Did Tim Cook Throw Apple (AAPL) Investors Under a Bus? Oct 30, 2014 10:20AM

While many have been quick to congratulate Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) CEO Tim Cook for openly admitting he was 'proud to be gay', some investors are taking a more cautious approach.

For one, in his essay Mr. Cook likely enraged the Christian right by declaring that being gay was a 'gift from God'. Being gay is considered a serious sin in many religions.

Beyond the boarders of the U.S., where a gay lifestyle has become more and more acceptable, in other countries hostility toward gays is more prevalent.

Investors fear Apple could feel a backlash from U.S. Christians and international customers because of the announcement. One investor told StreetInsider.com, "While I don't care if he's gay, Mr. Cook changed the conversation today and threw investors under a bus. He put the spotlight on himself versus the company. This was a disservice to investors."

Overall, Apple shareholders are taking the news in stride. Shares last traded down 0.6% to $106.79.


BlackBerry (BBRY) CEO Chen Announces 'BlackBerry Classic' Oct 29, 2014 11:25AM

BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) CEO John Chen issued the following open letter on the company's official blog Wednesday:

To our loyal (current and former) BlackBerry users:

BlackBerry is driven by an urgent, obsessive focus on what matters: you. When we lose sight of what you want and you need, we lose you.

It’s tempting in a rapidly changing, rapidly growing mobile market to change for the sake of change – to mimic what’s trendy and match the industry-standard, kitchen-sink approach of trying to be all things to all people.

But there’s also something to be said for the classic adage, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Chen quote

BlackBerry Classic reflects that. It is classic BlackBerry – complete with a top row of navigation keys and a trackpad. It’s the device that has always felt right in your hands and always felt right in your busy day.

Of course, we’ve made quite a few enhancements around the edges and on the inside. The screen is bigger and sharper. Our application catalogue is growing. The BlackBerry 10 operating system incorporates all the best productivity and collaboration features on any mobile device, including the BlackBerry Hub and our all-new BlackBerry Blend.

Sure, we’ve got new BlackBerry devices that break the mold, including the BlackBerry Passport. But we also recognize that a lot of you continue to hang on to your Bold devices because they get the job done, day in and day out – just like you.

We get it, and we’ve got you covered.

Innovation is a word that gets used too often and carelessly. Innovation is not about blowing up what works to make something new – it’s about taking what works and making it better. In that sense, BlackBerry Classic represents the kind of innovation BlackBerry – and you – strive toward every day.

Chen quote 2

You don’t reinvent yourself every day; you take what you learned yesterday and sharpen it today. You drive change – often on your terms, but sometimes not. That you keep going regardless is what distinguishes you as a grown-up. You’re in it for the long haul.

So is BlackBerry. The things you remember about BlackBerry that made you better are better than ever with BlackBerry Classic. BlackBerry Classic is for you, as is everything we do every day.

We are committed to earning your business – or earning it back, if that’s the case. In the weeks ahead, BlackBerry will be sharing more details about Classic that we think you’ll like. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit BlackBerry.com/Classic to see for yourself why BlackBerry Classic is aptly named.

Sincerely,

John S. Chen
Executive Chair and CEO


Tesla (TSLA) Owners Get $12K License Fee Waived in Shanghai Oct 29, 2014 09:39AM

Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA) is on watch early following positive news out of China.

Bloomberg reported earlier that Shanghai is allowing Tesla owners to register for free. The city is waiving a $12,000 fee to do so.

Shanghai's effort comes as the city is aiming to promote adaptation of new-energy vehicles.

Tesla owners will also get an exemption in Hangzhou and the company is in contact for similar treatment in other Chinese cities.

Shares of Tesla are lower in early trading Wednesday.


The End of QE is Nigh Oct 28, 2014 02:10PM

The day has finally come. After supporting the economy with its regimented buying of billions of dollars worth of treasuries and mortgage-backed securities month after month the end of QE is finally upon us.

Tomorrow, Oct. 29th, with its policy statement at 2PM ET, the FOMC is widely expected to announce that QE is finished. As high as $85 billion per month, strategic tapering of about $10 billion per month has dwindled the program down to just $15 billion in October.

Beyond the end of the asset purchase program, market watchers will look for changes in language such as the "considerable time" the Fed communicates regarding its target range for the federal funds rate.

