Apple Update

AAPL : NASDAQ : US$550.50
BUY 
Target: US$570.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Apple designs, manufactures, and sells PCs, portable digital music players, and mobile communication devices, along with related software, services, peripherals, and networking solutions globally. The company was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Cupertino, California.

Technology — Communications Technology — Wireless Equipment
SOLID RESULTS WITH HEALTHY GROSS MARGIN, BUT SOFTER IPHONE SALES IMPACT GUIDANCE
Investment recommendation:

Apple reported December quarter sales at the high-end of its previous guidance range with EPS above its implied guidance. However, total sales were below our expectations due to softer than anticipated iPhone sales of 51M versus our 54M estimate. While we anticipated softer Q2/F14 sales with seasonally lower iPhone and iPad product sales post the Holiday quarter, Q2/F14 guidance was below our expectations. Specifically, while our estimates anticipated a sharp Q/Q decline in iPhone sales during Q2/F14 consistent with Apple’s implied guidance, we anticipated this decline from our 54M December quarter estimate versus the 51M reported. Given the anticipated sell-off in the shares tomorrow combined with our belief Apple has a stronger pipeline of new products for C2014 versus C2013, we maintain our BUY rating. We also believe the continued large share buyback program should contribute to a return to EPS growth in F2014/15. We reiterate our BUY rating but lower our price target to $570.
Investment highlights
 Apple reported December quarter sales of $57.6B and EPS of $14.50 versus our $58.4B/$14.27 and StreetAccount consensus estimate of $57.5B/$14.09. While iPad and Mac sales exceeded our expectations, iPhone and iPod sales were below our estimates.
 We believe Apple’s soft Q2/F14 guidance is consistent with our expectations for a roughly 25% sequential decline in iPhone units post the Holiday season. We also note on a year-over-year basis, Apple’s guidance does not include inventory builds for iPhones or iPads, includes greater revenue deferrals and unfavorable F/X to create tougher year-over-year comparisons for growth. We were impressed with stronger gross margin results and guidance than our estimates.
 Primarily due to our lower iPhone unit estimates and somewhat due to a sharper decline in our iPod sales expectations, we lower our F2014 EPS estimate from $44.85 to $42.86 and our F2015 estimate from $50.24 to $47.56.
Valuation: Our $570 price target is based on shares trading at roughly 12x our F2015 EPS estimate

Apple Update

AAPL : NASDAQ : US$520.63
BUY 
Target: US$580.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Apple designs, manufactures, and sells PCs, portable digital music players, and mobile communication devices, along with related software, services, peripherals, and networking solutions globally. The company was founded in 1976 and is headquartered in Cupertino, California.

Technology — Communications Technology — Wireless Equipment
STRONG IPHONE 5S DEMAND WITH IMPROVED SUPPLY, VERY STRONG INITIAL IPAD AIR SALES BUT IPAD MINI SUPPLY CONSTRAINED; UPDATING DEC Q ESTIMATES
Investment recommendation:

