Aug. 25, 2014, 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+.
Aug. 25, 2014, 7:54 AM
- Data released by shopping tracking Retale could send a chill into the retail sector.
- A survey from the firm found that 73% of parents of school-aged children use mobile for their back-to-school shopping. Of that group, 79% buy items directly and 96% fired up mobile devices to compare prices.
- The increased reliance by consumers on price-comparison apps is seen as a margin compressor that will be nearly impossible to unwind.
- Related stocks: SPLS, ODP, TGT, WMT, AMZN.
Aug. 21, 2014, 11:43 AM
- Hedge funds are having a difficult time of it again this year, up 1% vs. a 7.5% gain for the S&P 500, according to Goldman Sachs, which crunched the numbers on 775 funds with $1.9T in AUM.
- Nevertheless, Goldman's list of 50 stocks which "matter most" to hedge funds has outperformed the S&P 500 on a quarterly basis 66% of the time since 2001. The stocks this quarter (posted in order of the number of funds in which a name is a top-10 holding):
- ACT, AAPL, FB, AGN, AAL, GM, TWC, AIG, MSFT, HTZ, CHTR, MU, WMB, LNG, C, DAL, HCA, APC, CBS, ALLY, GOOGL, APD, NRF, BAC, EBAY, LBTYK, PCLN, VRX, BIDU, DTV, DISH, DG, EQIX, MA, WAG, ARCP, GILD, LINTA, MON, FOXA, VC, AMZN, BRK.A, BRK.B, SUNE, CMCSA, JPM, MIC, CCI, HES, LAMR.
- A special call-out to Northstar Realty (NYSE:NRF), Visteon (NYSE:VC), SunEdison (NYSE:SUNE), Macquarie Infrastructure (NYSE:MIC), and Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR) for making the list of hedge fund hotels despite their relatively tiny market caps.
Aug. 20, 2014, 8:03 AM
- Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) says it has signed deals in China which will pave the way for it to open Amazon.com in a new free-trade zone in Shanghai.
- The company plans to open a logistics warehouse in Shanghai to help it export goods from local producers.
- What to watch: The initiative should eventually help Chinese buyers make purchases on Amazon and shift the company a bit closer to a direct-selling model. It's also a step in taking on Alibaba (Pending:BABA) - the "800-lb gorilla" in the region.
Aug. 17, 2014, 10:21 AM
- Demand for Disney (NYSE:DIS) DVD titles is on the rise at Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) after the retail giant decided to aggressively step into a distribution void left when Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) blocked Disney DVD purchases on its website.
- Pre-orders for Captain America: The Winter Soldier soared 90% after Wal-Mart offered a price cut on the Marvel film to $14.96 vs. the list price of $14.99 on Amazon where consumers can only sign up for an e-mail notification on availability.
- Analysts note that although DVD sales are only a small piece of the e-commerce pie, any development that levels out the playing field is a boost to Wal-Mart's online brand. Global e-commerce sales rose 24% at Wal-Mart in Q2, led by double-digit growth in the U.S. and China.
- What to watch: DVD sales typically peak during the holiday shopping season giving Disney even more leverage in ongoing negotiations with Amazon over pricing.
Aug. 13, 2014, 10:37 AM
- ChannelAdvisor (ECOM +0.4%) clients saw a hefty 40.4% Y/Y increase in their July Amazon (AMZN +3.1%) same-store sales. That's up from June's 34.4%, and is easily the highest rate seen in the last 12 months. 38.2% of tracked Amazon GMV was fulfilled by Amazon, up from 29.8% a year ago.
- On the other hand, eBay's (EBAY -1.1%) same-store growth fell to 9.7% from June's 12.3% Auctions -8.2%, fixed-price +12.8%, Motors +8%. ChannelAdvisor sees the numbers as a sign eBay "continues to face headwinds" from Google algorithm changes and a May data breach.
- Search ad-driven same-store sales, which are dominated by Google (GOOG +1.3%) AdWords, fell to 7% from June's 20.4%. While average order value (AOV) grew 6% and conversion rates 8%, mobile growth led ad prices (cost per click) to fall 7%.
- Google Shopping/product listing ads (previous) continue to perform well: They saw 40.8% same-store growth, down a bit from June's 47.8%. Conversion rates fell 9.5%, but AOV grew 8.9% ChannelAdvisor thinks mobile is hurting conversion rates, and that Google is "counteracting that by showing higher-priced items."
- Amazon also rallied following ChannelAdvisor's June numbers. Shares tumbled a couple weeks later due to the bottom-line concerns caused by Amazon's Q2 report.
Aug. 13, 2014, 6:17 AM
- Jumping further into the mobile payments market, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has unveiled a credit card reader to take on devices made by Square, PayPal, and a range of other companies.
- The new gadget expands the online retailer's presence in the brick-and-mortar world, and will give the company data on how U.S. consumers shop offline.
- Amazon will compete with rivals by charging lower fees per swipe.
Aug. 12, 2014, 5:52 AM
- The dispute that has erupted between Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Disney (NYSE:DIS) which halted some movie preorders is not only about price, the WSJ reports.
