The $19 billion WhatsApp deal could become the Facebook founder's legacy . . . or his albatross.
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Even with their decaying land-line businesses, the telecom rivals could see cash flow explode by becoming a benign duopoly.
Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) paid you to wait after all. These two old-line companies and vicious competitors have gained 41% and 26%, respectively, this year and are instrumental in the big run we've had in the Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU).
I have always liked these stocks as good dividend payers, but I have also felt that these companies could be growth stocks if they could stabilize their land-line businesses, because their wireless businesses are growing like mad.
What I didn't count on is that even with continued weakness in their land-line businesses, they would take the giant step toward profitability by becoming a benign duopoly.
I never thought there could be an end to the price cutting and the subsidizing of hardware, or the notion that they are just common carriers in a vicious price war.
A RadioShack store owner in Montana is sticking with a controversial promotion to give away a gun with a Dish Network signup.
And it's that story that has Steve Strand in hot water with RadioShack (RSH). Strand owns a RadioShack franchise in Hamilton, Mont., and since October he's been offering a promotion that has drawn worldwide attention: Sign up for a two-year Dish Network package, get a gun.
After signing the Dish contract, customers get a coupon for a Hi Point 380 pistol or a 20-gauge shotgun, both of which sell for between $130 and $140, at a nearby gun shop, Bloomberg reports. In Montana, you don't need a license to buy a gun, but you still have to pass a background check.
According to Strand, this is a very Montana-ish thing to do. "Lot of times in Montana, grandma is packing a gun," he told The New York Daily News. "We don't think twice about it."
A Morgan Stanley analyst thinks electric cars could total 15% of all autos sold by 2025. Tesla will benefit from that, he adds. With video updates.
The analyst, Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley, said he thinks electric cars could total 5.5% of worldwide car sales by 2020. Five years after that, electric cars could amount to 15% of cars sold, he added.
It could take Tesla a decade or more to go from a California startup to a global auto player, Jonas added, according to Bloomberg. But the company has a "viable opportunity to be a significant volume player" in the industry.
Post continues after this video analyzing Tesla's recent quarterly report:
As Japan recovers from catastrophe, this company is ready to help.
By Michael Olsen
It's easy to make blithe, hard-to-quantify, optimistic statements about buying into Japanese stocks, but I believe the reality's a lot more nuanced. The country already occupied a precarious economic perch, beset by spendthrift consumers, whopping debt, and a declining population. Add a massive natural disaster, and the government spending needed to rebuild from it, and "buy Japan" stops looking like a straightforward slam dunk.
I'd rather a wide-moated business with no direct exposure to the catastrophe, but a clear path to benefit from Japan's recovery. I found all these qualities in Aon (AON), one of the world's premier providers of insurance broking, outsourced HR services, and HR consulting. The stock is currently sandbagged by cyclically depressed earnings, seven years of declines in insurance rates, and misunderstood earnings power -- and the market doesn't seem to be pricing in any of its considerable potential. That's why I'm buying $800 worth of Aon shares for my Rising Stars portfolio.
Hershey says it will raise prices by nearly 10% to offset rising costs. Will the rest of the industry follow? With video updates.
Hershey (HSY) said this week it's going to raise prices by 9.7%, a move that many people expect competitors to follow. The entire industry is facing huge price increases for raw ingredients -- the cost of sugar has more than doubled in the past year -- and can no longer absorb the higher expenses.
In addition to its signature chocolate bar, Hershey makes Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Twizzlers, Kit Kat and Hershey Kisses. It's not just the cost of ingredients that are rising. Hershey also said it's paying more now for fuel, utilities and transportation. Shares of Hershey were up less than 1% Thursday to $54.72.
Home centers are stocking grills, topsoil and patio furniture, but weak consumer confidence and a faltering housing market may rain on their plans.
By Jason Notte, TheStreet
Home centers such as Home Depot (HD) and Lowe's (LOW) love helping out cooped-up gardeners with cabin fever at this time of year, but spring optimism and consumer confidence are in short supply this season.
The disconnect between home centers' blueprints for the year and their consumers' expectations are creating a murkier forecast than that predicted last spring. At the time, Lowe's had designs on 4% to 6% sales growth behind a 27% spike in March new-home sales.
Home Depot, meanwhile, predicted 2.5% sales growth, and Harvard University's Joint Center For Housing Studies suggested that the amount spent on home improvements could surpass $121.5 billion by the fourth quarter of last year.
These funds focus on Germany and Switzerland.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
Europe continues to be volatile as vulnerable members of the European Union struggle to combat looming debt issues.
Interestingly, despite the economic turmoil, there are still pockets of strength in the region. By approaching them cautiously and picking the strongest players, risk-tolerant ETF investors can find promise.
At the same time the media has remained steadily focused on the troubling debt crises of Portugal and Spain, Germany has become a beacon of relative stability.
David Sokol, heir apparent at Berkshire Hathaway, resigns after buying stock in a Berkshire acquisition target. If it were any company but Warren Buffett's, an investigation would follow.
Call me confused. Confused about how Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) works. Confused about what it might be like to work there. I had this vision -- I am sure you did, too -- of portfolio managers in monk outfits, hairsuits even, working quietly for the master, putting in the time with the icon, learning, learning, learning. An abbey of apprentice-saints waiting for anointment.
Now I am thinking: What the heck? They are trading ahead of deals, trading for their personal accounts, darting in and out of potential targets when it is known that the saint is about to pounce and talks about it to everyone in the world?