October/November U.S. carrier and global surveys indicated very strong iPhone 5s sales with improving levels of supply, steady iPhone 5c sales, and very strong initial sales of the new iPad Air. However, our global supply chain analysis and surveys post the iPad mini with retina display launch on November 12 indicated the new iPad mini is supply constrained and is expected to remain so throughout the December quarter. Given these trends, we anticipate a more favorable Dec Q iPhone/iPad mix for Apple towards the higher-ASP iPhone 5s and iPad Air versus iPhone 5c and iPad mini. For F2014/15, we believe a TD-LTE iPhone launch with the world’s largest carrier China Mobile could bolster March quarter sales and offset some of the post-holiday seasonal trends in western markets. We also believe the continued large share buyback program should contribute to a return to EPS growth in F2014/15. We reiterate our BUY rating and $580 PT.
Investment highlights
 Our Oct./Nov. surveys indicated strong iPhone 5s sales, as it was by far the top selling smartphone globally and at all four tier-1 U.S. carriers. Further, while the Gold iPhone 5s SKU was still supply constrained with long wait times, the other iPhone 5s SKUs showed marked improved availability versus last month. Please see our industry report published today, titled “Q3/13 handset market summary and Oct./Nov. survey: Apple poised for Q4/13 smartphone and tablet share gains; introducing 2015 global handset estimates” for details. Given these trends, we slightly increase our Q4/F’14 iPhone unit estimates and ASPs from 51.5M/$620 to 52M/$624 due to stronger iPhone 5s sales versus the iPhone 5c.
 Our November surveys also indicated very strong initial iPad Air sales. However, our global supply chain analysis and surveys indicate the iPad mini with retina display, launched Nov. 12, is supply constrained and could remain so throughout Q1/F’14. Given these trends, we change our Q1/F’14 iPad/iPad mini unit estimates and blended iPad ASPs slightly from 12.8M/11.5M/$454 units to 13.5M/11.2M/$465.
 Primarily due to these changes, we raise our F2014 and F2015 EPS estimates from $42.75/$48.23 to $43.48/$48.78.
Valuation: Our $580 price target is based on shares trading at roughly 12x our F2015 EPS estimate

BlackBerry Hold ( only if you must)

BBRY : NASDAQ : US$6.52
BB : TSX
HOLD 
Target: US$6.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
BlackBerry Ltd. is a designer, manufacturer and marketer of wireless solutions for the mobile communications market. Through development and integration of hardware, software and services, the company provides solutions for access to information including email, messaging, Internet and intranet-based applications.

Technology — Communications Technology — Wireless Equipment
OCT./NOV. SURVEYS INDICATE CONTINUED WEAK SALES TRENDS; LOWERING ESTIMATES
Investment recommendation:

Following very disappointing August quarter results, our Oct./Nov. handset sales survey work indicated very weak sales trends with falling BlackBerry 10 prices and continued high levels of inventory. Following the unsuccessful funding of Fairfax Financial’s $9/share bid, we believe a sale of BlackBerry is no longer imminent and few – if any – candidates remain to purchase the company in its entirety. While we maintain our belief BlackBerry will ultimately end up selling the company due to the difficult competitive smartphone market and low probability BlackBerry 10 can return BlackBerry to sustained profitability, we now believe a breakup is more likely than an outright sale and fundamentals will continue to deteriorate over a now longer public sale process under new management. Despite lowering estimates, we maintain our $6 price target based on our unchanged sum-of-parts analysis.
Investment highlights
 Given BlackBerry’s announced exit of the consumer smartphone market and increasing competition from ever-more-capable low-cost Android smartphones in emerging markets, our surveys indicated rapid BB7 share losses. In fact, we believe consumer BlackBerry sales are down more than 50% Y/Y. In addition, our surveys indicate continued soft BB10 enterprise sales, driven by upgrade delays from legacy BB7 enterprise customers given the uncertainty around BlackBerry’s future and increasing competition from BYOD devices, from Apple and Samsung in particular.
 Therefore, we are lowering our F2014 BlackBerry unit estimates from 19.7M to 19.0M, or down 33% Y/Y. In fact, as summarized in our global handset survey and Q3/13 global handset market report published today titled “Q3/13 handset market summary and Oct./Nov. surveys: Apple poised for Q4/13 smartphone and tablet share gains; introducing 2015 global handset estimates”, we now estimate BlackBerry has only 1.4% smartphone market share, down from 4.2% in Q3/12 and from 15% in Q3/10.
 Despite BlackBerry’s significant restructuring to lower operating costs, our forward estimates remain below break-even levels. With our lower unit sales estimates, we are lowering our F2014 pro forma LPS estimate from $(0.82) to $(1.09) and our F2015 estimate from $(1.24) to $(1.28).
Valuation: Our $6 price target is based on our unchanged sum-of-parts valuation

Research In Motion – Jefferies Upgrade

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Research In Motion

(RIM : TSX : $17,41
Turning things around?

