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Stock Market & Financial Investment News

News Breaks
July 21, 2014
07:48 EDTMSFTMicrosoft top lawyer fights at center of post-Snowden offensive, WSJ says
As tech companies fight to fix their reputations after Edward Snowden's leaks revealed their roles in U.S. surveillance programs, Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith has placed himself and the company at the center of the offensive, since he contends that "consumers will only use technology if they trust it," according to his interview with The Wall Street Journal. Reference Link
News For MSFT From The Last 14 Days
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February 4, 2016
10:25 EDTMSFT$25B cloud boost seen coming for Amazon, Microsoft, Google
Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) and Alphabet (GOOGL, GOOG) are all poised to get huge boosts from their cloud businesses over the next three years, research firm Pacific Crest wrote in a note to investors today. The combined revenue from their cloud initiatives should surge $25B over the next three years as companies move more workloads to the cloud from legacy IT systems, the firm believes. NEXT MAJOR CLOUD CYCLE: The revenue of Amazon's cloud business, AWS, could triple to $25B by 2018, according to Pacific Crest analyst Evan Wilson. Moreover, by 2018, AWS could account for 14% of the company's revenue and over 50% of its profits, up from 7% and 41%, respectively, today, the analyst predicts. Meanwhile, within three years, Microsoft's revenue from its commercial cloud business could jump 50% to $25B, the analyst stated. By 2018, the business could account for almost 25% of the tech giant's revenue and 15% of its profits, up from 15% of its revenue and very little of its profit today, the analyst added. Google's revenue from infrastructure as a service, a form of cloud computing, can surge 500% over the next three years to about $4.5B, Wilson believes. Additionally, noting that AWS' incremental operating margin came in at 51.9% last quarter, Wilson believes that investors are underestimating the profitability of cloud businesses. The analyst maintained an $800 price target and Overweight rating on Amazon, a $65 price target and Overweight rating on Microsoft, and a $910 price target and Overweight rating on Alphabet. WHAT'S NOTABLE: Intel (INTC), along with hard disk drive maker Western Digital (WDC) and Arista Networks (ANET), which supplies cloud networking solutions, should all benefit from the tremendous growth in demand for cloud platforms, Wilson believes. He kept Overweight ratings on all three of the latter stocks. Conversely, Wilson identifies EMC (EMC), HP Enterprise (HPE) and NetApp (NTAP) as "cloud share donors" and keeps Sector Weight ratings on their shares. PRICE ACTION: In early trading, Amazon fell 1% to $525.80, Microsoft was flat near $52 per share and Alphabet Class A shares dropped 1.8% to $736.15.
08:59 EDTMSFTAmazon.com Alphabet Microsoft should get huge cloud boost, says Pacific Crest
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February 3, 2016
16:00 EDTMSFTOptions Update; February 3, 2016
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11:33 EDTMSFTCiti slashes PC outlook, expresses caution on related stocks
Citi significantly lowered its 2016 PC sales estimates, citing recent negative data points. In conjunction with the call, the firm lowered its estimates for three companies whose results are significantly affected by PC sales: HP Inc. (HPQ), Marvell (MRVL) and Intersil (ISIL). WHAT'S NEW: Citi analyst Jim Silva now expects PC sales to drop 6% this year, down from his previous estimate of a 2% decline. Recent data points indicate that demand for PCs has dropped significantly so far this year, while inventories are above normal, the analyst explained. Constrained budgets and macro concerns are restraining demand for PCs, Silva believes. Meanwhile, "there is not enough evidence" to conclude that the launch of Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows 10 will be a positive catalyst for PC sales this year, Silva said. Citing his view of PC trends, along with increased competition in the printer space, Silva lowered his 2016 EPS estimate for HP to $1.53 from $1.64. Statements by other printer makers, including Xerox (XRX) and Canon (CAJ), suggest that HP's margins on printers will "come under additional pressure," the analyst believes. He lowered his price target on the name to $10.75 from $14.50 and expects the stock to remain range-bound until analysts reduce their estimates further or its end markets improve. Intersil has 20% exposure to the PC market and the sales of its products related to computing are still strongly correlated with PC sales, Citi analyst Atif Malik stated. As a result, the company will face revenue headwinds throughout this year, stated the analyst. Malik, who expects the company's 2016 and 2017 EPS to come in below consensus levels, downgraded the stock to Sell from Neutral and set an $11.50 price target on the shares. Estimating Marvell's PC exposure at about 60%, Malik lowered his 2016 EPS estimate for the company to 42c from 48c and kept a Sell rating on the name. WHAT'S NOTABLE: Hedge fund Starboard Value disclosed this morning that it had bought a 6.7% activist stake in Marvell. The hedge fund said the shares are "undervalued" and The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, said Starboard is betting the company can its boost margins by cutting costs, perhaps exiting its mobile device business. PRICE ACTION: In late morning trading, HP Inc. fell 3.3% to $9.55, Marvell rose 1.25% to $8.78 and Intersil dropped 4.4% to $11.93.
