Today - Tuesday, March 31, 2015
7:05 AM| Comment!
- KKR (NYSE:KKR) and Hong Kong-based Anchor Partners are in talks to buy a majority stake in Groupon's (NASDAQ:GRPN) South Korean unit for around 350B won ($316M), Reuters reports quoting the Korea Economic Daily.
- The two firms are in final talks to acquire a 51% stake in e-commerce firm Ticketmonster.
- GRPN -1.5% premarket
6:37 AM| Comment!
- IBM (NYSE:IBM) is investing $3B over the next four years in a new 'Internet of Things' division, aiming to sell its expertise in gathering and making sense of the surge in real-time data.
- For its first major partnership, IBM said a unit of the Weather Company will move its weather data services onto its cloud, so that customers can use the data with IBM's analytics tools.
- Focusing on the cloud has been part of Big Blue's gradual shift away from its traditional hardware and consulting business.
Monday, March 30, 2015
- Thanks in large part to the low-cost Moto G (now Brazil's top-selling smartphone), Lenovo's (OTCPK:LNVGY) Motorola Mobility unit has doubled its Brazilian smartphone share to 18% (per IDC), a figure that trails only Samsung's 43%.
- Google originally launched the Moto G with a 4.5" display and a $179 unsubsidized price in 2013. A second-gen model contains a 5" display and a similar price, though it goes for $260 in Brazil due to taxes/tariffs. A second-gen version of the cheaper Moto E (4.5" display) will sell for $120 in the U.S., and $200 in Brazil.
- Motorola's Brazilian success highlights the one-time mobile giant's success at improving its fortunes by focusing on cheap Android phones that are a cut above many comparably-priced products in terms of design/build quality. IDC estimates Lenovo (aided by Motorola) had a 6.6% global Q4 smartphone unit share on the back of 24.7M shipments. Motorola's shipments rose 118% over the whole of 2014.
- Canadian telecom Shaw Communications (NYSE:SJR) has arranged a syndicate of lenders for $480M in credit for its co-location/cloud unit, ViaWest.
- The credit comes in the form of a term loan of $395M and a revolving facility coming to $85M, allowing for a rollover and for general purposes.
- TD Securities and RBC Capital Markets are joint lead arrangers for the lines.
- At its most recent report, Shaw had long-term debt/assets of 35.4 and long-term debt/equity of just under 100.
- Alan Conley, most recently the CTO of IT monitoring/analytics software vendor Zenoss and before that the CTO of Cisco's network management technology group, has been named Infoblox's (NYSE:BLOX) CTO, effective immediately.
- Conley replaces founder Stuart Bailey, who will remain on board in the role of chief scientist. He'll focus on "long-range research into the future of networking."
- At Cisco, Conley was a co-worker of recently-hired Infoblox CEO Jesper Andersen.
- Yesterday: Guggenheim's top networking picks; F5, Ruckus, Infoblox
- Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) has landed a 4G infrastructure deal with China Telecom that will make it one of the carrier's three largest 4G suppliers, along with Huawei and Nokia. The deal comes a month after China Telecom (along with China Unicom) was granted a license to build a 4G network using the FDD LTE air interface, which is far more popular overseas than the TDD LTE interface initially used by bigger rival China Mobile.
- ALU's equipment will be used to deploy 4G in 40 cities, including Shanghai. China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) had 187.6M mobile subscribers as of February, and has set a 2015 capex budget of $10.15B, up sharply from 2014's $4.77B; most of the spending will be directed towards 4G.
- Separately, ALU has unveiled an optical networking hardware/software solution (dubbed wavelength routing) that will allow connections to be adjusted without electrical switching (thus lowering equipment and power needs), eliminate the need for on-site visits to adjust connections, and quickly detect and route around network faults.
- Verizon plans to deploy ALU's solution on its North American ultra-long haul network. Rival Infinera has also been investing in products that enable a greater amount of network flexibility at the optical level, and in doing so usurping features traditionally handled by routers.
- Two years ago: Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, Ericsson win China Mobile 4G contracts
- Alex Jing Jiang, Vipshop's (NYSE:VIPS) SVP of business intelligence and customer relationship management, is resigning to "pursue his personal interests and further education."
- Jiang, who was Vipshop's COO from Feb. 2011 to Aug. 2012, will remain with the company as a "senior corporate advisor." No word on who his successor will be.
- InContact (NASDAQ:SAAS) has closed an offering of $115M in 2.5% convertible senior seven-year notes, offered via private placement.
- The notes are unsecured and not redeemable by inContact before April 1, 2019. They're convertible at an initial rate of 70.279 shares per $1,000 principal.
- The company intends to apply about $22.7M to repay $11.7M in term loans and $11M of draws on its revolving credit facility, and the rest for general purposes.
- StubHub (NASDAQ:EBAY) accuses Ticketmaster (NYSE:LYV) and the Golden State Warriors of violating U.S. antitrust law, as well as California's unfair competition law, by threatening to revoke the privileges of season ticket owners if they resold their tickets through a platform other than Ticketmaster's NBATickets.com, from which the Warriors receive a cut on sales.
