Sun, Feb. 15, 9:13 AM| Sun, Feb. 15, 9:13 AM | 62 Comments
Fri, Feb. 13, 6:17 PM
- Some more color on reports that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been hiring auto engineers, including from Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA): The company has several hundred employees working on project "Titan," toward an Apple-brand electric car that one source says resembles a minivan, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- It might not end up as a released car, the report notes -- lots of work along the way could be used to boost other Apple products -- but the size of the team is telling.
- VP Steve Zadesky was reportedly given permission to create a 1,000-person team for the project and to work off-site from Apple HQ.
- Building cars is expensive, requiring billion-dollar plants, but Apple's $178B in cash means the barrier to entry is far smaller than for others.
- A self-driving car (a la Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)) is not in Apple's plans, a source says.
- After hours, TSLA -0.9%.
- Previously: Talent showdown between Tesla Motors and Apple (Feb. 10 2015)
Tue, Feb. 10, 7:25 PM
- Jetsons fans and haters of lawn maintenance work rejoice: iRobot (NASDAQ:IRBT) has petitioned the FCC (.pdf) to waive a rule prohibiting the use of fixed wireless infrastructure, so that it can "obtain equipment certification for and market a robotic lawn mower."
- Product development is still in its early stages. The mower will be battery-powered, and rely on portable beacons in the yard that will "transmit to the robot to map out and stay within the designated mowing area."
- Looking to temper safety concerns, iRobot promises its robotic mower "will reduce deaths and injuries related to lawn mowing, will reduce emissions and noise pollution, and will improve quality of life."
- Investors can hope the product will also improve iRobot's top line: The Roomba maker is less than a week removed from providing soft Q1 and full-year sales guidance.
- Meanwhile, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Boston Dynamics defense robot unit (acquired in 2013) is showing off Spot, a 160-pound robotic dog that can walk, trot, climb steps, and (judging by a video clip) stay on its feet after being kicked.
Tue, Feb. 10, 9:53 AM
- WebMD (NASDAQ:WBMD) is down 2.9% as Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) rolls out a blog post saying it will answer basic health questions with summary information, directly in search results.
- Google says one in 20 queries are for health info, and that its users will see typical symptoms and treatments, along with illustrations, without clicking any further.
- Google cites working with a team of doctors on the information and verifying it with the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.
- Everyday Health (NYSE:EVDY), which has its own symptom checker, is down 1.6% as well.
Thu, Feb. 5, 9:26 AM
- Beginning later in the first half of this year, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) search results will integrate Twitter's (NYSE:TWTR) content in real-time, Bloomberg reports. Twitter will receive an unspecified amount of data-licensing revenue in return.
- Twitter has similar deals in place with Bing and Yahoo. Google and Twitter had one in place from 2009-2011. Bloomberg states ex-Twitter COO Ali Rowghani (left the company last year) was opposed to renewing the prior Google deal to "keep more control over Twitter’s content." Google currently has to crawl the Web to access Twitter content (far from a real-time solution).
- A new Twitter deal eliminates a shortcoming of Google search relative to Bing/Yahoo and helps it deal with the indirect threat posed by Twitter as a real-time news search option. Twitter, meanwhile, bolsters a licensing business that produced $41M in Q3 revenue, while betting Google integration won't do much to affect its primary use case (Timeline views).
- TWTR +3.6% premarket ahead of this afternoon's Q4 report. GOOG +0.5%.
Tue, Feb. 3, 3:24 AM
- Despite investing $258M in Uber in August 2013, Bloomberg has reported that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, which will most likely be in conjunction with its driverless car project.
- However, WSJ sources say the news has "been blown out of proportion." A Google engineer has been merely "testing an internal app that helps Google employees carpool to work" which is not "associated with the company’s driverless cars program."
- Google itself announced in a cryptic tweet following the report, "We think you'll find Uber and Lyft work quite well. We use them all the time."
- Note: Uber's CEO has long had an interest in self-driving cars. Uber and Carnegie Mellon University announced a strategic partnership yesterday to develop driverless car and mapping technology, although it's not clear if the CMU deal will involve developing a full-blown car.
Fri, Jan. 30, 5:30 PM
- Though it had previously struck a deal to use TubeMogul's (NASDAQ:TUBE) video ad-buying platform, snack food giant Mondelez partly opted to use Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) rival DoubleClick Bid Manager platform to run YouTube campaigns following "contentious behind-the-scenes negotiations," TheStreetSweeper reports. Google is believed to have used YouTube's TrueView ad system as leverage.