11:09 EDTMSFTMaxim says sell Tableau before it goes the way of Netscape
Shares of Tableau Software (DATA) are declining in late morning trading after Maxim initiated coverage with a Sell rating. NEXT NETSCAPE: Maxim analyst Nehal Chokshi started Tableau Software with a Sell rating and $70 price target, saying his channel checks indicated that Microsoft (MSFT) "has the pieces in place to render Tableau the next Netscape." Chokshi doesn't see Tableau's effective $400/year/user average selling price as sustainable, considering Microsoft's Power BI "matches the ease of use and functionality of Tableau" at an average selling price of $123/user/year. Further, since Tableau threatens Microsoft's cash cow, Office, Microsoft and its CEO, Satya Nadella, will be "highly motivated" to execute and leave Tableau as a "casualty." PRICE ACTION: Tableau is off its lows of the day, but is still trading down over 2% near $77 per share. The stock fell as low at $73.37 earlier in the session.
09:18 EDTMSFTCitigroup to hold an analyst/industry conference call
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08:58 EDTMSFTTableau initiated with a Sell at Maxim
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07:48 EDTMSFTMicrosoft confirms purchase of SwiftKey in blog post
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07:41 EDTMSFTCiti lowers 2016 PC estimates to down 6% from down 2%
Citi analyst Jim Suva says recent data points indicate above normal PC inventories and "materially below seasonal demand" in early 2016. The analyst cut his 2016 PC estimates to down 6% from down 2%, well below IDC's estimate of down 3%. Suva believes there is a lack of evidence to suggest that Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows' 10 launch will drive a PC refresh in 2016. The analyst cut his estimates and price target for HP Inc. (HPQ) and kept a Neutral rating on the name.
06:23 EDTMSFTMicrosoft's SwiftKey buy more to do with AI, Re/code reports
Microsoft's acquisition of the U.K.'s SwiftKey was less about the mechanics of entering text on a touchscreen and more about the increasing role that context is playing in artificial intelligence, Re/code reports. The company has been looking more deeply into AI, including with Cortana, the report says. Reference Link
05:57 EDTMSFTMicrosoft ships 6M Surface tablets in 2015, DigiTimes reports
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February 2, 2016
18:23 EDTMSFTMicrosoft to acquire Swiftkey for $250M, FT says
Microsoft will pay roughly $250M to acquire Swiftkey, a developer of AI-driven smartphone typing technology, reports the Financial Times, citing sources. The deal is set to be announced this week, said the report. Reference Link
11:28 EDTMSFTEarnings Watch: Yahoo set to unveil cost reduction plan following Q4 report
Yahoo (YHOO) is expected to report fourth quarter earnings after the market close on Tuesday, February 2 with a conference call scheduled for 5:00 pm ET. Yahoo is a digital media company that provides properties and services such as Yahoo! Search and Yahoo! News. EXPECTATIONS: Analysts are looking for earnings per share of 13c on revenue of $1.19B. The consensus range is 6c-18c for EPS, and $1.17B-$1.22B for revenue, according to First Call. LAST QUARTER: Yahoo reported third quarter EPS 15c against estimates of 17c on revenue of $1.23B against estimates of $1.26B. The company reported Q3 Gross Search revenue down 2% to $870M, Display revenue down 14% to $509M, price-per-ad up 8%, and price-per-click down 2%. Looking ahead, Yahoo guided Q4 revenue of $1.16B-$1.20B, net income of $10M-$50M, and adjusted EBITDA of $160M-$200M. CEO Marissa Mayer commented that the Q4 guidance is "not indicative of the performance we want." Mayer added that the company will be disciplined on its headcount and will work differentiate search product over the next few quarters. In its Q3 earnings report, Yahoo also announced a services agreement with Google (GOOG, GOOGL) that runs through 2018. Google will provide Yahoo with search advertisements through Google's AdSense for Search service web algorithmic search services through Google's Websearch Service, and image search services. CEO Marissa Mayer said the partnership will be nonexclusive and will remain supplementary to the existing Microsoft (MSFT) relationship. NEWS AND STREET RESEARCH: In the past quarter, Yahoo announced that it suspended work on its plan to spin off remaining holdings in Alibaba (BABA). The company said it will evaluate alternative transaction structures to separate Alibaba stake following concerns about the market's perception of tax risk. Yahoo added that a reverse spin of the Alibaba stake may take a year or more to conclude. In a call to discuss the decision, Yahoo said it was "prudent" to explore options given the tax uncertainty while an Alibaba spin would take too long to get clarity. On an interview with CNBC, Mayer said the core business sale is on a "board level consideration," but no determination was made to sell the company or part of it. Following the announcement, SunTrust said Yahoo made a "great" decision given the tax risks of selling the Alibaba stake. The firm added that a sale of Yahoo's core or the entire company is the most likely outcome after reasoning that investors will not want to undergo "a year long spin process." Analysts at Sterne Agee CRT say the investors should begin to apply tax discounts to the Yahoo Japan stake and