Shares of Research in Motion finished the week strong after Jeffries upgraded the stock to a bullish rating saying RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 devices performed as well or better than rivals in recent tests. The analyst said that recent trials of BB10 test devices showed vast improvements over existing smartphones. “Recent tests and demos have shown a  solid browser, smooth touch interface, and intuitive navigation. We now believe the operating system performance could be better than or equal to Android Jelly Bean and likely on par with iOS 6.

Additionally, the analyst said that “checks indicate that large app developers are going to put resources into developing BB10 apps. Previously we had thought they would take more of a wait-and-see approach.” On top of the positive outlook for BB10, the report said that the BlackBerry maker will allow BlackBerry email and messaging (BBM) on iPhones and Android devices, possibly leading to increased licensing revenue for RIM.

 

Nokia HOLD

Image representing Nokia as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Nokia 
NOK : NYSE : US$4.45
HOLD  Target: US$4.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Nokia Corporation designs, manufactures, and sells a full range of mobile devices as well as network infrastructure along with services and software on a global basis. The company offers mobile phones and devices based on common mobile phone standards and offers devices that range from entry level to high-end, multifunction smartphones.

Technology — Communications Technology — Wireless Equipment
NOKIA PRE-ANNOUNCES PROFITABLE Q4
Investment recommendation:

Nokia pre-announced better than expected Q4/12 results with slightly better than expected Lumia sales, strong NSN sales, and very strong cost reduction execution leading all business units to perform better than our prior estimates. While these near-term results are encouraging, we maintain our belief 2013 remains a challenging transitional year for Nokia, especially as our meetings at CES and extensive handset sell-through store surveys indicate continued uncertainty about Windows 8 emerging as a viable long-term smartphone ecosystem versus Android and iOS. We maintain our HOLD rating, but increase our price target from $3 to $4 due to our increased valuation of NSN given the much stronger results and profit levels.
Investment highlights
 Consistent with our store surveys and Nokia’s prior guidance, Nokia’s smart devices business grew smartphone unit sales from 6.3M to 6.6M units sequentially, or 4.7% Q/Q growth that is below normal seasonally strong holiday quarter growth. However, Nokia sold a higher mix of 4.4M Lumia smartphones, leading to higher blended ASPs and gross margin than our prior estimates. Further, due to strong execution in its cost-cutting programs, Nokia estimates Q4/12 Devices & Services non-IFRS operating margin of break-even to 2%, or well above its prior guidance midpoint of -6%.
 NSN non-IFRS operating margin of 13%-15% was much better than Nokia’s previous 8% guidance midpoint and our estimate, leading us to increase NSN assumptions in our sum-of-parts valuation.  Due to strong cost reduction execution and better NSN results, we  have increased our 2012 non-IFRS EPS estimate from $(0.36) to $(0.24) and our 2013 estimate from $(0.10) to $0.03.

Valuation:

Our $4 (was $3) price target is based on our sum-of-parts analysis

Consumer Reports : Apple’s iPhone 5 Is The Worst Of The Top Smartphones

One of the reasons Apple’s stock has gotten clobbered lately is that many people think Apple has lost its edge in its most important product line: smartphones.

The iPhone has been such a mind-boggling success that it drives more than half of Apple’s overall profit. And for most of the past five years, Apple has had a lock on the “best smartphone in the market.”

In recent years, however, competitors have caught up with the iPhone. Some reviewers think Samsung’s new phone is superior to Apple’s latest phone. And many people expect Samsung to leap ahead when the new Galaxy S4 comes out this spring.

Another respected product reviewer, Consumer Reports, agrees with those who think Apple has lost its edge.

In fact, Consumer Reports’ conclusion is even more depressing for Apple fans.

Consumer Reports actually rates the iPhone 5 the worst of the top smartphones.