- StubHub: "If the anti-competitive actions complained herein are not stopped, Ticketmaster is likely to seek to replicate them with other teams. As a result, millions of Americans will be held captive to a monopoly secondary ticketing exchange."
- The eBay unit claims its Warriors ticket listings are down 80% this year. As it is, StubHub's top line has been hurt in recent quarters by listing fee cuts meant to keep rivals at bay.
- Sprint (NYSE:S) is up 2.5% as it announces an investment in Chicago: $45M in network infrastructure by 2016's end, targeted toward making the city Sprint's first LTE Advanced network, and 300 new jobs by the end of 2015.
- Chicago has acted as a rollout laboratory for Sprint in the past. The company says its customers' wireless usage there has increased more than 640% since 2012.
- The move will mean more than 46 new retail locations in Chicago this year; in the metro area, more than 115 stores, and more than 540 jobs overall.
- Previously: Sprint tumbles; more color on possible network expansion (Mar. 10 2015)
- Previously: Sprint rumored to work on 9,000-site LTE expansion (Feb. 25 2015)
- Today's notable tech gainers include industrial laser maker IPG Photonics (IPGP +4.3%), cloud classroom software provider 2U (TWOU +5.8%), California solar installer Solar3D (SLTD +10.3%), Korean analog/mixed-signal chipmaker MagnaChip (MX +6.8%), privileged account security software vendor CyberArk (CYBR +5.3%), haptic tech provider Immersion (IMMR +4.6%), and solar power optimizer maker/recent IPO SolarEdge (SEDG +4.8%). The Nasdaq is up 1.1%.
- There are relatively few major decliners. The group includes Chinese online video platform Youku (YOKU -4.5%), Chinese solar cell/module maker Yingli (YGE -5.6%), authentication hardware/software provider Vasco (VDSI -3%), and IP licensing firm Marathon Patent Group (MARA -8.8%).
- Solar3D is now up 97% from a March 18 close of $2.57. SolarEdge is up 23% from last week's $18 IPO price. Immersion might be getting a lift from a Barclays report stating Analog Devices will be supplying converter ICs to help enable haptics support on future iPhones/iPads.
- Youku has fallen to fresh 52-week lows, and is now down 18% since posting Q4 results and disclosing an SEC inquiry on March 19. Marathon is down 11% since reporting last Thursday.
- Previously covered: BlackBerry, Altera, Ambarella, OTI, Angie's List, You On Demand, 500.com, Chinese online real estate
- After rising 1.7% on Friday in response to the company's mixed FQ4 results, BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) has sharply reversed course today as more sell-side reactions to the numbers arrive.
- MKM (Neutral) is skeptical BlackBerry can hit an FY16 (ends Feb. '16) goal of doubling software revenue. "Software revenues came in at only $67mn in 4QFY15, including only ~$13mn in EZPass conversions ... We view the Software guidance as overly ambitious given the EMM competitive landscape. Moreover, Services revenues are expected to continue to decline ~15% per quarter throughout 2016..."
- Credit Suisse (Underperform): "We continue to see headaches for the services business, as we believe that (1) subscriber base will continue to erode, (2) ARPU will fall due to the shift toward BB10, (3) the monetization of EZ Pass remains difficult in a competitive MDM market environment ... we are also concerned that GM’s in the services segments may start to come down as revenue pressures persist ... We assume FY16/17 services revenues are $846/$467mn."
- UBS (Neutral): "[B]ased on current visibility and our own surveys, interest in BES12 and BBRY [value-added service] offerings remains low, and we remain doubtful BBRY will hit its [software] target. In the meantime, cost cuts and cash flow have stabilized business."
- RBC (Sector Perform) is relatively positive. "[QNX is] seeing connected car uptake. There’s strong enterprise interest for Work/Life and Meeting ... There’s some traction for hardware and Passport/Classic may be receiving decent reception ... ASPs improved to $211 vs. $180 in F3Q and are expected to trend higher, which coupled with COGS reductions, may increase hardware margins in F2H16."
- Friday's BlackBerry earnings coverage
- On Track Innovations (NASDAQ:OTIV) has sold off after holding its Q4 earnings CC this morning (webcast).
- The NFC/contactless payment hardware maker has been volatile since posting Q4 results on Thursday morning. Shares jumped on Thursday, but gave back a large portion of their gains on Friday, and are now close to where they traded going into earnings.
- OTI soared last Wednesday after the company won a summary judgment against T-Mobile that (among other things) prevents T-Mobile from challenging infringement of an OTI NFC patent in an upcoming jury trial.
- The company saw a 12% Y/Y revenue drop in Q4, a 300 bps drop in gross margin to 46%, and a 30% drop in operating expenses to $5M. It ended the quarter with $16.4M in cash/short-term investments.
- Infrastructure asset investor DIF has bought Canadian Solar's (CSIQ -3.7%) 10MW GoldLight solar plant (located in Georgina, Ontario) for C$68M ($54M). The project makes use of 46,800 Canadian solar panels.
- Canadian had a 1.4GW pipeline of utility-scale solar projects at the end of February, and is set to add another 1GW through the Recurrent acquisition. With the company planning to launch a solar project YieldCo, it's shifting from a build-to-sell project business model to a build-to-operate model.
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