Seeking Alpha
  • Tuesday, August 26, 2014

  • 6:17 PM
    • The WSJ reports leading VC firm Kleiner Perkins has committed to invest in Snapchat at nearly a $10B valuation. Kleiner reportedly "committed to invest up to $20 million in May," and at least one "strategic investor" is also said to be taking part in the funding round.
    • Alibaba was previously reported to be eying an investment in Snapchat at a similar valuation, but talks are believed to have ended without a deal. Facebook was famously rumored to have made a $3B+ offer for the ephemeral messaging service before turning its sights on WhatsApp.
    • The WSJ also reports Snapchat now has 100M+ monthly active users (MAUs). That still leaves it behind Instagram's 200M+, Twitter's 271M (at the end of Q2), WeChat's 438M (also at the end of Q2), and WhatsApp's 600M+. Snapchat reportedly plans to monetize its users through an ad service later this year.
    • Naver's (OTC:NHNCF) Line unit, looking to go public in NYC and Tokyo at a ~$10B valuation, must be pleased to see the report. Line is closing in on 500M registered users (different from MAUs) for its mobile messaging service.
  • 4:55 PM
    • AT&T (NYSE:T) is merging its Mobility and Business Solutions units into a single business unit that will be headed by current Mobility chief Ralph de la Vega. Glenn Lurie, previously the head of Mobility's emerging enterprises and partnerships business, is Mobility's new CEO.
    • AT&T says it's working to integrate marketing and distribution for its enterprise ops with Mobility, and notes business-related clients accounts for over 50% of the company's mobile revenue.
    • Much like its peers, AT&T's enterprise wireline ops have been hurt by ongoing voice line disconnections. Business Solutions currently claims 3.5M+ customers.
    • The move comes as AT&T's consumer-related mobile sales get pressured by a T-Mobile-driven price war. Verizon and AT&T are counting on their combined dominance of the U.S. enterprise mobile market to help weather the storm.
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  • 4:20 PM
    • Stocks eked out small gains but they were enough to propel the S&P 500 to its first-ever close above 2,000, as the path of least resistance continues to the upside.
    • Today's better than expected report on durable goods orders reinforces market optimism about the economy, says BTIG's Dan Greenhaus, even though much of the gains came on increased demand for commercial aircraft.
    • Biotech stocks outperformed for the second day in a row, with the top biotech ETF rising to a new record high; energy and financials also finished ahead of the broader market.
    • Trading volume remains very light, but today's ~500M shares traded on the NYSE floor was at least a bit heavier than yesterday.
    • Treasurys ended little changed, with the 10-year yield closing at 2.39%.
  • 10:01 AM
  • 10:00 AM
  • 9:01 AM
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  • 8:32 AM
    • July Durable Goods: +22.6% to 300.1B vs. +5.1% expected, +2.7% (revised) prior.
    • Ex-transport -0.8% vs. +0.5% expected, +3% prior.
    | 1 Comment
  • 7:46 AM
    • Burger King Worldwide (NYSE:BKW) and Tim Hortons (NYSE:THI) announce plans to merge to create a restaurant giant with over $23B in annual sales.
    • Under the terms of the deal, Tim Hortons shareholders will receive C$65.50 per share in cash and 0.8025 shares in the new company per THI share.
    • The combined company will run Burger King and Tim Hortons as separate brands.
    • 3G Capital will own close to 51% of the new company.
    • BKW -1.0% premarket, THI +9.1% to $81.50.
    | 1 Comment
  • 7:17 AM
  • Monday, August 25, 2014

  • 10:27 PM
    • HubSpot, a well-known player in the growing cloud marketing automation software space, has filed for a $100M IPO under the symbol HUBS. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, UBS, Pac Crest, Canaccord, and Raymond James are underwriting. (prospectus)
    • Like rivals, HubSpot tries to provide an integrated approach to handling a slew of digital marketing channels, including e-mail, search, and social media. The company focuses on mid-market businesses more than large enterprises, and had 11.6K customers and 1.9K marketing agency partners at the end of June.