CR doesn’t spell out the reasoning for its numerical ratings (yet), but the results are still startling.

Below is the summary box of CR’s lab tests, which appears in the February issue of the magazine. The numerical ratings are close together, but they’re unequivocal.

As you can see, on AT&T and Spring, the iPhone 5 is rated behind two phones:

As you can see, on AT&T and Spring, the iPhone 5 is rated behind two phones:

* The LG Optimus G (Android)  [The what?]

* The Samsung Galaxy S III (Android)

On Verizon, meanwhile, the iPhone 5 is rated beneath at least three smartphones:

* The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx (Android, and owned by Google)

* The Motorola Droid Razr HD (Android, and owned by Google)

* The Samsung Galaxy S III (Android)

Consumer Reports iPhone 5

Consumer Reports

Not even ranked in the top 3 at Verizon? Ranked behind Google phones in addition to Samsung phones? That must feel like a bit of a slap in the face.

Apple had better be cranking on the iPhone 6…

Google And Motorola Are Working On A Top-Secret ‘X Phone’

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

Reuters) – Google Inc is working with recently acquired Motorola on a handset codenamed “X-phone”, aimed at grabbing market share from Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Google acquired Motorola in May for $12.5 billion to bolster its patent portfolio as its Android mobile operating system competes with rivals such as Apple and Samsung.

The Journal quoted the people saying that Motorola is working on two fronts: devices that will be sold by carrier partner Verizon Wireless, and on the X phone.

Motorola plans to enhance the X Phone with its recent acquisition of Viewdle, an imaging and gesture-recognition software developer. The new handset is due out sometime next year, the business daily said, citing a person familiar with the plans.

Motorola is also expected to work on an “X” tablet after the phone. Google Chief Executive Larry Page is said to have promised a significant marketing budget for the unit, the newspaper said quoting the persons.

Google was not immediately reachable for comments outside regular U.S. business hours.

Amazon And Google Are On A Collision Course In 2013

* Amazon, Google rivalry will escalate in 2013

 

* Companies compete in increasing number of areas

* Areas include: Ads, retail, mobile, cloud computing

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 23 (Reuters) – When Amazon.com Inc CEO Jeff Bezos got word of a project at Google Inc to scan and digitize product catalogs a decade ago, the seeds of a burgeoning rivalry were planted.

The news was a “wake-up” call to Bezos, an early investor in Google. He saw it as a warning that the Web search engine could encroach upon his online retail empire, according to a former Amazon executive.

“He realized that scanning catalogs was interesting for Google, but the real win for Google would be to get all the books scanned and digitized” and then sell electronic editions, the former executive said.

Thus began a rivalry that will escalate in 2013 as the two companies’ areas of rivalry grow, spanning online advertising and retail to mobile gadgets and cloud computing.

It could upend the last remaining areas of cooperation between the two companies. For instance, Amazon’s decision to use a stripped down version of Google’s Android system in its new Kindle Fire tablet, coupled with Google’s ambitious plans for its Motorola mobile devices unit, will only add to tensions.

The confrontation marks the latest front in a tech industry war in which many combatants are crowding onto each others’ turf. Lurking in the shadows for both Google and Amazon is Facebook with its own search and advertising ambitions.

“Amazon wants to be the one place where you buy everything. Google wants to be the one place where you find everything, of which buying things is a subset,” said Chi-Hua Chien, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “So when you marry those facts I think you’re going to see a natural collision.”

Both companies have a lot at stake. Google’s market capitalization of $235 billion is about double Amazon’s, largely because Google makes massive net earnings, expected by analysts to be $13.2 billion this year, based on a huge 32 percent net profit margin, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. By contrast, Amazon is seen reporting a small loss this year.

Amazon shareholders have been patient as the company has invested for growth but it will have to start producing strong earnings at some stage – more likely if it grows in higher margin areas such as advertising. Google’s share price, on the other hand, is vulnerable to signs of slowing margin growth.