Another key, according to strategists at Nomura, is the degree to which the FOMC statement acknowledges new risks to the outlook. The firm notes:

The key question for next week is the degree to which the FOMC statement acknowledges new risks to the outlook. First, financial conditions have tightened somewhat, and, if this persists, could be a modest drag on the outlook. Although, lower interest rates will tend to offset, to some degree, the negative impact of lower equity prices and higher credit spreads on aggregate demand.

Second, lower energy prices and the recent appreciation of the dollar, will have a notable impact on the near-term trends in inflation. Finally, the recent volatility in financial markets should make the FOMC more cautious as its approaches interest rate adjustment.

Some delay in lift-off seems likely given the lower trajectory for inflation and recent market volatility. How the FOMC characterizes the risks to the outlook will be an indication of how its expectations for the path of interest rate adjustment have changed."

Nomura expects the following at tomorrow's FOMC meeting:

  • First, as noted above, we expect the FOMC to end its current asset purchase program at the meeting next week
  • Second, we expect the FOMC to continue its existing policy of reinvesting principal payments from its holdings of agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities in agency mortgage-backed securities and of rolling over maturing Treasury securities at auction
  • Third, we do not expect the FOMC to make material changes to its policy guidance on interest rates at this meeting.
  • Fourth, we suspect that there will be few changes to the discussion of trends in aggregate demand. As noted above, the economic data have largely continued to follow recent trends.
  • Fifth, it is unlikely that the FOMC‟s statement will acknowledge potential risk to the outlook from developments abroad, but it is certainly possible.
  • Lastly, the most substantive changes may occur in the comments on inflation. The recent declines in oil prices, if they persist, are likely to pull down inflation substantially over coming quarters. For example, we expect headline CPI inflation, on a y-o-y basis, to fall to 1.1% in Q2:2015. In this context, we expect the FOMC to note that declines in oil prices are likely to depress inflation for some time


Yelp (YELP) Acquires French Online Review Site, Cityvox Oct 28, 2014 09:29AM

Yelp (NYSE: YELP) posted the following to its official blog on Tuesday morning:

It is with great pleasure that I announce Yelp’s acquisition of Cityvox, a French online review site specialised in the restaurant and nightlife categories.

Hot on the heels of our acquisition of Restaurant-Kritik in Germany last week, the acquisition of Cityvox further illustrates Yelp’s commitment to the development of the European market and clearly underlines our goal of becoming the go-to local business review site internationally.

Cityvox has a local reputation for providing great consumer insights for businesses ranging from restaurants and brasseries to cinemas and clubs, basically any business falling into the restaurant and nightlife categories. We are looking forward to integrating this review and photo content into Yelp and putting it at the service of consumers throughout France, whether they be locals or one of the millions of annual visitors to the culture-rich country.

Depth and breadth of content, as well as a dedicated community of Yelpers, is what sets Yelp apart and is the reason why over 130 million unique visitors come to Yelp each month. The addition of Cityvox’s review and photo content will enrich the Yelp content in France, and hopefully attract yet more dedicated and committed Yelpers to the Yelp France community.

Welcome to Yelp, Cityvox. May your days be Yelpy and bright.

Cityvox, bienvenue chez Yelp

C’est avec un grand plaisir que Yelp annonce l’acquisition de Cityvox, le site français spécialisé dans les bonnes adresses de restaurants et de sorties dans les grandes villes françaises.

Quelques jours seulement après l'acquisition du site Restaurant-Kritik en Allemagne la semaine dernière, l'acquisition de Cityvox illustre une nouvelle fois l'engagement fort de Yelp dans son développement sur le marché européen. L’intégration de Cityvox reflète également notre objectif de devenir le spécialiste des avis sur les commerces de proximité au niveau international.

Cityvox a acquis une bonne réputation sur le plan local en fournissant aux consommateurs des avis de qualité sur les restaurants, bars, cinémas, clubs,… En bref, l’ensemble des spécialistes du monde de la restauration et des sorties. Nous sommes impatients d'intégrer l’ensemble des avis et photos de Cityvox au sein de la plateforme Yelp et de les mettre ainsi au service des utilisateurs à travers toute la France, qu’ils y habitent ou qu’ils fassent partie des millions de visiteurs qui s’y rendent chaque année !

La richesse et la qualité du contenu, associé à une communauté active de Yelpeurs, voilà ce qui distingue Yelp sur son marché et c'est la raison pour laquelle le site accueille plus de 130 millions de visiteurs uniques chaque mois. L’arrivée de Cityvox et de ses contenus va venir enrichir la plateforme Yelp et nous espérons ainsi accroitre notre communauté à travers la France.

Bienvenue chez Yelp, Cityvox !


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