    • HubSpot had 1H14 revenue of $51.3M (+46% Y/Y), and a net loss of $17.7M. Sales/marketing totaled $33M, and the deferred revenue balance stood at $32.4M at the end of the period.
    • The marketing automation space has seen plenty of consolidation, with Adobe, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce having each made big acquisitions. HubSpot, Marketo (NASDAQ:MKTO), and Constant Contact (NASDAQ:CTCT) are arguably the most prominent independent players left. SAP remains a potential suitor, though it has a partnership with Adobe.
  • 4:20 PM
    • Stocks marched to another day of gains, with the S&P 500 crossing 2,000 for the first time but pulling back from its intraday record high of 2001.94 to spend the rest of the session stuck just below the 2K mark.
    • The milestone came on an otherwise quiet day for stocks, but "less news is good for this market," said First American Trust chief investment officer Jerry Braakman.
    • Investors remained focused on comments from ECB President Draghi, who suggested a willingness for more aggressive stimulus.
    • Roche's deal to acquire interMune helped propel the top biotech ETF to its best level since February.
    • Trading volume remains "incredibly low," as the 482M shares traded on the NYSE floor represented the lowest total of the year; last Friday marked the previous low.
    • Treasurys ended with modest gains, as the 10-year yield slipped 2 bps to 2.39%.
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  • 4:17 PM
    • Jeff Bezos: "Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon ... Like Twitch, we obsess over customers and like to think differently, and we look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community." (PR)
    • Twitch had 55M+ unique visitors in July, and streamed 15B+ minutes of content produced by 1M+ broadcasters. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) expects the acquisition to close in 2H14.
    • Twitch is the third major digital content-related acquisition Amazon has made in the last two years: The company has also bought top book recommendation site Goodreads, and leading digital comics platform comiXology. Like Goodreads, Twitch provides a community of enthusiasts Amazon can potentially cross-sell various products to.
    • The purchase price is slightly below the $1B Google was previously reported to be offering. Re/code reports Google-Twitch talks had died before Amazon swooped in.
    • Earlier: Amazon reportedly close to Twitch deal
  • 1:41 PM
    • The Information reports Amazon (AMZN +1%) "has been in late-stage talks" to acquire popular game-broadcasting platform Twitch, and could announce a deal shortly. Prior reports stated Google (GOOG -0.4%) was close to a deal to buy Twitch for ~$1B, or had fully reached one.
    • Twitch, whose platform allows users to live-stream their gaming activity (along with running commentary), has 50M+ users and a network of 4K+ content provider partners. The startup claims its average user watches 95 minutes/day of content.
    • Buying Twitch would represent a major investment by Amazon in free (ad-supported) online video. Thus far, the bulk of the company's Web video investments have been directed towards Prime Instant Video. Amazon has also been fleshing out its own game studio.
    • The Information's report shortly follows a WSJ report stating Amazon is working on a keyword-based ad platform (called Sponsored Links) that aims to replace ads based on Google's bread-and-butter AdWords keyword platform on Amazon's site and elsewhere. Amazon has already built up a sizable ad business, aided by its volumes of customer data.
    • Update (2:05PM): The WSJ reports Amazon has agreed to buy Twitch for $1B+.
  • 11:23 AM
    • WhatsApp (FB +0.6%) now has over 600M monthly active users (MAUs), CEO Jan Koum declares. The mobile messaging leader had only topped 500M in April, and had 450M at the time the Facebook deal was announced in mid-February.
    • Mark Zuckerberg has long been confident WhatsApp will eventually have over 1B users, and has even reportedly suggested WhatsApp could eventually have a bigger base than Facebook proper. Facebook claimed 1.32B MAUs at the end of Q2.
    • Meanwhile, comScore estimates Facebook's core app had 115.4M U.S. unique visitors in June, 32M more than the second-most-popular U.S. app (YouTube) and good for a 72% penetration rate. Globally, Facebook had 1.07B mobile MAUs at the end of June.