AD CLASH

Not long after Bezos learned of Google’s catalog plans, Amazon began scanning books and providing searchable digital excerpts. Its Kindle e-reader, launched a few years later, owes much of its inspiration to the catalog news, the executive said.

Now, Amazon is pushing its online ad efforts, threatening to siphon revenue and users from Google’s main search website.

Amazon’s fledgling ad business is still a fraction of Google’s, with Robert W. Baird & Co. estimating Amazon is on track to generate about $500 million in annual advertising revenue – tiny, given it recorded $48 billion of overall revenue in 2011. By contrast, 96 percent of Google’s $38 billion in 2011 sales came from advertising.

But Amazon’s newly developed “DSP” technology, which taps into the company’s vast store of consumer purchase history to help marketers target ads at specific groups of people on Amazon.com and on other websites, could change all that.

“From a client’s perspective, the data that Amazon owns is actually better than what Google has,” said Mark Grether, the chief operating officer of Xaxis, an audience buying company that works with major advertisers. “They know what you just bought, and they also know what you are right now trying to buy.”

Amazon is discussing a partnership with Xaxis in which the company would help Amazon sell ads for the service, Grether noted.

Amazon Gains $3 billion – in nearly free money

The tech giant has quietly raised capital — at almost no cost- Praise The Fed

FORTUNE — While online shoppers were gobbling up e-deals on Cyber Monday, Amazon once again demonstrated its appetite for capital. It raised $3 billion in debt at ultra-low interest rates. Spread across three tranches of bonds that mature over 6 ½ years, Amazon will pay an average of 1.6%, which makes the loan nearly cost-free to Amazon, factoring in inflation. The unexpected debt-capital raise, Amazon’s first in 15 years, double’s Amazon’s cash stockpile. (The Wall Street Journal has a lot of the facts here.)

The swift move got me wondering what Amazon (AMZN) will do with the money. There are obvious starting points. Amazon recently cut a deal to buy its currently leased Seattle headquarters buildings for a bit more than $1 billion. It’s an odd decision, but Amazon is an odd company. It is investing heavily in new warehouses, the better to offer speedier delivery to customers, particularly in locations where Amazon recently has begun collecting state sales taxes—something it probably should have been doing all along. In my recent interview with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos he deflected the question of whether Amazon wants to offer same-day delivery, saying the company hasn’t figured out how to make such a service economical. He said it’s hard enough investing simply to push back in the day when Amazon cuts off taking new orders.

MORE: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos: The ultimate disrupter

Given its size and growth, it’s also astounding that Amazon sells in just nine countries: the U.S., Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Counterintuitively, Bezos notes that Amazon is investing particularly aggressively at the moment in Spain and Italy. New regions are a natural place for Amazon to invest its cash.

Amazon obviously continues to invest heavily in its Kindle line, which is showing itself to be a worthy competitor to Apple (AAPL) and tablets that use Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system. (The Kindle Fire uses a version of Android too.) Amazon’s Lab126—it’s Kindle design center in Cupertino, Calif.—recently listed more than 200 open job positions.

Then there are Amazon’s many business lines, many of which compete against each other. To get a sense of the breadth of Amazon’s disparate businesses. I made a list of the 25 brands Amazon links to at the bottom of its U.S. home page, including, with one exception, the way Amazon describes them:

AbeBooks. Rare books and textbooks.

Amazon Local. Great local deals in your city.

Amazon Supply. Business, industrial and scientific supplies. (beta)

Amazon Web Services. Scalable cloud services.

Amazon Wireless. Cellphones & wireless plans.

Askville. Community answers.

Audible. Download audio books.

BeautyBar.com. Prestige beauty delivered.

Book Depository. Books with free delivery worldwide.

CreateSpace. Indie publishing made easy.

Diapers.com. Everything but the baby.

DPReview. Digital photography.

Fabric. Sewing, quilting and knitting.

IMDb. Movies, TV & celebrities.