- An analyst talking with TheStreetSweeper: "It’s clear Tube’s technology is nothing special, since Google did this. And besides Google, there’s a lot of other companies that could do the same."
- TubeMogul CEO Brett Wilson has argued the Google/Mondelez deal is a positive for the online video ad industry at-large, and stated TubeMogul still thinks it "will continue to be used as Mondelez's software for brand advertising and will be the pipes, if you will, to facilitate any of their publisher buys Google or otherwise."
- In addition to the Mondelez deal, TheStreetSweeper cites strong insider selling from CTO Adam Rose (through an automatic trading plan) and steep multiples relative to peers Rocket Fuel and YuMe as reasons to be bearish on TubeMogul. Worth noting: TubeMogul's Y/Y sales growth (112% in Q3) is much stronger than that of either of the cited peers.
- Shares fell 4.5% in regular trading. Q4 results arrive on Feb. 26.
Fri, Jan. 30, 1:02 PM
- "Management offered a slightly-more-friendly rhetoric around the pace of investment in 2015, stating that it plans to “balance growth and discipline, and throttle back," writes Deutsche's Ross Sandler, pleased with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) CC commentary (transcript) and reiterating a Buy. "At 14x 2016 consensus EPS, we see 5% downside and 40%+ upside from current levels"
- Sandler adds the tone of Google's call felt "a little more shareholder-friendly" than usual. "We suspect there is an effort underway to improve employee morale through a higher stock price."
- Credit Suisse: "[T]his is the second quarter in a row in which we are seeing signs the CapEx step up is starting to slow down ... Google is approaching a harvest cycle following what has now been a multi-year period of investment ... we are paying particular attention to its quickly growing Play and Display businesses to provide the next leg of revenue growth."
- SunTrust notes revenue would've beat consensus if not for forex, and that hardware sales were hurt by sourcing constraints. "Net-net, a noisy but solid quarter and certainly better than feared."
- Morgan Stanley, however, remains worried about a mature PC search market and a mix shift to lower-margin (read: non-search) revenue streams. "[W]e remain [Equal Weight] until valuation comes in further or we see a path towards higher growth and/or moderating investment levels.”
- Prior Google earnings coverage
Fri, Jan. 30, 1:46 AM
- VMware (NYSE:VMW) has struck a deal with public cloud rival Google to offer a slew of Google services through its vCloud Air platform. Specifically, Google's Cloud Storage service, BigQuery business intelligence query service, Cloud Datastore NoSQL (unstructured) database service, and Cloud DNS domain name service.
- VMware: "Existing vCloud Air customers will have access to the new services under their existing contracts and existing network interconnect with vCloud Air ... They’ll use their current vCloud Air credentials to access the service and be able to use the native Google Cloud Platform APIs." VMware and Google are also setting up a private connection between their cloud infrastructures, and working to make the Google services manageable through VMware's vRealize cloud management suite.
- The deal provides a shot in the arm for vCloud Air (initially known as vCloud Hybrid), which appears to have only a modest share of a public cloud market in which Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM loom large. Several new features were rolled out for the platform last week, partly through the use of VMware's NSX SDN/network virtualization platform.
- As for Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), the tie-up gives it a cloud partner with tremendous enterprise reach/credibility, as it battles against Amazon/Microsoft/IBM and tries to win over businesses still wary of relying on a company best known for its consumer-facing Web services.
Thu, Jan. 29, 7:53 PM
- With the Senate weighing a bipartisan effort to let companies repatriate offshore cash for five years at a 6.5% rate, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) CFO Patrick Pichette states on the Q4 CC the passage of such a bill would change how his company spends. He adds ~60% of Google's cash is offshore, and ~40% domestic. (CC live blogs: WSJ, BI)
- Google ended Q4 with $64.4B in cash/marketable securities, and $5.2B in debt. Speculation that dividends and/or buybacks might finally happen has grown a bit lately. Pichette says Google has nothing to announce regarding capital returns, but also insists Google does care about its stock price and reviews the matter with its board.
- Chief business officer Omid Kordestani states YouTube's mobile revenue more than doubled Y/Y. YouTube, which is trying hard to grab brand ad dollars from TV advertisers, has already disclosed mobile now accounts for ~40% of its global viewing time.
- Other CC highlights: 1) Google saw $150M worth of forex hedging gains in Q4. If not for them, forex's revenue impact would've been above $600M. 2) Pichette suggests Google would be hiring even more employees if it could find enough qualified personnel. 3) Over $900M of Google's capex went into real estate purchases.
- GOOG now +1.4% AH. Q4 results, details.