    • comScore estimates Instagram had 46.6M U.S. users (#8 overall), and Facebook Messenger 39.2M (#12). WhatsApp, often used as an SMS replacement abroad, didn't crack the top-25, as U.S. users continue relying heavily on the SMS services often bundled with their mobile plans.
    • Not surprisingly, comScore's data also suggests core Facebook's U.S. base skews older, and Instagram's base skews younger. Whereas core Facebook accounts for 18.4% of the time spent on apps by U.S. users aged 35-54, it accounts for 14.8% among those aged 18-24. Whereas Instagram accounts for just 1.2% of the time spent by the former group, and 6.6% of the time spent by the latter.
  • 10:01 AM
    • July New Home Sales: -2.4% to 412K vs. 430K expected, 422K prior (revised from 406K).
    • Median sales price $269,800.
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  • 7:15 AM
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  • 2:42 AM
    • Following the raised prospects of more policy easing from the ECB as early as next week, the euro plummeted this morning to its lowest level in nearly a year against the dollar.
    • The drop follows ECB President Mario Draghi's confirmation on Friday that the central bank is prepared to respond with all of its "available" tools should inflation drop further.
    • The euro dropped to $1.3185 in early trade, its lowest since September 2013, from around $1.3246 on Friday.
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  • Friday, August 22, 2014

  • 5:28 PM
    • To settle the FHFA's suit against the firm, Goldman (NYSE:GS) has agreed to pay $3.15B to buy back residential MBS purchased by Fannie and Freddie from 2005-2007. The costs of doing so are "substantially covered" by Goldman's reserves as of the end of Q2.
    • The WSJ reported in July Goldman could pay $800M-$1.25B to settle. The FHFA has now reached deals with 15 of the 18 banks it sued in 2011.
    | 1 Comment
  • 4:11 PM
    • Twitter (TWTR +2.1%) will launch an e-commerce/payments platform later in 2014 that allows users to directly make purchases from its site and apps, re/code reports.
    • As previously reported, PayPal rival Stripe will initially handle payments. Much like Facebook, Twitter will allow a "Buy" button (or something with similar wording) to be embedded within posts.
    • As it is, a disclaimer found in Twitter's Q2 10-Q had raised hopes the company will be making an e-commerce push. So had the purchase of offline deals platform CardSpring.
    • Re/code doesn't state whether Twitter will seek a cut of enabled purchases. If it doesn't, Twitter could still profit from the service to the extent it boosts purchase activity, and thus motivates merchants to spend more on Twitter ads.
  • 12:59 PM
    • Salesforce's (NYSE:CRM) 33% Y/Y FQ2 billings growth was better than a Street forecast of 28%, says Nomura (Buy). The firm also estimates organic revenue growth was 28% (total growth was 38%), and notes op. cash flow grew 34% to $246M.
    • Nomura sees Salesforce's Microsoft partnership yielding favorable press this fall, and also thinks Salesforce will announce a new cloud service, possibly by leveraging recently-acquired CRM analytics startup RelateIQ.
    • BofA/Merrill (Buy) also talks up Salesforce's billings/cash flow growth, and points out the company's backlog ($7.35B) is now 24% above forward revenue estimates. FBR likes the fact op. margin (a recent concern, given heavy spending) rose 130 bps.
    • Goldman (Conviction Buy) observes FQ3 guidance implies ~25% billings growth, which in turn points to a pickup in organic growth. "We believe CRM continues to be the preeminent SaaS vendor with significant runway ahead."
    • On the CC (transcript), Salesforce mentioned it struck major deals with 3M and Safeway during FQ2, and expanded relationships with GM, P&G, and Yahoo (among others). The company also claimed European deal activity is picking up. Marc Benioff: "Europe tends to be a laggard when it comes to implementing new technology. And that has not escaped our cloud companies."
    • Prior Salesforce earnings coverage
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