the Yahoo core, instead of Alibaba stake. Different reports from the NY Times and the NY Post said staffers and shareholders were beginning to lose faith in CEO Marissa Mayer. In January, Starboard sent a letter to Yahoo's board, expressing its belief that shareholders have lost confidence in the ability of current management. It added, "Despite over three years of effort and billions spent on acquisitions, the management team that was hired to turn around the Core Business has failed to produce acceptable results, in turn, causing massive declines in profitability and cash flow." In response, Yahoo said it will maintain "regular, open dialogue" with all its shareholders. A few days later, a Bloomberg report stated that Yahoo is considering an outright sale of the company. According to sources in a Reuters report, the company will wait to decide on its future strategic steps until it releases the Q4 report. The company wants to gauge shareholder reaction after outlining its "strategic vision" during the conference call. Mayer is expected to announce plans to slash costs and shift the focus away from an improving market share. She is also expected to unveil a plan to cut the company's costs, including several business unit closures, and lashing up to 15% of the company's workforce. Ahead of the earnings report, Re/code's Kara Swisher said investors are looking at how Mayer and CFO Ken Goldman may lay out plans to spin off core assets and other detailed cost reductions. Swisher notes that what may be essential is whether there are "explicit" signs from the CEO and whether the company is open for a buyout. PRICE ACTION: Yahoo shares have dropped more than 11.5%, since the first day of trading following the company's Q2 report. In Tuesday afternoon trading ahead of the Q4 report, Yahoo shares are trading down over 2.5%.
10:32 EDTMSFTMicrosoft recalls AC power cords for Surface Pro Devices due to fire hazard
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February 1, 2016
16:01 EDTMSFTOptions Update; February 1, 2016
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09:41 EDTMSFTMicrosoft downgraded to Neutral from Long-Term Buy at Hilliard Lyons
06:10 EDTMSFTMicrosoft testing underwater data center, NY Times reports
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January 31, 2016
19:04 EDTMSFTApple acquires Flyby, assembles 'secret' virtual reality team, FT says
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14:12 EDTMSFTApple should avoid 'dubious' M&A, focus on cloud, AI development, Barron's says
"Impatient" investors encouraging Apple (AAPL) to become a mere dividend payer or make "dubious" acquisitions are not making much sense, Barron's contends in its 'Technology Trader' column. Apple continues to innovate and its iPhone franchise "will endure," though the one area where Apple lags behind peers and "can and should" make progress is cloud computing, according to the publication. Alphabet (GOOG), Facebook (FB) and Microsoft (MSFT) are making large strides in cloud and artificial intelligence, but the company still has "plenty of opportunity" to catch up given its product install base, Barron's says. Reference Link
11:39 EDTMSFTS&P falls 5% in January despite second straight winning week to close month
Stocks finished the month of January with two straight winning weeks, but investors are still glad to see the calendar flip as those winners only cut the S&P's loss to 5% for the month. With growth worries abounding amid troubling signs from China and as oil languishes below $35 per barrel, the manufacturing readings from China, Europe, and the U.S. due out on Monday will be essential to whether the new month continues the uptrend of the end of January or the dour tone that dominated the early half of the month. MACRO NEWS: The Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged following its policy meeting this week, as almost universally expected. In its accompanying statement, the central bank said its committee members expect that economic conditions will "evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate." The group added that inflation is expected to "remain low in the near term, in part because of the further declines in energy prices, but to rise to 2% over the medium term as the transitory effects of declines in energy and import prices dissipate and the labor market strengthens further"... In other domestic economic news, the Commerce Department's first read on fourth quarter gross domestic product came in at 0.7% annualized growth, below the already anemic 0.8% growth forecast. The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5.8% from the prior year in November, topping expectations for a 5.7% year-over-year increase. The separate FHFA house price index showed a monthly gain of 0.5% in November, matching the consensus forecast. Markit's services PMI for January came in at 53.7, missing the 54.0 forecast. The preliminary reading of the Conference Board's consumer confidence index for January came in at 98.1, topping the 96.5 reading that was expected. New home sales surged 10.8% to a 544,000 annualized pace in December, topping expectations and hitting their highest level in 10 months. Initial jobless claims fell to 278,000 last week, versus the expected 281,000 first-time claims. Durable goods orders dropped 5.1% in December, versus expectations for a decrease of 0.7%. The core reading, which removes transportation