price range spells a valuation range of $261M-$311M. The provider of cloud-based trade management/supply chain software is selling 4.8M new shares, and 1.7M on behalf of existing holders.
- Amber Road had 2013 revenue of $52.5M (+21% Y/Y), and a net loss of $19.2M. The company's deferred revenue balance stood at $30.8M.
- IPO underwriters: Stifel, Pac Crest, Canaccord, Needham, Raymond James
- Raymond James is suspending coverage of NeoPhotonics (NPTN -3.5%), previously rated Outperform, until the optical component vendor updates its financials.
- RJ: "The company has not filed with the SEC on a timely basis and it has disengaged with the investment community. NeoPhotonics has not filed a 10-Q for its September quarter, will soon be late filing its 10-K for 2013, and we have no clear indication of when the new auditors will complete the financial review."
- NeoPhotonics announced last November it's restating its Q1 and Q2 2013 results. The company recently amended its credit facility to extend the deadline for the filing of its Q1-Q3 reports to April 7. Its 2013 10-K needs to arrive by May 1.
- Camtek (CAMT +4.3%) states customers have begun evaluating its next-gen chip inspection/metrology platform, which is aimed at advanced chip packaging applications (including the packaging of chips featuring 3D circuits).
- Sales are expected to start in 2H14. Camtek shares are recouping some of the losses they saw last week after the company filed a $50M shelf registration.
- Leon Cooperman tells CNBC he backs fellow eBay (EBAY -1%) shareholder Carl Icahn's call for a PayPal spinoff. Cooperman's Omega Advisors owned 855K eBay shares (less than a .1% stake) at the end of Q4.
- Meanwhile, Icahn (2%+ stake) has fired a fresh broadside at eBay CEO John Donahoe over his handling of the Skype sale (previous), declaring his "inexcusable incompetence" cost shareholders over $4B.
- The letter comes shortly after eBay (as expected) rejected Icahn's board nominees. Both Icahn and Donahoe claim to have strong shareholder support for their PayPal stances.
- As European 4G investments ramp, "the window may be closing" on acquiring continental wireless assets, AT&T (T -0.4%) CEO Randall Stephenson stated last week at a Morgan Stanley conference (transcript). At the same time, he argued "there are still other opportunities" in Europe, such as those tied to the development of "global" SIM cards that can work with any type of device worldwide.
- Those remarks were highlighted by a weekend FT column declaring Stephenson had "poured more cold water." on hopes of an AT&T bid for Vodafone (VOD -4.2%). The AT&T chief has already been reported to have told investors further cable acquisitions by Vodafone would complicate a bid.
- Meanwhile, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao states recently-acquired Kabel Deutschland will act as the "core" of a wireline business in Germany and possibly other countries. He adds Vodafone's wireline ops will expand to include security, Web hosting, and entertainment services (previous).
- Colao was cryptic when asked about Vodafone's reported efforts to acquire Spanish cable giant ONO. "We'll see what happens."
- Cimatron (CIMT -14%) "seems to be one of those cases where non-professional investors that don't really know the 3D [printing] industry are jumping on the stock," says SA contributor 3D Insider in a very bearish piece.
- The author states Cimatron admitted on its Q4 CC (transcript) it expects minimal revenue from 3D printing in the near-term, and that printer makers such as 3D Systems and Stratasys offer their own software suites.
- 3D Insider also notes insiders unloaded millions of shares last year via two public offerings. "Within a quarter, the owners managed to get rid of their 40% stake, which dropped almost to 0% by September 2013."
- Earlier: 3D printer makers fall on Barron's piece
- UBS' Eric Sheridan has hiked his Facebook (FB +2.5%) PT to $90 from $72. He notes Facebook, in spite of its massive ad sales growth in recent quarters, "remains undermonetized relative to peers given the time spent on the platform."
- Sheridan only had a $30 PT when he upgraded Facebook to Buy last June (Stifel can relate).
- Meanwhile, Goldman states the Instagram/Omnicom deal increases its confidence in a prior forecast that the mobile photo-sharing service could deliver $240M-$485M in 2014 revenue. The firm adds its current Facebook estimates don't account for any Instagram revenue.
- As rumored, Tencent (TCEHY) is buying a 15% stake in top Alibaba (ABABA) rival JD.com ahead of its IPO.
- Tencent is paying $214.7M in cash. The company is also transferring its QQ Wanggou and Paipai e-commerce platforms, and a minority stake in its Yixun marketplace.
- The assets, along with the massive scale of Tencent's QQ, Qzone, and WeChat messaging/gaming/social networking platforms, should give a boost to JD.com's traffic and marketing reach.
- JD.com, which (unlike Alibaba) depends heavily on direct e-commerce sales, filed for a $1.5B IPO in January. Alibaba took aim at Tencent last year by acquiring an 18% stake in Sina's Weibo microblogging platform (an indirect rival to WeChat).
- The Tencent/JD.com deal could also spell tougher competition for Vipshop (VIPS -4.4%) and Dangdang (DANG -4.9%), both of whom are joining other Chinese Internet stocks in seeing profit-taking.
10:02 AM| Comment!