Friday, December 26, 2014
- Buoyed by strong mobile chip demand, healthy DRAM/flash prices, and a PC inventory refresh, global chip sales will rise 9.4% in 2014 $353.2B, estimates IHS. That growth rate is soundly above 2013's 6.4% and the highest since 2010, when the industry was recovering from a gut-wrenching recessionary downturn.
- IHS expects 22 of the industry's 28 sub-segments to see positive 2014 growth. Analyst Dale Ford: "While the upswing in 2013 was almost entirely driven by growth in a few specific memory segments, the rise in 2014 is built on a widespread increase in demand for a variety of different types of chips."
- Growth is expected to slow a bit in 2014. Believing "the outlook into 2015 is generally tracking typical seasonality," JPMorgan forecasts 3%-5% 2015 industry sales growth and 6%-10% earnings growth. Jefferies expects 2015 growth of 5%.
- Jim Cramer made a bull case for chip stocks earlier this week, arguing the semi consolidation wave that contributed to the industry's huge 2014 gains is far from over. "I think the logic of this consolidation is so powerful that within a few years, there will be hardly be any small semiconductor companies left."
- With three trading days left in the year, the Philadelphia Semi Index (NASDAQ:SOXX) is up 31% YTD.
- Chip ETFs: SMH, XSD, PSI, SOXL, USD, SOXS, SSG
- Taiwanese solar industry sources tell Digitimes leading Chinese solar module vendors "have plans to set up overseas production lines to avoid US antitrust taxation."
- Believing a large gap exists between U.S. solar demand and what U.S. and European module makers can supply - trade group SEIA forecasts U.S. installations will rise from 6.5GW in 2014 to 8.5GW in 2015 and nearly 12GW in 2016 - some Chinese firms reportedly "plan to set up overseas module and cell production lines with an estimated total annual capacity of 2GWp."
- The report comes after the DOC made final decisions to impose new tariffs on Chinese module makers, and thereby close a loophole that allowed the companies to avoid 2012 tariffs (still in place) by using non-Chinese cells. The ITC is expected to rule on the DOC's decision by Jan. 20.
- Chinese module vendors: TSL, YGE, SOL, JKS, HSOL, JASO
- As a quick Twitter search demonstrates, plenty of GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) Hero cameras were bought as Christmas presents. Today, investors are the ones in a buying mood - both towards GoPro and video processor supplier Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA). The Nasdaq is up 0.9%.
- Amazon stated this morning three GoPro products - the Hero4 Silver, the Hero4 Accessories Kit, and the headstrap mount/quick clip package - were its top-selling camera products this holiday season. GoPro cameras currently have four spots on Amazon's Camera & Photo top-10 bestseller list.
- GPRO +29% on the week. Seven days ago, shares were making new 3-month lows.
- Synacor (NASDAQ:SYNC) has blasted off on volume (1.45M shares) that's over 20x a 3-month daily average of 70K. Small-cap newsletter writer Sid Riggs has reportedly provided a favorable mention.
- Activists JEC Capital and Ratio Capital have been pushing Synacor to put itself on sale. Synacor announced on Oct. 1 JEC/Ratio had "abandoned discussions" with the company.
- BCE (BCE +0.7%) and Rogers (RCI +1.1%) will each own 50% of Glentel following the closing of the BCE/Glentel deal. Rogers will pay half of BCE's purchase price in cash - BCE has committed to paying $594M for Glentel's equity, and assuming $78M in debt.
- Following the purchase, Glentel will continue "operating as a standalone entity with independent management." The BCE/Glentel deal is still expected to close in Q1 2015.
- Earlier: BCE, Rogers to jointly own Glentel's Canadian retail ops
- The Korea Times reports Goldman is thinking of taking a stake in Groupon's (NASDAQ:GRPN) Korean Ticket Monster deals site, acquired from Living Social a year ago for $260M. The paper adds Groupon "wants to sell at least a 20 percent stake and is also considering handing over managerial control, selling over half of its stake."
- Groupon stated in October it's exploring options for its Asian ops (Ticket Monster included), and that it could benefit from having a partner in some markets. However, the company added it's not looking to fully unload Ticket Monster.
- CEO Eric Lefkofsky on the Q3 CC (transcript): "Right now, we’re in 47 countries and we can’t invest in every country at the level that we would like to at all time ... [Ticket Monster] is growing faster than we thought. [It's] certainly growing faster than it was when we acquired it ... it has the potential to be the leader in e-commerce in Korea and we’re very focused on the long-term."
- Shares at their highest levels since March.
- 3D Systems (DDD +5.8%), Voxeljet (VJET +9.2%), and ExOne (XONE +12.2%) are posting big gains on a day the Nasdaq is up 0.6%. Stratasys (SSYS +2.9%) is up more moderately, but also outperforming.
- Short interests for the group remain very high: As of Dec. 15, 3D Systems had 35.5% of its float shorted (a 52-week high); Stratasys had 21.7% (ditto); Voxeljet had 17.8%; and ExOne had 44.2%.
- Previous: Canaccord expects a 2015 rebound for 3D printing stocks.
- Kandi (KNDI +4.7%) is adding to the week's big gains on a sleepy post-Christmas trading day. 496K shares have thus far changed hands vs. a 3-month daily average of 1.54M.