Junglee.com. Shop online in India.

Myhabit. Private fashion designer sales.

Shopbop. Designer fashion brands.

Soap.com. Health, beauty and home essentials.

Wag.com. Everything for your pet.

Warehouse Deals. Open-box discounts.

Woot. Beta deal site. [My description. Amazon's is so confusing it defies description.]

Yoyo.com. A happy place to shop for toys.

Zappos. Shoes & Clothing.

Vine.com. Everything to live life green.

Casa.com. Kitchen, storage & everything home.

Amazon acquired many of these brands, like Audible, Zappos and IMDb. Some of the sites are clear copycats of more successful startup companies that Amazon hasn’t yet bought. Amazon includes a link at the bottom of its home page to its “Internet-based ads” business, a very real attack on the online advertising industry. It makes no mention of the robotics company it acquired this year, Kiva Systems, which continues to maintain its own web site and gives the appearance of serving non-Amazon customers.

So, how can Amazon spend $3 billion? Let us count the ways.

Available Now at AMAZON.COM ( go to books )

The Gold Investor’s Handbook – click here for   more detail on the in’s and outs of investing in gold

Research In Motion Ltd SELL

Image representing Research In Motion as depic...

Image via CrunchBase

Research In Motion Ltd.

RIMM : NASDAQ : US$14.12
RIM : TSX
SELL Target: US$9.00

Investment recommendation

RIM reported soft but better than expected Q3/F2013 results, with sales of $2.7B and pro forma LPS of ($0.22) versus our estimates of $2.6B and ($0.49) and consensus estimates of $2.7B and ($0.35). While results beat our expectations and we were impressed by cost savings execution and working capital management, our bearish thesis on BB10 remains unchanged and we expect ongoing quarterly losses. We reiterate our SELL rating and lower our price target from $10 to $9 due to our estimates for declining services ARPU leading to a lower sum-of-parts valuation.
Investment highlights
 While resilient sales of BB7 smartphone in markets such as Indonesia, South Africa, and Venezuela demonstrate the strength of the BlackBerry brand in international markets, we believe strong global sales of new BB10 devices are critical for RIM to return to profitability. With our analysis indicating increasing competition from iPhone 5, Android and Windows 8 smartphones in Western markets and from ramping lower-tier smartphones based on Qualcomm and MediaTek turnkey solutions globally, we expect softer sales of BB7 smartphones in future quarters with persistent pricing and margin pressure.
 While RIM management remains bullish for its BB10 smartphone launch January 30, we do not believe BB10 devices will turn around its struggling business. With a very low probability the market will support RIM’s new mobile computing ecosystem, we believe RIM will eventually need to sell the company.
 Given our cautious BB sales outlook and our belief RIM’s subscriber base and services ARPU will decline over the next several quarters and years, we maintain our SELL rating and lower our price target to $9.
Valuation: Our $9 price target is based on our sum-of-parts analysis

Apple and Google Team Up On Kodak

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apple (AAPL : NASDAQ : US$529.82)
Google (GOOG : NASDAQ : US$685.42
Apple and Google are teaming up to offer more than $500 million to
purchase Kodak‟s patents out of bankruptcy, according to sources close to the matter.

The rivals have partnered after leading two separate groups this summer to buy some of Kodak‟s 1,100 imaging patents. The Apple-led group included  Microsoft (MSFT) and Intellectual Ventures Management LLC while Google‟s team included RPX Corp. and Asian makers of its Android phones. The two offers were both below $500 million. The deal is important for Kodak, who obtained commitments for $830 million in exit financing last month, contingent on the sale of its digital-imaging patents for at least $500 million.
Apple, Google and Kodak all declined to comment on the potential purchase. In the past, Kodak has said tha the patents could

be worth as much as $2.57 billion and that they have generated more than $3 billion in licensing revenue. That said, one industry expert said that “the portfolio is actually worth much less because it has been widely licensed.”

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