Thu, Jan. 29, 4:29 PM
- Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) paid clicks rose 14% Y/Y in Q4, a slowdown from Q3's 17% growth and Q2's 2015. Google site paid clicks rose a healthy 25%, but ad network paid clicks fell 11%. Ad quality efforts appear to have hurt the latter, and indirect competition from Facebook might have as well.
- Cost per click (CPCs - ad prices) remained under pressure due to low smartphone ad prices, falling 3% Q/Q and Y/Y; Q3's Y/Y drop was 2%. Google site CPCs fell 8%; network CPCs rose 6%.
- Google sites revenue (69% of total revenue) +18% Y/Y to $12.43B; Network revenue +6% to $3.72B; other revenue (Nexus devices, Google Play, etc.) +19% to $1.95B. Traffic acquisition costs fell to 22% of revenue from 24%; the ending of the Firefox deal likely helped.
- Spending remains aggressive: Operating expenses rose to 37% of revenue from 32% a year earlier; R&D spend rose 45% to $2.8B, sales/marketing 25% to $2.4B; and G&A 35% to $1.6B.
- Capex totaled $3.55B (equal to nearly 25% of revenue), and headcount rose by over 2K Q/Q to 53.6K. Free cash flow was $2.81B, down from $2.98B a year ago and below net income of $4.74B.
- Forex hurt Q4 revenue by $541M. International sales made up 56% of revenue, even with a year ago.
- Shares have fallen below $498 in AH trading.
- Q4 results, PR
- Update (7:55PM): Shares are now up 1.4% AH. Google's CC commentary might be helping.
Thu, Jan. 29, 4:10 PM
Wed, Jan. 28, 5:35 PM
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Tue, Jan. 27, 1:43 PM
- Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham will be joining Kansas City, Austin, and Provo as markets lucky enough to be offered Google's (GOOG -2.3%) gigabit broadband/pay-TV service. 18 cities will be covered within the four metro areas.
- Google suggests construction will start in a few months, after its surveyors and engineers finish designing networks. The Web giant adds it's still interested in offering Fiber in Phoenix, San Jose, San Antonio, Portland, and Salt Lake City - the five other metro areas named as potential deployment zones last February - and will provide updates later this year.
- Google, hoping to compel U.S. broadband ISPs to offer faster speeds and lower prices, has promised it will be aggressive in rolling out Fiber, but has also insisted it expects to turn a profit on the business.
- News of the expansion comes in the wake of reports Google is getting set to offer U.S. mobile services on an MVNO basis. Shares are selling off amid a 1.3% drop for the Nasdaq. Earnings arrive on Thursday.
Mon, Jan. 26, 1:57 AM
- Not only is Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) preparing a new cellphone service that will dial up pressure on the wireless industry’s business model, Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) is also prepping one.
- Google’s new package will hunt through cellular connections provided by Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile (NYSE:TMUS) and WiFi "hot spots," picking whichever offers the best signal to route calls, texts and data, WSJ reports.
- Meanwhile, Cablevision will start offering Freewheel next month, a WiFi-only mobile-phone service.
- Such services pose a challenge to traditional telecom carriers, including AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ).
- Previously: Report: Google to sell phone plans via Sprint, T-Mobile (Jan. 21 2015)
- Previously: Analysis: Cable WiFi services to go mainstream (Oct. 06 2014)
Wed, Jan. 21, 4:09 PM
- Two day after reporting on Google's (GOOG +2.2%) SpaceX investment (confirmed a day later), The Information reports Google (GOOG +2.2%) is getting ready to "sell mobile phone plans directly to customers and manage their calls and mobile data over a cellular network."
- Google won't be building its own network, but will instead operate as an MVNO leveraging Sprint (S +5.8%) and T-Mobile's (TMUS +1.9%) networks. Deals for wholesale network access are reportedly on the way. Sprint and (to a lesser extent) T-Mobile have caught a bid on the report.
- Becoming a U.S. mobile carrier with Sprint/T-Mobile's help risks upsetting AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), who still tower over the local telecom landscape. However, it also gives Google a chance to experiment with novel/low-cost service plans, perhaps with the hope that other carriers (in the U.S. and elsewhere) will follow suit. Google also might be betting Android is too well-entrenched at this point for AT&T and/or Verizon to respond too harshly.
- Last April, The Information reported Google has discussed offering mobile services in Google Fiber markets. Q4 results arrive in eight days.
- Update: The WSJ is backing up The Information's report. It adds Sprint is "hedging its bet by putting a volume trigger into the [Google] contract that would allow the deal to be renegotiated if Google’s customer base swells."
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