- Shares have taken off since Kandi provided details on Tuesday morning about a seminar hosted in Hangzhou (one of Kandi's EV ride-sharing program cities) that featured CEO Hu Xiaoming and multiple government officials.
- Among other things, Kandi highlighted favorable remarks from Wan Gang, China's Minister of Science & Technology. "In order to increase the popularity of the electric vehicle, the market shall be ready with the strong infrastructure and government supporting policies ... the Car-Share Program will most likely transform the market demand into the reality."
- Though it still won't disclose its exact Prime subscriber count, Amazon (AMZN +0.9%) states today (in a holiday season sales update) it "[welcomed] more than ten million new members to Amazon Prime this holiday season." With the company providing a 30-day free trial for Prime, it won't know for another month exactly how many of the new users have become paid subscribers.
- Amazon announced a year ago it had "tens of millions" of Prime members. In September, RBC's Mark Mahaney estimated (following a U.S. survey) Amazon had 40M-50M Prime subs globally, and 30M-40M in the U.S. The company has been busy expanding Prime's free content offerings to help reel in subscribers, and keep existing ones loyal following a $20 price hike earlier this year.
- 50M paid Prime subs would bring in nearly $5B/year in subscription fees to help pay for the service's content and two-day shipping costs. Bernstein has estimated Amazon's content costs will top $2.5B in 2015.
- Amazon also states: 1) Orders for its nascent same-day delivery service rose over 10x Y/Y during the holiday season. 2) Black Friday Fire tablet and Kindle sales (boosted by price cuts) respectively rose ~3x and ~4x Y/Y. 3) Nearly 60% of customers shopped using a mobile device during the holiday season, with app-driven U.S. smartphone sales doubling.
- Glentel, Canada's biggest independent phone retailer, will see its Canadian retail ops jointly owned by BCE and rival Rogers (NYSE:RCI) once BCE's $670M acquisition of Glentel closes.
- The carriers proclaim the JV guarantees Canadians "will continue to be able to choose a wide variety of wireless products and services at GLENTEL's 494 retail locations across Canada."
- Glentel also owns/operates/franchises 735 retail locations in the U.S., and 147 in Australia and the Philippines. Prior to the agreement, Rogers had been seeking a court injunction to block the BCE/Glentel deal.
- Chief Executive Hisao Tanaka has announced that Toshiba (OTCPK:TOSBF) will decide during the next business year from April on where to build an additional memory chip plant and will consider overseas locations for the facility.
- The move comes less than four months after opening a NAND flash memory chip fabrication plant in Yokkaichi, Japan.
- Demand is currently outstripping capacity at the new plant, and Toshiba is now looking to expand production (likely to begin in 2017).
- Chinese antitrust officials have announced that they will settle a drawn-out investigation into Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) soon, after completing the seventh round of discussions with the company earlier this month.
- The regulator said in February that the U.S. chipmaker was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position in wireless communication standards.
- Qualcomm is facing a fine of more than $1B, and may be required to agree to concessions that would limit its ability to charge licensing fees on phone chipsets that use its patents.
- Previously: Qualcomm's regulatory problems extend beyond China (Nov. 06 2014)
- Previously: China talks to South Korea over Qualcomm violations (Aug. 21 2014)
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
- Shares of TASER International (NASDAQ:TASR), a maker of electronic control devices, and Digital Ally (NASDAQ:DGLY), which provides video imaging services including the in-car videos used by police use, racked up strong gains following the shooting of an 18-year-old black man by police Tuesday in Missouri.
- Police say the officer shot and killed the man after he pointed a gun at him at a gas station.
- TASR +3.2%, DGLY +5.5% in today's trade.
- Samsung has decided to close its flagship Experience Store in London, after opening around 10 stores across the U.K. since April and launching more than 20 others across Europe.
- The store had been seen as its main retail base in the country, playing host to a number of product launches in the past year.
- Samsung’s (OTC:SSNLF) electronics arm has faced a difficult year, suffering from falling earnings due to slumping smartphone sales. In response, the group has executed a management shake-up and cut back on its smartphone portfolio.
- Sony (NYSE:SNE) plans to stream The Interview on its own site and make it available for rental through Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) YouTube and Google Play, sources tell Re/code.
- Online distribution is expected to start tomorrow.
- Previously: Online launch of The Interview to be closely watched
- Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) signs a deal with the NFL for the rights to video clips.
- The league has been tight with access to game highlights in the past, even precluding some broadcast partners from streaming game video clips to mobile devices.
- The video highlights on Facebook will be followed by advertisements from Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
- The initiative starts next week just in time for the start of the NFL playoff season.
- What to watch: The high-profile deal could send a chill through the C-suites of broadcasters due to the NFL's strong ties to Madison Avenue ad agencies.
- After years of takeover drama, j2 Global (NASDAQ:JCOM) has informed Carbonite (NASDAQ:CARB) of its intention to commence a cash tender offer to acquire all the outstanding shares of Carbonite at $15/share.
- Carbonite is flying on the news, up over 8% premarket.
- Previously: J2 offers to buy Carbonite (again) (Dec. 03 2014)
- Samsung Electronics (OTC:SSNLF) strikes a deal with Sony (NYSE:SNE) to bring PlayStation Now to certain Smart TV models next year.
- The partnership is part of Sony's strategy to open up the PlayStation system to non-Sony devices.
- PS Now will be accessible through an app on the Samsung Smart Hut interface.
- The companies plan to give a sneak peek at the innovation at CES in January.