items, was down 1.2%, versus expectations for a decline of 0.1%. The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index slipped to 92.0 in the final January print, missing the 93.0 reading that was forecast... In a surprising move in Asia, the Bank of Japan introduced a rate of minus 0.1% on certain excess holdings of cash while maintaining the pace of its asset purchases. Japan also reported data pointing to a softening economy, as total CPI grew 0.2% year-over-year in December, core CPI rose at only a 0.1% pace and industrial production fell a preliminary 1.4% month-over-month in December. COMPANY NEWS: McDonald's (MCD) advanced Monday after the fast food giant reported better than expected earnings and comparable sales growth for the fourth quarter, powered by the launch of All Day Breakfast in the U.S.... Earnings season accelerated Tuesday as four members of the bluechip Dow Jones Industrial Average posted results before the opening bell. 3M (MMM) was the top advanced on the index with a gain of over 5%, while Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Procter & Gamble (PG) and DuPont (DD) all notched gains that day following their reports as well... Apple (AAPL) declined more than 6.5% on Wednesday after the tech giant reported first quarter earnings that topped consensus estimates, but also issued revenue guidance for the new quarter that missed expectations. The company was noted by several analysts as taking a particularly downbeat tone in its earnings conference call, invoking the difficult macroeconomic environment and weakness it has recently seen in China. Apple was not the worst performer in the Dow that day, as Boeing (BA) shares plummeted nearly 9% after its profit outlook for the new fiscal year fell far short of the Street's consensus forecast... Facebook (FB) surged 15.5% on Thursday after the social media giant's fourth quarter earnings and revenue beat expectations. A number of Wall Street analysts increased their price targets for the stock following the report, including Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, who hiked his target to a "Street-high" $170 per share. The same day, Caterpillar (CAT) reported better than expected quarterly earnings, excluding certain items, but its revenue came in below the consensus forecast and the heavy equipment maker warned that it does not anticipate an improvement in the world economy or commodity prices in 2016. The stock, which had declined almost 20% in the last three months prior to this morning's report, rebounded almost 5% after the company jumped over the lowered bar that had been set by bearish analysts... On Friday, shares of Amazon (AMZN) declined more than 7.5% after the company's fourth quarter results came in below expectations. Meanwhile, Microsoft (MSFT), which reported better than expected earnings, gained almost 6%. Chevron (CVX) reported a quarterly loss due to taking impairments and other charges of $1.1B. The company, which also reported that its average sales price per barrel of crude oil and natural gas liquids in the U.S. was $35 in fourth quarter, down from $66 a year ago, edged up 0.7% to $86.44... Among the many others reporting earnings this week, Visa (V), Mastercard (MA), Under Armour (UA), Sprint (S) and Biogen (BIIB) gained immediately following their reports, while Qualcomm (QCOM), eBay (EBAY), U.S. Steel (X), VMware (VMW) and Anthem (ANTM) all slid following their own... Xerox (XRX) announced plans to separate into two independent publicly-traded companies: one focused on Document Technology and another Business Process Outsourcing company. Xerox also announced an agreement related to the governance of the Business Process Outsourcing company under which six directors of the new company will be selected by Xerox and three will be selected by current Xerox shareholder Carl Icahn... Terex (TEX) surged more than 36% higher on Tuesday after receiving a $30 per share acquisition offer from China's Zoomlion. Terex peers Manitowoc (MTW), Joy Global (JOY) and Oshkosh (OSK) also gained after the offer was disclosed... Weight Watchers (WTW) shares soared nearly 20% Tuesday after noted shareholder and partner Oprah Winfrey tweeted a video detailing her progress using the company's program, indicating that she'd already lost 26 pounds thanks to its plan... AIG (AIG) provided its much-anticipated strategy update, committing to return at least $25B to shareholders over the next two years and announcing the sale of AIG Advisor Group to Lightyear Capital and PSP Investments. The company, under ongoing pressure from activist investors including Carl Icahn, also said it will publicly offer a portion of its United Guaranty unit, though it expressly rejected a full company breakup... SunEdison (SUNE) gained 18% during the week after agreeing to new corporate governance initiatives with David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital, including amending its bylaws to restrict equity issuances for two years without a supermajority board vote... Twitter (TWTR) slumped nearly 6% this week after CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed the departure of four company executives, leading research firm Stifel to downgrade the shares. INDEXES: The Dow gained about 2.2% to close at 16,466.30; the S&P 500 rose about 1.6% to close at 1,940.24; the Nasdaq advanced about 0.4% to close at 4,613.95.
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