Consider, after all, that if this is the behavior of the heir apparent David Sokol, who the heck knows what's going on there? What are the little, less-scrutinized and less-hyped individuals doing? Anything they want, on an honor system? Cool!
About 100 of the coffee giant's 900 Japanese locations were closed down following the earthquake and tsunami, and some were permanently destroyed.
By Miriam Reimer, TheStreet
Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz said that more than 10% of its Japanese locations closed or were destroyed following the massive earthquake and tsunami earlier this month, but that the company's large scale will mitigate any financial impact.
Speaking Tuesday at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Schultz said that "the impact financially will be diminished because of the size of Starbucks," adding that "It's an extremely important market, not only for its size and profitability, but the emotional connection we have with the Japanese people."
Starbucks opened its first store in Japan 15 years ago; it was the first international store opening for the coffee chain, Bloomberg reported.
Those who are uneasy about oil, nuclear power and coal but unsure which alternative will win out can invest in the broader clean-energy revolution with PBD.
By Michael Johnston, TheStreet
The energy market is becoming an extremely dangerous place for investors thanks to numerous risks that threaten to crush profits in the near term. Obviously, the most direct example is in Japan, where the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has led to a sell-off in nuclear power companies around the world.
Additionally, we have again been reminded of the risks of oil drilling as news broke that BP (BP) may be charged with manslaughter in the aftermath of last year's disaster at the Deepwater Horizon rig, which very nearly destroyed one of the world's oil giants and almost took down a number of drillers with it.
Meanwhile, coal, the world's most abundant fuel source, remains unacceptable due to its environmental implications and the inherent dangers of related mining activities. Many nations are hesitant to extend more of their power-supply needs to this unclean fuel.
The company is making 200 films from its online service available at no cost on PlayStation 3 consoles and Blu-ray players.
This company should have been leading the online video business. How difficult can it be to get your right hand to shake the left hand? But this is Sony we're talking about, so the answer is very difficult.
But the company keeps trying. This week, Sony's online video platform, called Crackle, is expanding its content on PlayStation 3 consoles and Sony's own Blu-ray players and Bravia televisions. The company wants to have 200 or so movies available on the service, which is free to users.
The movies aren't new, but they're watchable. The current lineup includes "Ghostbusters," "The Da Vinci Code" and "Spiderman 3."
The retailer says it doesn't need the music industry's blessing for a new service that stores your music online. Will that fly? With video updates.
The company launched Cloud Drive, designed to let you store your music collection online. All you need are a computer and an Internet connection -- or an Android-based phone -- and you can listen to your music library from anywhere. Amazon is letting customers store about 1,000 songs for free.
Sounds kind of amazing. Investors were impressed, sending Amazon shares up nearly 7% in two days to $179.42. But here's where Amazon gets into trouble: It didn't ask permission from record labels before launching the service.
You can bet it took all of 10 seconds for all the major record labels to get on the phone with their lawyers over this one. The music labels think Amazon should have relicensed the music (read: paid more) for online streaming, and one executive described the company's move as "somewhat stunning," according to Reuters.
Post continues after this video about Amazon's new cloud service:
Financial aid can be cumbersome. This company streamlines the process.
By Jason Moser
Figuring out college finances these days is a bit like taking a calculus final before you've even had the class; good luck with all that. But thanks to Higher One Holdings (ONE), not only are schools benefiting from a streamlined financial aid process, but the students are as well.
Take the high road
Higher One started out as an idea between three college friends who were looking to expand the purchasing power of their student ID cards. Fast-forward to today, and the company is providing its services to more than 675 institutions around the country -- and it looks like they're just getting started.
Companies involved with alternative sources like wind turbines and natural-gas vehicles are getting a big lift from Japan's nuclear disaster and soaring oil prices.
Recent events have focused investor attention on the energy sector. The political turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa has pushed crude oil to fresh highs as global spare capacity gets dangerously thin. And Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown has called into question the safety of fission reactors.
Over the past few months, traditional oil and gas stocks have been big performers. But now alternative-energy plays are perking up as it becomes clear that wind energy, solar and natural gas will play a larger role in the energy ecosystem.
President Barack Obama helped things along Wednesday with a speech outlining ways the country can reduce its dependence on foreign oil. One particular idea, encouraging the use of liquefied and compressed natural gas in cars and trucks, pushed Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) up more than 11% at one point today. I think the gains are just starting. Here's why.
These funds are positioned to take advantage of high crop prices.
By Don Dion, TheStreet
With the days getting longer and the weather getting warmer, ETF investors may want to consider arming their portfolios for spring.
A number of agriculture-related ETFs should be on investors' radars. Since last summer, agriculture has dominated headlines as supply shortages and improving global economic conditions have pushed food prices to record levels.
Looking ahead to this year's growing season, the prices of a number of these crops appear set to remain high. According to a Bloomberg report, although corn acreage is forecast to increase to the second-highest level since the early 1940s, the yield will not be enough to satisfy demand for cattle feed and ethanol.
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The apparel chain takes a hard hit after blaming the weather for its quarterly sales decline. But cold temperatures don't explain the drop in full-year sales as well.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The major averages finished the Tuesday session near their lows with the Russell 2000 (-1.0%) leading the slide. The S&P 500 lost 0.5% with nine sectors ending in the red.
Equities indices started the day with modest gains and spent the first two hours of action in the neighborhood of their flat lines. Although the early trade lacked clear sector leadership, that could have been overlooked due to the strength among heavily-weighted sectors like health care (-0.3%), ... More
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