- Differences regarding promotion and product placement on Amazon's website, as well as who makes up the price difference when Amazon loses money due to matching policies are also main factors in the disagreement.
- However, sales of previously released Disney movies, as well as the company's toys, books and other products, have not been affected.
Aug. 11, 2014, 2:55 AM
- Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has halted some preorders of Disney (NYSE:DIS) movies, such as Maleficent and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in what appears to be yet another contract disagreement.
- A similar tactic has been in use on the Hachette Book Group (OTCPK:LGDDF) for the past four months. Amazon has blocked customers' preorders and delayed shipments of the publisher due to a dispute over e-book pricing.
Aug. 6, 2014, 1:37 PM
- Amazon (AMZN +0.6%) has added NYC, Philly, Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, and Washington D.C. to the metro areas where it supports same-day delivery. The service is already available in L.A., Phoenix, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, and Chicago.
- 1M+ items are available for same-day delivery, and customers can filter for them by clicking on a "Get It Today" option on Amazon's site. Most markets have an order cutoff point in the 12PM-1PM timeframe, but Chicago is at 7:45AM.
- Amazon charges Prime subs a $5.99 flat fee per same-day order. Everyone else is charged $9.98 for the first item + $0.99 for each additional item.
- For now, the e-commerce giant has a healthy same-day coverage lead over rivals. Google, which (unlike Amazon) is relying on retail partners to handle inventory/warehousing for orders, has reportedly committed $500M to bring its Shopping Express local/same-day service nationwide. eBay, meanwhile, has backtracked on plans to aggressively expand its Now same-day service.
Jul. 30, 2014, 6:43 AM
- Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) says it will invest $2B to expand business in India as competition in the country heats up. The funds will build on Amazon's Monday announcement which stated an investment of five new warehouses in India.
- "We see huge potential in the Indian economy and for the growth of e-commerce in India," says CEO Jeff Bezos.
- The statement comes just one day after rival Flipkart raised $1B in new funding towards its own expansion.
Jul. 28, 2014, 12:09 PM
- Amazon's (AMZN -1.8%) 3D Printed Products store currently offers 200+ products that can be printed on demand. As one would expect, many of the items can be customized to user tastes.
- For now, the store's listings leave something to be desired: They include custom 3D-printed cufflinks ($60), miniature swords ($9), vase toppers ($40), and "molecular earrings" ($30). Amazon is also cross-selling its existing 3D printer and CAD software offerings.
- Amazon's store competes private Shapeways' popular 3D printing marketplace, and a slew of other sites that allow 3D-printed designs to be manufactured and/or shared.
- 3D Systems (DDD -0.7%) sells products manufactured using its consumer-focused Cube 3D printers, and Stratasys' (SSYS -1.2%) MakerBot unit both sells items made using its printers and runs a popular 3D file-sharing site (Thingiverse). But neither printer maker is likely complaining about Amazon providing a fresh vote of confidence for the 3D printing market.
Jul. 28, 2014, 6:45 AM
- Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Indian unit is opening five new warehouses in the country, allowing the company to expand its coverage for its same-day and next-day delivery services by adding half a million square feet in storage capacity.
- Amazon has been increasing its presence in India following the launch of its Indian website last June.
Jul. 26, 2014, 8:25 AM
- Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) hasn't been short of excuses for its dismal performance of late: in Q1 it was the weather, before that it was a reduction in customers' food stamp benefits, and before that it was the challenging global economy - when it reports Q2 earnings in three weeks, the excuse will be the guy who's no longer around, as former U.S. head Bill Simon was given the boot this week.
- Analysts say WMT is getting hammered by cheaper and more convenient options such as online (think AMZN) and dollar stores (FDO, DG); some say the most crucial action for new man Greg Foran is to pivot away from the supercenter focus and continue growing the small-store footprint, but that could risk customers' need to visit larger stores and make additional, higher-price impulse purchases.
- Foran's most pressing need may be just getting stuff on the shelves: WMT has cut its U.S. staff by ~20K since 2008 while adding 650-plus stores, resulting in merchandise piling up in aisles and in the back of stores because there aren't enough workers to restock the shelves.
- As if Foran doesn't have enough on his plate, he will take over the reins of Wal-Mart U.S. on Aug. 9, during the back-to-school rush and not far ahead of the winter holidays.
Jul. 25, 2014, 9:13 AM
Jul. 25, 2014, 7:20 AM
- Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), says Cowen's John Blackledge maintaining his Outperform rating but lowering the price target to $390 from $410, "delivered a mixed report with units stabilizing and a topline result and guide that met expectations, but the profitability disappointed. Also, AWS price cuts put an unexpected dent in growth."
- Also continuing with a Buy rating, but lowering the price target is BofA's Justin Post who cuts to $400 from $420, noting the Q3 profit outlook as coming in well below expectations.
- Baird and Evercore also cut price targets, and B. Riley pulls its Buy rating, downgrading to Neutral.
- Shares -9.8% premarket
- Previous Amazon earnings coverage
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Amazon.com Inc is an online retailer. The Company sells its products through the website which provides services, such as advertising services and co-branded credit card agreements. It also offerselectronic devices like Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets.
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